3 tips for finding a local printer to work with

While everything is digital these days, there are actually still clients who need physical print pieces. This could be a magazine, newsletter, wedding invitations, business cards, etc. In Facebook groups, I often see people asking for the best online printer for __________ (insert special need for printing). 

I have used a few online printers over the years (and will go over those later), but when I can, I try to use my resources and work with local printers. Here are a few tips to help you find a local printer in your area.

I have used a few online printers over the years (and will go over those later), but when I can, I try to use my resources and work with local printers. At a previous day job, I was connected with a print broker. His job is to connect the print job with whichever printer will do the best job. 

Related: Print Design Lingo 101

So, how do YOU find the best printer? (Or, print broker!)

  • Talk to friends, co-workers (or previous co-workers), and see if they have any recommendations. Even if they haven't personally printed somewhere locally, they may have other friends or previous co-workers that have! This may be a good time to also utilize those LinkedIn contacts (or groups) and ask there.
  • Email printers and ask for their prices, or if they specialize in something. Before I was in touch with my print broker, I was trying to find a local print shop. I emailed a few shops - one was very short, very rude. Another, gave me a detailed reply and was willing to answer questions. Obviously, who do you think I chose? A simple email may just show you what you need to know!
  • If you can, send a "trial" piece. Last year, I was trying to print a small series of posters, and for (still) unknown reasons, the colors were not printing well at a variety of printers. My print broker tried three different printers in his network, I tried UPS and Office Max, and finally got a winning result with a bigger print company in the area. We didn't send the whole series to each, just two posters at each place. 

The last bullet point is a big reason I like to work with a local printer. An online printer *might* give you a re-print, or a refund. But, you have to spend lots of time on the phone, wait another few weeks for the second shipment (if you get one), and the customer service person is probably not going to care much. 

Another reason I love local printers vs. online printers is that local printers don't have a 250 or 500 minimum print quantity, like many online printers. But, like I said, I have sent print jobs to online printers before. Here are the ones I've worked with, and would recommend:

  • VistaPrint (though, rarely nowadays)
  • 123Print (great for cards, even invitations; and magnets)
  • Moo (love these for business cards; get 10% off with this link)
  • Customcanv.as (obviously, only for canvas prints)

What printers have you worked with? 

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