I have several online businesses that I run, but they're pretty much not making me any money, so it's hard to invest a lot of the money I'm not yet making in super-stylish business cards. I tried the print-at-home cards, but the paper I bought was too thin and I rarely keep the color ink tanks filled in the printer, so that didn't work so well. My goal tonight is to find the best deal in "free" online business cards, but I'm only doing that tonight because some friends stood me up.

Maybe friends are a good place to start. Every year I solicit business from friends and family in my website building endeavors. Facebook says I have around 100 friends, and I've gotten maybe five people I know to have me design their websites (some of them more than one site), but that means that out of people I actually know, only 5% want to use my service.

Then there are the people I meet. Once in a while, after I talk to someone about what I know how to do, someone will ask if I have a card. Nope. But I tell them the site they can use to see samples, or how to connect via email or Facebook. I get 0% of those people to make a purchase. I guess I figured it was time to increase those new customers to 1-2%, so I'm going to get back into the business card business.

I should probably decide first of all whether I want all of my businesses on one card or separate cards for each thing I do. They're all kind of related because they're online, but I'm a writer and a web designer and run a non-profit and a satire news site, so I guess I'm torn. But you likely won't have the exact same problem when you look for a business card, so I'll skip it for the time being.

Now it's time to venture online for the elusive free business card. You see them when people give you their cards: a little ad that says that you too can have free classy cards. Well, bring on the free advertising! I'll use Google and the first dozen or so sites to come up with a range of prices for free cards. I am hoping at least one site will really be free, but the first two I already tried were anything but free, so we will see, you and me, said me to she and he and he.

Sites and Prices:

I started by skipping Google ads at the top. The fact that there are three ads for a "free" search with the usual sidebar ads tells me that people make a crap-ton of money off of this particular free item. It also tells me I'm not going to be providing free hyperlinks to these companies.

vistaVistaprint: They say free and then say you pay for shipping and processing. Isn't processing making the cards? Anyhow, I designed my first free card, and then I had to say no to every other offer imaginable, like a matching tote bag, matching pens, etc. They even tried to sell me website design for $12 a month. After 10 pages of offers, you get to an order page that says things are included and free. Sounds good! BUT, after filling everything out, my total cost for 250 tiny pieces of paper and a 14-day wait... $7.09.  About $.03 per business card. Twenty minutes to find that out, too. On the other hand, I could have spent about $500 with all the add-ons, so I guess if you get out of Vistaprint with a mere $7 charge, you win.

Moo: Pretty simple because they want to send only 10 cards for free. It is totally free, but it's only ten. If you have an overdeveloped sense of underachievement, this site might work for your card needs. $.00 per card for 10.

DCP-Print: Weak designs, but you can load your own. Same run-around on actual price, which you get after just about completing the order. The 21-day marathon order would cost $15 for shipping the free cards. It's like you're paying DCP to drive the cards around the country for three weeks! $35 if you want the freebies in a week. Weak! $.06 per card.

Frustrated, I clicked on several more links with just as bad or worse pricing, some of which just redirected to vista and others who charged the same amount for free or premium. I even tried Fatwallet, and my efforts were thwarted. I think it's a conspiracy. I think I just had a craft idea that might work for making my own business cards because I'm not sure my business can afford the free ones right now. If you want to print your own, take a look.

or Avery Two-Side Printable Clean Edge Business Cards for Inkjet Printers, Matte, White, Pack of 200 (08871)