Jen Bladen

Before I even arrive at your school, I would love to see what your students have accomplished so far. What are their theme ideas? What inspires them? What websites, magazines, brochures have they collected? What designs have they created at camp or in class? Send me screenshots, Pin boards, brainstorming notes, your cover design… I want to see it all! 

Once I’m in your classroom, the first thing we’ll do is get to know each other. I will often know the first name of every student in the room within the first hour of my arrival. We want to build a rapport because they won’t care how much I know until they know how much I care. Then we’ll get to work.

Often editors have at least the beginning of an idea of where they want to go thematically, so I let them take the floor right away. It’s sometimes easier for them to explain to me their theme dreams than to explain to their peers. As a small or large group, we take it from there.

We’ll look at what’s trending now and what’s coming in 2024. We’ll talk about colors and fonts and graphic elements. My job is to empower your students to execute their design ideas into a verbal and visual theme package that covers the entire book — even the marketing plan!

The next step is for individual students to design headline packages, modules, scoreboards and spreads. I will train them if they need it, or simply let them get to work if they already know your page design software. 

We also create a plan for theme-related photography. We plan the title page and last page to create perfect theme-driven bookends. We brainstorm division page designs and copy. We dream up the perfect opening and closing spreads to tell the story of the theme so that the student body understands the theme as well as the yearbook staff does. 

The next step is to develop a marketing plan to sell the book your students are working so hard to create. We’ll talk about how a really great yearbook theme can help drive yearbook sales. We’ll set in motion a month-by-month marketing calendar that gets the word out and gets the books sold. 

Finally, we’ll celebrate. All that diligence deserves a pizza party, don’t you think? As we honor all our hard work, we’ll also reflect on the process and commit to making the product better as a team. My work ends where your students’ begins, and so I try to part on a note of collaboration and genuine appreciation.