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Don’t Order Another 1,000 Business Cards!

Mar 26, 2008

by daniellexo handmade and vintage goods

Dear Sellers:

I’ve been to about a thousand craft shows and met about a hundred thousand crafters.  Cleaning out my junk drawer this weekend, I had an epiphany after tossing out a huge pile of business cards: they just aren’t the most effective or fun way to promote yourself. (Though not a bad idea to have!)

Do you really want your business info floating about in a junk drawer with coupons, take-out menus and other miscellany?  Here at the labs we make Etsy bandanas, mini-posters, lip balm, stickers, temporary tattoos and other inexpensive handmade items to give  away.  Your objective is to be remembered, so make your promotional items memorable!

Where’s the best place to look for promo inspiration? TheSampler!  (Check out this Storque article if you haven’t heard of TheSampler.)  The promotional and sample items sent in to give away in fancy promo packs are really creative and inspiring. Check out this months donations here.

Below are some cool promo ideas on Etsy.  Be sure to let us know how you creatively promote your Etsy shop in the comments!

Matchbook Notepads - Set of Eight - Punched Collection
Matchbook Notepads - Set of Eight - Punched Collection
Woodgrain ETSY Stickers (Set of 10)
Woodgrain ETSY Stickers (Set of 10)
50 piece CUSTOM Lip balm Set
50 piece CUSTOM Lip balm Set
5 custom printed unbleached cotton pouches  - 4 x 4.5
5 custom printed unbleached cotton pouches - 4 x 4.5
25 Custom 1.25 inch Buttons Full Color
25 Custom 1.25 inch Buttons Full Color
PERSONALIZED Embroidered Business card Holder and Lipbalm, USB, chapstick, breath mint holder keychain set
PERSONALIZED Embroidered Business card Holder and Lipbalm, USB, chapstick, breath mint holder keychain set


  • EmilyEJewelry

    EmilyEJewelry said 8 years ago

    I just ordered 1000 biz cards like 2 weeks ago :o/ They're super awesome though and won't get lost in the junk drawer, more like the bottom of a really expensive purse.

  • claudiasburningink

    claudiasburningink said 8 years ago

    I am having someone on Etsy design me new cards. I might have to scrap that idea. But I so need like 40 hours in a Day.

  • hans1247

    hans1247 said 8 years ago

    As a buyer, I have to agree with this posting. At craft shows I am usually overwhelmed with what to buy, so I collect business cards thinking "I'll go and check them out online." Well, that does not really happen I'm afraid. And when sellers send me their darling cards and the cards of their friends, I usually recycle those out or throw them in my scrap box. I guess I wouldn't want to pick up 20 tubes of chapstick at a craft show either.... Maybe a trend of "Etsy Passports" should be started- sellers at craft shows could have stickers or stamps and I could put them in my passport for future reference. Seller could mail stickers with items.

  • PoPkO

    PoPkO said 8 years ago

    thsi has inspired me to open an alchemy request for promo items that are twice as expensive as a business card, but just as effective. cant wait to see if its possible! Im currently paying .05 cents each, and want to see if I can still use something clever without breaking the bank.

  • JustAnotherDay

    JustAnotherDay said 8 years ago

    hans that is an awesome idea of the passport! now we just need to get everyone on board with it!

  • janicej

    janicej said 8 years ago

    That makes so much sense. Although I just received a new batch today... oh well. I'll have to get my thinking cap on.

  • cloud9designstudio

    cloud9designstudio said 8 years ago

    Great post. Way to think outside of the box...

  • girlsavage

    girlsavage said 8 years ago

    I love my Moo cards and tend to collect Moos from other sellers. As far as other business cards go, I do tend to toss them in a drawer. I do have buttons from kittycrossbones that I give out with each order. She does such a wonderful job, I just love finishing off a package with one of those buttons. :)

  • zaritadinero

    zaritadinero said 8 years ago

    oooh, I want an Etsy Passport! Lovely idea hans!!! I'd also love to design a stamp or sticker for me to send my buyers!

