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Monday, August 20, 2012

WSG 20: DIY Business Cards

Writer's Survival Guide 20: Do It Yourself Business Cards

All summer I told myself to get new business cards, but a lack of expertise prevented me from ordering them. The problem? I wanted to match the cards to my website but didn't know how.

Lucky for me, Sarah Forgrave shared her secrets to creating a professional, gorgeous business card on the cheap. If you're not familiar with Sarah, an inspirational romance writer, please head over to her site!



Step 1: Planning

Before I started designing my cards, I thought of what I wanted to convey with them. When someone, whether a reader, an acquaintance, or an editor picks up my card, I want three things to stand out.

1. Recognition.
If someone were to pick up my card six months from now, the card should trigger instant recognition of who I am and what I offer.

2. Information.
My card should clearly and easily let someone know my identity, what my business is, and how to contact me.

3. Professionalism.
I'm committed to presenting a professional image of myself, my writing, and my business.

In order to assure all three qualities existed in my business card, I brainstormed how to achieve these goals.

Recognition: I consistently match my "brand" across my promotional materials. This means clearly posting my "title" (Inspirational Romance Author) and what makes my writing stand out (Love. Humor. Faith.). I also use the same or similar profile pictures on every social media site, and I include visual reminders to streamline my sites.

Information: My name is my business, so it is the most prominent text on the card. I also include my website address, blog address, and e-mail address. Since I use my author name to create accounts on all social media sites, I didn't include the actual URL's for each of them. Instead, I listed the most prominent sites I belong to, and I put quotes around my name to let someone know how to find me.

Example:

Jill Kemerer
Inspirational Romance Author

Website:  www.jillkemerer.com
Blog:      jillkemerer.blogspot.com
E-mail:   jrkemer@yahoo.com

Connect with "Jill Kemerer" on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube!

Professionalism: In order to maintain a professional image, I used a quality print service. I wanted glossy, color fronts and plain, non-glossy backs (this makes it easy for someone to jot notes on the card). My current printer could not provide the quality I desired, so I opted to outsource the printing.

Step 2: Designing

I am blessed with a newer computer. I don't know if older computers will be able to handle these steps, so I apologize if not all of these options are available to you.

As mentioned earlier, Sarah Forgrave recommended her method of creating a business card. She used Picasa's collage feature to create a color, picture-filled base, and once that was finished, she added text using Picasa's edit feature.

To use this method, you will need:
1. Photographs. If you are not using your own photos, you must have copyright permission for the ones you do use. For instance, if you have professional head-shots taken, ask the photographer if you can purchase the rights to one or more shots. For general pictures, go to iStockPhoto, Dreamstime, or other similar sites to purchase pictures. Dreamstime offers many free photos with a creative commons license. With any photo site, it's a good policy to review their licensing agreements before you download.

2. A photo editor such as Picasa, Photoshop, Gimp, etc... I downloaded Picasa 3 (a free download) after a quick Google search.

3. The correct dimensions for your project. I needed a standard size business card with sharp (as opposed to rounded) corners. For this, I downloaded a free template from GotPrint, which showed the exact pixels, dimensions, and excess border needed to insure proper printing.

A standard business card is 3.5" x 2" but I had to add a small border around the card to allow for "bleed" which is the trim allowance. Design dimensions must be: 3.6" x 2.1" with pixel dimensions of 1260 x 735. 

Here's how to create a photo collage, business card sized, as a base for your card using Picasa 3.

a. Open Picasa and select the pictures you want to use from your computer's files. When you select a picture, it will show up in a box in the lower left hand corner. Click on the thumbtack symbol to hold the picture. Then select the next picture and "hold" it until all the pictures you want to use are in the box.

b. Click on "Create," a tab on the top toolbar, and scroll down and click on "Picture Collage."

c. A new screen will appear with your initial collage on the right hand of the screen, a secondary toolbar above it (Libraries, Collages), and a left-hand editing box. This is where you will set the dimensions for your card.

     1. In the middle of the settings box, click on Page Format and scroll to Add Custom Aspect Ratio. A pop-up box will appear.

