Business Cards: Your Tool for Networking

As a writer, editor, encourager-of-artists, and blogger, I’ve got a lot going on. Writing, editing, and creating educational content for budding writers are my primary sources of income, and, as such, require a certain level of professionalism and marketing.

I hate marketing. I’m not good at it and I don’t have the attention span to keep tabs on what works and what doesn’t. Do not follow my example, if you can help it. I really am my own worst enemy when it comes to this sort of thing, so I’m going to give you some pointers on one of the most basic, and most useful, tools for marketing your business as a writer.

The Business Card

It sounds simple, and maybe even unimportant, but having something physical to put into the hands of an interested party is critical. Many people take information in the best when they have something to touch. A business card allows you to lay all of your information out in one place. Everything that’s relevant to your business as a writer can be slapped right on the front.

There are plenty of people that think a business card is a waste of time and money, but, let me tell you, I’ve gotten few bookings and sales off of the occasional business card, and that’s worth it to me. A 90,000 word editing gig more than pays for that box of cards.

What Do I Need it For?

1. Networking. Finding writers to mentor you in your genre, gathering others to do a book tour, a blog hop, or a joint giveaway will be much easier if you have a business card to exchange. Odds are, the other writers you meet will have cards to give you, so let yourself stand out!

2. Drumming up business. This isn’t always super effective, but it’s one more way to pull in sales or bookings. Tables at conventions, book fairs, and signings are never complete without a business card. (Another way to do this is to create bookmarks, but they get a bit pricey. A great investment, though, when you’re ready!)

What to Include

1. Your name. Use whatever name you’re doing business under. If you don’t typically go by your full name, if you’ve published or done business under a pen name or online handle, your best bet is to feature that. You can include your full name in one of two ways:

  • Use your nom de plume as your header name and your full name as a smaller, italicized title beneath
  • Use your full name, if you plan to do business under it in the future, and include your nom de plume as your smaller, italicized title underneath that.

2. Email address. Some people are squicky about phone conversations, especially when making contact with someone for the first time. Email is a great way to allow those people to contact you with a little less stress. Make sure you create an email specifically for doing business. I recommend using Outlook, as I’ve been told having the Windows email looks a bit more professional. I, personally, have an Outlook and a Gmail account for business, but I use the latter much more frequently. I made it before I realized and I don’t want to change it.

3. Phone number. This is optional. If you don’t have a dedicated business line, or if you don’t want to change your personal voicemail greeting to include your business information, just stick to the email. Also, if you offer your personal phone number and you don’t like taking calls from unidentified numbers (I don’t), then listing the phone number will just be frustrating to potential clients. You have to answer your phone for it to be a useful tool. Don’t list it if you aren’t prepared for that.

4a. Website. If you don’t have one, get one. I use WordPress, since my primary content is made up of blog posts. If you don’t blog, consider a static page to display your published material, progress on your current projects, and regular announcements. Wix and Weebly are popular, free options.

4b. Newsletter. My blog keeps everyone current on my nonsense. I can create and toss up a post on a whim, and the people subscribed to the blog will get an email. Newsletters, in my opinion, are generally overkill for a blog. If you have a static website, however, a newsletter is an amazing way to do a round up of your week or your month and keep all of your fans and followers current on your progress!

MailChimp offers a free newsletter service for up to 2,000 subscribers. It’s a great place to start!

5. Social media names and logos. Make them small. The Facebook “F” is pretty iconic. No one will miss it. Same for the Twitter bird. Try to keep all of your social media names consistent so that people only have to remember one name to hunt you down. Homogenize your brand!

6. Your logo or photo. Have something on your card that identifies you! It doesn’t necessarily have to have your photo on it, or a custom logo, but maybe create it to match the theme of your website. My cards are the same as my WordPress header, but don’t actually have anything else defining on them. I may add a photo or the portrait I commissioned in the next run. =]

Where Do I Get Them?

Good question!

I created mine in Adobe InDesign and printed and cut them at OfficeMax. It’s not cost-effective and the quality is not awesome. Their paper is thinner than most business cards, and they’re done on a standard, business-grade laser printer. I worked there at the time, so I got a good deal, that’s all.

Vistaprint has great options, and you can still create your card yourself, and upload a PNG or JPG into their creator. I advise saving it as a PNG at a high resolution so you’ll get the best possible quality. If your cards are full bleed, make sure to include a little extra space around the card so you don’t wind up with weird white edges.

InkGarden.com is even better than Vistaprint, but you’ll have to keep an eye out for coupons. Their prices can be a little high. I adored my last batch of cards from them, and I’d recommend them to anyone.

If you have a conference or writers retreat coming up in the next week or so, you can still go to OfficeMax or Office Depot (they’re the same company and both suck equally, so don’t worry about which. Neither is better than the other) and get the minimum 50 cards printed. It runs about $17, unless you snag a coupon. At least that way you’ll have something. Definitely don’t go to something like a conference or retreat without cards! This is how we network, even if it isn’t specifically drumming up business!

How Do I Make My Card Stand Out?

Another great question.

I’ve gotten cards with Hershey’s chocolates taped to them. I love me some chocolate. It made an impression.

Use your cover art! You paid a lot for it if you self-published, and your publisher paid a lot for it if you’re traditionally published. Use that investment to market for you!

Include your author bio on the back. Who are you? What do you write? What titles have you published? Give the recipient a reason to follow up with your website or social media.

Get your cards, writers, and battle on!
Kit

What have you used on your cards that was most effective? What have you used that you’ve found has been extraneous?

