DIY business cards: The cheap, fast, easy way to look professional

diy business cards

If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear these cards were bone. With Silian Rail lettering. Photo by Fikriyyah

With modern technology and the advent of social media you’d think that business cards are dying a slow death, but just like Blackberry, someone’s always forecasting their demise only for them to keep on keeping on for another year. Even if you do connect with your new acquaintance using LinkedIn, Twitter, or heck even email business cards still have the aura of “Hey I’m an accomplished, competent and professional adult who you’ll want to contact again.”

Business cards from any provider will normally take two to three weeks to arrive, though. To speed that up to express delivery is a small ransom. Three day shipping ranges from $20-$35 at Vistaprint and Moo.com is merciless charging $27-$61, which is money better spent on a few hot toddies. Here’s a tip though: you can get ditch the steep price of rushed business cards by printing your own DIY business cards.

It’s simple. Head to the nearest Staples or OfficeMax and grab printable business card stock, which you can find in the aisle with all the other paper products in the store. The card stock will run you from $10 all the way to $70 depending on the many options like the color (white, off white, ivory), finish (matte or gloss) and other options like if the cards are laminated or magnetic. The number of cards you can get in a pack depends in part on the options, so laminated and magnetic paper will only get you 20 cards, while you can make up to 1000 cards with a pack of normal white paper.

I chose Avery’s Two-Sided Printable Clean Edge Rounded Corner Business Cards in Ivory, which set me back around $20, including taxes, for 160 cards. Did I mention that’s the price of advance shipping already? For the next pack, I’m thinking of going even cheaper, with a classic white and regular edges for a mere $9 for 120 cards.

After that, it’s just a matter of printing out the design you created online for free or uploading your own design you’ve already created using your pirated version of Photoshop or InDesign. If you don’t have a design of your own, the Avery software is simple enough to use, especially if you have experience with Photoshop. When the cards are finished printing, pop each one out ever so carefully. For the love of all that is cheap and holy bend those perforations softly yet firmly a few times at every row, don’t just rip the cards out. And voila! You’re ready to trick people into thinking you’re a functioning adult look professional.

There a couple of caveats: Even on a text-only card, if you look really closely, the alignment on all the cards isn’t perfect. When you actually look at them, some cards will push the design slightly lower than it looks on the monitor. My advice is to keep the cards text-based, because the alignment for images tend to be inconsistent. Even for text-based cards the alignment will be slightly off-kilter compared to how it appears on your computer, and in a worst-case scenario you’ll have a lot of bookmarks in a batch. Still, a text-only card turned out to have aesthetic punch.

How do the cards feel? The paper I used isn’t a thick stock, but it has hold. I gave the cards out and asked for people’s opinions. Survey says they knew that the card wasn’t luxurious but wouldn’t have known it was hand printed by yours truly. If you’re a perfectionist plan ahead and get your business cards made at a reliable printer or pay the jacked up costs of an expedited product. For the ambitious slacker in all of us these cards will get your through a networking event just fine. So if you’re looking for a quick fix and like to give something tangible when meeting new people this is a D- at worst a B+ at best.

Follow Fikriyyah as she attempts to look professional at @MrsSuperHarbor