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Archives for July 2007

How to Create Business Cards That Bring You Business

Business Cards

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

There are a few different options for getting business cards on the cheap. A quick Google search will deliver a number of free business card offers. You can also buy those perforated sheets and print them out yourself, or get a fairly cheap deal at any big-box office supply store.

And they’re all great ideas in the name of bootstrapping your costs. But they’re also cheesy, raggedy, or just plain flimsy. To do serious business without having to apologize for your cards or tell the story about what a great deal you got, you need professional cards.

Let’s get to it …

Make Sure They’re Worth the Paper They’re Printed On

The free and cheap sources I mentioned all use cheap and flimsy 10pt (point) or 12pt card stock. Both of these are more like glorified paper rather than good card stock. Frequently, you’ll get a box of curled cards at these paper weights.

The best card stocks for business cards are 14pt for full color C1S/C2S cards, and 16pt for matt (non-glossy) cards. This doesn’t sound like much more, but they’re a lot heavier. You can get these heavier professional card stocks when you order your cards from a professional printer. Office supply stores don’t usually offer the option to keep prices down by buying light-weight paper in high volumes.

Full color cards should be coated with a UV coating on both sides. UV coatings give it a little or a lot of gloss, depending on what you want. C1S means the card is coated on one side. C2S is both sides and is not really something you need. The full color printing and the coating give the card additional strength and thickness which is why you can use 14pt card stock for color cards.

Card Sizing

There are different standard sizes for business cards all over the world. The most popular is the US standard which is 3.5 x 2 inches. The next most popular is the ISO (International Standards Organization) size of 3.37 x 2.125 inches.

Card sizing is important! Larger than standard cards might seem like a good idea to make your card stand out, but they don’t fit into a lot of card carriers or a wallet without being cut or crumpled.

Taking Advantage of the Printers Layout

Most professional printers will print 4 cards on a single sheet. This means that you can print cards for 4 different people by setting up the layout with a different name on each card. In fact, you can get any of the following combinations:

  • 1000 cards for one person
  • 500 cards each for two people
  • 500 cards for one person and 250 cards each for two other people
  • 250 cards each for four different people

Keep in mind that the next time you print your cards, you’ll get the same combination unless you buy new printing plates with a different combination of names.

Design and Color

There are 3 basic things to consider when designing your cards:

  1. Make it bold and simple. Your logo, company name, and contact info should all easily stand out. Simple, bold designs are the best way to achieve this. Too much information on a business card means clutter and teeny, tiny type that’s hard to read. Remember, it’s not a newsletter.
  2. Keep some whitespace. A great reason to print (and gloss coat) only one side is to leave some space to write down notes. I frequently jot down notes on business cards that I receive. It might be info about where I met this person from, services they specialize in, or pricing. Whitespace (non-glossy) on the front is especially good for noting a private number or other important info that’s not printed on the card.
  3. Get proof. The printer should get you a proof to sign off before the cards are printed. Check it, and get someone else to check it as well to make sure all the information on the layout is correct. Color proofs should be very close to the actual card, but they won’t be exact. If you have any questions, talk to the printer. And always keep a copy of the proof for yourself. 

For some great tips on designing your logo, download my free Branding eBook.

I have a large and growing collection of business cards from different people and companies. And while a great business card doesn’t cause me to form any sort of opinion about who I’m dealing with …

A bad one sure does.

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I’ve Got Mine. What are the 7 Wonders of YOUR World?

The Great Pyramids

The voting has finally wrapped up on the New 7 Wonders of the World. It’s drawn a fair amount of criticism because it’s a private for-profit venture. And because, instead of relying on science and academic study, the new wonders have been chosen by online voting. Some of which are paid votes.

But how much meaning do any of these new, or old wonders really have to you? Or me? And why do they all have to be places or monuments?

The 7 Wonders of MY World

  1. Breakfast on any given Sunday with great friends
  2. Learning something from a great mentor
  3. BMW
  4. Artful business deals and strategies
  5. Sexy curves in an old pair of jeans
  6. My favorite people. Laughing
  7. A really great sandwich with everything on it. Everything

The cup is always half full. Take some time and see what’s in it.

What’s on YOUR list … ?

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The Zoom Guide To Writing High Traffic Blog Posts

Did the headline get your attention? I hope so. That’s its job.

For the last week I took a little hiatus from blogging to go to blog-writing school. Where is this school? It’s all around you. There are eBooks, blogs, and blog posts that can teach you everything you want to know about how to write great posts that people want to read and bookmark because they bring real value.

Zoom Traffic

I’ve studied quite a few things around the web over the last week. I have some links to share with you; to things you can check out and dive into on your own.

And I’ve assembled a checklist of all the essential elements of a great post. It’s not a template. It’s more of a quality control guide that you can use to check your posts to make sure they contain the things that make a great post great. I’ll be using it quite a bit to check my own writing.

Off to Blogging School

A lot of people have been writing about what it means to create great content. And why you should. So there are quite a few great posts and eBooks out there to devour. Here are some of the best:

Let’s start with understanding what an authoritative rescource is. Why it’s important to be one, and learn a little from a few people who’ve excelled in building blogs that are …

Right about now you’re starting to realize just how important it is to write great posts. Now the big question is, how?

  • We have to start with Brian Clark’s eBook Viral Copy.
  • Then we have to check out some of his other stuff like his Copywriting 101 series.
  • And then, it’s time to take a field trip. Pour over, study, and understand the great content written by people who’ve built superblogs in a very short time … zenhabits, Dosh Dosh, Freelance Switch. These blogs have all done very well, very quickly by writing great content. Authoritative content. Resourceful content.

There are a ton of other great resources out there. Pay attention to them all and learn a little bit from each and every one of them. And now that we know why and how, it’s time to boil it all down into something we can practice every time we write …

The Checklist for Writing High Traffic Blog Posts

The Post Idea

  • Be inspired. Write and build ideas with a creative angle
  • Understand the benefits to your readers that the idea conveys
  • Fit the idea into your subject niche. For your audience

The Headline

  • Be bold
  • State the benefits of the post to your readers in the headline
  • Describe what you’re writing about. The headline should be definitive of what you’re going to talk about

Images

  • Use good quality images that are appealing
  • The image should literally represent or very easily symbolize what the post is about

The Opening Paragraphs

  • Set-up the post
  • Focus on your readers
  • Provide an executive summary of the content

Your Authoritative Content

  • Maintain your character and personality. A dry read sucks, no matter how concrete the info is.
  • Create a step by step ‘How to’
  • Create lists
  • Tell stories and show examples
  • Link to the best resources

The Denouement

  • Write a final summary, take-away, lesson, or commentary

How to Use the Checklist

You can use the checklist to help you write great stuff, or use it as a quality test when a post just seems to be a little lost. What the checklist does is help you measure two things:

  1. Is it Authoritative? Does it have the best information from the best sources? Does it have the most detailed and easy to understand information? Is it trustworthy and believable?
  2. Is it a Resource? Is it worth bookmarking or referencing? Is it worth linking to or talking about?

Deliver these two things time and time again … build it … and they will come. The proof is in the blogs that have done it.

Not every post that I write or you write will be a diamond. Not even in the rough.

But there will be gems. And more of them.

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