Why Business Cards Are Important
and How to Use Them

What Business Cards Do

One of the things a needlework business card does is to communicate what you do. Are you a designer? A conservator?

It tells how to contact you.

A card indicates you are serious about your business. Many of us start as hobbyists, and having a business card shows the world that we have taken the next step toward professionalism.

Having a card also implies that since you have gone to the trouble and expense to get business cards made, you are well-organized and business-like and therefore someone with whom another businessperson would want to deal.

When to Carry Your Business Cards

Short answer: all the time!

Even if you think you won't run into anyone to whom you might give your card, do carry them at all times. Just as sure as you don't, you -will- run into someone to whom you should give one. And then you'll look like an amateur and an incompetent when the other person asks for your card and you have to confess, "Oh, dear! I left my business cards at home!" Businesspeople expect to exchange business cards with other businesspeople. Be ready if you want to be a businessperson!

Keep your cards clean. If they don't come from the printer with a little carrying case, buy one at an office supply store. A dirty or dog-eared business card does -not- say positive things about you or your ability.

Important note: Put business cards on your packing list for shows so you take along plenty! Don't depend on the small number you carry with you all the time. You will need lots of business cards at shows and consumer festivals! You're going to make lots of contacts, yes?

How to Present a Business Card

Ack!! This is probably what makes people the most nervous - - so nervous that they don't get the cards at all so they don't have to give them out!

No, you don't just accost someone and say, "I have a business card! Here! Take it!"

Instead, you wait for an occasion for which it is appropriate for you to introduce yourself:

Note: In the above examples, the "here's my card" portion of the statement is not said aloud; this is the point where you hand the person your card.

So really, you are just introducing yourself verbally and in writing at the same time. Simple as that! Afterwards, your card is a concrete reminder to the other person that you two have met.

Notice that in my verbal scenarios I've given the other person an "out" every time, in case it's not convenient to talk when I stroll up to the booth.

Since many people give out cards, especially at an industry event, recipients can't keep track of whose card represented what conversation. Before approaching someone, on the reverse of a card, jot a note: "teaching for you," "being added to your distribution system," etc. Now the person will know why she has your card.

Any cards you receive should be referenced in the same way. File cards by use ("distributors," "editors," "designers"), as you may not be able to remember what the business does just by looking at the name or company name; or you might not remember the person or company name when you need to find the business.

Have your cards handy when you go to shows. You should not have to root around in the depths of your mammoth tote to find your cards. Put them in a pocket. Be prepared! Be professional!

Sources, Costs, and Content of Business Cards


Cards are easy to come by these days. When I had my first business cards done, they had to be done by a real printer and for a very hefty fee. If you wanted inexpensive ones with thermographing (raised lettering using heat; very like rubber stamping these days using the powders and heat), those had to be mail-ordered and took a looooong time to arrive.

Nowadays, you can get photocopied business cards from most any photocopy store in a couple of days.


Count on about $15 for 200 cards. There is not much of a price break between 100 and 200, I found, though it might be different in your town.

If you set up your card on a computer and take laser-printed camera-ready copy or a disk, your cost is only for the photocopying and cutting the cards apart (that is, the $15 fee mentioned just above).

If you need your card set up by the photocopy store on its computer, estimate another $15 for that service. Add $5 if you want them to put in clip art (more on art below).

Besides photocopy shops, investigate office supply stores and print houses. If you already are publishing leaflets, ask your printer what kind of price she can offer you on business cards.


Your card should contain these four things at a minimum:

Art, Layout, Paper Stock, Font

Art, Logos, Business Name in Unique Font

Needlework is an art business and a hobby business, as well as an education business. Although you wouldn't put art on your business card if you were a physician, art is very appropriate for a needlework business card.

You might have a company logo already, and this is ideal art to use on your card, rather than putting on something else.

Limit yourself to one piece of art, such as your logo. Don't distract from -your- art with someone else's!

Your logo may be your company name in a unique font rather than a picture. If so, I recommend that you forego other art. Again, you're promoting -your- business. Keep -your- proprietary graphics center stage!

No logo? Create one! If you can't come up with something you like (by hand or using your computer and its stock of copyright-free clip art and fancy fonts), hire a graphic artist to help you (this is a deductible business expense).

Want a fancy font for your company name rather than line art? Look through your word-processing program's battery of fonts. There are lots of other fonts available for purchase and uploading to your computer. So many, in fact, that you'll be dizzy after looking at only a small number of them! (One disk I purchased has 1500 different fonts on it!) Depending on your software, you can turn any font into a shadowed font, curve it, and so on. Just experimenting with your business name should keep you off the streets for an afternoon!

Be careful about the font you choose.

Stick to something -readable-. You want to use this card to generate income, yes? People have to know how to reach you! (If you have a characteristic-font company name, use it, but the rest of the text on your card should be simpler.)

Don't distract from your logo! Don't muddy the message! You are trying to get people to contact you so you can make a sale (book a teaching gig, sell a leaflet, etc.). Stick to one font, ok?

If you need a "different" look for part of your card, select a different point size or bold-face of your font instead of another, different font.

In any case, don't go overboard! Less is more!

Your printer (and by this I mean whoever is going to make these cards; it may be a photocopy shop) can advise you on which fonts go well with your logo or characteristic company name if you are unsure or wish a second opinion.

