Category Archives: Publishing

Looking Good in the News

example-newsletter-foldedNow that Publisher is included in Office 365, we have access to a powerful page layout tool.

In this post we will describe our unique course, Newsletters with Publisher.

Why Newsletters
Newsletters are an important marketing tool for many organizations. However, you should look good in print! Now Publisher 2016 included with Office 365 makes it possible to create a professional newsletter with ease.

The Course
The course is unique in that it covers not only the tools in Publisher, but also the newsletter concepts that make your newsletter look professional.

This new online course consists of eight lessons and will take you step-by-step through the process of designing a newsletter from scratch using MS Publisher 2016. Every lesson contains extensive notes in addition to the videos.

Along the way you will learn some newsletter design concepts. For example we discuss the importance of repurposing content and illustrate this by using posts from this website for the newsletter articles.

Although the focus of the course is newsletter design, the techniques learned will be useful for many other graphic projects.

This course is part of our Office 365 for small business series.

Visit the course page today


Book Promotion on a Budget

book coverThe key to the success of a self-published book lies in the promotion—and this is no easy task.

I was recently asked if I could help a mutual friend with her book. In this post I will describe how we went about it.

Setting the Scene
The book has been self-published. Our starting point is an entry on Amazon with a book description and a small graphic of the book face. We have a copy of the book and have read it. The author has spent a lot of money getting the book published so has minimal residual funds for promotion.

The book is an historical novel, so we don’t have access to photographic material. The author is elderly and not really up to making many public appearances.

Our Approach
We felt the best approach was to create a book website ( as the main promotional vehicle. Other activities will serve to drive people to the website for more information and buying instructions.

In this case we have to rely on people finding out about the book via search engines (Google/YouTube). This would require us regularly creating keyword-rich content.


  1. Create a website using WordPress with a basic free theme. This would include typical pages like About the Book, About the Author and a blog. Make sure to include a SEO plug-in.
  2. Compile an editorial calendar listing when we would publish what content where. For SEO to be effective, it is important that one has regular content. With all the other things going on, an editorial calendar keeps one on track. The idea is to create posts in the blog at least once per week, and more regular posts on Facebook and Twitter.
  3. book-cover-3dCreate required graphics e.g. 3D book cover, website header graphic etc. We have no other visual material, so we designed a look and feel that would permit rapid creation of images for social media.
  4. The editorial calendar includes the creation of video. Video has become very important and with YouTube one can make sure that the uploads are keyword-rich. As video is more time consuming, we aim for one per month. Early on in the project we created two essential videos: a book video (aka book trailer), and a recorded book excerpt (reading).
  5. We encouraged the author to obtain reviews/endorsements from friends/family and to use every opportunity for word-of-mouth promotion. Books are too expensive to just give away, but a “book business card” with the website address has made up for that.
  6. When funds/time allow, create a promotional DVD by using the videos already made to send to book stores, libraries and book reviewers.

Side Benefits
As there is no financial incentive, we looked at what other benefits we could get from the project. Of course the experience gained in any volunteer work is always worthwhile.

And one gets indirect, personal exposure when one posts about the book on social media sites – this post is an example.

As we also create online training, we saw a real potential for turning the work into a range of online courses. For more information visit

One can promote a book on a very low budget. The main cost being the webhosting and domain name and the business card printing.

It does represent a considerable time investment. This can be mitigated by repurposing content and graphic elements as much as possible for example creating a DVD from videos already made.

The book was a good read too so that is a bonus!

Getting to Know a Program

book-cover-3dHow does one get to know a new program? You can buy a How to book or go to computer classes. In the end there is no shortcut, one learns by experience.

As an instructor I have found that the more I teach the better I get to know the program! I learn as I prepare the courses and also learn by helping the students.

Adobe Elements is a powerful suite of programs that are ideal for everyday graphic and video tasks of a small business. Even though they are the “lite” version of Adobe’s graphic programs they are still very powerful and that translates into a learning curve!

You need to know now
If you have a task that has to be done by tomorrow, you can’t wait until you have experience. So what to do? It is with that in mind that we have developed our Adobe Elements for Small Business series of courses.

You have a task, simply look through our list of Adobe Elements courses and choose the once closest to your needs. The beauty is that the courses are available 24/7 and are super affordable.

For example, let’s say you need to promote a special event so you need a website, a poster, and so on. Well, we have just created a course Promoting a Book with Photoshop Elements that covers exactly that – to see the graphics we created visit


Make Adobe Elements Work For You

ctforseniorsDo you struggle to create ads for your organization? As a small business or organization you will certainly have a need to promote a new produce, service or event – and often with a deadline. Then Adobe Elements is the tool for you!

We have added a new course to our Adobe Elements for Small Business Series – Advertise with Adobe Elements. In this course we will show you how you can easily create a print ad using Photoshop Elements.

In this course we create two typical ads for a new service, Computer Training for Seniors – one in colour and one black and white (grayscale). The course goes step by step through the process from concept to final design; and the course notes in each lesson gives background information about steps taken.

Click here to get started!


Format The Table

In our previous post, Setting Up MS Word for Success, we mentioned the challenge of formatting a table that was the trigger for that post and video.

For fun, we will now show how the table was actually formatted in these two videos.

