Friday, September 11, 2015

Business Cards for Writers (& Speakers)—A 13 Point Checklist

by Vonda Skelton @VondaSkelton

In this digital world of technology-over-paper, business cards remain strong. After all, those tiny little cards are often the only things agents, editors, and event planners have to trigger their memory of you.

So here's a 13-point checklist for business cards that work.
1.  The objective glance. The business card creates an instant first impression, so its importance can't be ignored. Take a fresh look at your current card by holding it at a distance and squinting through objective eyes. Don't focus on the words or the details that are included. Instead, just squint and take in the overall look of the card. Is it too crowded? Too bare? Too colorful? Too bland?

What to include:
2.  Headshot. I know first-hand that a business card without a photo is often just another piece of paper. When I teach or speak at conferences, I often receive a lot of business cards. It's not unusual to leave the conference with 50 or more cards! We may have had a wonderful conversation, but there were perhaps a hundred similar wonderful conversations with others as well. And let's face it, my memory just isn't what it used to be. And neither is the memory of that agent or editor or event planner. When you have a recent photo that looks like you, the holder of the card is more likely to remember who you are and the conversation you had. Just be sure it's a recent that looks like you today.

3.  Name. Be sure the name on your card is what you go by, not simply the name you were given at birth. I have a friend named Angela, but she goes by Joy. If she had a meeting with me and introduced herself as Joy and I had a conversation with her as Joy, that is the name I will remember her by. But if I get home and can't find a card with the name Joy, it’s unlikely I’ll remember who she is.

4.  Website. Be sure to capitalize the words within your website. It’s much easier for people to read and remember your website with capitals:

5.  Email address. Create a professional email address. may be cute for your family email, but it can negatively affect your credibility as a professional. Your name at your website address works well. Your name at Gmail works well, too.

6.  Phone number. You don't necessarily need both a home and a mobile number, but you DO need a number where you can be reached easily, one that you'll check several times a day. 

7.  You DON'T have to include your street address. We used to recommend leaving off home addresses for safety reasons, but in today's world, a bad guy can find our addresses, check out our streets, and view our front doors within seconds. Reality is that snail mail is rarely used anymore.And spelling out your physical address takes up valuable real estate without adding anything.

8.  Business name. If you have a business name other than your own name, be sure to include it on your card.

9.  Social media info. If you have space, include your social media names.

Style considerations:
10. Font. Be sure the font is easy to read and not too small. A script style may not be your best option.

11. Shape and size. I've seen a lot of unique business cards in a variety of shapes and sizes. And even though the unique shapes and sizes are interesting and memorable, veering from the norm can bring unexpected problems. For one thing, non-standard shapes and sizes don't fit into prepared business card sheets or into stacks of cards in desk drawers. Even in this digital age, many still enjoy old school organization.

12. Paper finish. Do you write notes on business cards? I certainly do. And so do many others. After meeting with people, I'll likely flip the card over and write notes to myself about their projects, reminders about something I'm supposed to follow up on, or additional information about talents or interests. If cards are finished in a slick, glossy coating, it's impossible to write these important notes on them.

13. Colors. Be sure your colors are a good representation of you and your brand. A visual theme carried from your website to your one-sheet to your business cards works well. And remember that very dark colors don't allow the receiver to write on the cards.

So there they are, 13 things to consider as you consider your business card. A stylish, legible, interesting business card with necessary information will go a long way to making you look professional and ready to work.

What have you found that works—or doesn’t work—on business cards? Don’t forget to join the conversation!


Vonda Skelton is a speaker and the author of four books: Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe and the 3-book Bitsy Burroughs mysteries for children 8-12 yo. She’s the founder and co-director of Christian Communicators Conference, offering speakers’ training and community for Christian women called to ministry. Vonda is a frequent instructor at writer’s conferences and keynotes at business, women’s, and associational events. You can find out more about Vonda, as well as writing opportunities and instruction at her writer’s blog, The Christian Writer’s Den at


  1. Vonda, thanks for all the wonderful suggestions to use with our business cards. On my cards I made the mistake of creating them with a small font that is difficult to read. Next time it will be larger.

    1. Glad you found the info helpful. And yes, we all learn from our mistakes. At least we do if we're smart!

      You should see my first ones. The title of my book was in large font across the top and my name was tucked down at the bottom in a smaller font!

  2. Vonda, You always have great information. I followed these guidelines. I get many compliments on my new card. Although I need to capitalize my website next time I reprint them. As a speaker/writer I put my speaking topics on the back of my card with a statement "Don't see one you like? Let's talk" I love following your blog and Edie's you both are always up to date on what we need. May God bless you for all you do.

  3. Having some speaking topics on the back is a great idea. And I love the "Let's talk." Good thinking! Glad you find our blogs helpful. :-) Thanks for joining in!

  4. I've always used a head shot. I figure not everyone knows me, so a head shot as a reminder of the crazy redhead was helpful. ;o)

    1. You're one smart cookie, Ane. Of course, I've known that since I first met you! Thanks for joining in!

  5. Great information! I just received a shipment of business cards this morning. My stepson helped me design mine. They have my picture, name, Author/Speaker, email address, website address, a thumbnail of one of my books, part of a Scripture verse, and a QR Code. It sounds like a lot, but it works.

    The QR code takes the reader to a more complete digital business card. The front of the card is glossy, while the back is a matte finish.

    1. Wow, Susan, that's a great idea! You're definitely looking ahead! Thanks for the info. :-)

  6. My brand focuses on my career as a NASA engineer with a shuttle launch on my card. Everyone remembers my card but I'm not sure they can put a face with it. I need to think through how to put my headshot on and still capture my brand. For a long time, I had a picture of my book cover and a very short description on the back of the card. But that takes away room for notes about the person to jog someone's memory. It's time to rework my design and your guidelines will help.

    1. Isn't that the way it is, Sherry? About the time I get things where I think I'm up on everything, a new suggestion comes along. Let's face it, our work and its associated media materials will always be evolving. Or at least they should be!

  7. Great article. I too one made the mistake of making my fonts way too small, i guess learning the hard way is still learning though : ) One thing I could add here and recommend from my personal experience is also having a digital business card. More and more people I meet seem to prefer an email over taking a physical card and I've found that people I can send my info to in a digital format often are much quicker to respond to follow-ups - I use one called Shoot Contact Sharing I'm sure there are many others based on your personal preferences.

  8. Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks.
    Business cards

  9. Great suggestions for business cards. I use business cards of and wellsdrew's business cards are well designed.

  10. I am so pleased I found this article. My old business cards were very bland and not at all engaging. The main reason – I had no photo! I am now going back to the drawing board and will create a new batch of cards, following the advice I have read here. I cannot say ‘thank you’ enough.

    Sherita @ Astute Promotions