Halt, identify yourself!
Updated: Apr 9, 2019
If you’re a Jane-of-all-trades like me, then you might have some trouble explaining what it is exactly that you do.
I’ve written and drawn since I was a kid, but I started working professionally in game development and technical writing, before transitioning to graphic, print and web design, until my most recent role in front-end web development and client support.
So how do I identify myself? On LinkedIn, I am a Freelance Designer and Developer at LYMN. On Twitter, I am an Artist and writer currently interested in front-end development, UI, graphic design and technical writing, which is close to how I describe myself on this website.
While that’s all well and good on the internet, it doesn’t quite translate on paper, or specifically, 130 lb card stock.
For one thing, the description Artist and writer currently interested in front-end development, UI, graphic design and technical writing
looks too long on a standard 2" by 3.5 " business card.
Meanwhile Freelance Designer and Developer is nice, short and sweet, but can be too limiting.
For instance, what if I found an opportunity in technical writing that I couldn't pass up? Maybe I should design a card that said exactly what I wanted to do professionally: Freelance designer, developer and technical writer.
But what about my more traditional skills in writing and illustration? Just because they're not my current focus, should I just leave them out?
Another thing to consider is that whenever you get something printed, you will get a fairly large number of them. If you’re not a lean, mean, networking machine, chances are you’ll be stuck with unused cards. One way to avoid that is to have a card that you can use for years and still be relevant, which can be a challenge for anyone whose career tends to shift with technology.
So how do you make sure that your business card:
Succinctly, memorably and accurately describes what you do
Doesn't wind up in the recycling bin when you need to branch out career-wise?
The solution for me was to make three cards instead of one.
Thankfully, it’s possible to have different reverse sides or variants printed in a single set of business cards with moo.com.
Here’s my LYMN card with 3 variant reverse sides:
The first design is for the front which will be the same for all three cards. The second design is for standard business, or when I just want to tell people what I do. The third and fourth designs are for when I want people to remember what I look like.
I’ve settled on these two job descriptions:
Freelance designer, developer & technical writer
Graphic designer, illustrator & writer
I chose the latter because l wanted to be able to work on other things that weren't necessarily internet-related.
While I’ve happily called myself a Web designer for many years, the web design field is increasingly becoming specialized (Front-end developer, UI designer, UX specialist, etc.) so calling myself just that would be a little outdated.
I’ve been getting my cards printed by moo ever since I was let down badly by VistaPrint.co.nz many years ago (disclaimer: I’m not paid by any of the sites or applications I refer to in my posts and I only write about stuff that I actually use. Sometimes I have less than ideal experiences and I talk about them freely so readers can avoid making the mistakes I’ve made). You can also opt for your friendly neighbourhood copy centre, printing your cards yourself or even going with letterpress. Just make sure to find out about minimum print runs and provide separate files for three different cards if needed.
If you’re going to use moo.com to print your own designs, I suggest downloading their templates to make sure that your artwork fits. Mind that if you’re not sure, you can always download a PDF proof for printing. If you make any mistakes, you also have the option to make changes to your design for more than 2.5 hours even after you place an order, which I think is pretty neat.
Fair warning, shipping is relatively expensive and if you need your cards right away you’ll have to pay a premium.