with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Carded: May I have your card, please?

What do these photographers do? Only lighthouses? Do they specialize in the Pacific Northwest or the Eastern Seaboard? What do you think?Without a doubt, one of the most effective marketing tools to invest in is a business card. When you make those networking connections, your business cards become road maps for people to track you down. It’s amazing what impact a 3 1/2 x 2 inch card can have. It’s a tiny billboard, and an amazingly small space for promoting your business. It’s important that your business card does three things: Tells who you are, what you are willing to do, and how to find you.

Tell them who you are

Who you are is your business identity. It is the “name” that symbolizes what you do and who you are. Many people will use their own name while others will pick a company name. The best place to start figuring out what you do is through our 10 words or less form. Make sure your business card puts you in the best and most memorable light and matches what you do.

Be clear and specific.
“Frog Photos Unlimited” says you specialize in frogs and are THE source for frog pictures. The catch-all name of “Nature Pics R Us” could be John and Jane Smith nature photographers or a stock agency representing nature images. Become “JJ Smith and Company” and we don’t know what you do. “Total Scenics” tells people you are a scenic photographer. Make your business name reflect who you are and what you do.
Be original
Make sure the business name you choose is unique. Names like “Nature Photography”, “Natural Images”, and “Wildlife Images” are vague and overused. Many photographers use these company names. If you hope to expand your market outside of your region, having a name that will not conflict with others is critical.
Name Recognition
Name recognition is important. You want clients to remember you. Using your name as part of your business identity is popular now. Alexithia Androndokronoski, at least in North America, is memorable for its length and complexity, but few will be able to repeat it. Initials were used in the past to hide a woman’s name or to sound more masculine. Does this work for you? Using a middle initial today is considered too formal or “lawyer-like”, which can have some drawbacks. Consider Alex G. Anderson as an example. Pronounce it. The “G” stops the pronunciation, making it harder to “roll” off the tongue, like Alex Anderson, thus harder to remember. Unless your name is common, like John Smith, then a middle initial is unnecessary and could be omitted. The same theories apply for your business name. Make it memorable while still representing you and you will stay at the forefront of a client’s memory. Be yourself and keep your identity, just consider how it works for your business identity.
What are you willing to do?
Tell people what you are willing to do, not what you would “like to do.” If you are a scenic photographer, don’t tell them you do wildlife. You might get requests for wildlife images. A writer friend wrote science fiction books for years. After 60 books, he wanted to try his hand at historical romance. Publishers didn’t want it. They wanted what he was known for, what they knew would sell. He finally got his romance novel published and the book stores filed it under science fiction, defeating sales. Pick carefully and tell people what you are willing to do. You may be doing it a long time.
If you do it all, then tell them.
If you specialize, be specific. If people are looking for images of two-headed llamas and your card just says nature photographer and not 2 headed llama photographer, you might be overlooked. Help them understand and remember what you have to offer in the fewest words possible.

For more specific tips and information on designing a business card, check out our Business Card Design Tips article. We’ve also posted a few examples of different business cards on our in the side bar. Hopefully these may give you some design ideas.


  • darla_sue
    Posted January 8, 2007 at 15:25 | Permalink

    Omg i need a name for my photography business. We do every thig…I mean everything! Help me!!

  • Posted January 8, 2007 at 19:15 | Permalink

    First of all, I don’t allow yelling on my site. Second, I don’t help folks name their businesses. That’s best left to professionals if you really need help coming up with a name.

    And if you do “everything” then you might want to consider narrowing your focus so you specialize. That often makes more money and creates a stronger reputation, no matter what you do.

    Good luck.

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