Paper Stock and Ink Color

Color stock and/or colored ink are fine for this kind of business card. A professional person would use black ink and white stock, but as an artist you have more latitude. You could use foil, too, if you wanted. How about a silver needle?

Even though you're not a sedate CPA, exercise some restraint in your choices! Don't select a combination that is difficult to read (such as fuschia ink on lime green stock) or which makes you look like an amateur who hasn't a clue how business works (because her business cards are so hard to read).

You may have seen the "sets" of papers available in some print shops with various designs on them (swirls, geometrics, landscapes, faux marble, etc.). There are "blanks" for letterhead stationery, business cards, brochures, folders, posters, etc. Some sets even come with their own software; you just type in the text you want and it is placed automatically for whatever blank you are using.

I advise against this. It is amateurish. You are an artist! Your business is in an artistic field! Don't go with some hackneyed boilerplate set that anyone can use! Besides, everyone's seen these now, and they no longer have the impact they did when first introduced.

If you go with colored paper stock, you need a black-and-white rendering, too.


Whoever is printing your cards also may be able to offer you a number of standard card layouts. These are proven winners, and you are safe in selecting any one of them.

If you are doing the layout yourself, look at many different cards. Take a peek in the "fishbowl" that some restaurants put out for the business-lunch crowd to drop in their cards (drawing for a free lunch, usually). For each of them, what is the thing that drew your eye first? What looked crowded or cramped? What colors did or didn't work? What mood did each card project? What were the professions and what mood did those cards project? Project accuractely?

Put in lots of "air" (blank space) in your layout. You know this already from your design training. A card that is full of text (and/or art) pushes the reader away because the eye doesn't know where to go first. You want the reader's eye to go to your focal point (probably your art logo or characteristic-font company name) and then "flow" into the other information.


I strongly advise you select a standard size, not something that is atypical. ("Darn that card! It sticks out from all the others. I'm going to toss it.")

Standard size is 2" h by 3 1/2" w.

What Else To Do with Your Card

You've got your cards. What else can you do with them besides give them out to people?

You want to get your logo (and/or characteristic-font company name) before people as many times as possible. Some ideas:

Use Your Card to Create Letterhead Stationery

Letterhead stationery also says, "I'm professional." Do you have some? No? Think again! Yes, you do, especially if you have your card on disk!

Copy the card to a new file. Use the sizing and crop tools to redistribute card elements into a layout suitable for a letterhead.

Note: Sizing tools can change the proportions in ways that make the art out of balance. You may have to pull out the logo/name (see below) and retype the other information.

Another problem with converting your card to letterhead is that unless you have the same software that was used to make the card in the first place, the elements of the design are "grouped," and you will not be able to separate the company name portion, for example, from the rest in order to increase it in size. Experiment with the crop tool, dropping in your design several times and removing portions entirely; you essentially are "ungrouping" the elements. This may or may not work successfully. You'll have to experiment.

Of course, if you did you own mechanical (that is, you set up the card on your own computer), you know exactly which fonts and point sizes you used, and you're home free!

Use Your Card in Proposals

Submit your proposals in a folder. Many of them have four pre-cut slots designed to hold the four corners of a business card.

At the top of page one, drop in your card from the disk.

Or, reduce the size of it and place it in the upper left-hand corner of each page, in the manner of a header.

Use Your Card to Identify Models

Paste a card to the reverse of every framed model you send when applying to teach or sell a design. For other pieces, such as pillows or table linens, attach the card in another way (sew it on like a tag, for example, or attach it with a piece of ribbon or twisted cord).

Use Your Card in Class Kits

Paste a card (or drop it in from your disk version) on the front page of each class kit.

Use your card, or a variant on it, as a place to put kit needles and pins. This continues to keep your name before the public. If you have your card on disk, transfer the card to a new computer file and add the equivalent of a second business card directly below it. For example, if your card is the standard 2" h by 3 1/2" w, the area you lay out should be 4" h by 3 1/2" w. In the "second business card area" you put the needles.

If you like, put the card portion at the "bottom" so you can fold the paper in half to make a little "needlebook." Your card is the "cover" and the needles are on the "inside back cover" (no pages, of course!).

Consider photocopying your needlepapers on colored paper. Color makes it easy for your students to find their needles. Do you have a color for which you are "known"? Use that!

Use Your Card for Display Advertising Purposes

Your business card is ready-made for display advertising, as in a stitch guild newsletter or an industry show directory. No need to take time to create something different.

Before you do this, however, make a self-serve photocopy of your card down at the local copy center. The result is the worst-case situation: that is, reproduction on the unsophisticated equipment. A stitchery guild is likely to use this method to reproduce their newsletter.

How does your card look? Clear and crisp? A great ad?

Or barely readable?

Some colors do not photocopy well, ink as well as paper stock. Does the stock photocopy as an unpleasant, dirty gray? Are the letters an unreadable blur (especially your phone number)?

If this is the case, your card isn't camera-ready copy. Instead, bring out the velox or use a laser-printed version from your disk or which you purchased at the time your cards were made.

Many places where you'll buy advertising can "receive" your art electronically, directly from your disk. This is best! No degradation of print quality and no content foul-ups. Ask if you can transmit this way. Either mail a disk or send via the Internet.

copyright 1998, Martha Beth Lewis
Contact me about reprint permission.

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