Getting it printed, hiring a commercial printer, what you need to know

As registered nutrition and dietetic practitioners, we are always trying to come up with a better way to inform and educate our audience. Even though the internet and social media are a must if you’re in business, most of us understand the best way to reach people is still face-to-face. So, it’s not at all unusual for an RD, RDN or DTR to have a stack of handouts. If you’re starting your own practice, at some point you’ll need print materials that are designed to promote your business. At the very least you’ll need a business card. Where will you have materials printed? If this is your first time working directly with a commercial printer, there are things you should know that can help the process run smoother, while staying within your price range. It’s best to always keep in mind your project from beginning to end throughout the process. Don’t get ahead of yourself or the results can become disappointing if your project isn’t carefully planned. What you’ll need to consider are getting initial quotes, setting up digital files for printer and quality control before and after the final print.

Before getting quotes for your project, write down a description of what you want. For starters, printers will want to know what you want to be printed, what you want it printed on, in what color, how many, and when you need it done. Plan to give them as much information as you can about your project so they can provide accurate quotes. When you are ready, contact at least three printing facilities. This way you’ll get a range of pricing, and it will give you a chance to learn about each establishment and their capabilities. Always visit a printer’s website for additional information.

Depending on your needs, you can contact printers directly in your area or work with a printer that offers online services. If you decide to work with a local printer, a face-to-face meeting with a print rep is a must. Print reps are essentially your “print concierge,” and are extremely helpful especially if you’re new to ordering anything in print. They are always more than happy to share advice and go over the different selections of paper and/or other materials that you can have your item printed on. Printers can print on almost anything and they are the experts at narrowing down choices to meet your goals.

If you decide that an online printer can meet your needs, they usually will have a step-by-step guide with detailed information on their website. But you’ll need to take the time to read and understand it. Most online printers have a customer service department available to answer your questions. But it has its limitations in comparison to a face-to-face meeting. If you’ve never had a project printed before, the “how to guides” or DIY design can quickly become overwhelming. Before you start any project with an online printer, take the time to access your knowledge with design and print to be sure this is right for you.

Before sending or uploading any files to a printer, it’s always best to consult your print rep first regarding file format before designing your project. Which software package is appropriate for your design? Even though Word can be used to design a flyer, the design templates can lull you into a false sense of believing that your project will be a “piece of cake.” Don’t fall for it. Your little inkjet printer may zip out one or two flyers at a moment’s notice, but if you’re going to have hundreds of these produced on a commercial press, it’s time to get serious.

Use software as it is intended, so you’ll avoid additional pre-press labor costs for rebuilding your files in a format they can use. Microsoft Word is a great word processor, and is great for office documents, but has many limitations for graphic design. PowerPoint is for overhead slide presentations but doesn’t have the capability to produce files suited for a printing press. If your project is a single page or small booklet, Microsoft Publisher is more appropriate. At the very least, it has templates for projects that can be printed, and you’ll be able to save your file as a high-resolution PDF “ready to print.” Before you start anything, consult your print rep.

There are many online printers that allow access to templates for download. For single page projects, this can be ideal if you have the software to use them. Some common ones are business cards, flyers, or note cards. There are also online printers that will allow you to design your project right on their website. Designing a t-shirt this way is very popular. You’ll still need to access your skills before taking this on. Online print websites are notorious for enticing visitors to attempt DIY projects with a false sense of “saving time and money.”

In the print world, Software such as Adobe InDesign and Illustrator are the industry standard for high-end production. If you’re not experienced with using this kind of software, consider hiring a graphic designer who can make your design look spectacular. This is especially important if you plan on spending a chunk of your budget printing a large quantity that will last you a while. They are also experts when it comes to branding a look to promote your company.

Photography is a wonderful way to convey a message that can be successful on so many levels if planned beforehand. But, if you aren’t skilled in using composition and proper image exposure, it will show. An experienced photographer will know how to capture an image at the best angle to tell your story and provide high-resolution images suitable for printing. Are you going to include portraits? Hire a portrait photographer to make sure people will look their best. They’ll appreciate you for it.

Another option is to purchase royalty free images from an online source. You can find a lot of bargains online and images come in the numerous sizes and resolutions. Please don’t get into the habit of copying and pasting images directly from a Google search. Internet images are usually not appropriate for commercial printing, but most importantly you could be unknowingly infringing on the owner’s copyright. Do a search on “public domain” for more information about this, or read my blog post Show appreciation for an artist’s work. You might even be able to contact the artist to ask for permission to use their photography or artwork. If you’re not-for-profit, they might be willing to support a worthy cause.

