Hi Dave – I’ve decided to order business cards. I was wondering exactly what information to include. I was thinking phone number, email, and website. I was wondering if there was anything else or if there was a reason not to include my address. – K.S.
Hey K.S. – Great decision. I’m always surprised at how many comedians or humorous speakers don’t have business cards. Maybe it seems like a relic from the past – like sending a videotape instead of a link to an online video – but it’s still an important promotional tool.
How is anyone going to know you’re out there and available for gigs if you don’t promote yourself? Unless you’re a known comedian, have a Comedy Central special or a big-time agent pushing for you, you need to be prepared to take care of business.
Of course the FIRST business step is to be such a great comic or speaker that people will want to see you. That comes through writing, performing, rinse and repeat. But once you’re ready to move forward in your career, promotion becomes a big part of the business plan. You need to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that could lead to showcases or even paying gigs. Promotion can help get your foot in the door. Talent, hard work and dedication is what gets you hired.
Like I said in my book Comedy FAQs And Answers: They may call it amateur night, but nobody’s looking to hire an amateur.
Memorize that – because it’s true.
I’m not going to get into all the different methods and ways to promote yourself or even talk about showcases since that’s not what your question is about. Let’s talk business cards.
I write a lot about networking and being part of your area’s comedy scene. If you’re out there, you never know who you’re going to meet that could actually help your career. But are you always prepared to take advantage of it?
When I was at The Improv, comedians would talk with us about how to audition, or the best way to send in a promotional video. Then instead of leaving a business card, more than a few would say, “Let me give you my email address,” (or you can substitute “phone number” or “website” or “Facebook page“). They would expect one of the managers to write it down, or would ask for a bar napkin or scrap of paper to scribble out the info.
Were they nuts or what?? There’s no way we’d take someone like that seriously. Sorry but in the back of my head I was thinking, “Amateur…”
Or worse yet, the comic would just give his name and say, “I’ll send you a link for my website” or “Keep me in mind when the club does a showcase.”
Sorry, but I suck at remembering names. In fact, right now I have this woman bugging me while I’m trying to write this. Oh man… what’s her name? I should remember since I’m married to her…
Get the idea?
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When someone like a talent booker, event planner or club manager deals with a LOT of comedians or speakers, give them the BEST and EASIEST way to remember who you are and how to get in touch with you. Business cards are not a relic from the past or uncool to hand out. In fact, it’s an important part of doing business – if you’re serious about it.
A young comedian dropped off a DVD for possible work at the club. Instead of an unreadable name and phone number scribbled in marker on the DVD, he had a professional looking business card in the plastic cover. That didn’t mean he would get hired or even score a showcase – talent and experience will determine that – but it certainly gave the image of being serious about his career.
Remember – nobody wants to hire an amateur.
So to finally answer your question, a business card should include your name, what you do (comedian and/or speaker, etc…), the best way(s) to contact you, and where potential clients can see your video and promo material:
- If you have a blog, newsletter or podcast that pertains to your career and is interesting, include the link
A smart idea is to design your business card to stand out from the competition.
A photo of yourself or a logo will work. But if you (or a friend) have experience doing this, the idea is to have a business card that’s SO unique and interesting and basically SO cool – the people you give it to will actually keep it, rather than eventually tossing it away or losing it in a drawer.
I know that’s tough to do – and I’m always trying to come up with new designs that fit my definition of SO cool. But it’s always a goal.
If nothing else, go on a website that offers inexpensive business cards (there are plenty, but for a suggestion try VistaPrint), design one or two with different looks and never leave home without at least a few. You can always change or update the cards later since they’ve become very inexpensive (and sometimes free).
If you’re serious about this business you have to take promoting and networking seriously.
When you make a new contact or stumble into an opportunity, a business card makes it clear who you are and how they can get in touch with you. There’s nothing amateur about that.
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Word of warning (based on your above question):
Never put your home address on your business card or any promotional material. You don’t know who will wind up with this stuff and the last thing you need is some wacko stalking you. And yes, I’ve known this to happen with both male and female performers (so don’t be a sexist and think you’re immune).
Amateurish or a relic of the past?
Not when a business card can make it easy to find you and hire you. It’s called being a professional.
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Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!
Dave Schwensen is the author of How To Be A Working Comic: An Insider’s Business Guide To A Career In Stand-Up Comedy, Comedy FAQs And Answers: How The Stand-Up Biz Really Works, and Comedy Workshop: Creating & Writing Comedy Material for Comedians & Humorous Speakers.
For details about upcoming comedy workshops at the Chicago, Cleveland and Tampa Improv Comedy Clubs, private coaching by Skype or phone, and to receive our bi-weekly newsletter visit www.TheComedyBook.com
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