If you’re anything like me, and considering we both belong to this group of super-smart, super-savvy women, you are something like me, a lot of old-fashioned holiday newsletters start showing up in your mailbox, that is your physical mailbox, this time of year. At least 15 people/families I know tuck a piece of paper (or several) into a holiday greeting card that arrives via the United States Postal Service. Yes, I’m talking about envelopes and stamps with Christmas wreaths or whatever.
Of course I read them because, well, I’m interested. I’m friends with most of these people on Facebook, so I do have a sense of their lives, even if I don’t speak to them regularly or see them in person. I know whose kids got into which colleges; I know who has become a grandmother, who is “downsizing” because the kids have left the nest, who has travelled abroad, and who has cooked up some mighty tasty meals. Their newsletters, though, often seem to lack sparkle, even the ones that contain photos.
So this year I’ve decided to replace my holiday newsletter (actually, I’ve never written a holiday newsletter) with a Flipboard magazine. “What’s that?” you ask. Well, let me do some Flipboard-splaining because I think I’m onto something really fun and I’m happy to share and answer questions I imagine you’re asking.
1. What is Flipboard?
Flipboard is a platform which is a combination of a social network, a newsreader, and the best curation tool I use. (Yes, I like it way more than Pinterest.) You can use Flipboard to create “magazines” about whatever you want. You choose the content you want to be in the “magazine” through their “Bookmarklet” on an internet browser or by clicking a + button if you’re using their app on your phone or tablet. You can choose an eye-catching photo that you select as the cover and give it a creative title. It ends up looking like a glossy magazine — think National Geographic.
2. How do I start using Flipboard?
It’s easy. On your mobile device you download the app. On a web browser you go to Flipboard.com. You’ll have to create a profile, that is choose a username (many people use the same handle they do for Twitter or Instagram) and a password. Then they’ll ask you to choose some topics you want to follow. Some people get two ready-made mags when they sign up: one is called “Read Later” and the other is called “Picks.” So you need to press “new magazine” and begin your own. Name it something cool and holiday-based, like “Linda Sends You Holiday Cheer.” For best effect, fill in the “Description” too. Be short and quick about it. My description could be “Best Moments of 2016.”
3. How do I add content to my Flipboard magazine?
There are basically two ways to do this. One is through your internet browser. You can download the Flipboard “bookmarklet” so the “+Flip it” stays on your bookmark bar. Here’s how to do it for a browser on a mobile device. And here’s how to do it for any browser on your computer. If you’re adding content through a mobile device, choose anything you want to add to your magazine and click the share icon. One option you’ll get (once you have a Flipboard account) is Flipboard, so click on the Flipboard (a red F) icon and then select the magazine you want to send to friends.
4. What kind of content is good for a Flipboard holiday newsletter?
Basically, you want to show off your year — what you and your family have done. The best way to do this is through photos. And if you have a smartphone, you’re in luck. You can flip anything on your camera roll right into your magazine. So choose your 10 or 2o best pictures of the year. Write a short caption under each one so your friends and family know what they’re looking at. “Here are John and I and the kids at Niagara Falls in August. What fun we had.”
5. Should I do something special about what will be my cover?
For your cover, you want a photo that’s clear, sharp, and sums up everything. Try to find a picture that has a high-resolution, over 900×900 if possible. (Pics you take on your phone should work well.) You want something that has the main image in the center area, so the whole photo can be viewed on any device. Also avoid pictures full of text. Your magazine cover looks best when the only text that appears is the title and short description. Also, choose the photos that seems to “say it all” and then use the option “promote to cover.”
6. So how do I create the newsletter part?
Here’s where you want to use the Flipboard feature called “Compose.” Tap on the blue pencil and you’ll get a page where you can write as much as you want and add pictures and links as well. Compose can help your truly personalize your holiday message. Another great part of Compose: People can leave comments. (You should ask for them in what you write!) So you can get instant feedback on your holiday newsletter done through Flipboard magazines.
7. Can I keep it semi-private?
Yes! Facebook enables you to create magazines that are open only to people you invite. That way your holiday newsletter won’t be visible to the public but only to people you invite to view it — and collaborate if they want. You need to know someone’s email address to invite them to a magazine with this setting.
8. And how do I share my creation with people?
When you think your magazine is ready to make the holiday rounds, you can select the people you want to be in your “private group” (see above). For larger sharing, your magazine will have to be set to public. Then, use the “share” icon (or, if you’re on your computer browser, click “Share” at the bottom of the magazine cover). You can send the link (which will have which will start with http://flip.it) by email, Twitter or Facebook. If you’re on your phone, you can text the link to those on your holiday mailing list. Using the “flip.it” link is simpler and looks more inviting than the long link you would get by copying and pasting the longer URL that shows your browser window address bar.
9. How long does it take to make a holiday magazine?
You can probably make a Flipboard holiday magazine more quickly than writing a long newsletter that includes pictures. Depending on how long you intend to make your Compose page letter, which you can set to be the first thing your friends see by clicking the option to “move to top” when you’re in the “editor” option for the magazine.
Before you finish up, take a look a the Flipboard User Guide, put together by Flipboard Club, a group of avid users who aren’t officially connected to the app. You can also join the Facebook Group called Flipboard Chat for continual conversation about curating Flipboard Magazine. (If you ask to join, feel free to zip me a message so I can expedite your membership.)
I’m hoping that this holiday season I’m reading more Flipboard magazine than typed newsletters because, you know, newsletters are so 20th century. Digital really does it these days.