Once I admitted I was late, I just kept delaying the inevitable — buying business cards.
I got into the full-time, freelance writing back in December, so I ought to have had something right away. I could have passed them out when I spoke at a high school journalism conference and with the many sources I’ve met in my freelancing work since.
Well, now I have them, double-sided cards, as depicted above, though the colors are a bit darker and the text a bit harder to read here than they are when printed. Much thanks to colleague graphic designer Brian James Kirk who did the dirty layout work.
There are those who say business cards are old hat, but, let me answer my own question, they are still absolutely necessary for a freelance journalist even today. Below I share what I did and related learning.
My contact list is heavily organized in my Gmail account, something I think more journalists should be doing. But many of those contacts ended up in there from a card someone passed me. I want that to happen when I meet editors, writers or potential sources. I want them to have my information easily at hand. I also want to motivate them to get to my Web site.
So, OK, OK, I need cards. My colleagues and I at Technically Philly had been talking about getting TP business cards for months. That made great sense, as we’re trying to develop the brand.
I suggested, since my two other co-founders and I are all freelancing, let’s get our personal work on one side and TP on the other side of our premium business cards with Vista Prints. Done. Oh, but then time’s involved, too.
Last week, I wrote about the national BarCamp NewsInnovation conference held at Temple University in swimming fashion on Saturday. Lots of rad people were going to be in attendance and TP was co-hosting the event, so, along with Kirk and Sean Blanda, I got mine rush delivered in three days.
I was ordering 500 cards for $25, but that rush delivery would have been $30 more (!) making the total $55 — 11 cents a card. I called a local Kinkos and a North Philadelphia printer someone recommended, but their prices were still triple and more than double, even with the rush delivery. I would have liked to offer my business to the local printer, and under different circumstances, I likely would have, but I had BarCampers to impress.
I resigned myself to doubling my cost because of speed-shipping when, nearing checkout, Vista Prints, in its incessantly pestering Web site, offered to double my order size for less than a third of the cost. That cut my price-per-card be nearly half, so, though I certainly don’t need that many, I got myself 1,000 cards.
Here’s what my bill looked like:
- 1,000 Custom business cards: $15.23
- Grayscale backside: $11.23
- Matte Finish Included: $0
- Two uploaded images: $7.48
- Rush three-day shipping: $30.18
- Total: $64.12 (6.4 cents per card)
A lot more than the free cards I was going to get from Vista a few months back, paying nothing more than $10 in shipping, but they are a lot more useful and better looking.
What I learned:
- Cards are absolutely valuable — get them.
- Start with no more than 250 free cards and then come back to something bigger and better later.
- Unless you’re a graphic designer or another creative field that begs you to have a bit more ostentation in your card, paying 10 cents or less per card is a good goal to feel you’ve gotten a deal.
- Order the cards now and do the slowest delivery method you can find (Vista Prints 21-day delivery is currently $7, and a little more than $10 for two weeks). Don’t wait for when you really need them.
- If you have another business, a side project or something else you want to promote, utilize the second side of your card. I think that’s better than having two different cards.
- Wait until you have a phone number that ain’t changing — a major reason I did continually delay getting cards.
- If you’re in a city, do give a neighborhood for a bit more specificity, that increases the chance for a connection with a new contact. I listed my Frankford neighborhood, which could warrant someone I meet to remember me if they once lived or knew someone or something from Northeast Philadelphia.
- Do not give an exact address, unless it’s a P.O. box. This could easily be called paranoid, but after much deliberation, I don’t like handing out my address anywhere near as much as I am comfortable with sharing my phone number, e-mail and Web site. Yes, a business card is for ease of information, but I can give it in a quick e-mail if it’s needed.
- 1,000 cards may be more than I need, particularly for a first run, but I wanted to make up for my other mistakes in terms of cost (like ordering late) and am happy to have the motivation to pass them out. For a first run, go with 250 if you’re unsure about the information changing and 500 if you’re feeling a bit more confident.
I get it, we’re entering a brave, paperless world, where varied resumes are important but not as much as the one in your head, right next to that elevator pitch of yours. They’ll tell you a business card isn’t as important anymore. Maybe it’s lost something.
Though I’m awfully happy with the design, the look and its double-side, I know mine isn’t among the most creative business cards out there. But, don’t let anyone fool you, getting someone to move from introduction to your Web site cannot be done better than with a card of your own.