Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: Vistaprint for small businesses

I'm a little hesitant about writing a review of an online store because we really all should be supporting our local businesses if at all possible.  However, I've checked into the prices for some of the items I'm going to show you at local businesses, and there's no way I could afford them.  So, before we begin I'd like to recommend that before you purchase anything from Vistaprint, check your local printing businesses and support them if you can.  Now I feel a little better.  :)

When I decided to start my business I knew I needed business cards.  Everyone needs business cards, right?  I saw the ads for Vistaprint and decided to check them out.  They frequently have sales for free business cards or other products (you only pay shipping and processing), and you can't go wrong with free.

Vistaprint has a number of designs to choose from, and you can just plug in your information.  Here's one I found particularly tempting:

I've gotten this design when I tried out their free hat and a notebook.  It's cute, but I've never been one to use a design others could also use.  That works for many people, and that's great, but it does not work for me.

Fortunately Vistaprint has the capability to upload images, and they provide templates you can use in Photoshop so you have the right resolution.  If you try using an image with too small of a resolution, it's not going to look right in the final product.  It'll be all choppy and pixelated.  Also, the templates give you guides so you can make sure nothing will be cut off.  Having flowers cut off is artistic - having your phone number cut off means you'll lose business.

Here's an example of the business card template:

You'd want to keep your info inside the light blue frame.

I downloaded the template and created my full business card in the graphic, and it was perfect when I received it.  I've changed the information on my business card a few times, and each time I uploaded a new graphic before purchasing.

Something important to keep in mind: sometimes you have to pay an upload fee to use your own graphic in place of their designs.  It's around $5 or less, and sometimes there are sales that waive the upload fee.

Here's my current business card:

Based on this style (which I completely created in Photoshop), I downloaded more templates and designed a number of product images so my business has a cohesive look.  If you use choose to use one of their designs (like the purple butterfly/flower I showed you above), you can keep using that for all of your marketing items.

The first thing I bought after the business cards was a banner:

Anyone who walks by knows exactly whose table it is.  The banner doesn't come with holes, so I used my Crop-a-dile and punched holes and put eyelets (grommets) in the corners.  I hang it on the tablecloth with safety pins.

I also use business cards oriented vertically for earring cards.  I designed the graphic not only to have my "look" and basic information but also with two periods where I want to punch the holes:

I punch holes where the periods are, put on sticky earring card adapters (found here on the Fire Mountain Gems website), affix my pricing labels, and put the earrings and backings on.  Here's how that looks:

My first attempt had the earring hole guides (the periods) wide enough so the adapter fit between the holes, but while they look low enough, sometimes the earring wires interfere with hanging on the rack.  For my second order, I lowered the guides about 5mm, which will hopefully solve that problem.  (The first earring card picture is the new card, and the other pictures are with the old cards.)

If you want an earring rack like is pictured above, check out this blog entry for how you can make it yourself.

Vertical business cards can also be used as product cards for pieces that don't go on earring racks:

I cut them apart, affix my pricing labels, punch holes, and tie them onto the pieces:

My first attempt had seven product cards to each business card, but that was one too many.  On most of the product cards I had to trim my pricing labels, and that was a pain in the tuckus.  Tukus?  Ass.  It was a pain in the ass.  It lengthened the time it took me to label my pieces, and I had these little sticky slivers I had to deal with.  The new cards as shown in the first picture have six product cards to each business card, and that should work a lot better.

When I'm at shows, especially outdoors ones where I sell my magnets, I like putting magnets on my car doors to advertise my business:

I'm hoping that people will come up and say, "Hey - I love those red flowers on your car!  Can you make some for me?"  That hasn't happened yet, though.  Still, I think the magnets help me look professional.

Here's that magnet closer up:

It's simple - my logo, company name, my name, and the website.  It's the same as the banner but sized appropriately for the size and resolution of the magnet.

I'll show you one final thing, although Vistaprint has an unbelievable number of items you can purchase with your logo or other information on it (pens, shirts, hats, tote bags, flash drives, etc.).

You may have read about (or heard me talk about or picked up my flyer at a show for) my Purple Weekend open house I'm having on Black Friday and that Saturday.  If by chance you know nothing, you can read about it here.  I'll be posting more about it on Tuesday.  Anyway - I wanted lawn signs so people would know whose house is open and not wander into my neighbors' houses.  I priced these at a local shop, but for only two signs, it would have cost over $60.  The prices get better for volume orders like politicians would buy.

I was considering making my own signs with my Cricut to save even more money than the $24.98 a piece (for full color on both sides) I was going to have to pay on Vistaprint (plus shipping), but an e-mail with a wonderful sale came in.  Woo hoo!  I quickly designed my lawn sign to be generic enough for this open house and future ones:

While Vistaprint has good prices on the actual items (especially when they're having a sale), they do have high shipping and processing costs.  I figure it all evens out in the end.  If you're lucky, you can hit a sale like I did recently where many of the individual items were on sale, and there was free 7 day shipping on orders over $50.  I loaded up on the lawn signs, holders for the signs, another magnet for the car (since one of them went missing), new earring cards, and new product cards.

The quality of the items I've purchased from Vistaprint has always been excellent, and their shipping is usually quicker than they estimate.  If you're looking for business cards and all the marketing materials needed to look professional, I can't recommend Vistaprint enough.  I do suggest that you create an account there and look in the e-mails for sales before purchasing to help your dollar stretch even further.


  1. I like Vistaprint too. When they have free things, get 'em. I had an offer for 50 1/2 off postcards and free rack cards. Wasn't sure what to do with the rack cards but then I used them for Event Advertising. I printed out labels for my upcoming shows and put the cards on my table so people could take them as a reminder of where I'll be next. I do the same with my postcards. I will write a con that I have with Vistaprint, I have a hard time getting the right quality of picture to work with what I'm trying to do. Otherwise, I like it. Oh and a heads up, when you go to order your items, please read everything carefully because they will ask if you want to purchase other items, so go slow.

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