Wellington College


The sun was shining, the bags were packed and we were on our way to Wellington College’s 9th Annual Head of School Conference.  Strolling down the driveway to the school we briefly forgot about the rat race of our London office and enjoyed our beautiful surroundings and the fresh air.  Although with our in-house and part time model wanting a photo every 2 minutes it took quite a while to get there!

With just under 50 of the top independent schools in the UK attending we were in for a busy day and we came prepared.  We headed to the Old Hall and set-up ready for the mid morning break where refreshments would be served and we could converse with students. We were overwhelmed with the kind words and compliments about our yearbooks and soon they had all gone.  Luckily though we had packed enough pens so didn’t run out of them!

Head boys and girls looking at the fun features of the Yearbook Machine


Lunchtime was hotly anticipated and the variety of the lunch menu was similar to that of our old offices in surrounding area of Shoreditch; but better, they were all in one place!  Spaghetti Bolognese, Fish and Battered Sausage, mushy peas and chips, Sea Bass, jacket potatoes, home made soup, an extensive salad and cold meat selection; the list went on.  We were once again spoilt for choice; but the winner, by a small majority had to be the chicken and Mediterranean vegetable skewers. Delightful. Although don’t start us on the exceptional puddings…


Our top words of wisdom from the day:

The power of 3: (Not the phone company!)

Jane Lunnn, Head teacher at Wimbledon High School spoke about the proficiency of public speaking highlighting examples of the good and, not so good speeches from the political spectrum. The. Power. Of. The. Pause. And the magic 3, repeating the key points three times to ensure that the audience have understood and remember the talk talk talk.


We want to say a big thank you to Tarla, for organising a great day with inspirational speakers; and a huge thank you again to Wellington College for hosting another great conference.


Until next year, keep leading!


Georgina, Tony, Jess and Hew at Wellington College lake.




Yearbook Machine winners 2014

2014 – A year in review.

So, that’s it. Another yearbook season done and dusted, give or take. The summer holidays are drawing to a close (sob), and the TV is full of back to school adverts. Before the cycle begins anew, there’s just enough time a Yearbook Machine HQ to take a quick breather and think about the year that was.

This year, we produced a little over 230 different yearbooks – a new record for us! Of course, this meant lots of long days, longer nights, and far too much googling of the question “How much coffee is too much?”. We’ve had some tricky moments and the occasional low point, but these all pale in comparison to the good times we’ve enjoyed.

You guys have sent us so much incredible feedback via email, twitter, phone, snail mail, carrier pigeon and semaphore that it makes all the hard work so worthwhile.

With so many awesome books to look through and arrange in Alphabetical order (no mean feat, I should add!), it was even trickier this year to pick our favourites. But we sat up straight, poured ourselves another coffee, and set about choosing this year’s Yearbook Awards.

Best Cover:

There were lots of great custom designs and photos this year – Millfield School’s bold stripes and Albyn’s excellent fancy dress got approving nods. RGS Guildford, last year’s runaway favourite, played a strong hand with their take on the famous Lunch atop a Skyscraper photo. Unable to pick a winner, we put it to a vote, and after two rounds of tense, politically charged polling, we determined that the winner was…

A tie! The Manor Academy and Cotham School share this year’s cover crown. We simply couldn’t choose between the Google-esque floral swirls of Cotham, and The Manor Academy’s clever collage of photos. Take a bow, guys!

Best use of Profile Pages:

With this award, there was definitely one school whose profiles stood out from all the rest. To borrow directly from their style; Hockerill Anglo-European College, you have been convicted for Having Awesome Profile Pages.

Best Custom Pages:

Featuring parodies of BBC News, Google Play, Hot Wheels and even a UK Border Agency Terror Alert (don’t ask), there was one clear choice this year. For the second year running: Hasmonean School, come on down!

Best Overall Book:

Okay, this is it. The big kahuna. Le grand fromage. Just like Highlander, the Premier League (sorry Liverpool) and the X Factor, there can only be one. Happily, this year the decision was a simple one. With their enthusiasm for the online system, their love of all things technological, and superbly international student base, we’re pleased to announce that this year’s winner of the Best Book Award is the Halcyon London International School!
Thanks to all our customers for a great year of Yearbooking. We’ve been spending the summer working on some great new things for the system, and next year promises to be our best yet. We look forward to seeing you all again!

The big World Cup draw

Happy summer everyone.

