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A Revenue Stream: Making Flyers and Brochures

April 20th, 2008

In the process of beta testing my upcoming real estate photography business kit, that includes flyer and brochure templates I’ve had some questions and discussion about why make flyers and brochures and why you’d want to use Photoshop do so.The biggest motivation for making flyers is that as a real estate photographer you have everything you need to make to create flyers and brochures if you are willing to expand your skills a little into the graphics design area. It’s a low overhead opportunity for adding another product to your business. Photoshop or Photoshop Elements is the perfect application for making flyers and brochures. Photoshop started out being the graphic designers tool of choice and still is. You probably already have Photoshop or PSE and know how to use it.

Some inside information you need to understand when trying to sell flyers and brochures is that real estate office receptionists all have a copy of Microsoft Publisher on their PC and will do flyers and brochures for agents for free, but almost every thing they turn out looks crappy. I hope the receptionists in my wife’s office don’t read my blog (I don’t mean you Angela and Colleen- I’m talking about other receptionists).

The fact is, you cannot create all the cool drop shadow and other layer effects with Publisher like you can with Photoshop. Also, Floating text over photos just doesn’t look the same with Publisher. For example, I dare you to produce my sample flyer above with Publisher. So when you promote flyers and brochures to agents you have to promote uniqueness and elegance. Another important thing is to promote a flyer format that is mostly photographic and has a minimum about of text. The fewer the words the less opportunity for changes and corrections and the less time it takes. I’ve found that the general design of having the front be a full 8.5×11″ photo of the exterior with a few of the best interior shots “floating” over the large photo along with a little text is extremely popular with home sellers and agents. The agents in my wife’s office beg me to make one for them. And believe it or not many times we have signed up new listings just because the neighbors to one of our listings love the flyer or brochure.The beauty of creating flyers and brochures is if you have a previous flyer to use as a template you can quickly make a new one. And the whole process can be done sitting at home in your “jammas”. No driving involved. Just make the flyer or brochure e-mail the client a PDF proof and have them e-mail you the changes. You can charge almost as much for creating the flyer as for doing the shoot with a lot less work.One thing I find useful if you are shooting images to be used on one of these type flyers or brochures is to visualize where the space is in the image for words and photos. You need to have plenty of sky, street and bushes to place the text in. Visualize the finished flyer when shooting.You’ll have to decide if your product is just the finished PDF or if you are going to provide finished flyers. Many real estate offices now provide free or reduced rate color laser printing for agents so it may not make sense to do printing.

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16 Responses to “A Revenue Stream: Making Flyers and Brochures”

  • Hello Larry,
    I have to agree with you, but only up to a point. As a graphic designer myself, I concur with your comments about Photoshop and how it can help to make a brochure or flyer look professional, but it does have limitations. Photoshop is software for manipulation and enhancing images and photos, however, it is weak when used to fully design a brochure. An important component of the Adobe Creative Suite is InDesign. Here you’ll find the proper software to finish off that concept you were beginning with Photoshop. You simply don’t have the tools to work with type in Photoshop as you would using InDesign.
    I wouldn’t expect the average Realtor to have Photoshop or InDesign on their home or business computer. For one thing, one would need to be professionally trained to use the software efficiently. The Realtor I work with is great at what he knows best … selling real estate. As a graphic designer, he would starve. While I understand the point of your blog posting and the avoidance of software like Microsoft Publisher to churn out anything remotely professional, I would suggest that a Realtor utilize the services of a competent graphic designer for the production of marketing pieces. I’ve seen promotional pieces by Realtor’s here in central Ohio who felt they had an artistic flair and who ultimately lost a client or two based on their dabbling in design work. Personally, I couldn’t begin to know the best approach at successfully selling my home, especially in today’s market … I’m not a Realtor. But, if I had the obvious artistic talents of a knowledgeable photographer like yourself, and a professional graphic designer, a Realtor could make a name for him or herself.
    I enjoy visiting your blog and I look for more postings – your work is incredible.

    PS – Publisher is THE absolute worst program ever created by Microsoft and should be banished from every computer on the face of the earth, but that’s my opinion.

  • Agreed on all accounts. Photoshop is ideal for manipulating photos, but doesn’t come close to the page-layout abilities presented in InDesign. And yes, Publisher in no manner approaches the power of InDesign.

  • @Jim & Jason – I agree, Indesign is the premiere page layout software and if you have some spare $699 in your budget and some time to learn it you could do flyers & brochures with InDesign.

    My point is that Photoshop will do the job nicely and a poll I did in 12/07 indicated that 78% of readers of this blog already have it. So if you’re constrained by a budget you’d be better off spending that $699 on a wide-angle lens and using software you already have.

  • I use InDesign for higher end things that require a very professional look and feel as well as color being accurate. For RE needs anyone reasonably skilled with PS does not need anything more. There are quite a number of work arounds to make things look very good without having to go to another learning curve in InDesign.

    Realtors just aren’t going to pay $140.00 an hour for graphic design work on each brochure.

  • I agree that creating flyers and brochures is a good way to supliment your income – I have been doing so for some time.

    I disagree with the assessment of MS Publisher. While it in no way comes close to InDesign, it will produce a nice flyer or brochure for either copying (in the flyers case) or professional printing (in the brochures case). With the brochures I’ve produced, Publisher mostly works as a layout and design tool. I provide the high resolution photographs to the agent along with the layout of the brochure (in Publisher) and they handle the printing.