  • tanisalexis

    tanisalexis said 8 years ago

    hehehee! I can definitely relate. I have heaps of people biz cards, 1" buttons and moo cards (lovingly displayed on my fridge.) stickers! I do use stickers to cover up my dented art bins..haha I was thinking of putting an alchemy request up for custom large vinyl stickers to stick around town. ;)

  • vozclothingandart

    vozclothingandart said 8 years ago

    I'm down for the passport- what a good idea! And Moo cards are my favorite.

  • decor8

    decor8 said 8 years ago

    As a writer, I am so dependent on business cards not only for establishing contacts, but for making new ones. When I scour handmade craft fairs and flea markets, I pick up tons of cards. Without them, I'd never be able to remember the booths once I arrive home. I take my pile of cards and one by one, go through all of them at my computer typing in the websites to view their products online. The ones that interest me, I keep and file for future reference for when I'm writing an article or blogging on decor8. I can't imagine a craft fair without business cards, I don't even know if the experience would be the same for me. I think free swag is fun and all, but some booths that gave it to me at the Renegade show last summer in Brooklyn gave it out to replace their lack of business cards. When I got home, it took me forever turning and flipping and looking through all this stuff to find website URLs which, in the end, is the only information I wanted outside of a visual clue of what the person sold. If people don't want to do business cards, may I suggest postcards showing their work on one side and their contact info on the other. These are GREAT.

  • karenmeyers

    karenmeyers said 8 years ago

    It took me 5 seconds to order those bumper stickers. Can't wait to put them on my truck!

  • wabisabibrooklyn

    wabisabibrooklyn said 8 years ago

    Thanks for writing about the Sampler! I am a contributer many times over,including this month, and have found it to be a fantastic way to promote.

  • t8designs

    t8designs said 8 years ago

    i like the idea of promo items but i truly believe the most effective and professional way to promote one's shop is with actual business cards. you can't put a pencil in a rolodex

  • SteppingStones

    SteppingStones said 8 years ago

    Danielle!! This is the best Etsy article I have read!!! I am so doing this!! I have to admit that I always end up throwing away biz cards (not if I'm promoting someone) and this is PERFECT! I love the mini notebooks!!! Excellent!!

  • aorta

    aorta said 8 years ago

    while these promos are great for customers, craft fairs and whatnot, i certainly don't think they should be used in place of business cards. when trying to network with other businesses and professionals, those tried and true cards work best. nothing screams "hobby" more than someone not having business cards.

  • magickalrealism

    magickalrealism said 8 years ago

    These ideas are cute, but it won't replace the business card. The "calling card" has been around since about 50 years after mass printing became possible, and they've stuck around for a good reason. Business cards aren't really meant for customers or to bring back buyers - at least, not directly. They are intended to help business people network. For instance, if I meet a jewelry seller who makes aromatherapy jewelry, it gives me an opportunity to contact that person about arranging some kind of wholesale exchange with my perfumes/her jewelry. I keep business cards I collect at craft shows or that are sent to me in Etsy packages paperclipped to a Rolodex. I check there first for contacts to supplies I might need, and I send out networking notices as appropriate about once a year.

  • daniellexo

    daniellexo said 8 years ago

    hans1247 says: Maybe a trend of "Etsy Passports" should be started- sellers at craft shows could have stickers or stamps and I could put them in my passport for future reference. Seller could mail stickers with items. Pretty much the most amazing idea ever! Thanks hans1247! Its still good to have business cards (or moo cards or postcards) for those shoppers or contacts that like them of course! Thanks for weighing in everyone!

