Consensus pricing for business cards?

- Lettra
- 100 cards / 200 cards
- 1 color / 2 color
- my design
- photopolymer pates made by Boxcar

I know, I know. Pricing is up to each individual, etc. But please help. I’d like to know what people are charging, and what is in the ballpark “norm” for letterpress business cards. People have started asking, and I’m trying to figure out what a good price is.

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If you are ready to produce jobs commercially, just go out on the internet and check some websites for current pricing of these cards. You will find quite a bit of variation in prices.

As you have indicated, set your own prices based on your costs, what you need to net from your labor, and lastly, what the market will allow.

I think there are enough prices listed on various websites to give you a measure of what the general market is, but you will have to test in your part of the country to see what the specific market might allow.


Poke a round a bit, and you’ll find what your looking for…….and if I’m not mistaken this has come up before here with some backlash

My opinion is that it would be best to keep the forum for technical/mechanical knowledge.

Some people are offering 250 single-sided, one color cards for $100 that are based on a set template. This is all-inclusive (paper, ink, plates, etc.) but doesn’t allow for any custom designs. That depends on what you’re charging for your design time. Some clients are considerably easier to work with than others, so you should be aware of this going in.

Hope this helps,

Ok. Let me rephrase. Instead of asking what should I charge, let me ask

What do YOU charge?

You’ll probably find that most people quote each custom job separately. There are too many variables to have a set price.


My charges. I have three rates.
1. Free as gifts for friends or church work.
2. Cost of paper for friends who ask if I could do some simple work for them. When they offer to pay more, I say they should give the money to charity or do something nice for another.
3. For real commercial work I would charge for the cost of the stock + 15-25%. An appropriate fixed shop fee for ink, solvent, rags, electricity, etc. Then I would charge $XX per hour or fraction for my design, typesetting, paper cutting, printing, press washing, consulting with customer, etc. I would charge $X (note just half of my other rate) for time spent to go to paper store, package finished product, deliver to customer or post office/FedEx.
If you do not build your charge based upon your costs and a fair rate for your time, you are not being fair with yourself.
If you only wish to meet or beat the other guy’s price you can do that. Then work the job backward having kept a very accurate record of your time and see how much you are paying yourself per hour. Probably very revealing.
I failed to include an amount for shop rent and insurance. The overhead. If you work at home in the garage, you may wish to count this as zero.
Make sense?

I am by no means an expert on this, as I’ve only recently started up myself. But, I figured out a basic hourly rate that covers labor and overhead (which includes shop costs like general supplies, rent, insurance, etc.). I then work out the cost of all the materials – plates and paper. I add all up and add a percentage on top to get my final numbers. I’ve done a little comparison shopping and found that I’m fairly competitive and haven’t gotten any pushback yet.

I hope that’s helpful.

To comment on keeganmeegan’s post, I would love to see a “Business of Letterpress” category added to this site. I think a lot of people could benefit from it. I don’t think this site has to be solely for mechanical aspects.

Be competitive in the market, so check other letterpress printers and see what they charge. Too much and the customer will print somewhere else. Too little and the job wont pay for your printing time. Charge right under the competition.

I charge for the amount of paper needed, plate charge for the digital file, mixing of custom PMS ink, and charge for the quantity to print.

Email me and I’ll share my pricing.


As a minor aside some of you may enjoy Jessica Hische’s web flow chart:

Also available as a letterpress print by Studio On Fire here:


“check other letterpress printers and see what they charge” is exactly what I was trying to do here.

It’s so weird that no one wants to say what they charge. Why is that secret?

If your design work is good and your prices are fair based on a breakdown of your time and material expenses then people will pay what you ask.

If your design and/or print quality is mediocre and your prices are cheaper than other printer designers then people will go elsewhere.


Right. But if I ask, “How do you move a C&P 10x15?”, no one will say
“Well, based on where you live certain trucks will perform better on the type of roads you live near. So calculate the average local speed limit and multiply that by X, and then add 15-18% for tolls and gas. And then use a come-along, if you feel you are confident enough in your moving skills, compared to the movers around you.”

In any case, I always assumed full-disclosure was the best policy for a place like this, but people get very weird when money is involved for whatever reason. Obviously, it is helpful for a person like me to know what the “average” price seems to be among other printers.

Respectfully I must state that I feel that you are failing to differentiate between friendly advice and a business consultation. Asking your competitors to divulge their pricing schemes is really asking a lot.

That having been said, if you want a region-free price comparison you can look at what printers are charging for letterpress jobs on Etsy. I still feel that the design element means that this is not a good comp, but that is the best I personally can provide.


Its not that things get weird when money is involved, what we’re trying to say is that it’s a business faux pas to ask what others price schedules are. Some of us here have been in business a long time, and have spent a lot of time on price factoring. There has been a lot of good information shared here about how to fairly figure your own prices. If you want to pm me, I’d be happy to assist in helping you figure out your prices from my perspective, or even better, place an order ;)

I just spent a load of time figuring out my own pricing, and it meant doing some research. Nobody is hiding pricing, tons of printers have it all laid out on their sites. Go to poeples websites and look.
It takes time, and math and comparison, and number crunching. Go on ETSY, you can see 10-20 different price breakdowns, one after the other, on peoples pages.
Some of them you wonder how they even buy lunch with such low prices, others you wonder how they sleep at night charging so much. There is no magic #, you just have to do the research and figure it out.

