As a small business owner, you're constantly asked to identify your ideal customer and target audience. Once you do, you can more easily narrow your product offerings, change the tone and language of your brand, and use that model as a benchmark for which all decisions of your business can compare to. Overwhelming, right? This is something I wasn't able to narrow down at the beginning of my re-brand last year, and quite honestly, has been the area of "branding" I've struggled with the most. Over the last few months, through some trial and error, and exploration of new projects, I think I have a better understanding of my customer - who she is, what's she's looking for, and most importantly, how I can serve her. Over the last year, one of the topics I kept coming back to was my decision to offer both printed and digital files of my invitations, and whether that was something beneficial or belittling, to my business. In the design world, the topic of printed versus digital invitations ends in a heated discussion, so I thought I'd offer my view on the pros and cons of each, and why for now, I'll continue to offer both.
...are the preferred method of any designer. We control the paper type, printing method, trimming and color of the final product, and take responsibility if anything goes wrong.
...require a minimum lead time for printing & shipping. In most cases this means you need to order 2-3 weeks before your event date.
...are always more expensive than digital invitations, but require substantially more work and responsibility on behalf of the designer.
...are not always more expensive than printing on your own. Because designers receive wholesale costs for printing, we are able to pass that savings onto you. In many instances, clients have told me that the final cost of their digital files ended up being the same as printing them through me!
... make your life easier! Once you approve your proof, you just need to wait for your package to arrive. No additional stops, no cutting, no extra errands. You just have to address them and put them in the mail!
...can be more affordable than printed invitations, but you could end up paying substantially more for file setup charges, paper, printing & trimming of your invitations.
...are a great option if you are running behind on your party planning, or when need something quickly. Most proofs are turned around in 24-48 hours, meaning you can head to a local printer and get them printed right away.
...force your designer to leave the quality and color (or both) in the hands of someone else. Because we aren't printing them ourselves, we are only responsible for the quality of the file we send to you - not how they look once they print.
...are great for people who love DIY projects: banners, cupcake toppers, favor tags, etc, and allow you to have a bigger part in the creation of your party.
...require you to know some technical information up-front, which may be confusing and overwhelming. Does your printer need bleeds & crop marks? Do they accept a PDF or JPEG file? Do they need an artwork release form to print?
Something I kept coming back to when I was evaluating my brand, was that I wanted Bella Carta to be the place you could come back to, time and time again, even when life got crazy and you realized you were meant to have invitations in the mail last week for your son's birthday. I wanted it to be that place that served women in different stages of their lives: engaged, married, expecting, busy mom of littles... I know life is full, and busy, and believe me, my kids' parties are all planned in a week because I'm lucky enough to be able to design it all myself. I know the reason you're emailing me 4 days before you need something isn't because you don't have your life together, but rather in the big scheme of things, finding an Etsy shop for an invitation just wasn't at the top of your list last week. At the core of my business, I don't think you need to compromise style when you're running a little behind.
For now, we will continue to offer a digital option for all the invitations in our shop, and to help customers who are printing these on their own, we also include a Printing Tips & Resource Guide. This guide is emailed along with your final file, and is meant to help you achieve the best possible printed invitation, no matter if you're printing at home, or at a local print shop. The Printing Tips & Resource Guide also includes paper suggestions, file types explanations, a growing list of vendors that we've worked with personally, and the standing offer that we're always an email away if you have any other questions.