Sunday, September 04, 2011

Business cards

I posted not long ago about how I occasionally get query letters because of my abandoned website. I kept meaning to do things with the website, partly because it's on all my business cards so I didn't want to get rid of it. This morning I realized I can use the money I save on not having a website and use that money to buy new business cards.

I don't have business cards for my teaching career. I just have them for writing.

So here's what I learned about business cards and screenwriting.

First of all, have one. A few years ago I volunteered at the Creative Screenwriting Expo - back when it was cool - and I met a ton of people. At the end of the weekend we all went to exchange info and scribbled our numbers and emails on loose sheets of paper. I immediately went out and made business cards.

I have handed out a lot of cards to people I met at parties and events and whatnot. It's handy to have them right there in your wallet, ready to grab and deliver.

The first card I used I made myself with those printer sheets you get at Staples. Those suck. They're flimsy and they look like shit. Suck it up and spend the money to get a decent card.

Beware that some cheaper online websites are fraudulent places. They send you business cards, sure, but they also collect your personal information and if you sign the agreement without reading the fine print you accidentally sign up to join some kind of club that charges your credit card on a monthly basis.

The online place I used for the past two cards is They did a good job, cheap, and they don't scam you.

The cards I've been using a friend designed to resemble the website design.  They have the logo, the website, and my contact information. They also list me as a "Writer, Producer" and have a black back side.

I really, really regret putting "Producer" on my cards. Like REALLY regret. I feel like an idiot every time I hand that out.

A lot of people will tell you not to put Writer on the cards either, and I get why they say that, but sometimes if I go to an event I come home with a stack of cards and don't remember who's card is whose. So I put Writer on mine so the person who looks at knows how to categorize me. It's just my personal preference.

But the producer thing is stupid. I produced one short film; I am not a producer. When I bought the cards and created the site I had all these big dreams that I abandoned when I realized how ill suited I was for the purpose. Yet I keep handing out these damn cards, cringing and explaining to people that I'm not really a producer. So the first thing I did with these new cards was remove that word.

The cards list my website, but I never use that site. I use this blog. So I changed that on the card. It doesn't list the site anymore, it lists the blog.

The last thing I did was leave a white back on the card. My old card looked really cool with that black designed back, but when your entire card is black, nobody can write anything on it. What if someone wants to make a note of something they want to remember about you? They can't do that if the entire card is black.

I also ordered far fewer cards. Years ago when I ordered these cards I was going out every weekend meeting zillions of people, and I thought I'd be handing out cards like water at a marathon. It was also cheaper overall to order more cards, so I ordered 1,000. Yes, 1,000 cards that say "Producer" on them. Most of them are still in a box in my office and will shortly be recycled.

This time I ordered 250. Much more reasonable.

These are the lessons I learned about business cards. Obviously if you don't live in LA you won't hand out quite so many, but you may still want some for the few events you do attend when you're in Hollywood, or for screenwriting related stuff that goes on in your town. I don't know. But this is my experience.

My main piece of advice is seriously, don't put "Producer" on your card unless you're actually a producer. Don't be like me. Dumb.


  1. Please Leave Name12:55 PM

    I get my cards from, they're inexpensive, fast (turnaround was less than five days--from order to mailed to my office), and you can create and download your own design. I don't put "writer" on my cards any more because of the design I use. I figure if the people reading the cards can't figure it out I'm not so sure I want to be in business with them. On my cards I two side print a design, one side is flashier and in color and the other is plainer and while not completely white allows somebody to write a note, etc. about me or whatever.

    The other thing I have is a dedicated phone number that is strictly for business.

  2. Anonymous12:56 PM

    If you want to go cheap, and don't need to be fancy, Avery Clean Edge work great, with either an inkjet or a laser printer. If you keep it simple, you won't be able to tell.

    And Avery has templates for word. Just make a 1 page pdf, and print it at high quality any time you need 10 cards.

    Upside: you can make different business cards for different needs. Keeps the card sparse and to the point.

  3. Please Leave Name: Sounds like you've got it figured out!

    Anonymous, please leave.... dammit. Anyway, I just don't think the Avery label cards look professionally made. In the end, though, maybe all that matters is the information.

  4. Mine now reads.

    Writer. Team Jacob.

  5. I recommend You can get a zillion teeny tiny ones for like $20 or 50 regular sized ones and if you have a short or a feature you can have stills from that on the card.

  6. Anonymous9:02 PM

    I work in the computer industry, deal with VC's all the time, and for me (and many others) they work and look just fine.

    Trust me, if you held a blank clean edge and a blank regular card, you wouldn't be able tell the difference. But you should only use the white clean edge. The other business cards Avery make suck.

    I keep mine sparse: company name, *short* company logline, address & contact info, my name and short, one job title, in a simple layout with decent fonts and no graphics.

    Since you screenwrite and teach, I assume you have a mac and word, so that shouldn't be a problem.