Some of us here at Yearbook Machine are beside ourselves with excitement about the next 4 weeks. Not only are there lots of exciting yearbooks to be made, but the best sporting event in the world, the World Cup, is back in our lives. Day after day of top quality and often low quality football, drama, and victory (for some).

world cup


On Friday we did our (fair and transparent) World Cup draw – assigning most people 3 teams, and others just 2. You can find our results below. We won’t reveal what’s up for grabs, but it’s safe to say that people are taking this seriously, and will be following the rules with vigour. The rules include wearing your teams’ stripes or at least colours on match days, and speaking only in the first and second languages of that country on those days. We will be tweeting pictures and Vines of the highlights as we go.

We’re running a separate competition for all of you lot. If you want to get involved, simply tweet, Facebook, or email us, by 6.00PM tomorrow (Wednesday the 11th of June), the name of the team that you think will (a) score the most goals during the World Cup, and (b) the team that will receive the most red or yellow cards. Any correct entries after the tournament is over will win a secret prize…

Dan: Nigeria, Switzerland, and Ecuador

Jess: Italy, Cote D’ivoire, Colombia

Adam: USA, Spain

Balla: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium

Jamie: Germany, Brazil, Cameroon

Luke: Ghana, England

Will: Portugal, Croatia, Honduras

Andy: France, Costa Rica, Mexico

Kuba: Australia, Japan

Rich: Uruguay, Russia, Algeria

Marika: Korea Republic, Argentina, Netherlands

Gabi: Iran, Greece, Chile



Money money money

Excuse us for not having posted a blogpost in a while. We’ve been snowed under getting the system ready for the big push. We welcome back our old customers, and say a big hello to all the new customers who have signed up this year. With the new employees who have joined the Yearbook Machine team this year along with some changes we’ve been making to the backend of the system, we’re really excited about the next few months!

In past blogposts we’ve covered who to have in a committee, the name of your yearbook, the value of hoodies, and given you some inspiration for Custom Pages. It’s time to impart some more wisdom. This time, we’re here to help you out with the finance of the yearbook. Perhaps the least fun part of the book, but nevertheless incredibly important.

You pay for the yearbooks after the Editor Deadline passes. This comes around quickly and you’ll need to ensure that you have the right amount ready so that you don’t delay the printing of the yearbooks.  We’d advise collecting the money , and planning how you’re going to pay for the books very early on in the stage. Here are some important things to consider, and some advisable steps to follow:

1.  A democratic budget - It’s a good demonstration of your leadership if you show yourself to be considerate about everyone in the yearbook. Doing a survey of people’s maximum budgets either in person, or perhaps using Survey Monkey only takes a few minutes, and is really helpful in getting people on board for the yearbook. Ask everyone what is the most that they’d pay for their yearbook, and what extras they want for the yearbook, and go from there.

2. People’s enthusiasm - The price of the yearbooks depends on how many yearbooks are bought. We’d advise getting people committed to the yearbook early on to keep the price for the yearbooks as low as possible. This will require good people skills, so, it might be best to get the social secretary of the yearbook committee on this.

3. The pricing calculator is your best friend - Whilst you can always get in touch with us to ask for a quote for your yearbooks, you can refer to the pricing calculator for an accurate quote at any time of the day or night.

4. Consider collecting the money in instalments - Dividing up the payment of the yearbooks into 2, 3, or 4 small instalments is a good way of (A) getting people to commit to the yearbook early on and (B) assuaging any worries that people might have about paying for the yearbooks in one lump sum. If you plan on your book being £20 for example, you could take 4 X £5.00 instalments. This could be once a month depending on when you begin the yearbook project, and when you want the yearbooks for. You could also just do it in two x £10.00 payments if you’d prefer. It requires a good head for organisation, and forward planning.

5. Think about fundraising for the yearbook – You may want to bring down the cost of the yearbook through offering advertisement space in the yearbook. This could be a page, or you could fit 3/4 adverts on one page and charge a certain amount per advert. Local companies and alumni organisations often jump on this offer.

6. Get hoodies at the same time as yearbooks - If you buy your yearbooks and hoodies together, you can save £5.00 off each hoodie. If you order and pay for both at the same time, you’ll save everyone lots of money and be the best yearbook leader there is.