  • clevergirl

    clevergirl said 8 years ago

    I make (gocco) my own multi-purpose greeting cards as a promo tool. Everyone can always use a cool greeting card and it saves my buyers an extra trip to the store if they forgot to buy one for the occasion so they can get more off their full plates , faster.... My info (blog, gallery, shop) is on the back of the card...A little brighter/bolder than a card one might buy, but not obnoxious... I also make each package memorable...Here's a larger package that went out last week: (the flower clips are by I'm a big believer in creating and building brand recognition.

  • clevergirl

    clevergirl said 8 years ago

    oh and I still do include 2 business cards...that's a rule I learned way back in school for the person to keep, one to pass along should someone ask "hey, where did you get xyz?"..Also another thing about business cards- they should bam! strike the recipient (not literally, as papercuts are miserable) so their brain says "cool card!" anything generic that doesn't stand out amongst the sea of plain business cards will get chucked by the person much faster...

  • EarthBabyDesigns

    EarthBabyDesigns said 8 years ago

    That Etsy Passport idea is freaking AWESOME!!!! I'm not a paper artist, but as soon as I see someone is selling them, I'll buy that day!

  • daniellexo

    daniellexo said 8 years ago

    Oh, very nice clever girl!

  • hans1247

    hans1247 said 8 years ago

    Oh I do like that extra greeting card idea, clever girl! I would totally mail out the card. And honestly, I had a bummer day today so it was a nice ego boost to have people like the passport idea! Ha! Thanks! You've made my day!

  • ArgyleWhale

    ArgyleWhale said 8 years ago

    I print my own business cards on the backs of my imperfect prints so people get a little hint on one side. Each is different and I think they are nice. I also made a ton of patches that people seem to like.

  • ScribbleNation

    ScribbleNation said 8 years ago

    Etsy passports are totally brilliant! My coolest promo idea yet is to hand out Scribble Nation themed coloring books at craft shows (and with large orders) They are too bulky to ship out with every package, but I think they'll help people remember me from craft fairs. :)

  • PoPkO

    PoPkO said 8 years ago

    yeah, the passport is a great idea, and i am scurrying around the studio thinking how can i make them.. how can i make them!? i knew i bought a gocco for a reason! also, a pocket for business cards would be even genius-er. yeah?

  • avenuehandmade

    avenuehandmade said 8 years ago

    I've been the recipient of one of clevergirl's cards, and lemme tell you, they're marvelous! I can't bear to send it yet--it's on my bulletin board cause I'm selfish =) Thanks for a great article, Danielle! Promo items is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately...this article actually inspired me to blog about it today, and I'll be posting pictures of my new promo items soon. Now I just gotta figure out a way to track their effectiveness....

  • kittycrossbones

    kittycrossbones said 8 years ago

    Awesome! Thanks for including me in the Etsymini! :)

  • sweetestpea

    sweetestpea said 8 years ago

    Promos should be in addition to having business cards... so still keep ordering them. There are some great promo ideas in the article, so thanks Danielle for showcasing those. I include cards in every order. One for the person to keep, one to give with each gift. I recently got feedback from a customer who ordered multiple animals that I should include MORE cards with every order. She said her friends snatched them up so quickly that she didn't have any left over to give to others.

  • drewbabydesigns

    drewbabydesigns said 8 years ago

    Most of my business comes from people seeing my product in action and asking the wearer about it; I give out four business cards with each order, and specifically ask the customer to tuck them in their diaper bag to hand out when they get comments or questions about their sling. It works well for me. I love the idea of a passport, too! Maybe the labs can put together an etsy passport for us to buy wholesale, and resell at fairs and in our shops.

  • lizplummer

    lizplummer said 8 years ago

    I recently designed a Gocco screen from one of my photos and added my business details, and printed this on cards, paper, fabric and Tyvek (which is a plasticy paper-fabric which can be mailed or stitched). This article has inspired me to use them imaginatively, maybe on bags ... I'll have to put my thinking cap on! Some photos on are my blog post here:

  • lizplummer

    lizplummer said 8 years ago

    Sorry, the link jumped away from me...should be this one:

  • icandyhome

    icandyhome said 8 years ago

    I for one am SOOO incredibly inspired! If I can pull myself off Etsy for an hour I am going to make some magnets. I have a million on my fridge holding up pictures and art work. It would be great if they were actually cute AND helpful!! Thanks so much you ETSY genius'!