    For me, my big problem arises when I'm on the road, and I need 150 cards for the trade show I'm at, because I ran out 2nd day in. With the Averys, all you need is a Kinkos and you're back in business.

  7. Young, hah. That would be ballsy.

    Amy, that's an awesome idea. Thanks for sharing it!

    Anonymous - Same anonymous, I assume? - that's great that you've had so much success with those inexpensive cards. Those are the first cards I ever used, and I just didn't like them at all. But everybody's different. All that matters is that it works for you.

  8. Anonymous10:10 PM

    yeah, same anonymous. But you know what Akers says about keeping names consistent :) Next thread, I'll change. promise.

    Anyway, you shouldn't take what I wrote as meaning that you should use Avery's *instead* of professionally printed cards, especially in Hollywood where imho, people care a little too much about these things (then again I have in my stack, a famous silicon valley dignitary's very cool metal business card, so who am I to talk?)

    But if you're short on funds, need to make 4 or 5 different kinds of cards (different job titles or company descriptions), or have an emergency situation, they make a good plan B.

    The way I think about it is that my business card is my personal logline.

  9. You mean I shouldn't go all Patrick Bateman on my cards?

  10. Anonymous11:33 AM

    Heh. Sounds like the plot for a great feminist black comedy.

    You could call it Killer Queen, about a yuppie princess whose pursuit of the most exclusive things in life, drive her to commit murder to get what she wants. The Devil wears Prada meets Dexter.

    "Only the best for me... Why shouldn't I have it all? I deserve it.".

    Downside, is that I have the sneaking suspicion it's already been made.

  11. Perceptor5:12 PM

    Somewhat off-topic, but have you changed the background color/typeface color selections for your blog? Your page is now rendered in a greyish typeface against a black background (Explorer and Mozilla) which is somewhat hard on the eyes.

  12. I haven't changed anything. Is anybody else seeing that? It looks the same as it always has on my computer and I'm on Firefox.

  13. I second the suggestion. They are (dare I sound retro and say it?) way cool.

    Yeah, your blog is black and gray now. Thought it was to go along with the black business card story.

  14. Anonymous5:38 AM

    Excellent post Emily. This is the kind of questions and advice we seek from a talented person like yourself. Because of this email, I went and got my business cards and spend all hours writing and practicing my pitches.

    Thank you Emily for being soooooooo inspiring.

    I hope other forums and blogs and twitter accounts (which will remain nameless but you know who are for playing unprofessionally (caca) with us and not telling us the ways of screenwriting).

    So many FREAKS AND NUTS out there dishing advice and wisdom on forums,blogs,twitters. Leave us alone UNBATHED FREAKS.

    But Bamboo Killer is theeee BEST!!!!!!

    Emily, so far this year, this is one the most useful advice we got about screenwriting.


  15. Yes, black, on Firefox. I also get a msg at login ("email followup comments...") I don't recall seeing before, may have just not noticed, or blogger's doing tweaking, in which case problem will resolve itself as they work it out on their end.

    Once my host site mixed things up for a day (so a css file wasn't getting read), then they fixed it. So decent likelihood the color stuff will get resolved without your needing to do anything.

    The moo stuff is really nice.

  16. Well that's weird about the color. I'll leave it alone for a couple of days before I do anything. It still comes up normal for me.

    Thank you. Sandy. If nothing else I strive to be honest. If that's helpful, I'm glad.

    And I'll have to check out this Moo thing. Clearly I'm missing out.

  17. cshel6:49 PM

    Your site has been coming up black and strange for me for that last couple days, too, and no text comes up on the right side. At first it did it, but after a delay it would turn normal, but now it just stays weird. That is my hi-tech description of it. : )

  18. Anonymous8:14 AM

    Could you start a forum like Done Deal and Moviebytes? But do it better and not boring like them - something for the MTV or Facebook generations. When I go to Done Deal and Moviebytes, I feel like I'm in Senior Citizens Homes - full of old dudes.

    This screenwriting forum chat thing is getting too dry lately, nothing happens in those forums.

    You ideas and topics are fresh, why not start a forum for the new generations.

    Could you create a script forum called Bamboo Killers?

    Bono & Dolphin, Ex Done Dealers

  19. Thanks, but I have no desire to do that. It's a ton of work. Knock yourselves out if you want to start your own, though.

  20. My Dad keeps trying to get me to get some business cards, just like my mom keeps trying to get me to buy a a sports coat.

    Someday I am going to listen to both things.

  21. You have a unique business card, Emily. Hehe, I like it because of the cat print. I'm very fond of taking care of cats. Anyway, it's good that you have a business cat, card rather (LOL), already. The black-and-white theme is simple yet beautiful.

  22. Oh Avery that's not my actual business card. Not sure I'd be taken seriously as Business Cat. My real card has a panda on it. Pandas are much more professional.

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  25. Any chance you make a 2012 batch of business cards with metric wrench sizes, quality ruler, a screwdriver, you name it? :)

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