Rather than buy that Zoot suit I’ve always wanted, I used my last paycheck on cheap business cards. I had figured that having a cards would play better at my job fair than being extravagantly and colorfully ostentatious.

I had decided some time ago that I wanted to get some cards, if only to ape my master teacher. The way she saw it:

When I go to conferences, there are always companies giving out free samples of textbooks. I know some teachers will come with empty bags and on the first day have them filled with textbooks and free stuff.

I don’t like lugging all that around. Instead, I’ll give those companies my business card and say, “Why, I’d love to have a copy of this book, but I don’t have the room for it. Why don’t you just ship it to this address?”

So I decided to get some business cards, and that once I got them that I would spread them around the faculty and staff at my school, interviews and job fair. I turned to Google.

Google, in turn, landed me at VistaPrint, the first site first in the search results for “free business cards.” These cards weren’t all that free — they tack on $10 shipping and handling — but I didn’t know that at first.

Designing the card was a breeze and inputting information was easy to figure out. While I was able to choose between a wide variety of templates, only one looked all that professional. I accepted it as the trade-off for getting free business cards.

Though I was given the choice, I opted for the my cards to come with an unreasonably tacky advertisement on the back. There’s an option to upgrade your cards to get rid of this it, but I decided against such a marginally pricier-than-free option; I couldn’t afford it. Of course, I might have been able to afford it — if I had a job.

I can’t stress this enough: Though this Web site and others advertise their “free business cards,” it turns out that they really mean “free except for inordinately pricey shipping and handling.”

My first set of 500 cards cost, all told, nearly $10 including all appropriate surcharges. For a small trial run of business cards like that, I decided that $10 was probably worth it.

Once you place your order and have it finalized, you have the option of participating in a number of silly, annoying promotions. You do not have to participate these promotions once you’ve paid, so ignore them and go on with your life. I did, and I still got my cards.

Within three weeks, the cards came. My first order was printed on not-too-shabby cardstock and without a misprint in sight — overall, I consider this acceptable quality for cards from the business community’s equivalent of a dollar discount store.

I imagine other Web sites work just the same way. This business model seems to work: suckering wanna-be professionals into buying what’s advertised as free.

Take these business cards for what they’re worth. Apparently, that’s $10.


  1. dkzody

    500 business cards will last FOREVER. Especially if you are like my partner and forget to take them with you and are always asking for one of mine! We’ve had ours since 1995, and I think she’s used 25. I have about 100 left. They do come in very handy so always carry them with you.

    The people from NFTE at Lyles Center gave me a beautiful card holder for Christmas which makes carrying the cards even nicer. Drop a few hints to your master teachers that you would like one for a going-away gift. I’m assuming they still do those gifts. My master teachers outfitted me with all the desk accessories I would ever need. Twenty years later, I’m still using them.

  2. What did you put on your business cards? Any snazy quotes or cutzy images?

    Actually I wrote about six other comments about what you could have put on your cards but each one was more politically offensive than the other.

  3. Ms. Zody: Gifts? I love gifts!

    Mr. Bogush: I kept it simple: name, subjects, e-mail and two mailing addresses.

  4. Watch your bank/credit card statements very carefully. I just ran across some complaints about VistaPrint, and remembered this post.

  5. I’ll definitely keep my eye on my account. So far, it looks like I’m clean of those odd charges, though.

  6. jen

    I agree, 4/4 full color business cards really do make an impact. Through the years I’ve come across a bunch of print shops that offer additional printing features not normally found elsewhere.

    For those of you who have ever ordered business cards, you’ve probably noticed listings for 14pt business cards, but have you guys ever come across 16pt business cards ? The other week I did a Google search for 16pt business cards and I came across a printer called 4FocusFX (or 4FocusGraphics)… I placed an order for 1000 business cards and they charged me only $49 (pretty good considering the fact that they were full color front and back)… the cards were pretty nice.. thick, glossy, etc.

    I also realized that they are able to add metallic foil on some of their printed products. I guess the next challenge for print shops is creating a printing process that’s “GREEN” … does anybody know of any reputable full color “GREEN” shops? That’s my question…


    Recommended site:

  7. Not a fan of glossy, myself, but to each their own.

    If I see any green business card companies, I’ll let you know. For some reason, Whole Foods comes to mind. Heh.

  8. business cards come in very useful. Business cards are especially important if no one can spell or pronounce your name like mine you pronounce it Kay-Lee-anne but its spelt Kaeleighannh. Don’t ask. it also help meeting people at business networking mixers, tech events and conferences and it also helps them remember you better. More chances of you making a business arrangement or even getting a job.
    I’m really glad to hear you have 500, because they will last you a VERY long time.

    Great stuff!
    and good luck,

  9. Rich

    Vistaprint is terrible. I used their template for a custom designed business card. Three times I went back and forth with their customer service. All three times Vistaprint screwed up the job. Don’t waste your time and money. Vistaprint is absolutely the worst.

  1. 1 Nip and Tuck « Off the Tenure Track

    […] I gave them my card, I smiled. No Comments Leave a Commenttrackback addressThere was an error with your comment, […]

  2. 2 Nothing to Lose « On the Tenure Track

    […] my credential is a pass grade on the final student teaching. This matters because, thanks to my business cards and my tireless self-promotion, I just might have cornered an internship for next […]

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