The print-my-own route looks sneaky good too. No fuzzy little edges that I can see, so the new blanks are hard to tell from professionally printed cards. Some even let you print on the back.
But my main procrastination is what to put on the cards. Based on what I've heard from agents, editors, and other writers, there are some must-have features to create effective business cards for writers.
1. An Email With Your Name In It
Many agents and editors say if they meet you at a conference and your name rings a bell when you submit my email, they'll look at the submission themselves instead of passing it off to an assistant. But as my cohort Tricia Sanders says, they can't recognize your name if you're fairyprincess234. So I found my name wasn't taken in gmail, and signed up for a free account for my new business email TriciaGrissom@gmail.com. I plan to use if for all my professional correspondence. I'm building my brand, and the brand is me.
2. A Tag line or Slogan
Think about all the business cards you get from people and don't look at twice. What will make yours stand out from the others (and please, god, not the holographic rainbow). You need a tag line or slogan that is associated with you as a freelancer. You're a creative writer, so come up with something that shows it. No pressure, right?
After researching what editors want from freelancers, I'm kicking around several at the moment. I decided to focus on the strengths I have that meet editors' desires - dependability, my extensive research of their style/needs, and creativity/fresh angles. I'm leaning toward one of the following. Any votes?
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3. A Personal Website Address
It doesn't have to be fancy, or expensive, but many agents and editors go to your website after you splash on their radar. Mine has my basic info and current clips. That internet-loving trend it likely to expand rather than get smaller as technology marches on. At least buy your domain name before someone else does. You can generally "park" it with an under construction sign that lets them know you're on your way to getting web savvy.
4. A Niche or Area of Specialization
I came up with a series of questions I asked to identify my key strengths, so I could highlight them on my cards. You should have several different cards, depending on their use. If you are an aspiring novelist as well as a freelancer, have a separate card so agents and editors don't get the message that your focus in on freelancing because that's all you feature on your card. Give one card to prospective magazine editors, and another version to fiction agents and editors. Go the print-them-yourself route for at least one of these, so you can create cards as needed and update them with new clips and awards.
5. Something For the Back of the Card
Don't take up all the space on the back or no one can write where they met you on it, but list a few awards, publications, your book titles, or other credentials to remind them who you are and what you're known for. If you aren't published, you might put a quote about writing or a list of your strengths. If you print your own, you can update this periodically as you publish more.
Caution: Don't use the listed items as an excuse to procrastinate. Give yourself a time limit on coming up with your tag-line and areas of specialization. Otherwise the writer fiend perfectionist in you can revise you into a corner with no business cards. And don't worry too much about getting a website spiffed out until after the cards are printed - just make sure you buy your domain name.
Is it time-consuming? Yeah, I drove myself a little crazy (down perfectionist personality, down boy), but you don't have to be as anal as I am. But you're a pro and you need a professional, creative business card for the passionate wordsmith you are. Don't sell yourself short with a anemic, puny, hum drum business card.