Creating Your Catalogs
By now you should have a good idea of the types of products that you’d like to provide in your catalogs. Next, we’ll want to cover creating your first catalog and/or brochure.
Now I’m sure you’ve seen how large companies create several different types of catalogs per year, but when you first start your new business venture you most certainly do not want to do this because it’s not very cost efficient to do so.
Once your catalog sales pick up, then you may want to consider two different catalogs per year, but until then, one per year is quite sufficient.
You can always create brochures to send to your customers during holidays or on special occasions to promote your holiday and promotional related items.
With today’s technology, you can create a professional looking catalog from your computer just as well as any expensive printer can.
With a few small investments made in programs you’ll need to create your catalog, you’ll find that the cost of catalog creation can be much cheaper by producing them at home than by paying some company hundreds (or thousands) to print them for you.
Of course, one day you may find the need for thousands of catalogs, if so, then you would of course want to hire a printer to print them for you, because you can usually obtain extremely good rates when you order a high number of catalogs in bulk.
This chapter deals mainly with catalog creation on your home computer, as I know most readers will be on a budget when first starting out and this is the most cost feasible method to get started quickly.
First you will need a good word processing or desktop publishing program to create your catalog.
If you don’t already have a good desktop publishing or word processing program, then you may want to try open office as one of the most affordable and powerful alternatives available.
When using your program of choice, you will need to create your own template for your brochure or catalog, or you can save a lot of time and headache by using Clickbook. Clickbook makes catalog and brochure creation a breeze.
With these two programs, a good printer, paper and a long arm stapler, you’ll find that you can create professional looking brochures and catalogs in no time.
Formatting your brochure:
If you’re creating a brochure first, you will want to follow a few key design techniques.
On the cover of your brochure you will want a nice picture of your main product.
On the inside of your brochure you will want to have your main product, price, and product description on the first page.
On the second page you can place several more products, three or four is usually good if you have short product descriptions.
On the back cover, you should add one more product, then a small order form underneath the final product where others can easily fill in the order form, cut it out of the brochure and mail it to you.
This layout will make a professional and efficient brochure that can be printed easily, folded, and be ready for distribution within minutes. You can also print these as needed.
For your catalog, you’ll want to follow the same layout, just instead of using one page, you will want to use 5 to 10 pages (which will make a 10 to 20 page catalog once folded in half and stapled).
When designing your catalog, you can provide your order form on the back cover of the catalog, or you can provide a full-page order form using the complete center page of the catalog.
A professional touch you can add to your catalog would be to print some envelopes with your address already printed on them, and stapling these to the middle of your catalog as well as making it easier for customers to order.
Just staple the envelope when you staple your catalog together, making sure that the staples go through the folded section of the flap on the envelope so that your order envelope and catalog will close and lay flat neatly.
You can print your cover on glossy photo stock for a professional look, but I have also found that regular cardstock makes wonderful covers as well.
Once you have your catalog designed, simply fold your pages together neatly, and use a long arm stapler to staple them together.
When first starting out I would recommend that you make 10 catalogs only, and give these to a few select friends and family members to use to help you gain sales.
Once your business picks up, then you can print your catalogs as needed, without investing a lot of money in printing a lot of catalogs that may never be used.
A few catalog tips:
When designing your catalogs, on the pages that provide more than one product, alternate the products with one picture formatted on the left hand side of the page and the one beneath it on the right. This makes your catalog pages look much neater and less boring than if all of your pictures are all lined up in a row down the page.
You can include a coupon in your catalog where someone can redeem the coupon for a discounted price on one of your products.
Just design a coupon on the back cover of your page that can be easily clipped and provided with payment.
A nice way to make additional income from your catalogs would be to use one page for ads. You can sell advertising space to area businesses, or even use links to affiliate programs that you’re an affiliate with to raise additional income.
Click here for a list of nice affiliate programs.
As you know, a lot of catalog companies provide samples to their customers as well.
Although you may not be able to afford to provide samples of your work, however, you can still provide a cheap, small gift with each catalog distributed, to help earn the trust of future customers.
A few items that would make nice, affordable gifts that you can include with your catalogs would be homemade paper bookmarks made from sturdy cardstock, delicious business recipe cards, vacation certificates, or anything that is cheap to provide that your customers may like.
Once your catalogs are created, and ready to distribute, then it’s as simple as distributing them to where they will generate sales for your business.