  • SuzeesJubileeZ

    SuzeesJubileeZ said 8 years ago

    We are donating proceeds to charity. Here is our forum link explaining what we are doing. I have to say some of these ideas are great. Maybe I will get a button maker with my income tax bonus! Not only can I make promotional items I can make pinata stuffers. I sell locally because I test drive my bags around town to many oohs and awes.

  • Rivkasmom

    Rivkasmom said 8 years ago

    Is anyone else worried that all the little trinkets are just going to be ending up in landfills? At least business cards can be recycled.

  • Swank

    Swank said 8 years ago

    I love my buisness cards, i feel very posh when i get get to say, "here, have my card"

  • Swank

    Swank said 8 years ago

    I love my buisness cards, i feel very posh when i get get to say, "here, have my card" But I am really thinking about getting some stickers done. people will stick them on stuff and remember for longer!

  • momwithahook

    momwithahook said 8 years ago

    Love unique and not business card promotional products

  • tinymeat

    tinymeat said 8 years ago

    Business cards are here to stay. They are included in every product we sell, well, because we make wallets and passport holders and that's where they go. Many customers find us after purchasing a Tinymeatâ„¢ item at a retail store and looking us up via the card. 60,000 wallets and counting can't be wrong. That passport+(holder)sounds like a swell idea.

  • theflashbulb

    theflashbulb said 8 years ago

    I just made some two-sided business cards - with art on the front and info on the back - they're from qoop (through Flickr) and I'm really happy with how they turned out

  • KatEyez

    KatEyez said 8 years ago

    I know this forum is about promo items, but I have started a web page for a bit of inspiration for craft fairs, and I post my upcoming shows there too! I recommend trying one for your area. I am also someone who picks up as many biz cards at shows as I can. I need to figure out a good way to organize them, but I love collecting them. It is a way to pick up a piece of free art from someone. Taking pics at shows is good too, if the vendors are ok with it!!

  • MonasMane

    MonasMane said 7 years ago

    What a great idea. such a wonderful way to become noticed and remembered.

  • CountryCottageCrafts

    CountryCottageCrafts said 7 years ago

    Ok many people posted responses that I'm not able to read them all. But while reading the first few a great idea popped into my head. How about a combination between a postcard and a business card. A book mark, put photos of your most popular or favorite items on one side and your shop/contact information on the other side. Now I just made more work for myself. LOL I'm gonna have to start designing mine. Help me pick which pictures I should put on my bookmark. Check out my store and send me a convo with the ones you think I should put on it. Thanks. Look forward to hearing what you think.

  • birdsneststudio

    birdsneststudio said 7 years ago

    I love to use Moo Cards - for some reason people seem to treat them better than regular old business cards.

  • ccquilter

    ccquilter said 7 years ago

    I'm with ya..I bought a huge box of b-ness cards and I hardly ever remember to put in packages. Instead, I make promo pens with shop names....everyone needs pens :) I even had to open a second shop to keep up with the orders :)

  • craftgasm

    craftgasm said 7 years ago

    I worry about things other than business cards ending up in the landfill, especially since my store uses all recycled or reclaimed items in making my products. My business card is simply black ink on white paper, but I glue it to cardstock from the masses of junk mail that I get at home and the office. The images on the back keep it interesting and colorful, and jumbled in a dish at craft fairs, people sort through to find pretty ones to keep and give away. And I know that I keep a file of fellow crafters's business cards from whom I've already bought, and I go to that first if I had a positive experience purchasing something already.

