August 10, 2014

Professional Printing Success

This is the WHOLE order! (Including my classroom rules found here)

       This year I decided to do something I’ve never done before-Professional Printing!  Yep, I took everything to a real printer. Why you ask?  Cost effectiveness and quality control.  But I also learned some things along the way.  Here’s a rundown of things to know.

1.     Call around for pricing.  My prices ranged from $.98 to the low of $.39 a copy, on cardstock.  Be sure you specify that you want cardstock or regular paper.  That matters in the cost of everything.  One store that I called said that their price was based on the lowest quality cardstock, so you may even want to decide on what type of cardstock you want.  No matter how you look at it, shop around for price!

2.     Look at the local, small printers.  That’s who I went with.  Two things came into play:  they were fast and I knew the manager.  They offered me the $.39 price.  Use who you know and use that you are a teacher.   I actually wish that I had shopped around some more with the smaller printers.  I was at my school yesterday and one of the teachers mentioned the shop that prints our newsletters.  I had never thought of them!  They are our business partners too!  I bet I could have negotiated a lower price than $.39!   So, look for every avenue to get the best price!

3.      Know about how many pieces you will have done.  This can affect your price in two ways.  First, the more you print, the lower the prices can go at some locations.  Over 100 copies can change the price (I had 167ish copies!)  Second, you can then estimate the cost for yourself, so you have a ball park figure in mind.  This will run high, but it was still cheaper than if I went to a teacher store and bought everything myself!  And, remember this is all tax deductible because it is for your classroom!  Keep your receipts for everything you spend on your class!!!

4.      Know your FONTS!  Yes, all those cute fonts are great, but you will run into a problem.  I realized this later in the night, after the shop was closed.  I had used a cute font and it struck me that that font would NOT be on the printer.  That means it defaults to a font, whatever the font on the printer is. Then there is the size issue.  All of the editable products you buy are sized according the maker.  If it goes to default, this can mess up your product.  (See Below)

Now, I realize this is my fault, and luckily it only happened on one of the many things that I had printed.  It is a very easy fix for me to remake these and print on my own printer.  That is one thing to know-errors like this are the fault of the customer, not the print shop.  Here is how you fix that!  Save the editable document as a .pdf again.  This is easy on a Mac.  When you go to print, there is a button on the bottom that asks what you would like it saved as. Choose .pdf and this will lock the fonts into place.  One simple step, and you have your fun fonts in place.  I think this was the first big lesson I learned.

5.     Know the SIZE OF THE PRINTED DOCUMENT!  I just assumed that all documents would fill the page, just like it does on my computer.  This is not true.  I had pulled a bunch of cute items from the internet that I couldn’t find the original on to download.  Well, those items printed the size of the pic online.  Here is an example. 
This looks like it is the correct size, but I trimmed off a large amount of white.  Same with the picture next to it.  The March is half a sheet of card stock turned landscape.

Again, this is my fault, not the fault of the printer.  Before you decide to print something, go into your printer and check the actual size, as this is how the printer will print it.  There wasn’t anything that I sent that I can’t print again on my own.  That’s the nice thing. The mess-ups were on single page items in general.  Nothing that I printed from a TpT product were the wrong sizes.  They were the correct size. 

6.     Put everything on a Flash Drive/Jump Drive.  This is how they will transfer the documents to the printer.  Make sure you have everything ready to go and all of your documents are there.

7.     That leads to the next one-write it down too.  The copy girl was able to highlight as she went to be sure that she had everything. Because I didn’t follow #6 at home, I actually missed two documents in my flash drive folder.  She caught this, and now I know what I still need to print.

8.     Expect the best! Wow!  That’s all I can say, over and over. What I printed looks just like what I would get from a teacher store!   The same teacher at school who mentioned the business partner also mentioned the great quality of the materials.  No smudges, vibrant color, and no icky printer lines like you get on your at home printer. She was so impressed, she was trying to figure out what she could go get printed! I am so impressed that when I change my theme again, this is what I will do.

9.     Prepare to cut!  This is the one downfall.  Not only do I have to cut it apart once, I have to cut twice.  Yes, once for the product and once for laminating. No pop-out products like you get at the teacher store.  Now, what I should have done is gone earlier in the summer when I knew what I was doing as a theme, then I could have done a lot of the cutting.  But, isn’t that what this is all about, lessons learned!  

Anyways, I can honestly say that I am very happy with this decision.  I would totally do it again, and probably will before I know it.  It saved me time simply because I didn’t have to stand there and do all the work myself.  And, it saved me from having to purchase multiple ink cartridges at $26.00 a piece and, then, the cardstock at around $4.  That alone was totally worth the $.39 a copy I paid!

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