This post is a continuation of 8 Tips on Working with Designers for Non-Profit Staff

You have the go-ahead on your project’s artwork. Everyone approves.  Everyone likes it!  The magical time arrives when you can request the print-ready files from your designer.

Now what?

I’ve had the privilege of ordering print stock for literally hundreds of jobs, and working with many printers over the last 16 years. Some I still work with to this day. Some are no longer around, and others just never met the high standards we Good Workers expect. I’ve learned so much, and I’d like to pass some of that wisdom on to you!

1. Get to know your printers.  Yes, printers. Plural. Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket and rely on one supplier. Make it a habit to keep sourcing new talent.  Ask about in-house capabilities: Do they do 4 colour work? Foil stamping? Die-cutting? Bindery work?  Ask about turnaround times (which will vary based on the project, quantities, and time of year).

2. When it comes to pricing, remember the old saying: you get what you pay for.  Inexpensive is not necessarily bad, but I urge you to do your homework.  If you work with a mail house, ask them if they will share feedback on stock received from a certain printer with you.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations on stock based on the job.  Two gems I’ve learned along the way are asking a printer to suggest ‘cheap but nice’ stock, and asking if they have stock overruns from another client they might like some help getting rid of.  This comes in quite handy for small run jobs. They get to use up stock sitting on a shelf, and you will most likely get the stock at a reduced cost.

4. Many mail houses are doing digital printing – even 4 colour – at a cost that’s competitive with or less expensive than offset.  Depending on the size of your run, you may be surprised at how economical it is. Another plus to this option is having the ability to laser personalize at the same time. Check it out!

5. Whether it’s your first print run or a reprint of an old stand-by, make sure to send clear, concise instructions each and every time.  Size, colours, stock, quantity, delivery address and date (to name a few!) should all be included.

6. Finally, no matter the job, ask for – no, insist on – proofs for review and sign-off before printing commences.  It’s amazing what can happen to electronic artwork from one computer to another.  Take ownership… And be proud and confident with your finished product!