  • spiritcollage

    spiritcollage said 7 years ago

    People tend to keep my business cards because I have one of 90 different inspirational messages on the backs of the cards. Most of my are is of angels or spiritual in nature. I was taught early on that you need to give your customer something informational that that can use in their lives that is related to your business. Kitchen products might have a chart of weights and measures. Jewelers may have a list of stones and their meanings etc.

  • llkdesigns

    llkdesigns said 7 years ago

    Etsy Passports! A great idea! And I am thinking, create a neat book with pockets for cards. The book can be one of several, one for jewelry, one for knit wear, etc. and live in a book -- a booked set, as it were!!!! I collect business cards and they are everywhere in my studio! Love them - they remind me a what beautiful things I have seen. A Passport would work the same way!!

  • DreamSpunMoonBeams

    DreamSpunMoonBeams said 7 years ago

    I simply love the Etsy Passport idea & have started sketching out ideas.

  • DalkullanJewelry

    DalkullanJewelry said 7 years ago

    Did the Etsy Passport idea ever come to fruition? I also liked spiritcollage's idea of putting something useful on the back of business cards -- when I get something like that I tend to keep it a lot longer than just a plain business card.

  • abbeychristine

    abbeychristine said 6 years ago

    Personally, I love my business cards-- they're good quality, have photos of my work and I had out about a million of them at fairs. I also have a "business card drawer" of my own, but I do look through them, especially right after a fair when I want to look people up online. What bothers me is replacing business cards with even more "useless" promo items-- I might love your work, but I'm pretty certain I won't be putting your bumper sticker anywhere. Etsy can get away ith that a little more, because of the nature of the site, but most crafters don't have that same kind of following. I like the chapstick idea (totally saw my boss with an etsy one on her desk this week, actually) and pencils because they're usable, but things like buttons-- I've got a million little buttons i feel terrible throwing away because its even more wasteful that a business card that I can at least recycle. Those cheapy business card size magnets irk me, too. We all need to promote our business, but having cheapy stuff printed up just to hand out and make more waste and trash isn't a very cool move, in my opinion.

  • batzy

    batzy said 6 years ago

    I dontuse business cards, I use pins and stickrs with a cartoon version of me, but I have to say this article has inspired me to find more interesting and creative things to use.

  • sugarcookie

    sugarcookie said 6 years ago

    I have to say, I love my business cards, too! Instead of a passport, why not put your business card collection in a photo album so you can flip through it and check out the cards you collected? My friend did this at work for our business contacts. It worked great, and looked cute, too. I also made book marks that I put in with my orders. I think it is a great tie in cos I make books and zines!

  • berrysweettreats

    berrysweettreats said 5 years ago

    Great post, even a year later! I used to give out my handmade magnets, which I'll probably start doing again.

  • muddassarshah

    muddassarshah said 5 years ago

    Plastic Business Cards are so important for advertising your business or company in media. Its very helpful for shearing information about your company or organization. There are so many companies used business cards for advertising a company or business in media...

  • TheRedGeranium

    TheRedGeranium said 5 years ago

    When I go to shows, I use the back of my card to write the price. I don't mind having a business card.

  • TheRedGeranium

    TheRedGeranium said 5 years ago

    When I go to shows, I use the back of my card to write the price. I don't mind having a business card.

  • BowerbirdBazaar

    BowerbirdBazaar said 5 years ago

    A friend of mine just bought a personalized stamp to replace the constant restocking of business cards. It cost him about $12 and is super cute! All he needs to buy is ink to stamp with because he uses scrap paper for the cards. It's a fun handmade alternative to business cards that is more memorable than the average card, and just as practical.

  • CountryCents

    CountryCents said 4 years ago

    I could not get the links to work. . . are they no longer around?

  • ZoesGifts

    Zoe Mary Sauter from ZoesFiberArts said 4 years ago

    I like making my business cards in small batches so I can use one side to advertise any shows or bazaars and classes with dates that are coming up, but this discussion really got me thinking about free - or almost free - things i could give away - especially to the "buying customer" to help them remember me and what I do.

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