In the first video we format the design of the table to give it a “corporate” look as used in reports, and other official documents. We remove the typical word-processing look, and bring in the corporate colour.

Once the table has the right look, in the second video we make the text wrap around the table. The text wrap feature is not available for tables so we use a work around – we place the table in a text box and then wrap the text around the text box instead.

Tables are quite useful in many documents so being able to work comfortable with table is an essential skill. We have many more courses so be sure to visit our training site.

Setting Up MS Word For Success

MS Word is probably one the most widely used programs in business. While the clean look of the new Word 2013 might be elegant, it is not useful for when one has some serious work to do.

In this post I will include a video in which I go over some basic settings that will allow you to use Word like a pro!

What prompted this video was that I was showing someone how to format a table in Word. When I opened the document, she exclaimed “How did you get your Word to look like that?”

Well, I had set it up so that I could see what was going on in the document that I was working on. We have a whole course on that for Word 2007 – this video shows the setup for Word 2013, which is quite different.

In our next post we will show how we formatted the table in Word.

Copy Write by Design

drafing toolsA large part of our design activities involves writing—copywriting to be precise.

It is particularly important for small businesses and organizations to get copywriting right.

In this post I will discuss what copywriting is and how design fits into it.

What is Copywriting
Basically it is the discipline of producing written content. That is the text material that brochures, press releases, white papers, newsletters, video scripts, websites and case studies consist of.

Generally the text, referred to as copy, has a specific purpose. It is designed to persuade people to buy a product or to change their opinion about something.

The Design Aspect
We are inundated with information from many sources. It is becoming increasingly difficult to convince people to read copy. We often use the acronym AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire. Action) to guide the design process. You have to first catch the potential reader’s attention. Then they have to see something that interests them and so on.

The key is that the copy has to be designed to achieve the desired outcome.

The Challenge
Often the client specifies in the brief or RFP what the copy should look like before any design has been considered. This can be a challenge on two levels.

Firstly, it might not be the best solution for the desired outcome. For example, the brief might call for a corporate-style brochure when a whitepaper might be more effective.

Secondly, the client might have chosen the appropriate type of copy, but prescribes an incorrect design style.

Factors To Consider
In the design process we look at four main factors.

  1. What are the objectives for the copy
  2. Who is the target audience
  3. How does one best reach the target audience
  4. How should the copy be distributed

The Takeaway
The takeaway is that copy is not just a matter of writing some text. Copywriting involves extensive design if it is to be effective.

If you have a copywriting project, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Authors Take Note

onenote-iconThis has been a week of books for me. I delivered a lovely hardcover biography to a client, published an illustrated softcover through CreateSpace for a client, and published one of my own ebooks on Amazon Kindle.

As I grow older, keeping track of everything gets harder. That’s where OneNote comes in.

This is a wonderful program for many things, especially keeping track of writing projects.

So I would like to share some how-to links:

With OneNote, it is easy to keep track of files needed for a book, write-ups of characters under development, and even the financial side of things.

What makes it even more useful is that I have OneNote on my desktop computer but also on my phone. So when I am at Blenz enjoying a coffee and I get an inspiration, I simply whip out my phone and update using OneNote. Neat huh!


Want to Write a Kindle eBook?

kindle logoWe have been teaching how to format a printed book for a long time. However, recently more and more clients have asked about eBooks.

It seems that an eBook is such a mysterious, new concept that people are hesitant to consider it as a publishing option. And yet it  has become very easy to do.

With this in mind we have developed a new course, Create a Kindle eBook with Word. This course goes step by step through the process of taking an existing book formatted for print, and reformatting and publishing it as a Kindle eBook.

We hope this course will encourage potential authors to explore the Kindle avenue.

Why and What to Blog?

In a previous post I explored the different technologies one can use to tell your story. One of these was the blog. From questions that I was asked, it was apparent that many people were not clear about what a blog was. So in this article I will explore blogging in more detail.

A blog is not as mysterious as it sounds. Basically it is a website where you write articles as web pages. Websites based on Blogger or WordPress provides you with the tools to write your articles and save them in the website. The articles are saved chronologically. When you save an article we refer to it as “posting” the article.

The “why blog” will provide the clue as to “what to blog“. In other social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, one tends to write short bits of a few lines. Replies are even shorter. Basically it is like having a conversation over a cup of coffee – one  is being social.

Why Blog?

By contrast blog articles are longer. Because they are longer, one can explore a topic more fully. So blog articles tend to be more thought out. Often they require considerable research. They take time to read, so you have to write them well enough that it will be worth people’s time to read. All of this spells WORK.

What to Blog?

Because blog articles require work, you need to stick to a topic or range of topics that you are passionate about and therefore will be willing to put in the effort required. Whether it is work related, or your hobby, you must be willing to put in the time! Personally I have a blog,, which takes many hours a week to write and manage.

While it helps, you don’t necessarily have to be an expert on the topic, but you must be willing then to do some research. So it is not just time one puts in, one also has to add value. When you are willing to invest the time and do the research, then your blog will be tremendously helpful for people with similar interests.

How to Blog

Here are some articles on how to write good blog content.

And some ebooks:

In Summary

Hopefully this blog article will make the point that blog articles are 1) longer, 2) more thought out/structured, 3) more researched, and 4) add value. So what are you waiting for – you have a blog in you!