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.

14 thoughts on “How to Create Business Cards That Bring You Business”

  1. Great business card tips! I have to agree, this is one place you don’t want to go cheap. Buisness cards and websites are areas where a lot of people want to save a few bucks, but the bad impression left is lot more expensive.

  2. My friend just got business cards printed that he purchased online for $14. He received 250 cards, they were printed on the good paper, standard size, and the design was sleek and professional. I forgot the name, but if I can get in contact with m yfriend I’ll let you know!!

  3. In my opinion, your last point:…

    “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.”

    …also has to apply to websites. While a good website doesn’t necessarily mean someone is more likely to revisit it, I tend to think that people will often not go back and revisit a bad one.

  4. Anthony,

    There’s nothing funnier than someone who’s hyping tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of business, but they printed their business cards at home on perf sheets. It just doesn’t scream of credibility.

    Hey Gregg,

    That’s a pretty killer deal. Usually good cards cost $200+. The time and materials to make proper printing plates costs more than 14 bucks. But I guess there are some opportunities on the WWW. Was it part of some kind of promotion?

  5. HMG,

    I agree. Of course there are some very ugly websites that are very popular. I think the secret there is great content + readability.

    At the same time there are some websites with good content and readability that are still just so busy with erratic design and information overload, that I can’t stick around.

  6. I loved the first line Shane, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” I don’t have the option to design my own business card, we use the stuff provided by the people I work with and its pretty neat.

    I have learned through experience that while exchanging business cards it pays to show some interest in the card you received rather than just slip it in your top pocket, which is usual practice. I usually read through the card and ask a question, could be something like, “how does it feel being the sales manager of this organization”? and invariably my prospect would ask me a question too, which almost always is, “what does DFS (diploma of financial services)stand for Robin?” I am sure you know about this body language transfer.

    Having a great looking business card sure would help but what I said above adds a little more value to the meeting, I think its a good start to the meeting.

    Take care and cheers

  7. Robin,

    You make a great point about how to exchange business cards. I do the same thing. I usually focus in and read the card as soon as someone hands it to me. It’s a good habit to have.

  8. Interesting post with a lot of good information on choosing business cards. Another interesting feature that I’ve seen people really like are business cards with rounded corners. We’ve done some sets of cards with rounded corners where I work and they seem to be a big hit with clients. I guess sometimes, little details like that can make a big difference.

  9. Most business cards are in landscape orientation, but I designed my card in a portrait style.

    It’s a simple but very unique layout and I always get positive comments about the design.

    Good tip also Robin

  10. Hi Clarke, and welcome,

    Little design extras can make a big difference in making a card unique. I just wanted to cover the basics to keep it simple.

    I’ve got a stainless steel business card in my collection from a company that makes stainless equipment … pretty cool, but I’d hate to guess what they cost 🙂

    Hi Andy,

    I had a portrait layout on my own card with full color graphics a few years ago. It was pretty swank and got a lot of nice comments … probably for the graphics, but the portrait layout made people take a longer look at it when I handed it out.

    That said, I’m a big fan of simple cards with strong, simple branding … like many of the ones in my collection that you can see in the picture above.

  11. I ordered cards from recently (after I read that on , they’re “mini-cards” as they call it. 28mmX70mm but they look totally awesome. I made a logo, and all, and for 15 bucks (100 cards) i have to say I’m impressed by the quality 🙂

    What I like the most is when I give my card to someone, since they’re not standard size they all go like “wow, where d’you got those?”, which is nice, that’s what I wanted when I ordered those mini-cards. But I use them for music business and record company stuff, so since they look different then “normal sized” cards, and more artsy, I guess it fits.

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