Despite the explosion in online and offline marketing techniques, the lowly business card remains one of the most cost-effective and widely used marketing materials in a freelance translator’s arsenal. Small, inexpensive, customizable, easy to distribute… business cards have a lot of advantages, so it’s worth looking at what makes a good (and bad) business card.
I currently have three sets of business cards: plain, fancy and bilingual:
I use each of these cards for different purposes. The plain cards (on top) are inexpensive (about $50 for 500) to produce and they have my specializations on them, so I put large stacks of them out when I attend a conference or give a presentation. The fancy cards (middle) have an image from the cover of my book; they’re more expensive to produce (about $60 for 250) because of the custom image and because I have them printed on heavy stock. I use these for direct clients and when I mail out official document translations. The bilingual cards (bottom; only the French side is shown) are the most expensive ($80 for 250) because they’re double-sided and I have them printed by a local company instead of ordering them online.
Business card designs are very personal; my tendency is to go for a look that might be termed either classic or boring, depending on your design tastes. I’ve seen a lot of cluttered, illegible business cards but I’ve also seen some non-traditional cards that really work: for example a conference interpreter whose card background is a photograph of him in the booth. Judy Jenner recently wrote a post on this card (a court interpreter’s card that doubles as a guide to the courthouse where he works) which I also thought was clever. If you like something a little on the cute side, I thought this was a neat idea; a literary translator who commissioned an illustration of herself for her business cards.
Most of all, your business cards need to convey the information that they’re meant to convey: make sure that your name and contact information are easy to find and read. Don’t load the card with extraneous information: after receiving exactly one fax last year, I dropped my fax number from my 2010 cards. Don’t make your cards too specific if the specifics might change; for example if you vary your specializations, don’t put them on your cards. And please, please don’t order the free cards that say “Order your free business cards at…” At least be willing to spend $25 on your cards so that they don’t have that imprint on them.
Any other business card tips?