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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.