Unless you are a workaholic, (which I am not) it is not often that you can find a hobby that you find relaxing and earns you extra money from your business. One of my hobbies is computer graphics design. I design and print posters, T-shirts and as long as the quantities needed are not too huge I can also print fliers, business cards, labels and envelopes etc. Until the advent of computer graphics I was “graphically illiterate” so to speak. Even now, I can hardly draw a straight line freehanded. I had plenty of ideas in my head, but somewhere along the way from my head to my hand, something was lost. Now there are many graphics programs with which I can transform those ideas into something of use. PhotoShop is the program that is used by most professional graphic artists, so when you see a newspaper ad that has a picture that has a drop shadow under it or lettering that has the effect of being made out of solid shiny plastic or the corner of the page looks as though it is folded over, chances are, it was designed in PhotoShop.
If I sound like a salesman for Adobe, the makers of PhotoShop, believe me, I don’t get a cent from them, though it’s not a bad idea! :o)
There are many other excellent graphics programs out there and they are a lot cheaper. I have put a couple of internet addresses of freeware programs at the end of this article. The good thing about these programs in general is (though you learn something new almost every time you use them) from the start, they are of great practical use and you have the pleasure of creative achievement.
Just to give you an idea of what is possible, I have just finished designing and printing a poster for the pet-stain removal side of my carpet cleaning business. I have started distributing them to the veterinarians and pet shops in my area. I put them on their notice boards. The same can be done for almost any specialty business. After printing a number of them, I had them laminated at Office Depot. In Israel, where I live, it costs me about 75 cents a piece. The advantage of laminating is:
A. It stops them from becoming shabby over a period of time.
B. It looks more professional.
C. It makes them stand out from the crowd.
The flexibility of working this way means that you can have a leaflet setup that is written in such a way that you can insert the name of a potential client right into the text. This makes them the ultimate “personalized flier”.
If, for instance, a new housing area opens with 100 houses, you can design and print a leaflet just for that area. I think that you will get a better response from this than just a generalized flier will, because the “closer to home” the text is, the more likely the prospective client will be interested in reading it. Also, you can create very effective posters for your vehicle’s windows, with special offers, etc.
The question of quality vs. cost if you print your own, I have found to be as follows:
Assuming that you are using an inkjet printer, in part, the quality obviously depends on which model you own, but in general, you can get a print quality that is very acceptable. Since I started doing so much printing, I have been buying off-brand ink cartridges. Some of my friends are of the opinion that this could do harm to my printer.
My experience is, I have used quite a number of off-brands without any apparent damage. Secondly, today printers are so inexpensive and OEM cartridges so expensive, that you do not have to buy too many off-brands before you are ahead of the game. It is a good investment to buy good quality paper as I believe it helps to create a more professional image.
As far as cost is concerned, if you compare the unit price for the cost of printing say 5000 fliers with that of a typical print house, it is much more expensive to print it yourself. However, as I wrote above, doing your own printing gives you the advantage of being able to print small quantities & personalizing your advertising, and by doing so, maximizing the response. After all, getting a big response rate is the name of the game!
The same principle applies to T-shirts or sweatshirts with your company logo, labels for bottles of stain remover, etc., that you sell to your clients. You are only limited by your imagination as to how many different uses you can find with this system.
Here is a list of several outstanding graphics design programs, available for download:
Paint Shop Pro