Do I need business cards for my photography business?
Business cards have been a staple of business marketing for a long time. Business owners from all over the world use these small cards to quickly pass on contact information.
But do we still need business cards in a digital world? Even though we don’t often have the basic need to pass our contact info on a piece of paper, you can still use your business card as a way to stand out from other photographers.
Reasons to use business cards
While there are many reasons you should consider having a business card, here are a few that are particularly important for photographers.
Make an impression for your brand
There are so many photographers these days, and professionals need to do more than ever to really stand out from the competition.
Having a business card shows that you take your business seriously.
Having a GREAT business card shows that you care about quality, aesthetic, and that you pay attention to detail.
It can also show that you place value in printed products. A prospective client may think “wow, if their business cards are this nice, I can’t wait to see what my products will look like.”
Easy and convenient way to save information
Some people may argue that an extra piece of paper is cumbersome when almost everyone has a cell phone on them at all times.
However, there are so many situations where you just don’t have time to wait on someone to pull out a phone and fumble through taking down your information.
A business card is a convenient way to leave your info with someone else so they can process it in their own time. Personally, I really like handing out and collecting business cards at trade shows and conventions.
Pro tip: Leave some white space on your card so that the person you give it to can write a note if they want. Bring a sharpie with you to networking events so you can write notes on business cards that you collect!
Let them market for you
One nice thing about business cards is that you can often leave them in businesses around your community. Where I live, there are hundreds of small businesses that have bulletin boards where you can take and leave business cards.
If you are a wedding photographer, many wedding venues will allow other vendors to leave business cards for couples who stop by.
If you are a fine art photographer, you can leave some business cards along with photos that you are displaying in a gallery or at a local business.
Finally, if you have a really unique card, it may get saved or shared for months or years. Make sure to submit your card to roundups and Pinterest boards to get a few extra backlinks or some traffic to your website!
Reasons to avoid business cards
Business cards aren’t for everyone. Here are some common reasons that you may decide to skip traditional business cards all together!
Avoid waste / Save trees
There are plenty of alternatives to passing out paper. We’ll talk about some alternatives later, but if you are trying to do your part to save the planet… you may decide to opt-out of using business cards all together.
Our friend Nick from Wandering Weddings says: “We’ve gone away from using business cards completely. We find that almost everyone has a smartphone and our clients often love that we are saving trees by exchanging contact information digitally.”
Most people throw them away
Photographers often put lots of energy into designing and creating their business cards. Even if you have an award-winning business card that everyone loves, the truth is that it will likely end up in the trash.
High touch / Germs
Given the current situation in our world with Covid, it may make some people uncomfortable if you try to hand them a business card.
Many businesses have come up with alternatives to items that were traditionally held or passed. Many restaurants are using QR codes to bring up a digital menu. Most stores offer a payment method that is low or no-touch.
You could do the same with your business card. Whether that means using a digital business card, having people take a picture of a single business card that you carry with you, or creating your own QR code, there are plenty of digital alternatives to traditional business cards.
Photography business card inspiration
If you are looking for inspiration while designing your business cards, be sure to keep scrolling as I’ve included some unique ideas in this post.
However, if you want to dive even deeper for inspiration, here are some places you can go to find unending ideas for photography business cards.
Pinterest is full of business card inspiration, and I found a variety of boards already created by other photographers and designers. Just search for “photography business cards” and change the search type to “boards” instead of all pins.
I also created a photography business card board to save some ideas for the future!
Google Image search
Google image search has become much more like Pinterest in the past few years. I love how Google uses filter bubbles and allows you to save to collections, just like Pinterest.
I was surprised at how drastically different the results were on Pinterest and Google though. Make sure to give Google Images a try when you are looking for inspiration.
Behance / Dribbble
In my experience, it was hard to find examples of business cards for photographers, but I still enjoyed looking at designs from other industries. These platforms also made it easier to search by aesthetic or attributes like typography. If you have specific design needs, it may be worth checking these out.
Post in a photography group
When I was working on this article, I posted in our SEO course community group to see if anyone had unique or interesting business cards I could feature.
I was surprised at how many really great business cards were shared, even in a group of around 550 photographers.
If you want to see what other photographers have done, try searching in a Facebook group for photographers or creating a new post asking other photographers to share their designs.
Ways to make your photography business cards stand out
Every photographer wants to be unique, and nobody wants boring business cards. If you want to make your business cards are unique, consider the following tips.
Business cards don’t have to be made from paper. Even if you choose paper there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Here are some examples of alternative business card materials.
Plastic business cards
Many vendors now offer clear or semi-transparent business cards printed on plastic!
Metal business cards
If you want to really leave an impression, you can even have your business cards printed and cut out of metal!
Wooden business cards
A standard business card is a rectangle of 3.5 inches by 2 inches. However, using a different shape can really help your business cards stand out, especially if it is collected alongside other cards.
Square business cards
Round business cards
Want something a little less… square? Try round business cards.
Die-cut business cards
When it comes to die-cut cards, you can either go with a standard die, or have a custom die created just for your cards. Expect to pay a setup fee if you need a custom die, but after that the prices are often more reasonable than you would think!
A business card is a great way to make an impression. The way the card feels when someone first touches it can completely change the way they perceive your business. Consider these options to make a tactile first impression.
Thick business cards
Have you ever held a business card that was paper-thin? Feels cheep doesn’t it? Thicker business cards leave a first impressions that says “quality.”
