Make your own business cards

by Kim G on January 3, 2011

make your own business cardsThe business card is probably the most widely distributed business publication.  It makes the first impression about you and your business.  If you are starting a desktop publishing business, or any other business,  you should invest in quality, well designed and printed business cards from a professional printer.  However,  you may decide (for various reasons) to make your own business cards.  This post will discuss options for making your own business cards.  But before we get started, let’s discuss some general information about business cards.

What information goes on a business card?

Of course, you can put whatever you like on a business card, but remember, there is limited space.  You should only include the most important pieces of information, so that you don’t crowd your business card.  Here is a list of information that may be included on business cards

Physical Address
Tagline/Slogan/Call to Action
Other info such as coupons, appointment information, maps

Business Card Layouts
The standard size for a business card in the US is 3.5” x 2”.  Other countries have similar size specifications.  Design layouts can be horizontal,vertical, double sided, and folded.  You can also opt for non-standard sizes and custom die-cut designs.  Just remember, non-standard sized cards are difficult for recipients to put in their wallets or other business card storage units.

Different Options for making your own business cards

Design your own cards using word processing software
This is a good option if you do not have access to desktop publishing software, or if you have minimal desktop publishing skills.  Most higher-end word processors such as Microsoft Word or Open Office Write have desktop publishing features such as autoshapes, textbox objects and images that allow you to easily create a business cards.  There are also many business card templates available on the Internet to help you get started.  Most business card templates for word processors have multiple cards on one page, and are designed to be used with business cards perforated sheets specially designed for home printing.

1.  Easy to use and flexible.  You can easily add your own clipart, logo or change fonts and colors
2.  You don’t need any special desktop publishing skills.
3.  Usually designed for home printing…great for printing small amounts of cards

1.  Typically, word processing business card templates contain multiple copies of the cards on each page, you have to change each card separately if you need to make a correction.
2.  By the time you factor in ink (or toner) and cardstock costs, your total price may be the same as if you had purchased them from a printer.
3.  Options such as borderless printing (bleeds) or other higher-end printing options may not be available.
3.  If you decide to take your design to a printer, they may not accept a word processing files.

Use a Desktop Publishing Program
If you have desktop publishing software and are comfortable using it, then this is probably the best way to make your own business cards.  If you are a desktop publisher creating business card designs for clients that need to go to a printer, this is the best method to use.  Desktop publishing software has the most design flexibility.  You can design cards that can be printed on a home printer or at an online or local professional printer.

1.  Maximum flexibility.  You can create unique designs with almost any kind of design feature that you want.
2.  Most desktop publishing programs can meet most professional printer options such as borderless printing (bleeds) and color options.

1.  Desktop publishing software may have a high learning curve and can be expensive.
2.  If sending to a professional printer, printer file specifications and design guidelines may be difficult to understand.

Special Business Card Software
There are desktop publishing software applications created specifically for making business cards.  These software applications usually have an easy to use interface, many templates, and even prompts to help you quickly and easily make business cards.  These programs typically have lots of clipart and images, and can also help you create logos.  Programs prices range from about $15 dollars up to about $100 dollars.

1.  Can help simplify the design process
2.  Lets you to add graphic elements without the learning curve of traditional desktop publishing software.  Also, may be less expensive than DTP Software.
3.  Give you graphics, logos, backgrounds and templates in one package

1.  Many features already available in full desktop publishing
2.  May be time consuming to research all of the Business Card Software Packages available

Online “Design you own Business Card” Websites
If you are a beginner at design and desktop publishing, this is a great option.  These sites have a “business card design software” that will layout your cards for you based on the options that you select.  You can choose font, colors, clipart logos and many other options.  Some sites may let you upload your own logo or photos.   Many of these sites will allow you to save your design, and even save your design to a PDF so you can print them yourself.  The functionality and restrictions of these “design your own card” sites vary greatly, so make sure you understand the options and restrictions for the site that you plan to use.

1.  Quick and very easy to use.
2.  Many of the websites offer free design services.
3.  You can get good ideas for business card designs if you are having a hard time coming up with ideas on your own.
4.  Some sites will also offer inexpensive printing services for your cards

1.  You usually must use the design options listed on the site.  Most of these sites will not allow for original designs.  Your logo or card design may not be unique.
2.  The functionality of these sites vary greatly from site to site, so you will have to make sure you understand the options available on the site that you select.

Printing your Cards

Once you have your cards designed, you can either print them at home on your laser or ink jet printer, or you can use a professional printer, either online or local.

Professional Printers
If you have designed you cards using a word processor, desktop publishing or business card software, make sure that you understand the requirements and specifications for the business card file.  These specifications can vary from printer to printer, so make sure you get specific guidance from the printer or service bureau that you plan to use.  Here is a sample of design guidelines from an online printer, to familiarize you with the design issues you may need to understand.  Also, make sure you know what kind of card stock your printer will be using.  Often printers will advertise a very cheap price (such as 500 cards for $19.99), because they are using a cheap and flimsy card stock.  Be aware that many printer may add significant upcharges for additional options such a better card stock or other special printing options.

Printing on your Home Printer
When printing business cards on a home printer, business card sheets are usually used.  These sheets print 10 cards per sheet, and are made of card stock specially made for ink jet or laser printers.  These cards are perforated so that you can easily remove the the individual cards from the sheets.  Use “clean edge” sheets that do not leave ragged edges.  You don’t want your cards to have that “home-made” look.  If you decide to use regular card stock, you will need to have a quality paper cutter.  Just remember, cutting your own cards can be very time consuming.

Good luck with making your cards!

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