Printing Made Painless Without Going Broke
I’ll spare you from the spiel of how the world is increasingly digital and that print isn’t dead. We’ve all heard that a million times. But, here’s the truth. You’re going to be printing a project at some point, and you should do so with some knowledge on how to do it the right way! It doesn’t have to be scary, and it doesn’t have to always be out of your budget.
I’m fortunate to have a decade of experience in printing (yes I’ve been designing for that long!). While technical issues and spelling errors are common hiccups in printing, I’ve learned that there are also some simpler things you should keep in mind.
Printing is a process that always requires planning. Think you have enough time? 🤔 Double it.
There are a couple of main reasons to give yourself a time buffer. The first is respecting the order of how things get done. Whether you choose to print online or use a local vendor, you almost always have to wait your turn in production. Think of it like ordering at a restaurant. Your chicken taco might be simpler than a burger with the works, but you ordered after the other customer.
The second reason to plan ahead is one that can bust your budget if you don’t. Printing online can be cheap, but overnight shipping is definitely not. Who wants to basically pay for their order twice because you need it right now? Not me, and definitely not you.
Lastly, you almost always want to give yourself extra time to get things printed because of Murphy’s Law. Don’t believe it can’t happen to you! Because it can.
A client of mine was preparing for the upcoming year, and they wanted to preview all of their upcoming attractions at an event with a shiny new booklet. Imagine their horror when they opened up their print order from a local vendor to find someone else’s booklet in the box. It’s rare, but the printer accidentally produced the order with another customer’s artwork. Don’t fret—this story has a happy ending all thanks to planning ahead! After the initial terrifying panic, the client was luckily able to get a reprint and received their corrected booklets just in time. Whew.
Getting your ducks all in a row won’t necessarily prevent disaster. It will, however, give you more time to dust yourself off and recover (hopefully) without breaking the bank. Save that money and instead…
Spring for Small Upgrades
It’s very tempting to go for the bottom barrel printing option, but remember that many of your competitors have already given in to that temptation. How many flyers, business cards, and postcards have you picked up that all looked the same? They might have been standard size, standard paper, black and white, and with print only on one side. Sounds pretty boring!
Sometimes small upgrades can be fairly inexpensive. Want to add rounded corners to your business cards and print in color on both sides? That might mean just $20 to $30 more on your order, but it’s worth it if it means someone picks up your business card out of a sea of others.
A printed piece of collateral that doesn’t get picked up is basically your money right in the trash. 🤷🏻♀️
And if you’re worried about those enhancements adding up, you guessed it—plan ahead! Search to see if your printer has an order estimator. Then you can decide on your extras without feeling pressured to just get the order done. That said, if you want someone to guide you through every step and look out for you, there’s an easier way.
Chat up your Local Printer
Normally, you might see your local printer as a last resort option. Why? I already know the exact reason you want to give—it’s too expensive. And when you start to get into complex projects with specialty ink, paper, and finishing then yes, you’re right. However, there’s one aspect of local printing that can be worth its weight in gold.
This may not seem like much, but it never does until something goes horrifically wrong. (Remember Murphy’s Law?) What happens when you recheck the postcards for that super important event of the year and realize you’ve put the wrong date? Who do you call with an online printer? Who’s handling your project? What happens next?
I’m pulling from my own experience on this one. What happens is probably you eating the cost to print again or concocting a creative solution to fix the problem. Either way, you’re losing time, money, and maybe a little bit of your sanity to fix it. 😫
I’ve been proud to use local printing companies for years, and I’m going to brag on one of them them for a second. A similar situation happened to me, and you bet I had my customer service rep on the phone immediately. She knew exactly what to do and halted the presses right away. We fixed the problem and saved the project—no extra charge. This is just one example! There were countless other times where reps sent me an email or gave me a call to double check something.
In addition to accessible customer service, local printers are more likely to work with you on finding ways to keep your costs trim. For example, using house paper stock, sticking to standard sheet sizes, and hitting specific quantities are just some of the ways to accomplish a great print project in your budget.