Best business card texture
Many companies will offer different textures for your business cards. A few popular options are soft-matte, watercolor paper, linen, and recycled paper. You can also have raised spot-embossing or metal foil textures added to your card.
Letterpressed business cards
Letterpress printing is a process where the ink is “pressed” onto the cards with a metal plate.
The resulting product feels very hand-made and custom.
Personalized and hand-made business cards
What to include on your business card
If this is your first time creating a business card, make sure you look at plenty of examples and create a checklist of things you want included on your card. I remember the first time I had business cards printed, and then realized I left off my email address. Whoops.
Here is a simple checklist of items to include on your business card:
- Photo of you
- Examples of your work
- Business logo
- Business name
- Your name
- Phone number
- Email address
- Social profiles
- Your specialty
- Studio address or areas served
You may have other needs and you may not need every item on this list, but at least you can’t say you didn’t think of it 😉
Should you include your photo on your business card?
A business card with your photo will help someone remember your face and the impression you made on them when you first met. If you are great at making people feel good about themselves, consider putting your photo on your business card.
This is a heavily debated topic with photographers. Should you include a photo of yourself on the card, or should you showcase client work on the card?
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and your role in the business. If people mostly hire you because of your work or if you have a few photos that are easily attributed to you, it might make sense to use that work instead of your face.
Showcase your best work
Displaying your best photos on your business cards is a great way for people to fall in love with your work immediately.
If you are going to use photos on your business card, consider choosing a photo that matches the aesthetic of your website, or that you use on other social media profiles and banners.
You may also need to consider your material and printing method to make sure that the photo will look like you expect when printed on your card.
Some services like Moo.com will allow you to create a single card back, then unlimited different card fronts (you could upload a whole gallery of your favorite photos).
Pro tip: If you are a wedding photographer, you might even consider using this method to print business cards from an engagement session, and then leaving them at the wedding reception (get permission first of course). In this case, also be sure to let guests know where they can purchase prints from the event.
Tell them how you will solve their problems
Your business card is a great way for you to get a unique selling proposition in front of a potential client. If you make it extremely obvious why they should call you, they’ll remember your card when they have that problem in the future.
Should you put a QR code on your business card?
QR codes are a great way to allow someone to quickly scan an image with their phone and be directed to a URL or another digital destination.
The only downside is that not every phone has a QR scanner, and even if it is available, many users don’t know how to access it. Thankfully with most iPhones and Google phones, all you need is the default camera app to scan a QR code.
If you are going to include a QR code, I do recommend getting familiar with how to scan them with different types of phones so that you can give simple instructions when you meet someone!
Include all important contact information
Make sure that your card makes it easy for someone to contact you. If you never answer your phone, consider leaving it off. If you hate email, don’t include that information.
I recommend including at least 2-3 ways that someone can contact you, based on their personal preference.
Pro-tip: Consider listing a business phone number on your card (like a Google or Skype number), but when you meet someone that you really want to contact you, use a Sharpie to write your personal cell number on the card. This will make them feel like they are special, and that you really want them to call.
Business card templates for photographers
Since most photographers already have design tools like Photoshop available, it is common to design your own business card. To help you get started, here are a few templates!
Free photography business card templates
Premium business card templates for photographers
Where to order business cards for photographers
Once you have the perfect vision for your business cards, you still need to get them printed. There are thousands of options, but here are a few to get you started.
Hire a graphic designer
In some cases, it may make sense to hire a graphic designer to design your cards. In most cases, these designers will also have sources for getting the cards printed. If you are creating a specialty card that requires a complex upload process (like die-cut or laser cut cards), you may end up saving money by working with someone who is familiar with the process.
Your photography lab
Most photo labs will offer press-printed products, and many have great options for business cards. Labs like WHCC and Millers have a wide variety of textures and papers to make your business cards stand out. Many will also offer unique sizes and options, so check with your lab to see what is available.
Moo is a high quality printing company that specializes in business cards and paper promotional products. They offer a wide variety of unique options like embossing and foil. Make sure to order one of their sample packs to help you decide what you love (it usually comes with a discount code for your first order as well)! I’ve used Moo on several occasions and have always been impressed with the quality.
Digital business cards for photographers and other business card alternatives
I’ve made several mentions to digital business cards for photographers in this article. Now let’s look at a few examples and talk about how to use them.
How to use a digital business card
Have someone take a picture
You can pull up the card on your phone and let someone else take a picture, or carry a single physical version that people can photograph to create their digital version.
Send via text or email
Have the file easily accessible on your phone and computer so you can quickly email or text your digital business card to a new contact.
If you and the other person both use Apple devices, you can use AirDrop to send your digital business card.
Use a QR code
Have someone scan a QR code to go to a page or photo on your website that acts as a digital business card.
Branded items to use instead of business cards
One alternative to using business cards is to use other small items with the same information or branding. There are thousands of possibilities, but here are a few for inspiration.
This idea (thanks Stephen) is especially timely in 2020, but is also useful if you are meeting people at a tradeshow or if you have clients who travel often.
Who doesn’t need another pen? I can’t say I’ve ever called a number or visited a website from a pen, but I do know that I grab them any time someone is giving one away.
This might only be a good idea if most of your clients are photographers or wear glasses, but it does tie in well for a photography business.
Tell us your business card story…
Do you use business cards for your photography business? Why or why not? Leave a comment and let us know how you use business cards and whether a business card has ever lead to new bookings for your business.