Leading on from my blog about helping Gina at booksignings called 'Being a writer's husband at booksignings', I thought I'd write up a blog about how to get bookmarks for just over a cent each in the hope it would help any of you who do booksignings and wanted some extra promotional collateral. :)
A while ago, after a lot of hunting about, phoning suppliers, browsing websites and comparing prices I was surprised at the cost of bookmarks if custom made.
Gina (my wonderful author wife!) came up with the ingenious idea of ordering glossy postcards and then guillotining them instead. The cost reduction is huge! With careful ordering you can get a quality book mark for around one to two cents each!
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do this through Vistaprint, who I believe are either American or Canadian with printers placed strategically worldwide.
Vistaprint send out new promotional links or emails up to a few times a week by email to subscribers and customers, offering a multitude of ‘free’ printed items. The emails state that this ‘sale must end’ or an offer is ‘never to be repeated’, only to be repeated again a few days later and some codes will outlast their date by weeks or months. Basically the emails look like spam but if you are a bookmark buyer these emails are very important so don’t be put off. You can unsubscribe from them anytime though.
We chose Vistaprint because their ‘free’ offering of both their postcard and oversized postcard products seem to be one of the most common offers they make and the size of postcards is perfect to make 2 or 4 bookmarks at a time.
I’ve put together this guide to help you get the ‘free’ cards as cheaply as possible whilst also avoiding additional or unnecessary costs or services. What we are aiming to do is pay for the minimum amount of shipping and additional services costs which will also have tax thrown on top at the end of the ordering process.
Once you get used to the way Vistaprint works it’s very simple to re-order or add new items and you will be ordering happily for years!
I hope this guide helps you. :)
To design and order a standard sized postcard and then an over sized postcard. This is the equivalent of 2 or 4 bookmarks per postcard. Each bookmark is printed full colour, glossy on the front and is black and white or full colour matt on the back. The card is Premium 215 gsm glossy stock.
First of all you need a promotional link to follow. These vary constantly and can be found on various websites to try, just put ‘vistaprint code’ into Google and you’ll see what I mean.
To make things easier for you I’m putting a link here (last updated for this link was 19th June 2010) for the time being to get you started if you prefer. It may not work but give it a try anyway. I’ll also add new links to this blog as time goes on to help people get on their feet. :)
Once you have a promotional link, click it and you will probably be automatically routed to the relevant site for your country, e.g. .com for the US, .co.uk for the UK, .jp for Japan, etc. If not, you can select the nearest country from a link at the top right hand of the page which will give you a choice of 20 countries.
How do I know if the link or code worked? If you go to the postcard section of the website (under Marketing and Signage) you should see the words ‘Now Free’ next to the crossed out product price, like this:
You might not see this screen and go directly to the postcard screen, depending on the link. If it hasn’t worked at all, you will need to hunt for another code on the internet and try it again.
Once you have a screen that shows you have 'Free' postcards, click on ‘Get started’ by the Standard-Size Postcards. (it might also be called Marketing or Personal standard postcards)
The next screen you see should look like this:
If a pop-up window appears, click on ‘Use your photos and logos’.
If there is no pop-up window and just a huge selection of designs like the image below, find the design that says ‘Upload Your Own Design’ and select it.
Once you have clicked through, the screen below is what you should be looking at now:
I strongly recommend that you look at the ‘Upload Help’ link and ‘See accepted file types’ help files. This area of the tutorial is far too deep for me to explain here as everyone’s needs and resources will vary. Reading the helpfile will let you focus on the specific things that apply to you.
These will help you to identify the best types of files, images, quality, etc that you need.
There are also some templates you can use but they are limited to Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Acrobat Distiller users.
Having a good image to upload is important. Uploading is free but you will have to pay a one-off fee (just a few dollars) the first time you use an uploaded picture. Once you have paid for that image, you can use it without extra cost on any product on their website as long as the graphic is suitable.
If your design uses a special font, I would recommend you upload the text and image together.
For the best quality, images should be saved to a resolution of 300 dpi or more from your graphics program.
Vistaprint’s basic design screens allow you to add text, move things around, add more pictures, etc. but it is very basic and only has a few standard fonts available.
For the standard postcard, you need to design the front and back based on the following dimensions:
The final bookmark size you will cut from the postcards are 139 mm x 53.5 mm
In order to design the postcard you need to put either two or four designs as follows:
Standard sized postcard is 139mm x 107mm (makes 2 bookmarks)
PLEASE NOTE THE DIRECTION THAT THE DESIGN IS ON THE FRONT AND BACK!!!!
I got this wrong 1st time around and ended up with upside down text on over 300 postcards!! The design above is correct with the front design in one direction and the back design going in the other direction.
Over sized postcards is 216mm x 139mm (makes 4 bookmarks)
Note: The image for the back is the correct way round, as shown above, for the over sized postcards.
Once you have designed the image you want, upload it to Vistaprint using the ‘Browse’ facility shown in the image above. If you need to use a design that you have uploaded before, just click on the link that says ‘Use previously uploaded design’.
Once you upload your image, it will be placed in your new design template like this:
If you are happy, you can start editing. If not, upload another file, crop or rotate it until you are happy.
Now you are in the fun bit! This is the design screen where you can customise to your heart’s content! Add text, images, move things around, rotate text and images and be a bit creative. You can also save your design as you go along, just in case you don’t have time to do this right now and want to come back later.
When you are happy with your masterpiece, type your initials into the design approval box shown below, and then click on ‘Next’.
You are now on the design screen for the rear of the postcard.
