get a domain name. It doesn’t matter what it is, if your ISP changes hands you won’t have to go reprinting all your stock. (this has happened to me several times, I’m a slow learner) AND it looks like you are TRYING to put on a professional face. I used www.itsyourdomain.com and between the domain registration and the email forwarding, it cost less than $30 bucks and was well worth it.
get PROFESSIONAL looking business cards. Spend a little extra – you don’t have to go crazy and get full color – A good box of 500 1-color ink, thermographed with a logo goes for about 30 dollars. (You want to save money, buy 1000) The raised lettering gives a much more professional impression. I don’t care HOW good they look, business cards off a laser printer look homemade – those are just fine and dandy for handing out at shows, but if you care gonna do that, go crazy, make bookmarks. I needed 2 biz cards, one for me and one for the book deodorizer, so got DOUBLE-SIDED cards for about 2/3rds the price of 2 cards. (see above)
camera ready layouts. You save a ton of money handing camera ready copy to the printshop. You can use MS Word to do a quick and dirty layout, it has graphic handling fuctions. But if you wanna have some real fun get an old version of MS Publisher. You can do damn near everything you can do with the Pagemaker or Quark for a fraction of the price. (If you have no eye for this sort of thing, get professional help, but the printer’s gonna farm it out and run the costs back to you.)
logos. A picture is worth 1000 words. Logos help people draw a visual picture of who you are. Find one, make one, steal one, pay some black-t-shirted kid to draw one. But it’s a cheap way to unify your professional image. Have a stamp made with it and stamp your wrapped packages.
shop around and be loyal. I know that makes no sense, but right now print shops are HUNGRY and they reward repeat customers with discounts. Hell, my guy rewards me for paying in cash.
outsource. If you do a lot of mailing, get your envelopes, labels, letterheads and invoices preprinted. Get some prices and cost it out, you will find it is cheaper to have these things printed than it is to print them at home. Your printer gets the stock cheaper than you can and is making his end on the labor charges. At home you are paying for the ink, the stock and the use of your printer which is NOT designed for heavy duty. So, if you are going to kill a 75 dollar toner cartridge anyway or pay the same or less to have the job outsourced, it will save the wear on your machines.
printing postage. Stamps.com is helpful when you are doing a catalog mailing. They make their money on selling you the very specific labels and the interest off your money. You transfer funds into their site and then draw upon it when you print postage. And you basically have to print a sheet of stamps at a time. If you are doing postcard mailers, get a bulk mail account and get the bulk mail logo printed ON your cards.
return address stamp. If you don’t do a lot of mailing, get a self inking rubber stamp made: 6 lines = 20 bucks. You can stamp yourself silly on envelopes, packages, postcards, homemade bookmarks, even the headers of receipts. Staples.com sends custom printed stuff to Marktheworld and they were prompt and fairly priced. The UPS stores also do it.
inhouse catalogs. If you consistently print a lot of catalogs but not an amount that demands a large printing house, Xerox still has a free color printer program. where you ‘lease’ the printer for free and buy your ink through them. The folks at Bookfever have been using it for a few years, it has it’s drawbacks but it can be economical. They have a bit of a write up here.
helpful hint. FINEPRINT. I can’t say enough about this little program. When every internet order takes up 4 and 5 sheets of our paper, we need to save money everywhere we can. It allows you to print 2,4,or 8 sheets on 1 sheet of paper When I first bought it, it was much cheaper, but the one time costs still saves me a ton on paper and ink, especially if you load it on all your computers. And I am sure if you look around the shareware sites, you can come up with a utility program that does the same thing.