You do have a business card, don’t you?
One that makes it clear you’re a writer?
If you don’t, you should, as I recently discovered. Getting caught without a business card is like being caught with your pants down.
Recently, I was at my first Lehigh Valley Writer’s Group meeting and enjoying soaking up the atmosphere of being with other writers. Until the 15 minute break. Two very different writers came up to me, introduced themselves, and asked for my business card. My what? Oh crap. I had meant to get around to that, but it slipped my mind. Um…do you have a piece of paper I can jot my name and email down for you? Very unprofessional, my friends. And highly embarrassing. Fortunately, they took it in good humor.
Business cards are one of the best ways to promote yourself as a writer, editor, artist, or what have you and it’s one of the cheapest, too. Writer’s need business cards for all sorts of reasons:
- Business cards are so very easy for writers to hand out – almost everywhere. Or leave them places, like at restaurants and banks.
- Properly done, business cards quickly state not only who you are but what you do – write (or edit, or take photos, or whatever combination of skills you want to market).
- Business cards provide an opportunity for additional communication. When people take my card and look at it, they usually either ask me more about my writing, editing, or art, or comment on the image.
- Cards let people find you again – both professionally and socially.
- A business card says you are a professional.
One of the writer’s who approached me wants to interview me about the future of art and censorship based on an article I had written (publishes June 1, 2012, by Still Point Arts Quarterly. It’ll be sold at Barnes & Nobles and online – shameless plug). Without a business card, I was afraid I’d be forgotten (fortunately, I wasn’t – but that’s only due to my memorable good looks…inserting a laugh here would be appropriate now).
Your cards should have, at a minimum:
- Your name
- Your job title
- Your website
- Your phone number
- Your email address
By job title I mean a word or phrase that states you are a writer. If you have a specialty, that should be listed as well. For example, my card says:
Writer, Editor, & Artist
Those are my three specialties. If you don’t have a specialty, simply add Writer or Freelance Writer or Author.
Make Contact Easy
Adding your phone number and contact information makes it super easy for prospective clients, editors, etc. to contact you. If it’s not there, you may miss out on being notified of winning the Pulitzer Prize. Add your website and you’ve given a way for anyone to check your professional credentials (another shameless plug…my portfolio and professional website is www.kat-collins.com It’s a work in progress so don’t judge…yet).
By the way, I no longer include my physical address on the business card. First, it takes up too much unnecessary space. Second, if someone really wants it, they can ask. As a writer, my address isn’t always a pertinent need (not to mention I don’t want stalkers finding me…not that I have any…really).
Design For Clarity
As an artist, I’m always drawn to clean and eye-catching design. It can be a challenge to get all the information you want on a card in a way that looks good and is readable. But it’s worth playing with until you get it right.
Pay particular attention to type style, size, and color. A serif style font is the easiest to read and make sure it’s large enough you don’t need a magnifying glass or bifocals to read it. Watch the color, too. A white I had chosen on a black background was to small and thin in font style which it made it really difficult to read. I had to throw them out and start over.
For a little extra money, you can use the back of the card. There is two sides to a business card! You can even put a mini-resume there (again, keep in mind clarity and good design).
Speaking of Money
You don’t have to spend a fortune on business cards. Zazzle and Vistaprint offer hundreds of styles and price ranges as well as considerable discounts and coupons. On Zazzle , I was able to get 200 cards for $24.00. I hardly call that expensive. They’re very user-friendly, you can custom design your own or choose from a template they’ve designed, and even upload your own custom logo.
Of course, if you know a good designer, don’t hesitate to use them. It may cost a bit more, but it can be worth it, especially if you want something unique and one-of-a-kind.
Share The Love
Once you get your cards, don’t leave them sitting in a box! What purpose do they serve if you’re not spreading them around and sharing the love? Keep them with you at all times so you’re not caught unprepared like I was (very humiliating and makes you look like a rank amateur…no need to advertise that you are..if you are).
Hand them out at every opportunity. Even if the person you’re talking with has no need of writing, you never know. They’re needs may change or they may know someone who needs a writer.
Leave a card or two with the tip at a restaurant. Hang them on bulletin boards in public places such as church or laundromat. Slip one to the valet as he goes to park your Mercedes while you’re attending your Pulitzer Prize winning event.
Two things happen when you spread the love. The first is obvious, you simply never know who needs a writer. The second is subtle. It reinforces your confidence in yourself. That’s something always worth doing.
I, for one, finally ordered those business cards. They should be arriving soon! And I’ll be handing them out like candy on Halloween (and I’ll share them with you once they arrive!).