7. Keep people in the loop - If the price of the book changes dramatically from what you initially told everyone, make sure you tell them straight away. Keep everyone up to date if the price changes, and exactly why it’s changed. If you’ve collected the money and the book ends up costing less than you planned, how about throwing a party for everyone with the remaining money?

If you’re on half term, or reading week, now is a really good time to spend some quality time with the yearbook. We’re all in the studios as usual so if you need any help, just pick up the phone, or drop us an e-mail. Enjoy! :-)


Some christmas cheer!

Are you the most important person in your year, school, or university? AKA – Are you head of the yearbook committee? If so, this is a very important week for you (and the rest of the committee of course). The week leading up to christmas is a pivotal week in ensuring that your yearbook ends up the very best it could be, and that you get everything finished on time. After Christmas, you’ll probably have mock exams, real exams, coursework, and other pressing things to concentrate on. Here are a few things we advise you sorting out prior to the madness of 2014.

1. Set up your yearbook account on Yearbook Machine. It only takes a few minutes, but it’ll be comforting knowing that you’ve got the initial set-up out the way, and you’ve got a base to return to when you’re ready to give it your full attention.

2. Add polls to the system. Our users love the polls. In fact 215089 votes were cast in the polls this year! That’s more than the Oscars, the Emmy’s, the MOBO’s and that I’m a Celebrity thing put together. Anyway, adding polls to the yearbook ensures that people have something awesome (apart from their profiles of course) to play around with when they first sign up. It’ll also help you out because if all the votes are made early on in the process you can make and finish the poll pages which saves you from doing it at a later stage.

3. Add all the necessary sections to the yearbook. Sections add a neat structure, or a skeleton if you will, to your yearbook. Before you go away for xmas it’s a good idea to add all the sections that you are going to need. For example you could add: Profiles, Sports, Parties, Messages from staff, Awards, Trips, Clubs, and Goodbyes as sections. Then when you return to your yearbook all you need to do is add the content and photos or, the flesh.

4. Finally, and of upmost importance, is to add PEOPLE to the yearbook! Adding everyone onto the system is fast and simple. We know it seems a bit early on to be worrying about people finishing their profile, but you’ll be surprised how quickly time goes by once the new year starts. Adding people before the end of the year ensures that everyone can get started early, and realistically, no one has any excuse if they don’t finish their profiles in time.

Here at Yearbook Machine HQ we’ve been busy behind the scenes making sure that everything is perfect. The past few months have been spent fixing all the tiny glitches in the system and coming up with some ideas of how to make the system even better for everyone. 2014 will see some exciting changes and we can’t wait. We started 2013 with a team of just two people. Whilst these two people are still the very best, we’re now a big ole team of 9. Here’s what else happened in 2013:

278708 photos were uploaded to the Yearbook Machine system.

31% of comments made in yearbooks had the word “love”

51% of comments made in yearbooks finished with “xx” or “xo”

The most common boy’s name in all our yearbooks was James

The most common girl’s name in all our yearbooks was Hannah

12,000 polls were created

“One Direction” featured in 1.5% of comments in the yearbooks…

75% of photos in the yearbooks were selfies.

That last statistic wasn’t necessarily accurate, but it is fair to say that One Direction and Selfies have taken over the world and yearbooks this year. I challenge you all to ban Selfies, Twerking, and One Direction from your yearbooks. Be creative, individual, and interesting. Surprise us, surprise everyone else, and mostly, surprise yourself in 10 years time. When you look back on your yearbook and think of your time at school or university, I promise that you’ll be disappointed if all you read about is the latest rubbish dancemove or X-factor created boyband from that year. You’re better than that!

Anyway, enough of the pep talk. Have an amazing christmas and new year. Our offices are closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but we’re always contactable by e-mail, no matter the day. See you on the other side!









The christmas party

This year has been a crazy one for Yearbook Machine. We more than doubled the amount of yearbooks we made this year compared to last year, and we’ve grown from 2 people in January, to 9 people in December. With 4 new people having started in the past 3 weeks, and 2 more in the month before, the oldies (Dan, Jess, and Adam) decided that a party was due. The new people needed to get to know the old, and we of course needed to celebrate christmas. We teamed up with the lovely and eccentric people at Reference Me and invited everyone we knew.

1471962_10202776828886002_2017002183_n     <——— The Reference Me team


We ordered an obscene amount of pizza and set up a classy cocktail bar which featured a delicious Estonian liquor called Vana Tallinn. We had numerous djs playing back to back throughout the night hoping to please all tastes and preferences. Some questionable songs were played, but the dancing never stopped. The prize for the best dancer of the night went to our Estonian programmer Jaak. His moves were outrageous.

