Terrified of Print at Home Invitations? Maybe you should be…

Think twice or thrice before purchasing digital invitations, it might not be all that you think it’s cracked up to be.

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What are people saying about digital invites? Mostly three things:

1: They are affordable

2: They are easy

3: They are convenient

And while some people do just fine ordering digital, there are those that will not find it to be easier, convenient or (in some cases) affordable. When it comes to printed products, there are some key factors you really need to keep in mind. And, unless it’s your business, the majority of people really don’t understand how invitations work and why their print at home or print at your local print shop invitations aren’t turning out the way they had hoped. Still undecided? Let’s dive in.

No. 1

Your ink is not my ink, is not their ink or his ink. In short, all ink is different. And all printers are different.

That’s right, even professional printers vary. Think of every model of printer as a thumb print, each one may do the same function, but the imprint or output will be different. Same goes with ink and how each printer uses that ink. And we aren’t even talking about settings. I won’t even go there, that’s a whole other beast. It just got a bit more complicated didn’t it?

For example, when I design an invitation for my print shop, I know there are certain shades that aren’t going to be replicated well for my printer, so I don’t use them. I design my prints to work with my specific brand of ink and my specific professional printer. I don’t deviate, I don’t buy knock-offs and I am obsessed with this consistency. Why? Because it took me a looooooong time and wasted supplies to get it right. I paid attention to my machine, my ink, my settings and the shades that delivered the truest color. So, when you purchase an invitation from the shop, I know how it’s going to print…every. single. time. And that means that you, as a customer, are going to get the truest color because you are ordering an invitation that has been color calibrated from conception.

If you still must print from home:

Unless you have a dye-based ink, your prints may smudge if you decide to print from home. Make sure to lower the quality settings a little so not so much ink will deposit on the paper and allow LOTS of dry time before cutting and assembly.

 

No. 2

My paper is better than yours.

I know, it sounds harsh. But, when you run a print shop, paper is just as important as your printer and ink. If those three things aren’t working together, your prints will be “doo-doo”. I have been through a lot of paper testing and finding the perfect paper can take your prints from just-okay to professional. Our standard cover stock in the shop is 120lb. Standard at home printers will start spinning in circles, coughing up ink and smoking if you try to put that kind of weighted cover stock into your machine. Okay, not really…but you get the idea. It will be a hot inky mess, filled with many smears, paper jams and, most likely, tears.

If you still must print from home:

You can get nice and smooth cover stock from your local office depot or equivalent store that will print nicely. But again, it won’t be thick and swoon-worthy. Your invitations will be on the thin side. And please for the love of all that is paper holy, do not purchase paper from Michaels. Their paper is fine for anything non print related. But you really need to be purchasing your paper from an office supply or paper store to reduce bleed, smudge and boost the quality of your at home prints.

No. 3

“That’s why I am planning on going to a local print shop for my invites instead.” 

This is a valid point….sometimes. It depends on how many prints you need (most local print shops won’t print less than 20/25) and if you asked the right questions before you purchased your digital invitations. What are those questions? We’ve listed some of the most common things print shops need in order to print your files correctly.

What is the actual size file you need? Including bleed.

Do you need cut lines for your cutting machine?

What is the file format needed?

It is super-duper important that you request all of these specifics when the digital print shop is creating your digital files. There are so many print shops, there is no way for a digital shop to know all the specifics of other print shops. And, frankly, it’s pretty ridiculous that people expect anyone to know. Not asking these questions and any others your print shop will need before receiving your files may lead to your image being distorted, blurry or sized incorrectly. And you may have to pay for extra revisions of your files by your digital print shop if you didn’t plan ahead.

No. 4

All of my invitations are cut by hand with a professional cutter delivering professional and crisp edges.

My paper cutter is my favorite tool in my arsenal. Her name is big Bertha, she’s from England and enjoys a nice smooth, complex paper.

Big box print shops will have a “margin of error” which doesn’t always feel like a margin. Why? Because all of their prints are cut by a machine. And while, that can be fine, there are many times a cut line or a white margin will be left on prints. Usually most print shops will re-print your invitations, but it really cuts down on the “convenient” factor of purchasing digital diy invitations if you have to get them re-printed. I have heard many stories of crying in parked cars just outside Office depot and Kinkos. Always ask them for a re-print for any of these issues.

Cutting by hand at home? You’ll need to purchase a cutter from your local paper or craft shop. Be prepared to make a few practice cuts to get the hang of the cutter you bought, every cutter is slightly different.

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No. 5

But I can’t afford (or don’t want to afford) printed invitations from the print shop.

Everyone has a budget; this is valid and completely understandable. However, make sure to know a few things to make an informed decision if diy invitations really are cheaper than buying prints from the shop.

How many prints do I need?

What is the cost of the paper I will need?

What is the cost of envelopes I will need?

Will I need additional ink?

Which cutter will I buy?

Is my printer able to accommodate the amount of printing I need to do?

Do I have the time in my schedule to print and cut my invitations?

How important is it that my invitations look professional?

Is there room in the budget for starting over or mess-ups?

Be honest: Am I a crafty/artistic person or does my crafting look like an episode of “Nailed it”?

 

I would not recommend DIY invitations for people who do not have the time, patience, crafting abilities or for someone who does not want to invest in any of the proper tools (ie: a cutter, quality paper and ink).

I would also not recommend DIY printing for anyone who is not prepared to know which printer they are going to be using or is not willing or prepared to ask the right questions before asking an invitation shop to make them digital files. As a business, you don’t know how frustrating this is.

Please do not ask a shop to make additional changes on a file and not expect to pay for those changes after you have completed your purchase and they have given you your final files. This is super unprofessional on the customer’s part and, frankly, a lot of shops don’t really want to work with you if you are going to act this way…it’s rude. We are not mind readers, it is your job to know exactly what you need when you purchase items. As a business, we have timelines, other orders to fill and many things to juggle (like life) and our customers need to respect our time and effort and be willing to pay for it. I have had many digital customers message me while AT THE PRINT SHOP and expect me to make changes within a matter of minutes. I’m sorry, but that is crazy to expect someone to drop everything hundreds of miles away just because you are, currently, at the print shop and didn’t plan ahead. Don’t be that customer, no one likes that customer.

End of rant.

So, who is digital good for?

DIY printing can be great for people who are willing to spend the time for a project and for those who are gifted in crafting and artistic ventures. DIY is also great for everyone who is willing to ask the right questions and have all their ducks in a row before purchasing anything. Any seller or business worth their salt is more than willing to answer your concerns and questions before a purchase has been made. I would much rather someone send me 20 messages before placing an order making sure my product will work for them before making a purchase and then being frustrated.

Anyone else falls into the don’t category. I have known customers who were thrilled with printing at home and loved the way their invitations and stationery turned out, which is a great win for them! It just helps to be as informed as possible before spending 10.00-50.00 (or more, ouch!) on digital files and then finding out it wasn’t the path for you.

Happy printing!….err, or buying…

XO, MJ

Owner of Little Scribbles Paper on Etsy & Zazzle • etsy.com/shop/littlescribblespaper

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