Friday, April 14, 2017

Business Cards for Writers—13 Things You Need to Know

by Vonda Skelton 

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 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, this is great information for writers! I'm getting ready to order new business cards and it is a wonderful check list to make sure I have the cards EXACTLY right. Thank you!
    Elva Cobb Martin
    Pres. ACFW-SC Chapter

  2. I am happy with my business cards although they can always be improved.I will keep your list in mind when I do. Question: do you recommend writing a slogan or mission statement? For example, I wrote "writing boundless utopian futures" on mine.
    Thank you, Vonda!