Many home business owners underestimate the power of a business card. While they often end up in the trash, a well thought out business card can be one of the best offline marketing tools you have. When you consider how affordable and portable they are, it makes sense to always have a few on you to give away. Plus, with perforated quality business card paper and affordable color printers, making your own business cards can be quick and easy, and ideal if you only need a small quantity or have run out of your regular cards and need a few to tide you over until you order new ones.
Here’s how to design and print business cards at home.
Pre-Design Your Card
What Will You Put on Your Card? The first thing you want to do is decide what will be on your card. The traditional business card has your name, title, address, phone, email, and fax, if you have one. Many also include your picture which can help make it easy for people to remember having met you. However, these types of cards also get thrown away a lot. So, while you want to have your contact information on your card, consider adding something that will entice them to hold on to it for reference. For example, many realtors include a mortgage chart to help people figure out how much house they can afford. If have an online store, you might offer a coupon on your business card. A coach or consultant can provide a list of important tips.
The key to offering more than just contact information is to remember that your business card size will be approximately 2 inches by 3 inches. You don’t want to cram too much information that people can’t read it. One way to overcome that is to have a two-sided card. While this adds a little expense in terms of printer ink use, it is a great way to give people the information they’re more likely to keep.
Logos and Color Schemes: Along with the content of your card, you need to consider your business image. If you have a logo, you’ll want to include it. You also want to pick a color scheme that matches your other marketing content such as your website, brochures, letterhead etc.
When creating and ordering cards from a place like Vistaprint, you have a variety of background color schemes possible. However, because ink costs money, and print quality can vary, you’re going to be better off choosing a white or cream color card to add your content to, instead of bright or multicolored backgrounds if you’re going to print at home.
Business Card Design Programs
Now that you’ve conceptualized your card, it’s time to actually design it for printing. There are a couple of ways you can do this.
Canva: If you haven’t checked out Canva for your marketing materials, you should. Many people think of Canva as a place to make social media graphics, but you can also make print materials such as business cards, brochures, and letterheads. What’s nice is that with the paid version of Canva, you can save your brand colors and logo. But even with the free option, you can create cohesive colors across your marketing materials.
The Canva business card is 3.5 inches by 2 inches. If you need another size you can input the size you need. When you load the business card template, Canva gives you many free layouts to choose from, or you can create your own. When you’ve created your card, simply download (you have several download options from jpg, png and PDF), and save on your computer. Or, you can order them from Canva.
Microsoft Word and Publisher Templates: Microsoft Word and Publisher both come with business cards templates for business cards. You may have to download it, but through the program you can search for the type of document you want to create and then choose from a variety of templates.
It is important to pay attention to the template to insure it matches the layout you have on your computer screen. While most pre-perforated business card paper has 10 cards per page, they’re not all laid out the same. To avoid a misprint, you’ll want to make sure the layout on your screen matches the paper.
When you open Word or Publisher, you can then open a business card file and either create your card, or import the design you made elsewhere. How to do this varies depending on what program and version you’re using. In some Word programs, you’ll want to choose Mailing from the top menu ribbon, then Labels. Click the Options button and then select what you’ll be printing on to open the template.
In Word 2016, choose File -> New, and enter “Business Card” in the template search box. You’ll see a variety of templates you can download for free.
In Publisher 2016, when you open the program, you generally see your past designs as well as other designs you can create. If you don’t see what you want, click on More Blank Page Sizes, and under Publication Types click the Business Card folder, then the card size and orientation (landscape or portrait). To the right, you’ll be able to see the layout of the template. Again, you’ll want to make sure it matches the layout of your paper. If it doesn’t, you can either adjust the template or download and import the right one.
Another option is to download and import Avery templates into Word or Publisher. This might be the best option if you’ve already bought business card paper and want to make sure your screen template will match the paper. Note, that many office stores have their own brand of business card paper that often will tell you what Avery style it matches.
Once the template is in your program, you can add your content making sure that you stay within the template guides.
Google Chrome Business Card Maker: If you use Google Chrome, you can add the Chrome Business Card Maker (or go to BizCardMaker.com). You can choose from a variety of themes and colors, and after inputting your information, you can order or download your card for printing.
Business Card Paper Template: Many business card paper brands you can buy will include a link to a site where you can download a template that matches the paper you bought. Avery is one, but there are others. Check on or inside your business card paper container for information.
Choosing Your Business Card Paper
When it comes to business card paper, you have many choices to make. To save time and fuss, buy pre-perforated business card paper so you don’t have the cut the cards yourself. After that, you have to choose:
Paper color: White and cream are the most common colors
Paper Stock: You can buy regular cardstock which is the most affordable. Or you can get premium card stock which is thicker than regular. It can even be coated to give it a sturdier feel. Another option is plastic, which isn’t very often seen and you’d need to check your printer to make sure it can handle it.
Paper thickness: The thicker the card, the sturdier it will be. Most business cards are 14 to 20 points (1 point = 1/1000 of an inch). You can get extra thick cards up to 32 points. At the minimum, you should use 14-point business card stock.
Paper Finish: You have a choice between a gloss finish, which is slightly shiny, or a matte finish. If you have graphics or a lot of color on your card, a glossy finish will likely look nicer. If you have mostly black text, the matte finish will be the best choice.
Other Paper Options: You can also get textured or linen cards if you want to be extra fancy. Just make sure your printer can handle this kind of paper.
Printer: Most business card paper is designed for a specific printer; either a laser or inkjet. Make sure you buy the paper that goes with the type of printer you own.
Printing: If you’re going to do two-sided printing, you’ll want to choose a card that isn’t see-through or the ink can bleed through. There is business card stock specifically created for two-sided printing.
Business Card Template: While most business card paper has 10 business cards per page, their layout can vary. If you’ve already designed your business card, you’ll want to choose a business card layout that matches the template you used.
Print Your Business Cards at Home
Once you’ve created your business card, it’s time to print. You’ll want to follow the directions of your business card template and printer, but the basics are:
- Print a test page first. Printing business cards can use a lot of ink, so before you print your final product, print a test page first. You can print on your business card paper, but if you don’t want to waste it, print on regular copy paper and then hold the printed copy over the card paper to make sure the lines match up. You may need to hold the two papers up to the light.
- Print your cards. Check your printer settings to make sure your printer is set to print on the quality of paper you’re using (i.e. glossy versus matte), and set it to high-quality printing. If you’re printing two-page cards, be sure to set your printer to two-page printing. Another option is to run the paper through one side, then switch them over to run the other side. Just make sure you insert the paper back into the paper feed the right way so that the second side prints on the correct side in the right direction.
- Print one page and check it. If that one page looks good, you can print more. But only print a few pages of a time. Two pages of card paper will yield 20 cards. Too many pages might jam your printer. Further, depending on your ink supply, later pages may not be good quality if your ink is running out. Don’t waste good paper on a bad print. Finally, if you need more than 100 cards, a better option might be to order them. Once you start printing a lot of cards, you have to consider the cost of the paper and print ink. There is a tipping point at which ordering them becomes the more affordable option overprinting at home.
- Let your business cards sit for a bit to ensure the ink is dry if using an inkjet printer.
- Carefully fold along the perforated lines to loosen the bonds of the cards and pull apart. Trying to tear the cards too many at a time or too quickly can result in tears or uneven edges even if using clean-edge card paper.
Business cards are an affordable and easy to let people know about your home business. With home printing, you can make sure you’re never without a business card.