    In the flyers case, I print the flyer (on matt photo paper) and provide it to the agent for copying on their color copiers. Why matt photo paper? It seems to work best for copying.

    I have done this for a number of $5+ million homes and both agent and seller are very pleased.

  • I also wonder why MS Publisher exists. What does it do that you can’t do more easily in PowerPoint? Most of my clients either have in-house ways to creat flyers or just use the ones built into their broker’s website stuff.

  • How about Illustrator? I find that to be easier than Photoshop. Al

  • I really appreciate this article, Larry. I am approaching this business from the opposite direction from most….I know from working in the real estate field how awful the brochures are out there, and I wanted to create elegant brochures at a reasonable price. It’s the photography that I am learning right now. I know most will disagree with me, but for now I use a combination of Photoshop Elements and yes….Microsoft Publisher. I think Publisher is simple to use and for right now I can’t afford the $700 for InDesign. Here’s a folded 11″ x 17″ draft brochure I just did using only Publisher for the design. (Please ignore pictures….no electricity in the house and will be back to re-shoot it and add some outdoor photos).

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/24609417@N07/sets/72157604669801169/detail/

    I have created about 10 templates so far and all of them are in Publisher. While not ideal, it’s a start. I would love to trade template design ideas with people who are already doing brochures. It could only help enhance our portfolios and what we offer our clients. If interested, please e-mail me at smallwoodphotos at aol.

  • A suggestion for everyone who wouldn’t want to shell out the money for InDesign… many times you can visit your local college or university bookstore. There you may well find the ‘Educational Version’ of something you’re looking for. I have two (and soon) three kids in college and have purchased software like this before. While it states “Educational Version” on the package, it’s still the full version, only costing hundreds less.

    In response to James Northen: How I wished I lived in your area to be able to charge $140.00 an hour for graphic design work! At most, a professional designer in this area commands a price of about $75 per hour, many more charge less, yet provide exceptional work.

    Here again, contact your local college or university and see if they have any graphic design students who might like some extra cash and a way to build a portfolio for themselves. I have a daughter soon graduating and would jump at the chance to design for the experience and at less than the going rate.

    I enjoy reading the responses her and especially the content of this blog – great work.

  • @Jim – with three kids in college I bet you do. To tell you the truth I find it hard to swallow that rate in little old Vero Beach ….. but that is what they are getting here ……. amazing.

    M. James

  • James Northen,
    Just visited your website and was totally blown away. Exceptional homes – nothing like it in my area. I can see why graphic designers are making so much.
    Your attention to detail and light is amazing … incredible interior and exterior photography. I envy your location and obvious expertise.

  • I would like to agree that adding brochures to your portfolio or menu is a great idea. But I would also like to mention that it is not something that just anyone can do. It requires an eye for layout and design, a less is more concept, and an artistic flare. The first brochure example (larry’s) althought you talk about the need to be photo focused versus text; I would suggeest this: don’t put the price on the front (it screams sales) I’m not in love with the drop shadow behind the text on the trees. Drop shadows are supposed to be subtle. You should also consider picking a color scheme that consists of 2 to 3 colors at most. Red is often a hard color to read and should be used carefully. Keep the number of fonts you use to no more than 2. One main font and one accent font, anything else is confusing and distacting to the customer.
    You can design brochures and many other things with MS Publisher if you know how to use it (we use InDesign as a standard rule). I have one designer that could blow the doors off anything posted so far using MS Publisher. Including reproducing larry’s brochure sample. The bottom line is pratice makes perfect.
    Our company generates a great deal of its income selling the “full service” to top agents. Photography, Design, and the final print. The key is to deliver the product in a way that an agent could not reproduce it on their own. Full color bleeds, punchy designs, on the best cover stock paper you can find (not at staples) Our typical layout is done on an 12×18 sheet cut down to an 11×17 full bleed folded to a finished booklet size of 8.5×11. Give them something they can’t do in their own basement, thats what sells the brochure to agents and likewise to their clients. If can get this part of your business cranking though there is some real revenue there. Our full serivce including photos, design print and delivery of 50 brochures is seliing for as much as $1000. Good Luck, and Happy Selling

  • Thanks Jim ….. I really need to update – have not touched it in a year and have a lot of new material to post.

    Again – Many Thanks,

    M. James

  • […] Jordan of Enhance Design responded to my post on flyer design and redesigned my flyer for me (see the redesign to the […]

  • Larry great discussion and thank you for this undoubtedly priceless site! Denise you did a great job with what little Design experience you have, keep up the good work. Seems everyone here has a lot of great ideas and points.

    Regardless of what programs individually we choose to use, one of the single most important elements of bad to great design is typography. Poor typography selection can kill any design. With this said, as a Designer and Photographer I would strongly suggest understanding the difference between serif and san serif along with all other elements of design and type if your truly wish to create nice work, vs just making a few extra dollars? Once you have type under your belt, elements of design and layout are much easier.

    I suggest do your research. Whatever one’s level, take some courses! There’re countless courses online, at nearby community colleges or adult schools. A great free education once learning and understanding type’s important elements are the news stands. There are countless Architecture and Home magazines with great layouts and type design you can learn from?

    Whatever the source, like anything else educate yourself. For first impressions can make or break you with 1 to 100 potential clients? Thank you all for sharing your insight and experiences. Wishing you all great success in 2008!

  • There are some attention-grabbing cut-off dates in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity however I will take maintain opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish more! Added to FeedBurner as nicely

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