With the recent influx of business card questions I decided to make a thread that I can link back to with some simple insight for anyone looking for help with their card.
1. Hire a designer. Why? The same reason that someone should hire you. I'd say their industry isn't too far off from ours. Still interested? Read into it more here.
If you don't hire a designer, here are some tips that might help:
2. Get them printed professionally. Professionally does not mean on your "photo" printer. You can call around your town and check prices and support local businesses or find someone online. Check with your current printer. they may either do them or can give a good recommendation. I can't really recommend Vista Print, but they are really really cheap. Sometimes even free if you can find a coupon code. But they WILL look cheap when you get them, and I'm sure that isn't how you want to be portrayed. I have used Moo cards and they turned out great. The packaging is pretty cool too. I'd recommend them to anyone who isn't sure where to get them printed.
3. What is the point of your card? I'm not sure what you have one for, but I use mine to help people remember me and my business. Hopefully they will call me, email me, or checkout my website at the very least. If that is what you are aiming for, make sure that info is on the card and easy to read for your desired audience. Business cards are small and the type size is even smaller, so if you obscure this information your cards are worthless. Make sure the text is of a reasonable size, an easy to read font, and plenty of contrast with the background. A few tips in this section:
a) Pixels are square and printers print in straight lines, so if you slant the small text you loose detail and the letters won't be as sharp.
b) The words should be left justified, right justified, centered, or even some other easy to read layout. This isn't the creative part of the card!
c) The most common mistake I see on cards is line spacing and letter spacing issues. Because of the font used, some letters may appear to have a larger or smaller gap between other letters. The same can happen with line spacing. Convert the text to lines or rasterize the font to correct this. This should remain constant throughout this part.
d) Use spell check and correct capitalization!
e) One font is plenty. No drop shadows, glows, fades, etc. needed.
f) Unusual text formatting and punctuation is just that, unusual. It looks odd and does not help get your information across clearly. Using dashes as commas, periods as parenthesis, and any other weird punctuation you can think of is just wrong.
4. So we know what kind of contact information we need on the card already, but what about my name or the name of my business. Get out your logo if you have one and want to use it. Just hang on to it and skip to number 5 below. If you don't have a logo or any other branding marks then you can do one of three things.
a) You can hire a designer to make you one. It will look better than anything you can probably do. But if you didn't hire a designer to make your business card, then you probably won't pick this one, so just keep on reading.
b) You can do without. You will find a nice font (one that complements or is the same as your contact information) and type out your name or your business name. One line, two, or possibly three. You can be creative here. Make sure it looks nice and is easy to read though. Save this for future use on forms, websites, etc.
c) You can make your own. This is a whole new section in itself, but let me give you a few words of advice. Don't use cameras, lenses, aperture blades, flares, or any combination thereof! You will also want to make sure you make the graphic as a vector image, If you don't know what that is, then just make sure you make it large. 5000px by 5000px would be a good size. Who knows, you may want to use it on a billboard, sign, or even a t-shirt later.
5. Now we have all the information we need. Lets start designing the card. Cards have two sides, so lets use them both so we have more room to get across the information that you want. It costs more though... I know! Your potential clients will look at the front of the card, and flip it over to look at the back. When it is blank they will say, "is that it?" in their heads, and that isn't a very good through to be associated with you and your business. So what goes on the front and back? It all depends on your design. You can have your name on one side and your contact info on the other. Picture on the front and everything else on the back, or even overlay the picture with your logo/name? It is really up to you. Just make sure that the cards speak to your desired audience (cute puppies picture for pet photography, or "Wedding and Engagement Photographer" if that is what you do). Landscapes and funky graphics may look cool, but it doesn't get across the point easily. Make your card memorable with a cool image or design. Set yourself apart from the norm if you want to be remembered. There really isn't much I can say to help you on the design part, but I can give you a few pointers:
a) Don't make the card a puzzle. If I have to look at the card for more than 2 seconds to figure out your business name, what you do, or how to contact you then what good is the card to me?
b) No borders your printer will probably cut them crooked or off completely which leads me to the next point...
c) Leave room for a bleed.
d) Use color. Monotone cards were old news after op art and computer generated artwork came out. Now they are ancient. Font in black and white still looks fantastic though!
e) Don't use Gmail, yahoo, or any other free email service. It looks cheap and you probably have an email account with your domain from your website.
f) Use a real website! Don't tell people to go to your Facebook or Smugmug page. Would you hire an employee that told you to go to joeissupercool.freewebsites.com to view his resume?
e) You can probably leave off words like professional. It is kind of a given.
Here are a few ideas to get your inspired:
Use cards with different images to showcase your work. You can always carry around your portfolio and give the perfect card based on the person!
Creative sizes and shapes help you stand out from the crowd!
Get across a message!
See through cards!
What do your business cards look like?
A POTN business card collective. Browse through and find elements you like and ones you don't to help you come up with something unique.
As is with everything, this is not an exclusive guide to making business cards, just some help to get started. These are NOT rules. Even if they were, rules are meant to be broken. I'll keep this updated when I run across any new cool ideas or think of any more general thoughts to help out with the process.
Reply and I can try to give you some ideas to improve your card if you would like. This would also be a good place to keep those threads for future reference.