Figuring out the cost of printing is fairly simple.

Once your client knows what they want: cost of paper + plates + ink/consumables + presstime/cleanup + packing/shipping/handling + overhead + profit you want/need = rough price, add extra for rush or difficult jobs

Design? Tougher, because you can’t expect someone to give a “your design is worth = $XX per hour” statement… you are the only one here who knows your process and thus how much you need to charge for that design work.

This thread comes up on every forum of its kind, with regular intervals, but the fact is that any answer, or amount of research into market/others, will only serve as a point of departure.

With the amount of variables involved in design or print, until you begin working and see how your own, unique situation impacts your pricing… no one will give you a satisfactory answer.

Sit down, do the math, charge, adjust, repeat…


I do not see that question as out of line at all.
The best rule to following on pricing is knowing your cost. If paper, type, ink, press supplies, rent on space for your shop (a percentage of cost of rent added to each job, could only be $1, but you still have to added in to the list) and other items needed to product the job.
Take the total of these items, multiply it by 2.5 times will give you the retail price.

Now, knowing that the fellow next door can print the job for $125 and your cost is $150, it would best to rethink going into the printing business.

Even if his is $125 and mine is $150 but better design/quality?

This may not be as much of an issue with custom work…but I wanted to highlight that Aaron mentioned “retail price”.

If you are planning on having your things sold by retailers, you have to leave room for profit margins on their end too or it won’t be worth their while. Whether they have to jack up the price and then can’t sell anything or they pass it off at cost and aren’t making anything.

We try to take this into consideration even in work that we are selling directly to the consumer, so that we aren’t lowering the market value of our product below what someone else could retail our products at.

If you have your overhead, labor, and material costs calculated and multiply by 2.5, as Aaron suggested, you can sell it to a retailer for half the total and still cover all your costs and have a profit.

When you do have a customer that really, truly can’t afford the retail price, you also have a little bit of negotiating room without bleeding yourself. Definitely do not sell yourself short though, it doesn’t help the craft survive if you get into a price war with Etsy.

At this stage, my biggest concern is finding any work. I obviously don’t want to work for too little, but choosing NO money over a little money is a choice I usually can’t afford to make.

I feel like once I have a noticeable portfolio of paid work under my belt and a list of satisfied clients, then I will naturally settle into a more solid pricing system that I can stick to. Design and printing is much easier for me than finding paying customers.

Not sure where your studio or shop is at but google It list all types of printing, business cards, letterheads, envelopes and announcements etc. These people produce work on small offset presses or dublicators and do both flat and raised printing. Prices include typesetting. These prices are retail so if you were a dealer for them you pay half price. Keep in mind they are doing hundreds of cards a day so that is why they are so inexpensive. I do alot of work digitally too so here is my price:
500 Cards on 80# White Card Stock 1/0 Black $45.00
500 Cards on 100# White Card Stock Color 4/0 $60.00
If I were to do them on my 8X12 C&P I would charge the same for the Black and White cards but for a PMS color or even a Standard Blue/Red/Green etc., about $100 to cover the cost of labor in cleaning the ink. Helpful?

double the cost of paper stock, mark up all other supplies a bit to cover waste and charge $60 per hour for set-up/printing time/clean up, that covers my overhead, clerical time and lets me take a bit home.

Part of it is deciding whether you are trying to simply turn a profit, (i.e. covering your materials and overhead + a little something to spend later), versus making a living. Many craft printers out there, likely many on Etsy, are not making the bulk of their living by printing letterpress cards, it is often an extension of their design studio, or something they do as a semi-hobby. They may indeed be doing good work, but they also might have other income to lean on, so they can focus on just making a profit, rather than a living, and feel like they can do the work for cheap without hurting too bad. As has been said, you ultimately need to know what your own circumstances are.
Part of providing good service to your clients, is being able to keep the doors open so you can work with them when they come back.

Alex just linked me to this article, which made me think of this thread. It definitely reinforces what a lot of people are saying and lays things out in a clear way with examples.

I was particularly happy with how she explained why part-time/side business/hobby/crafters should charge market retail prices out of respect for those who actually do the work for a living so that you aren’t stealing the bread off their table.

The difference between wholesale and retail was also reinforced.

We produce ours in Arizona and outsource the plate making to a local guy.

We start at $195 for 100 cards 1 color pms on 42pt crane lettra.

Our price includes free ground shipping and taxes.

Our model is based on volume since we sell exclusively online and no longer take clients in our retail facility.

I would refer you to The British Federation of Master Printers book, ‘Estimating for Printers’ , or the little booklet by William Sessions Ltd of York, with typical prices for a vast variety of jobbing print stuff, but sadly both are vastly out of date. But
one principle remains at the back of my memory, have you included ALL your actual costs, rent, rates, lighting, heating, the phone bill and so forth and so on, the list is endless.
Not to do so was the fast road to bankruptcy or so I was told.
back in the 1950s….

You know, the biggest cost driver you will have will be on the pre-press side of things. Unless you have a customer providing airtight files, you’ll have to open them up, resize or reformat. There will be other stuff to hassle and eat up your time before you get that sign off to go ahead. Never mind software rental and computer depreciation…. the printing and paper is the cheap part.

For $100 for a 100, I could set those up and knock them down all day long with a Linotype, and pocket good money, but that ain’t how it is. Rats.