    2. In the dimensions boxes, type 1260 and 735 respectively. Name it whatever you would like. I named mine Business Card. Click okay to exit the box.

d. Choose your background color or set a photo as the background. (You should still be in the settings mode of the collage screen.)
    1. To use a color, simply verify "solid color" is checked and click on the box next to it to select the color. You can match colors by clicking on the dropper and touching it to the part of the picture you want to match.
    2. To use a picture as the background, select the picture in the collage. Then click on "Use Image" in the settings box. (Your picture will still be on the collage, but it will also show up as the background.)

e. Arrange the pictures in the collage. (Remember, leave an imaginary 0.05" border around the edge of the card, as this will be trimmed when you order your cards.)
    You can resize, rotate, and delete pictures from your collage by clicking on them. Hover your mouse over the picture, and a circle will appear. To resize or rotate, click on the arrow attached to the circle where a hand appears. Drag the hand until the picture is at the angle you want and is the size you want. To delete, just click on the picture and hit your delete key.

f. Verify you have space provided to type your information. I recommend having plain space to showcase your contact information. It doesn't have to be a white background, but you want the text to stand out and be easy to read. If you're using a picture as your background, look for a "fuzzy" or less busy portion of the picture to use for your main text.

g. Once you're happy with the layout, click on "Create Collage" in the settings box.

h. Save your work! In the File tab, click on "Save As" and give your file a name. It will be save in .jpg format under the Picasa folder, in the Collages folder.

i. Add text. Now that you've created your collage, you can add text. You should see a new editing box with five tabs on the right side of the screen. In the middle of the first tab's box ( wrench), will be a tab called "Text." Click on this for the text toolbar.
     1. You should see "Type anywhere to add text" on your collage. Point your cursor where you'd like to add words and start typing them. You can set the font type, size, and orientation using the tools on the right hand side. You can put text anywhere on your collage, and you can set each "text box" with different settings.
     2. To change the size of the text, you can either set it with the font size tab or you can change it the same way as the pictures. Just click on the text, hover over the hand, and enlarge, rotate, or minimize. Easy!
     3. If your text seems unusually thick, change the fill size to minimum. There are two "T's" in the center of the edit text tab. There's also a scroll bar next to the second T. Slide it until the text is the thickness you want. You can also change the color using these (click on the dot).
     4. When you have added and adjusted all of your text, click on "Apply" in the edit text tab.
     5. After you "apply" the text, make sure you save your work.

j. Your collage is now complete! If you want to edit it, you can open the file in Picasa and click on the "edit collage" button above it.

The only thing left is to order or print your cards. I've used various print sites with success. Some offer low prices but high turnaround times. Others offer high prices and low turnaround times. GotPrint has low prices and low turnaround times. I haven't received my actual cards yet, so I can't personally attest to the quality, but I read their testimonials and trust the word of my friends who have used them.

For an idea of cost, you can check various print sites, local office supply stores, etc... I ended up paying about $10 for 250 business cards with full color, glossy fronts and plain backs. Additionally, I paid roughly $10 for UPS ground shipping. I anticipate receiving the cards in 10-12 business days. They might arrive before this or after, but the timeframe suited my needs.

If you use an online print service, head to their Order Business Card page and verify they have the option to use your own logo/photo/design. You will have to upload your file, which, again, will be the .jpg file you saved your collage as and can be found in your computer files. Mine is stored in my Pictures library, under Picasa, under Collages.

I recommend using the glossy front with plain back feature. This allows people to write notes on the back of the card. It's a personal preference, though, so please do what you think is best.

So there you have it. Creating your own business cards isn't as easy as 1-2-3, but it's much easier and less time-consuming than I thought it would be. Hopefully, having this guide will cut your time considerably!

Would you consider designing your own business cards? Why or why not? Any tips you'd like to share?

Have a great week!

36 comments:

  1. Fabulous looking business card, Jill! Well done! I love designing covers so, whenever I get the chance I think I'll do this for myself too. Excellent post. I'm going to share it!

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    1. You should see Sarah Forgrave's! I would never know it wasn't designed by a professional. Gorgeous! I'm so happy we have programs and services available that allow us to save money and still get a great product. Good luck!

