Monday, August 15, 2011

What Should I Put on a Business Card?

The annual conference of one of my professional organizations is less than two months away and everyone is scrambling for all the material they need to bring. One of the most handy items is a business card. Whether you design them yourself or have someone else do so, I thought I'd share my thoughts on business cards.

1. What are you selling? Yourself? Products? Services? Make it evident at first glance with a picture/icon. (Don't make someone wonder why they have your card)
  •  If you are selling you, have a good headshot
    • The one on my card is of myself in my woods clicking my self-timer--granted it took 60 pictures to get something good since I couldn't see myself in the viewfinder, but you can get something without a professional--look around facebook and find people just starting out with photography and see if you can strike up a deal if you can't afford professional headshots or get a friend to help.
    • Your photo should look like you. No glamour shots, unusual hairdos, makeup you don't usually wear, extreme photoshopping, costumes, etc. As much as you wish you looked like something else, you want the person you handed the card to recognize you the next time he sees you in your normal get-up.
    • If you are using these for networking and want people to recognize you, then make your picture as large as possible.
  • If you are selling a product or service make sure the picture makes that very evident. I've seen business cards selling cloth diapers, and they've got a teddy bear as a picture. I get that it's babyish, but you don't want someone to have to read your card to know that you're selling organic cotton diapers and not stuffed animals.There really is no excuse for not being able to procure a picture of cloth diapers to use. If you are going to pay for cards, then pay for a picture if necessary, or take a picture yourself and see if you can make it look nice on
  • If you have an icon for your business, make sure you use it on everything to tie it all together so it is recognizable no matter what marketing material your customer is looking at.
 2. Do not make your card busy. Do you ever land on those web sites with a hundred flashing animations, ads that come in from the side, tons of different boxes and font etc? Same thing with a crammed card, the person is going to flick it away before paying attention. No more than two pictures or a picture and a decorative background please.

3. It needs to be readable. As much as you want to cram every bit of information on it as possible, clip it down to the most necessary. Can all your websites be accessed from one? Then just put one. Do you have two businesses that do not dovetail well together? Make separate business cards and hand out two if someone just happens to be interested in both. (Have small links to your other non-related sites on each website if you want to make sure someone can find everything you do.)

4. Extra information can be printed onto labels and stuck to the back. If what you are selling changes (like an author has a different book to sell at different times), you can buy envelope labels and print off the title and short blurb onto these labels and stick it onto the back. Then you can buy a larger run of cards, and use them even when information changes. Or you can keep your physical address/phone number on labels and only stick that on cards you give to people you trust need it instead of allowing anyone to get that information from discarded cards.

I used PrintsMadeEasy to make my own cards last year. I like that they allowed me to upload my own pictures, not tie me into a template and I could print my design off on paper immediately to see if I liked what I'd made before I paid for it.

Any other tips you have for business cards? What has made you go "wow" or "sheesh" when you've looked at someone's business card?


  1. Excellent article, Melissa. Lots of good pointers and helpful ideas. I used my photo on my cards when I was in business and continue to use them as an author. They are very effective, and people don't tend to throw away photos.

  2. I love for business cards and postcards.

  3. great business card, Melissa! I just ordered mine from vista print.