JAAAK Look at those sunglasses!

The cocktails got less classy as the evening went on but a lot of fun was had. Even more enjoyable was cleaning up the aftermath the next day. Have a look at some photos from the evening including our little helper who came along to give us a hand in setting up the party. Our little helper didn’t stick around for the actual party – Don’t worry!


IMG_2246  <—- Our mate OscarIMG_2249 IMG_2260 IMG_2278 IMG_2286 IMG_2291

Jealous? Experiencing extreme anxiety due to FOMO? Don’t worry. We’ll be having another party in a few months time so watch this space! :-)


What you absolutely need to know about hoodies.

A sneaky Yearbook Machine secret: Our second most popular product after yearbooks is hoodies. About 80% of our customers choose to get hoodies with us as well as yearbooks, and what a good decision those 80% make. Not only are our hoodies deliciously warm, soft inside, and make you look pretty fantastic, but there many  secret advantages to getting a Leavers’ hoodie that you probably never realised existed. Without one, you may very well not achieve your dreams.

They work extremely well as a subliminal networking/friend making tool: If you wear your Leavers hoodie everywhere, at university, in halls, on a night out, going shopping, eating in KFC, travelling abroad, or just to get a simple kebab you have no idea of the opportunities that could arise as a consequence. Wearing your hoodie tells everyone around you what school or university you went to and therefore alerts alumni from the same institution. I know of a few people who have struck up conversations with alumni from their university in very odd places by wearing their hoodies out and about and scored jobs and invites to some pretty fancy and even fun events. Without your Leavers Hoodie, you’re just another person in a crowd. Make yourself known without wearing an actual badge.

They give endless hours of nostalgic conversation: Thinking about old classmates? Wondering what they’re up to, or even just wondering who they were? Forget turning to Facebook. It’s far too easy. What’s more fun is meeting up with a friend at a bar or coffee shop or whatever floats your boat, bringing your Leavers Hoodie, and then painstakingly going through all the names on the back and discussing your memories of all your old classmates. You’ll laugh over old stories, and probably also feel the need to catch up with certain people. It might be a welcoming kick up the bum to reconnect to people. Who knows how that could change your life? I remember sitting by the Thames a couple of years after leaving school with an old friend. She had her Leavers Hoodie with her and we spent a good couple of hours discussing each and every person on the back of that hoodie. We were crying with laughter.


Baracklaughinggervais laughingmanlaughing


They help you to laugh at yourself - Think long and hard about the nickname that’s going to go on the back or front of your hoodie. It’ll be there forever, and you’ll almost certainly regret it as soon as you receive it. That’s okay though, because the regret will help you to laugh at yourself, and to see how far you’ve come! Do I regret getting OrangeWKDlass on the back of my leavers hoodie? Yes! But today I can look back and remember what I was like, and how far I’ve (maybe) come. At uni people laughed at me, but I laughed at their hoodies too and struck up friendships with them. Your Leavers Hoodie is a powerful tool that you must not leave school or university without. Order yours here.





Yearbook Machine is growing by the day, and we’ve got yet another addition to our family. Please welcome Luke from Essex. He’s extremely busy at the moment so the quick-fire interview, really did have to be fired quickly. Will’s “quick-fire” interview took the best part of a day.  I asked him some essential questions and have done you all the favour of posting them here so you feel like you can get to know Luke without even meeting him.

Favourite crisps: Disco Salt and Vinegar

Favourite meal: Raclette

Favourite country: Indonesia

Best thing about Yearbook Machine: The sweets and the helicopters. The combination of the two, especially. (watch this space for some riveting videos)

Drink of choice: Gin and Tonic (He’s clearly the classiest member of the Yearbook Machine team)

At this moment we’re interrupted by the flying YearbookMachinecopter. Bought by programmers Will and Adam in order to transport sweets around the office, it’s actually wreaking havoc and messing up poor Luke’s hair. Have a look what went down here:



photo (29)  photo (28) photo (27)

Seems we’re going to have to finish this interview another day..