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  2. What fabulous advice! I love designing business cards. I always use VistaPrint - they're quite cheap on this side of the ocean.

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    1. Talli, I've used VistaPrint too, and I love them! Last time I used them, though, I had to pay a hefty shipping fee to get my order within a few weeks. I would use Vista again, but only if I didn't need something quickly. :)

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  3. I was fooling around with Picasa the other day. Got frustrated and quit! Thanks for giving me the step by step! Yours look awesome. Great job!

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    1. I feel your pain, Jessica! It took me a while (and a FB message to Sarah) to figure out basic things like saving the collage and adding text. But once it was finished, I realized how simple it really is. I figured why not share the steps with everyone? :)

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  4. Thank you for this step by step information for creating business cards! I'm almost at the point where I need to make some, so I'm saving this page!

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  5. I've been at that point for months, Tyrean, but a lack of how-to kept me from moving ahead! If you start designing and need help, feel free to e-mail me!

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  6. Awesome job, Jill!!! Your card looks awesome!

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    1. Thank you SO much for sharing your secrets, Sarah. I would still be twiddling my thumbs at this point. And I know I would have ended up with a template and it wouldn't have matched my site. I appreciate your help! Thanks!!

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  7. Thanks so much for this, Jill! I want to get some business cards made up once the website is done, so this is just perfect!

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    1. Great! It's pretty fool-proof! I enjoyed playing around with the collage feature. Good luck!

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  8. LOVE LOVE your card! Been thinking about getting myself some for a long time now. Just might get it checked off my 'to do' list after all!

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    1. Same here! Sometimes just knowing where to start makes all the difference. Have fun!

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  9. I've been considering business cards for a while now. With big conferences in the future, I know it's a must.

    Thanks for all the great tips. Love your card! Beautiful!

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    Replies
    1. Will you be at ACFW this year? I'd love to meet up with you! (And thanks for the kind words!)

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  10. I ordered from Vista Print and just used one of their templates since I didn't know how to do anything else. I'll keep this in mind for future cards! :)

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    1. I've done that in the past too, Lindsay, and I was pleased with the cards. They're relatively cheap, so if you ever feel like changing them, you know what to do!

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  11. Great looking card, Jill! I use Vista Print, but sometimes the font size can be tricky or look different when it arrives in the mail. That might simply be my lack of technological savvy, lol.

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    1. Yeah, I hope my actual cards look as great in person as they do online! You are not alone on the lack of tech savvy!

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  12. Well! I wish I wouldn've read this before I ordered 500 cards. LOL I LOVE yours...it's sooo lovely. I can't wait to see you at a conference and pocket one of those. *grin*

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  13. Same here! Finally, I get to meet you--woo-hoo!!

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  14. Yes, I would. What a great information post! Thanks. :)

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    1. Thanks, Laura!! I am SO grateful to Sarah Forgrave! :)

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  15. Wow, a wealth of information and broken down into easy-to-understand steps. Great post, Jill. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks, PM! I can't wait until they arrive in the mail! :)

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  16. A professional letterhead design plays an important role in daily business communication. Although it may be a simple sheet of stationery with your company logo and contact information, a professional letterhead design is the cornerstone of building your company’s brand identity.

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  17. Hi Jill .. just an ideal time to post this .. I'll take a proper look anon .. and then implement it for some of my own .. great to have - thanks for setting it out so succinctly ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  18. Thanks for providing the full description of business card.
    Ordering Business Cards Online
    Thanks for sharing .

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  19. Is there any company that will avail same day printing for business cards ? Free Business Cards

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    Replies
    1. Vinay, I'm not sure. I do know most companies offer expedited shipping for a premium price. It really depends on how quickly they can get your design to the printer.

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  20. What a wonderful idea with great details. Thanks you so much for making me able to create and design my own choice plastic business cards. This will be so exciting.

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  21. Adorable....design is unique and shade of blue is perfect for it and addition of flowers enhances it`s beauty......

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  22. This is gorgeous post...really impressive business cards idea..keep it up.!!!!!!!

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  23. These might be produced from affordable price tag. Inside commence,
    Plastic business cards it absolutely was extremely lavish to print plastic business cards due to unavailability associated with only high quality PVC.

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