Inside: Everything you need to know about designing beautiful business cards for your solopreneur brand (yes, you can totally do it in Canva)
After a year and a half of being confined to our home offices and holding all meetings virtually, business cards might seem like sentimental relics of a time gone by.
But are they?
I would argue that as we get back to a more social way of life, in-person conferences and networking events will come back full force.
I mean, Zoom meetings are fine. (Thank you, Zoom, for letting us get away with wearing comfy PJ pants to work.)
But they’re no substitute for the excitement and energy of an in-person gathering.
Even though I’m deeply introverted and need a few days to recharge afterwards, I love being able to sit down with old friends old, walk over to a booth to chat with a vendor, and meet new people – all in the span of 30 minutes.
And at events like that, business cards are like currency.
Yes, I hear you mumbling about QR codes and simply exchanging phone numbers, but there is something incredibly satisfying about business cards.
The thick paper they’re printed on, the interesting textures and colors, and a ton of information that you just can’t get from someone’s phone number.
So in this post, I’m sharing tips and tricks, and related examples to help your cards stand out at the next networking event you attend.
How to design business cards for your solopreneur brand
If you’re already comfortable working in InDesign or another Adobe product, you can find a ton of templates on Creative Market – simply choose one that fits your brand aesthetic.
But if you’re giving Adobe the side eye, Canva is another excellent choice.
Yes, I know some graphic designers talk sh*t about it. But here’s the deal: Canva is a tool. And like any tool, it’s not good or bad – instead, it either meets your needs or not so much.
Quick detour so you know where I’m coming from: you know those gorgeous, elaborate dresses in paintings from the 16th and 17th century?
Yeah, the sewing machine wasn’t invented until the early 1800s.
Let that sink in for a minute.
All those elaborate dresses were handsewn. Needle and thread. No machine, no electricity, only skill.
Because artistry is not dependent on the tool.
A good tool might make your work easier or faster. An excellent tool might give you the ability to do something special that you otherwise couldn’t.
But using a specific tool isn’t cheating and it doesn’t make your designs any less valuable.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk 😄
Now, let’s get back to the topic at hand… Canva offers gorgeous business card templates to give you a running start. I suggest you check them out so you’re not staring at a blank canvas.
And that brings me to the first important step in this design process.
1. Pick the size and orientation of your cards
Business cards come in different shapes and sizes. In the US, the traditional business card is a rectangle 3.5” wide and 2” tall. Most business card holders are made for this type of card.
The standard European business card is somewhat narrower and taller, at 85mm wide and 55mm tall.
Incidentally, or maybe on purpose, these are exactly the same dimensions as just about every credit card in your wallet.
It would be nice if they were all standardized, wouldn’t it?
Then your new doctor’s card would fit neatly into your wallet, no bent edges where it sticks out. Let’s chalk it up to the fact that 3.5×2” looks much more understandable to us Americans than 3.37×2.12” 😄
Want to get creative? No problem.
On the tame end of the spectrum, you could simply design your business card in a portrait orientation instead of landscape, and maybe round the corners.
Or you could go wild and design your card as a square, circle, or any other unusual shape. Just keep in mind that it will likely present a storage problem for the people you give you cards to.
The last thing you want is a super cool business card that ends up in the trash can because it doesn’t fit anywhere.
Next, because your business card can't hold everything and the kitchen sink…
2. Decide what information to include
At a minimum, you’ll want to include your name and a way to get in touch with you. And if you’re doing business under a different name, add your company’s name as well.
If you have a physical address where clients can find you, include it in your design.
CONSIDER YOUR COMMUNICATION PREFERENCES
Do you like having people call you? Make sure your phone number is on the card. Wish the phone would never ring? Leave the number off the card and give people your email or another way to contact you.
If you’re active on social media, consider including your social media handles on the card so people can follow and connect with you there.
GIVE PEOPLE SOMETHING TO DO
So, technically, you can leave the reverse side empty. Or just stick your logo on it and call it a day.
But… if you have a special offer, why not use the space to tell people about it?
If you were one of those peeps mumbling about QR codes earlier, you could add one to the back of the card and lead people where you want them to go.
Or you could give them a discount code for one of your products. Whichever way you go, make sure it’s a considered decision, not just the default.
And whatever else you do…
3. Keep your business card on brand
Business cards are part of your brand collateral, meaning they extend your brand’s look and feel beyond your website and social media presence.
So when you’re designing your cards, follow your Brand Style Guide closely.
Don’t have a style guide? Wobbling on the colors to choose? Start by establishing your brand strategy first, then create a mood board for your business. This will help you identify the creative direction for your brand.
With your Brand Style Guide handy, let’s look at a few important bits. First up…
This isn’t the time to get extra “creative” and use just any cool typeface available. Stick to your brand’s main fonts.
Keep your text easily readable at 8pt or larger.
Remember, your business card will be printed – there’s no gesture to Zoom in on paper. So if it starts to look like all the information you want to include won’t fit on the card, pare it down.
Then, turn your attention to…
If you’ve worked with me, you have an extended color palette with lots of choices. If you’re DIYing, your color palette might be simpler.
Either way, you have colors to play with. Decide which two or three you want to use on your business card.
Remember, there’s no need to showcase *all* the colors on your cards.
In fact, it will look better if you don’t. Colors are a lot of visual information to take in, so treat them accordingly and keep them pared down.
And now, let’s talk about…
Solid color is the most traditional and obvious, but you might also want to consider a subtle pattern, if your brand has one.
Another option is using a photo.
If you decide to go with a photo background, make sure that your text is still easily readable. You may need to increase the transparency of the photo or use one that’s light on detail.
And if you stick with a solid color, think beyond the default white.
Try using one of the very light colors in your brand’s palette. If it makes the text harder to read, you may want to revisit your color choices and go with a darker version for the text.
Check the contrast levels and adjust if needed, to make sure people with visual impairments can read your card.
If you’re using a solid color as your background, you have another card up your sleeve…
Not necessarily your main logo, although that’s an option for the back of the card.
But think about using the icon or symbol in your logo as a watermark on the face of your business card. Very subtle, almost transparent, but definitely there.
It adds a little pizzazz without being in your face.
And now, your business card should be ready to go. If you’ve been working in Canva, you can have your cards printed directly through them.
Or you can download your card design as a PDF Print and send it to a printer of your choice. If you go this route, make sure to check the box for “Crop marks and bleed.”
And that’s all I have for today. I’d love to see your cards when you’re done designing them.
Not into designing your own business cards?
Graphic design is what I do, and I’d love to help you. Check out my signature branding package and let’s talk about what your business needs.