Double click in the large design area where it has a picture of a computer mouse and it says ‘Double-Click to Upload Your Own Design’ and then upload the image you want (if you want a design on the rear of course) or use a previously uploaded one.
Select Full-Colour of Greyscale. Greyscale is free.
Edit this again if you wish - add text, pictures, change the layout, etc, etc. again.
If you are designing the standard postcard to create two bookmarks, make sure that the image is in the opposite direction the front of the postcard as shown above.
If you are designing the over sized postcard then the image direction should be like this:
When you are happy with your masterpiece, type your initals into the design approval box and then click on ‘Next’.
Now you are in the order processing part.
THIS IS IMPORTANT SO PLEASE DO NOT SKIP THESE TIPS IF YOU WANT TO SAVE MONEY!
Unless you urgently need higher quanitites, only order the free amount which is 100 for standard postcards or 50 oversized postcards.
Select ‘No thanks’ for ‘Discounts and offers’. You will still get offers emailed to you anyway.
This is where the costs are. Slowest is cheap, quickest is the most expensive. Delivery can be made in 3, 7, 14 or 21 days. At the end of the shopping process, bear in mind that these costs will also have tax added to them!!
Try to order your postcards at least 21 days advance of you needing them. In our experience you will usually have the items delivered at 1-2 weeks quicker than expected but you cannot count on these earlier deliveries.
It takes some experimentation but you will be able to find an optimum delivery charge for 2, 3 or 4 products ordered.
For your reference, standard postcards and oversized postcards are classed as 2 independent products which will both be ‘free’ when you check out as long the original link you followed to get to the Vistaprint website is valid for these free products.
3. Printing options
Black and white print on the back of the postcard is free. Select this option. If you want a colour option, the price will be shown here and can be selected if you wish.
Click on ‘Next’
You have 3 options here - Matching envelopes (expensive!!), plain envelopes (also expensive!) or none.
Select the “I don’t need envelopes’ option.
Click on ‘Next’
5. Matching Documents
Ignore everything on this page which shows your design on a multitude of different products.
Click on ‘Next’.
Ignore everything on this page which shows your design on a multitude of different products again.
Click on ‘Next’.
7. Partner offers
Ignore everything on this page which shows a variety of products from Vistaprint partners.
Click on ‘Next’.
8. Shopping cart
You will see the items you have ordered and you will have the option to increase quantities here. Unless you are desperate for significant quantities, don’t do it!!
If you only have 1 product, e.g. Postcards, then click on ‘Continue shopping’ and go through the same process as above but this time order the Oversized Postcards.
This will make your order more cost effective (in the UK, making an order for two ‘free’ products will result in shipping costs that make the cost per bookmark (once you guillotine the postcards) a mere 1 to 1.5 pence each! You will have enough postcards to make 400 bookmarks!!
Do not order the same product twice in the same order, you will be charged full price for the second lot, e.g. 1 x standard order of postcards plus 1 x standard order of over sized postcards = cheap! 2 x standard orders of postcards plus 1 x standard order of over sized postcards = expensive!
Once you have the minimum of two products in your cart, click on ‘Checkout’.
Select 21 days if you can wait that long.
Enter your shipping address
Tick the box at the bottom if the billing address is the same.
IMPORTANT! YOU WILL SEE TWO TICK BOXES AND THE FOLLOWING TEXT:-
Enjoy special offers from VistaPrint:
YES! I want VIP treatment with outstanding discounts, and great marketing and style tips by e-mail. It's absolutely FREE of charge!
Yes, occasionally make my e-mail address available to other reputable organisations whose special offers, products or services I might find interesting.
DO NOT TICK THESE UNLESS YOU WANT MONTHS OF HASSLE!!!!!!
Also, never, ever sign up for £10 or $20 ‘off your next order’ offers and do not join the Vistaprint Insider Club unless you want money taken out of your account every month for a service that provides discounts and services related to a whole host of non-Vistaprint products like meals, days out, entertainment, etc. I have never met anyone who uses these services and they have a hell of a time trying to have the payments stopped.
I wouldn't recommend clicking on this!
10. Fill in the billing address if different to the shipping address
11. Enter payment details
12. Order confirmation
The final temptation! At order confirmation stage the system will ask if you would like to increase quantities or order something extra at a discounted rate. You will be told you have a time limit! tick, tock, tick, tock. Just ignore this, seriously. Don’t order the extra (unless you want to spend more than necessary of course!).
If you need more postcards, oversized postcards, flyers or posters, just start the shopping process again from scratch. Go to ‘My Account’ (link in the top right hand of the screen) and click on either ‘Order History’ or ‘Portfolio’ and just re-order the things you need.
I know it’s a pain to go through the 8 screens that ask you if you want this, that or the other , but it only takes a few moments and then you have made a second order, or the third, or the fourth. Believe it or not, the cost of shipping plus tax is less than the discounted prices or standard prices that you would normally be charged.
And that's it!
In 3 weeks time you will receive your wonderful postcards which you can then cut down to bookmarks. A cheap guillotine only cost us around £9 and it's still going now. :)
Don't worry about ignoring all of those special offers by the way. Now you are a customer you will receive regular special offer emails anyway. :)
I hope this helps some of you. :)
If you like this guide, I feel a real sense of happiness in helping fellow Red Roomers. It would also be really nice (if not totally spiffing! LOL!) if you could swing by Gina's Red Room page and have a look at her blog or her titles. The link is http://www.redroom.com/author/gina-collia-suzuki.
Happy book selling!!
Causes Ryoma Collia-Suzuki Supports
World Wildlife Fund
British Heart Foundation