Cameras on smart phones have come along way with innovative technologies, but they aren’t yet savvy enough to make up for someone lacking an eye for composition. If you must use your phone for pictures, make sure to change your phone’s settings to the largest photo possible. Bigger is better in this case. It’s better to scale down a photo in your layout rather than scaling it up. Most people fail to understand how digital files translate to a print medium. If you’re not familiar with the terms “low resolution” and “high resolution” digital photos, do an internet search. High resolution is at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) for traditional printing. If your digital image size is smaller, you run the risk of it looking blurry in the final print. Talk to your print rep before using any images from your smart phone.

Before handing any files over to the printer, it’s important to read all the text and look over images and/or artwork on your project. Print it out, don’t just look at it on the screen. This can’t be stressed enough. It’s human nature to see a mistake after everything is done. An overlooked typo can be a costly mistake, especially when there are 1000 pieces printed with the incorrect phone number. Consider putting your project aside for one day, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Then have someone else look at it too.

So, now have your beautiful marketing piece ready to go to print. What happens to your file once it gets to the printer’s pre-press department? Your file will go through a preflight process. The pre-press department checks for a variety of things including making sure images are at least 300 dpi and that all the fonts load properly in your document.

Once the file is ready, pre-press will create a proof of your project for your approval and sign off before going on press. This proof will be nearly identical to your final print. Some printers are even able to produce a proof on the exact medium you’ll be using. This is the stage where you also want to scrutinize every detail and make any changes — and yes, again look for typos. Take a pen and mark it up. If you ask for changes, insist on getting another proof.

Once pre-press had determined your file to be in good working order, and you’ve signed off on your proof, they will then RIP your file. RIP stands for “raster image processing.” This process turns your files into a language of bits and pixels that the printing press understands to reproduce your project on your chosen medium.

When your project is done printing and delivered, be sure to open the boxes to check your product. You don’t want to be looking at your product for the first time when you’re already sitting at your booth during a conference. What if you ordered t-shirts to hand out at a nutrition conference and found out you have the Village Bowling shirts by mistake?

Quality control of your print project from beginning to end will help you ensure accuracy and quality throughout the entire process. Successful marketing pieces also involve building relationships with everyone involved. Stay in contact and communicate in a timely manner. Remember the level of professionalism will be reflected in anything you print to promote your practice. Make sure it’s the best impression that it can be within a budget that you can afford.

For more information click on the links below:

Preparing files for print

Learn about Public Domain images and artwork


Making the Case for Social Media: Three Reasons Why You Should be Social Online

How much does the internet influence your patient’s decisions on health and diet? The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states, 72% of adults surf the internet to look for nutrition information, a diagnosis for a health issue, various treatments, and to join support groups with people who have similar health issues.

Social media is becoming the primary source of health information. People are spending less time in health practitioner’s offices. ESPECIALLY OUR YOUNGER PEOPLE. They have the uncanny ability to sift through information much more quickly than previous generations. But do they know if the information they are discovering is credible? Who is authoring the advice that they are reading? What do you as a practitioner want them to know? As seasoned nutrition experts, consider taking more responsibility to become more informed about internet activities, and to plan strategies to ensure that your expertise gets reader’s attention first, more consistently online.

Your patients are online, you should be too

You’ve probably heard the news lately about the influx of “fake news” on social media. We know we can’t always believe what we read, but the written word still holds an unconscious credibility to some people who may have more of a tendency to believe what they read rather than what they hear. This is paramount for a seasoned professional. Fad diets, anecdotal advice, and quick fixes can be highly persuasive especially from experienced writers, and those who know how to get topics to go viral on social media platforms.

Sharing a link with nutrition advice takes seconds, without much thought. This same link can reach many readers much faster than you can imagine. Now think about this on a magnitude of thousands of readers, versus one patient in your office getting your one-on-one consultation. How many questions do your patients ask you every day about stuff they read online?

How about when an idea is repeated over-and-over, EVERYWHERE? Over time, doesn’t your mind start to unconsciously accept it as normal? Some good examples of repetitive ideas are the gluten craze and GMOs. They are now household names. We can no longer ignore this.

The internet desperately needs an infiltration of nutrition experts willing to learn online strategies to share credible advice, to educate readers, and steer them away from the anecdotal junk that keeps getting shared repeatedly. Dietitians and DTRs who are becoming more tech savvy online are making a difference. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook promote engagement with an audience in real time by allowing them to host a chat or post a live video feed. We must be active on these platforms consistently to share the latest nutrition information and advice.

Find opportunities, and stay in contact with colleagues on social media

By creating a LinkedIn profile, a registered nutrition professional seeking employment can showcase their expertise in much greater detail, than on a paper resume. Without question, the potential to reach employers with an online resume wins hands-down compared to traditional means.

