Comparing Business Card Printing Options

Posted by: Matt Geer on Jul. 3rd, 2011
Choosing a Printer

Next to the design, choosing a printer for your business cards is the most important decision you’ll have to make. A well printed business card can impress a potential client leading to future work, while a poorly printed card can turn them off leading them to forget about you.

Simply put; the printer you chose can make or break you.

Printer Options

There are a few different options for printing your business cards. Each option will have its pros and cons, especially when it comes to the price and quality. Your budget, not to mention your standards, will ultimately determine which option you decide to go with.

Provided below are summaries of the 3 printer options available. You can follow the links to read more about each one in detail. Below that I discuss more about choosing a printer, including why it’s an important decision and the things you should know and/or consider before getting started.

Printing at Home

Printing your cards at home does come with benefits. It’s more convenient for one thing, as you don’t even have to leave the house to have your business cards made. You can design them, lay them out and print, all from your office. They’re also cheaper to print since most households already have a printer and it only costs $15 to $30 for business card paper.

The downsides, however, can far outweigh the benefits. Printing at home doesn’t produce the moderate to high level of quality that you’d get from having your cards printed online or locally. You will also have fewer options when it comes to custom cuts or finishes.

Printing Online

Similar to printing at home, having your cards printed online is convenient. You simply upload your card design, or create one, and then hit order.

But that’s just the beginning. When you choose to print online, you can also shop around between 10 or more different print shops. This gives you the opportunity to compare card stock, minimum orders and prices. You can also look at customer testimonials; this alone is enough of a reason to have your business cards printed online.

But the grass isn’t always greener; printing online does have a few negatives. For one thing, you have to wait around a week to 10 days to receive your cards. This is compared to a couple hours printing at home, and roughly a week or less locally. Printing online also makes it more difficult to do test runs, since you have a 50 or 100 card minimum in addition to the 7-10 day shipping times.

Printing at Local Printer

Having your business cards printed locally won’t present the same convenience as printing at home or online does. But what you lack in convenience you make up for in quality.

In addition to the quality, you also have the option to have test batches printed off to ensure that your card looks the way you want it too. And from my experience, you can receive an entire batch of business cards quickly – within a couple days. This of course depends on how busy the printers are, and when they plan on doing their next batch of business cards (many shops will do business cards one day, brochures the next, etc).

The downside to printing locally is that you’ll pay more. Local printing presses aren’t setup to be as streamlined as online printing, so you end up paying for their time to setup their equipment. Some local printers are also limited in the services they can provide, since they can only fit so much equipment in their building.

Why Choosing the Right Printer Matters

There is an expression I like; ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ What kind of impression do you want to leave when you first meet a potential client; a good one, right? A good business card will help.

Think about it this way; with business cards you’ll most often get what you pay for. If you buy cheap printing, your cards will look cheap. There might be smudges, improperly aligned text or poor cuts. What message do you think this gives others? My guess would be that if the client thinks your business card is cheap, than maybe what you do or offer is cheap as well. That’s not the impression I’d want to give anyone.

Also consider your time and resources. Going the DIY or cheap route sounds efficient, both in regards to time and money; that is, until you look at the final product. You’ll end up spending more in the long run due to having your cards redone and reprinted, compared to spending more in the first place to have them done right.

What to Consider When Choosing a Printer for Your Business Cards

  • Quality: This should trump any other factor. At the end of the day, you want people to know who you are and see that you’re a quality person to do business with. A quality business card will reflect this.

    What makes a quality business card? Well, it should have a nice clean design, be cut properly and have consistent coloring from card to card, as well as match the original design and/or company logo. There shouldn’t be any smudges and the text should be easy to read and aligned properly.
  • Card Stock: A thick and sturdy business card is viewed as a higher quality card, whereas a flimsy card is viewed as lower quality. Card stock options will vary from site to site or shop to shop, so you’ll want to shop around. Card stock is also important to keep in mind if you’re considering doing your own printing at home. Many home office printers aren’t capable of handling thick card stock.
  • Finish & Custom Design: There are so many options out there for finishes and custom business card designs. You can have text or images cut in (out of) the card, embossed text or logos, or even have your business card made out of plastic instead of traditional card stock. So you’ll want the finished product in mind as not every shop is capable of handling every finish or design.
  • Price: Price is important too. You’re going to pay less for convenience, as weird as that may sound. But that’s because you’ll be using cheaper materials and there won’t be any labor (other than your own). Prices will vary considerably, even if you use the same type of printer. Online printing, for example, can get cards printed off cheap for $9 for 250 cards, $19.99 for 250 cards or as much as $80 for 200 cards. There’s hardly any consistency in pricing from one shop to another (online).

Summary: Choosing a Printer for Your Business Cards

It should be clear now that choosing a printer for your business cards is not a decision to take lightly. It doesn’t matter what the design looks like, who you are or what you have to offer if you hand a poorly printed business card to a prospect. Be sure to invest all that you can into printing and you’ll surely see a huge ROI as a result.