The big yearbook giveaway

For every print run we do, we always print a few more books than the original order just in case something goes wrong with some of the books. Thankfully that is a very rare occurrence, and thus this year we had over 600 leftover yearbooks. With our archive space almost bursting at the seams from the lovely books we’ve made over the years, we decided we needed to shift these ones to make sure there would be room for all the yearbooks we’re going to make in the future. Instead of selling them to the schools that made them, we decided to give them away, provided that a donation for each book was made to our chosen charity.

We’re really glad to announce that we beat our fundraising target. Thank you so much to everyone involved. We’re very proud to introduce to you our chosen charity: The Hackney Pirates. :-)

Hackney PP The Hackney Pirates is a local charity that works with children one-on-one to improve their literacy levels and give them real life skills that they can use in the future. The pirates don’t actually have a permanent home at the moment. However, they’re moving into a new Ship of Adventures at the end of this year, and the Young Pirates have been helping get everything together. You can see a great video about what they’ve been up to here. It’s clearly going to be a fantastic space, and we’re excited to see what it’s going to look like when it’s all complete. Hopefully we’ll be able to go visit it early next year, and give you all an update on the great work that the pirates are doing.

If you made a yearbook with us this year,  you haven’t heard about the leftover yearbooks and you might want one, drop Jess an email at jess@yearbookmachine.com. If you’d just like to donate to The Hackney Pirates, however,  you can still do so on our JustGiving page. If you’re London based, you might even fancy volunteering some of your time to the pirates.

Thank you again for all your support, and best of luck to the Hackney Pirates in all their upcoming adventures.








A wildly warm welcome to Will

Meet Will: Our new half-Swedish half-Metal man Developer

photo (25)

Hailing from beautiful Birmingham, he loves folk metal and drum and bass. A big fan of cats and a penchant for Italian cheese and wine, I decided to give him a rapid fire interview so all our lovely customers could get to know him better:

Favourite cheese? ”I like that stuff that’s got Cranberry in it. What is it? Are you typing exactly what I just said?..Okay..Wensleydale that’s the one.”

Favourite meat? “Rare steak. It’s meat. It’s awesome”

Best packet of crisps a human can buy?: *Rubs face looking anxious and confused* “I have no idea. I like those posh looking ones. Not sensations – They’re not posh. Kettle chips! That’s the one. Kettle chips are the best. Sea salt and Vinegar ones. They’re amazing”

Favourite Yearbook Machine feature?: “The coffee machine. No just joking. Sort of. The polls are wicked. I wish we had an online polling system for our school yearbook. Our yearbook committee clearly rigged the voting. Appalling behaviour”

20 minute fried chicken break courtesy of Mother Clucker. I’m feeling chickened out and content, but Will wants me to continue, so we go in for round 2.

Best city in the world? “well if you ask me, a few months ago I would have said Birmingham. It’s pretty great. But I guess, now it’s gonna be London soon. ACTUALLY NO! Las Vegas. Of course. I wasn’t even old enough to gamble but it was pretty insane anyway”

Who’s your idol? “Who’s my idol..It’ll probably be someone really nerdy or a rockstar of some form I guess. Someone like Richard Stallman is pretty cool although a bit mad. Alexi Laiho – he’s lead guitarist for Children of Bodem and he looks identical to me. Or I look identical to him. Bruce Dickinson is also pretty awesome. Such an awesome guy. He’s the front man of the one of the best bands in the world, and he’s also a pilot, and he’s an all round ace guy.”

Obviously I had to find a picture of this Mr Laiho to see for myself. Turns out they really are twins. Except Laiho wears eyeliner.


Back to the interview:

Drink of choice: “ALE! I love ale. It’s brilliant. Better if I’ve never heard of it. I love trying all sorts of ales. If i go to a pub and they have an ale I’ve never heard of, I’ll have that.”

Ten minutes later he says he needs to change his answer.

“Actually, it would go Tea, coffee, and then ale.. I just never drink tea here because you all drink coffee. Excessively. ”

Ten minutes later… ‘More questions! Come on”

Best chocolate bar: Any chocolate with little bubbles in it. Bubbly chocolate is the best. Just tastes nice. I also like dark chocolate with 85% cocoa butter. MMMMM”

Favourite App: “Textra – a replacement texting service that doesn’t suck.”

At this point we realise it’s been an whole hour since we’d topped ourselves up with coffee, and decided that enough is enough.

If you’ve done well enough to read down to the bottom of this interview, get in touch with us to discuss what special deals we have to offer on yearbooks and hoodies this year.