Companies also post job offerings on LinkedIn to lead interested candidates to apply on their websites. An online resume can be shared and available for review instantly by an employer. Job seekers can also see profiles of employees who already work for the company that’s offering the job they are applying for. This two-way communication offers a greater potential for a more immediate connection between employers and job seekers.

This platform is also a great way to keep colleagues updated on accomplishments in a more professional environment in comparison to Facebook. You can also help a colleague or a dietetic intern gain employment by writing a testimonial about their skill and expertise. If you are working to help those in need in the community as a non-profit, Facebook and LinkedIn can help you create awareness and to reach out to volunteers without the need for any cash outlay.

If you are working to help those in need in the community as a non-profit, Facebook and LinkedIn can help you create awareness and to reach out to volunteers without the need for any cash outlay.

FREE advertising and exposure

This is worth a repeat: FREE ADVERTISING AND EXPOSURE. The internet is a great way to let the public know you’re out there looking for work, starting a new business or looking to get support for a cause. Creating an account on social media is free, and has the potential of reaching thousands of online viewers without paying a headhunter or an advertising or marketing agency. Small businesses are using Facebook pages in addition to, or instead of websites to market themselves. For individuals without the skills, time or money to create a website, a free profile on Facebook gets the job done by inviting friends, encouraging feedback from viewers and to engage with them in real time. People sitting behind a computer are more likely to get involved in constructive criticism online rather than in face-to-face encounters. What you learn from reader’s comments can be invaluable.

For non-profit groups with little financial support, social media has been the difference between success and failure in finding the support and volunteers they need. The ability to “spread the word” using social media has helped in ways that were never before imaginable. This took on a whole new meaning for those helping the homeless, volunteering at food pantries, and providing other ways to service people in need.

More specifically for nutrition professionals, social media increases the ability to leverage audience networks to promote the sharing of information; to tailor messages for a specific or a wide audience; to engage the public in conversation, collaboration, and participation. The ability to reach people online with the potential to change behavior on a larger scale is worth your time and effort to investigate how you can get involved.

If this blog hasn’t yet convinced you to get more active online, and you are a member of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, understand that they take social media very seriously as a place where dietetics and nutrition practitioners can and do make a difference. So much so, that they have updated their ethics and standards of practice guidelines to include activities on social media. A practice paper, “Social Media and the Dietetics Practitioner: Opportunities, Challenges and Best Practices,” in the November 2016 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, discusses in detail the opportunities and benefits of social media, ethics, and standards of professionalism and much more.

With all the changes in the world taking place faster than ever before, social media engagement is a way to keep up and remain relevant in the ever-growing field of nutrition and dietetics, which needs your participation and expertise more than ever. Online where “anyone” can give nutrition advice, it behooves registered nutrition professionals to take social media more seriously.

Do You Have the Right to Use that Photo?

Spend any time on the internet and it won’t take long to be overstimulated with various imagery all vying for your attention. Images pop up everywhere, persuading you to stop, look or take some sort of action in ways that are hard to ignore. Even though many pictures are taken professionally, the majority are taken by the general public. Instagram claims to receive over 95 million photo and video uploads per day. Facebook brags that users are uploading 350 million images per day.

But who owns all these images? Professional photographers have the right to restrict use of their images, and often put a water mark across each one making difficult for someone to use without permission. There can be a false sense of security into thinking that no one notices or cares if anyone downloads copyrighted images on Google or Bing for personal use. In case you think no one is watching, there is image tracking software that can and is used by businesses to track their images on the internet. Large companies like Getty Images have been known to send out emails threatening a lawsuit if their images are found on websites or blogs without permission.

But what about the average internet user? Most of the time it’s a matter of ethics – doing the right thing. No one wants their ideas stolen. A legit business should use legit images and artwork, preferably their own original creation or a paid license. Who wants a reputation as someone who steals other people’s work?

Coming from the creative side of the tracks, it’s frustrating to see some users not take a photographer’s copyright seriously. Some people may not truly understand how perfectly composed photography comes to be. A professional photograph that looks so simple, yet clever, can be easily dismissed as something that wasn’t a big deal to create. Not to say that there aren’t happy accidents, by being in the right place at the right time with a camera, but based on my past experiences, the more simplistic a photo looks, the more difficult it is to create. Not to mention the post production that images may go through in Photoshop. Touching up photography and making it look great can be a full-time job in itself.

If you use images on your blog, website or social media, get into the habit of looking for ones that are “public domain.” A customized Google search can help, but there’s no guarantee. It’s best to go to the website where the image originates and contact the owner for permission. Sometimes all they ask is for is a credit to the photographer somewhere on or around the image. Or if you feel adventurous enough or have a creative edge, there are plenty of tutorials that show users how to take eye-catching photos using natural light without a ton of equipment, even with a cell phone. This way you can avoid all that copyright nonsense and be a true original.