Business card created for Terre Griley owner of A Change of Space.

I collect business cards. I also design them, exchange them and appreciate them. They remind me of the small school pictures I used to trade with friends when I was a child.

As a designer and an artist, I consider business cards to be an important element in advertising and a necessary marketing tool. They’re a 3.5” x 2” portrait of your business, a tangible reminder of who you are and a bridge from the formal business meeting to a customer’s contact list. Getting one in a potential client’s hand is an opportunity, a proverbial foot in the door.

Because of their size, low cost and portability, business cards continue to be an essential advertising tool utilized by business owners, professionals, hobbyists, writers, and anyone interested in making a professional or personal connection. If this is you, you might need one.

Today, anyone can “create” a business card. Plenty of printing sites offer designs, templates, and pre-selected fonts ready for you to add your information and order.


So Cal Apparel & Promo Products uses the back of their business card to highlight their product line.

So, should you hire a designer or create your own? Here are a few guidelines to help you decide.

If you’re starting your first business, are a hobbyist or you want a calling card for personal reasons, using a pre-designed template is a good option. These cards are inexpensive and give you something to hand out whenever and wherever you talk to people about your business or hobby. Make sure you highlight your service or product, include your website address, business address if applicable and contact information. Of course if you have a logo, include it as well.

A few hints when designing your own card:

  • Avoid using the most popular template. Why? Because it’s the most popular. You want your card to be unique, not like everyone else’s in your profession.
  • Brighter, bolder, bigger is not always better. Color depends on what you’re marketing and who you’re marketing to. You want your card to stand out, not scream at people.
  • Do not include your personal phone number if you don’t want strangers calling or texting you at all hours of the day or night.
  • Make sure your contact information is clear and easy to read. This cannot be stressed enough. Fancy, italicized fonts in bold are nice, but make sure your name, phone number and email address are printed in a legible font.
  • Size matters. Most professionals prefer the standard 3.5” x 2” card. This is still the most popular size for business cards and they can be easily added to business card file holders, case holders and desk holders. That being said, square cards are gaining popularity and holders for these sizes are also available
  • As soon as you can afford it, hire a professional.

What a professional designer can do that an amateur can’t…

The same advice I wrote in my post on Logos applies here. A professional graphic designer will make your business card, logo or website look professional.


Business card created for media producer Don McBain. Portraits are a personal preference and vary depending on industry.

What to expect from a Professional Graphic Designer

Since business practices vary among graphic designers, the following is what a client can expect from me.

As I’ve written before, you should expect a professional designer to be friendly, courteous and busy. A new challenge is always welcomed, but design takes time so appointments are usually scheduled at certain hours or on specific days depending on the workload.

During your initial consultation or creative brief, a professional designer will ask about your business, your business logo and talk about style, colors, your product or service and prospective clients.

The cost of a business card design will vary depending on the designer’s experience, location, and number of designs. A two sided card, one that is designed on front and back, will cost more than a single side design.

The designer will review contract terms and payment information and work will be scheduled once the contract is received along with an initial payment.

The contract should include the following:

  • Total cost
  • Begin and end dates
  • Number of proofs
  • Number of revisions
  • Payment information including deposit fee and final payment terms.
  • Type of files you will receive i.e. jpg, png, etc.

Typically, at least two different proofs or initial designs are created. Be aware, you will be given a limited amount of time to decide and limited number of revisions. Once you choose your design and revisions are complete, the files will be sent to you. The designer fees may include a card order or it may not. Be sure to ask, especially if the card is needed by a specific time.

Your design is a unique reflection of you and your business. Don’t forget, the design files are yours and can be uploaded to your website or social media platforms.

Additional uses for Business Cards

Making a personal connection with a potential client is, of course, the ideal way to pass along your business card. It helps them remember you, your conversation and what product or service you offer. But what if an in person meeting is not possible? Here are some ways I’ve used my business cards as well as ideas I’ve encountered:

  • Include a business card with mailed invoices, estimates, packages and thank you notes.  Customers can use cards to recommend your service/products to friends and family.

  • Business cards used as hang tags or product tags. These can range from Etsy shop items to resale items. Bar codes or prices stickers can be added to the back.
  • Magnetic business cards – These are great for home service businesses i.e. plumbers, electricians, HVAC, etc.
  • Appointment reminders – Everyone from doctors and therapists to mechanics, lawyers and hair stylists can utilize the back of their business card to remind clients of future appointments.
  • Business card stickers – Great for presentation folders and brochures.
  • Business card jpeg files – Format files are great to use and submit when you purchase ad space in school yearbooks, organization or club event programs.
  • Special Events – Good for contract or freelance work as a way to promote your event, your affiliations and job title.
          • Business card I created for the WAS Group. This was a single event business card created for group members.

            A business card is a mini portrait that represents the image and style of your business, hobby or profession. It’s a work of art and like a portrait, represents the image and style of your business, hobby or profession. A professional graphic designer will use their experience and talent to design a card that includes the most important aspects and elements of your business. Every detail is meaningful and selected to create an overall impression of who you are and what you do.
            A mini picture worth a thousand words.
            All business cards in the above examples were created by Dean Triolo Designs except where noted. For further information on our design services, please contact Dean.


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