How Do You Show Yourself Love?

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Being a creative person can be hard. You look at the world, and you see trends you’ve seen in fiction—that downward spiral before everything falls to hell. You look at your life and it doesn’t look like it does in your head, or like it should look on the page.

You’re not alone.

Studies have shown that creative people are very prone to depression and mood swings, leaving us susceptible to the terrible proclivity for self-neglect. It’s not that we want to be depressed, and we certainly don’t want to push our friends away, but sometimes we just need to recharge our batteries. This tends to be ten times worse if you’re in a creative rut, doesn’t it? Our inner Eeyore pops out with a compelling, “What’s the point?”

The point is: It will pass.

I’m not trying to diminish your feelings of inadequacy or loneliness or failure. We all have those feelings, especially when it looks like things are going down the toilet faster than we can swim. I just want you to know that it doesn’t last forever.

One day, you’ll emerge from the funk and get back to work, because your art is what you were born to do.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: We all feel like frauds sometimes. We all feel like failures sometimes. It does not make us less than we are, and we are awesome.

So, let me pose my question to you: How do you show yourself love?

I know it can be a nightmare just getting out of bed in the morning, but you still deserve love and you need it most from yourself.

Let me give you some pointers from when I have my bad days, or even days that I just work a little too hard and it doesn’t feel like enough.

1. Tell yourself it’s okay. You’ll get on it when you’re ready. Progress is important, and, unless you have a deadline that you really can’t miss, giving yourself some breathing room is the best possible way to love yourself. You can’t be expected to drive your brain into the ground! If you need to take a day off, take a day off. You don’t need to justify it to anyone.

2. Write through the block. Sometimes, taking a day off makes me feel worse than if I could just write something. So, write something! Don’t pick up your favorite work in progress, though. You may not be able to write to your satisfaction today, and that could make you feel a whole lot worse than you already do.

Try something different. Write a character letter or journal entry and get into your favorite protagonist’s head! Write a letter to yourself. Rant about something! Make list of all the things you love about writing or your current work in progress. Hell, make a list of the reasons you like the spot on the back of your cat’s left ear. It doesn’t matter, just write something. You’d be amazed at how easily it can get the ball rolling.

3. Take a bath or a walk. Go to a part of your city or town you’ve never been to before and explore a bit. (I mean, don’t trespass or anything. Be careful and respectful.) Just settle in and listen to music awhile. Recharge and clear your mind, however you like to do that. Yoga With Adriene is one of my favorites. Regardless of what you choose to do with this ‘down time,’ make sure you take care of yourself doing it.

4. Make a list of all the reasons you became a writer or artist in the first place. It might help rekindle that passion. Remember, though, this is for fun and to show yourself love, so keep the reasons positive!

If you chose to write because you had something bad happen to you that you need to get out, don’t let that dominate your reason. Your reason may be better viewed as using writing to heal or help others. Getting that negativity out can still be positive.

5. Spend time with friends or family. Jared is the one person I know I can rely on to pick me up when I need it. He’s funny, even if he doesn’t have any idea what to say when I’m sad. He knows what I like and what I need—even if it’s Star Trek: Voyager and a cup of coffee.

I know this is a hard one for some of you. I spent several years in Florida, away from the people I love and with no friends in the vicinity. It was hard for me, and I can’t express what it felt like to have no access to my Tribe. If you feel this way, it may not be much, but you can contact me. I’ll be your Tribe. ❤

6. Know that you are enough. That’s it. That’s the bottom line and the pinnacle of self-love. You are enough, and it can be hard to remember that, but it’s ALWAYS true. Always.
You are enough, and the world needs your art.

Battle on,
Kit

What do you do to show yourself love?

Have you ever felt like you had no love for yourself to offer? (<—Then reread number 6, okay?)

G is for Gumpathon! #AtoZChallenge

Alright! Back in February 2013, I put together a writing challenge called the Gumpathon! It’s a 30-day challenge, not unlike the NaNoWriMo events, that encourages writers to finish off any drafts they’ve started! If you have a single novel you need to hammer out, just want to throw together a short story anthology, or have a handful of projects that don’t exactly have endings, THE GUMP IS FOR YOU!

But you know what else? I’m expanding it this year. I want to include all creatives in our little Gumpathon. Artists, finish that painting, sculpture, or installation you’ve been working on! Musicians, spin us something beautiful! Crafters, crochet an afghan! Put all of your vacation photos from last year into a scrapbook! Sew that skirt!

So, here’s how it’s going to be. I can provide the writing side of this, but if you think the crafting, arting, etc community should have some guidelines of its own, suggest some! My contact page is above, or you can just post on my Facebook wall! Let’s complete the guidelines so we can make this a yearly tradition, right?

Awesome. So, here are the writing rules:

The Rules:

  1.  Set your own goal and stick to it. No flip-flopping. Pick a word count you want to achieve within the month, and make it happen.
  2.  The write-a-thon starts at midnight on 1 May 2016. To clarify, you shoulduse a novel or project you’ve already started!  You just cannot count anything prior tothe start date.
  3.  All word counts must be reported by 31 May 2016, 11:59:59 PM. You can do this on the Gumpathon Facebook page or the Kit MacConnell Facebook page! We don’t have an actual site for the Gumpathon yet, but that may change in the future.

If anyone has any ideas for rules or even rewards, feel free to pitch them.  And if any non-Gumpers want to be a part of the community, check us out on Facebook: Writers with Gumption!