Print your own promotional merchandise

Print your own promotional merchandise

There are many costs involved in running a business and here at INKredible, we are always looking for ways to help you cut costs and save money.

Printing your own promotional merchandise, rather than going through a third party company, could save you a fortune. It will also allow you to have complete creative control over the design of your product.

Whether you're giving out calendars at tradeshows or handing out branded tote bags and t-shirts, promotional products are one of the best ways to get your company's name, logo and slogan out there.

Whilst printing your own mugs and umbrellas is out of the question (although that may not be all too far away, the way 3D printing is advancing), there are several promotional items that you can make yourself.

Printing your own items is a great option for smaller, start-up businesses that may not have the funds to bulk buy several hundred calendars. The ability to print them yourself also means that no money is wasted as you can print on demand, rather than ordering too few or too many items.

When designing any promotional material, it is important to consider what it says about your company. Think carefully about logo placement, the images you want to use and where your contact information will appear on the product.


Print a promo calendar

Firstly, chose a theme. Naturescapes are perfect for a calendar as they appeal to everyone. If your company sells cars, a car-themed calendar is obviously more appropriate, but be creative.

There are loads of free calendar templates online and once you have your images, you're good to go.

Make sure your printer is up to the job. Load up on black and coloured ink and high quality photo paper, as this will make it look more professional than just using thin card.

Before clicking print, ensure you have chosen a front cover, that your company logo appears somewhere on every page and that your contact details can be found somewhere on the product.

Bind the calendar and voila! You now have a printed promotional, personalised product.

Display these in your office for clients to take home with them (make sure you have one on the wall of every room too!) and take them to meetings and tradeshows to give away.

You can even turn calendars into a charity fundraiser – team up with a local charity and have a donation box next to your products in your reception area.


Tote bags

Tote bags are another great promo item and are becoming more and more popular as supermarkets start to charge for carrier bags.

Buy a few blank bags online and stock up on image transfer paper. Choose a design and print it onto the special paper – make sure your colour ink cartridge is full!
Take the tote bag (or t-shirt, as the same technique applies) and iron onto your product.

Promotional products don't have to cost your company a fortune so why not have a go at making your own this autumn?

A4 T-Shirt Transfer Paper

A4
10 Sheets/Pack
High Quality - Iron On
Quick Drying
From £4.20
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Stay productive when working from home

Stay productive when working from homeWhen working from home it's easy to be distracted, so here at INKredible we have come up with some handy tips to keep you focused and productive.

1. Have a designated work space

It is all too easy to sit in front of the TV with your laptop when working from home. This probably isn't a great idea. When working from home, try and emulate your office environment as much as possible, as this will help you get out of 'home mode' and in to 'work mode'.

Change out of your pjs, have a coffee and work in your home office (or at the kitchen table if you don't have an office). Basically, stay away from the sofa.

2. Manage your time

Working from home doesn't mean you can't take breaks. If you would get up and make a round of drinks every couple of hours, allow yourself to do just that (but only make one drink, not five). Research shows that we need a bit of a break every few hours in order to stay focussed. Get up, have a wander round your house, maybe even go for a brief walk outside. Staying shut in your house all day, with no outside contact will not help you.

Making a to do list in order to keep your day flowing could also help you stay on track, as it is easy to get distracted by household tasks when sat in the kitchen, next to the washing machine. At the end of the day, take note of what you achieved and, if you don't seem to have been as productive as you could have been, consider what you need to do differently tomorrow.

3. Stay connected

When out of the office, it is important to stay connected. This means ensuring your mobile is charged, people have the appropriate contact information for you and your internet connection is up to scratch. Having a fast and reliable internet connection is essential – slow internet that repeatedly drops out will not only slow you down but will also make your boss less inclined to let you work from home again, as it makes you appear unreliable.

Check in regularly with colleagues and clients. This will help you stay on track with deadlines and also demonstrates that whilst you might be working from home, you are still working.

4. Ignore the landline

If you haven't given out your landline number to work people, ignore the home phone. The only people calling you on this phone in the middle of the day are, most likely, trying to sell you something. If it's important/not a sales call they will leave a message or call your mobile. Don't take time out of your busy day and get caught up with distracting, unnecessary calls.

5. Don't get distracted

This may seem like a really obvious one, but it happens easily. If you don't usually have music on in your office, don't have it on at home. The same goes for the TV – if you don't have a TV on at work (which we are assuming you don't) then leave it off. The TV and the radio will just distract you and we know all too well how easy it is to get sucked into an episode of Bargain Hunt.

6. Know when to stop

If you finish work at five, finish work at five. Make sure that your home life isn't affected by your working from home. At the end of the day, power off your computer and close the door to your office (or just put your laptop away and put some plates on the table so you're not tempted to start working again).

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The Brother MFC-5890CN

The Brother MFC-5890CN

People operating in a small or home office will find that the Brother MFC-5890CN is perfectly suited to their needs, combining just the right amount of speed and power to suit their task, as well as solid image quality.

The control panel is ergonomic and intuitive, with clearly marked buttons arranged logically and a 3.3in colour LCD making navigating options easy.

Furthermore, the capacity of the paper trays is generous, with a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) and a 150-sheet A3/ledger input tray, as well as a top lid capable of holding up to 50 sheets - perfect for those who do not have time to continually refill the trays.

The manufacturer has also been praised for its generally economical ink, with the MFC-5890CN using separate cartridges for each colour, helping to reduce waste and ensure that quality is never compromised.

Combined with sharp black text and excellent colour photo prints, particularly when printed on our High Quality Photo Papers, the MFC-5890CN is a good choice for home or small offices.

INKredible Saver Ink Cartridges for Brother MFC 5890CN

Equivalent to OEM cartridges: LC1100BK, LC1100C, LC1100M and LC1100Y.
From £2.30
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Five ways to beat the Monday (or Tuesday!) morning blues

Five ways to beat the Monday (Or Tuesday!) morning blues

There is no other sound in the world like your Monday morning alarm. We all know that getting out of bed on a Monday seems far harder than any other day of the week. Your weekend is most definitely over and you are back to the nine to five slog. With that in mind, here's a handful of ways to perk yourself up at the start of the week:

1. Use a sleep-monitoring app.

Apps like Sleep Cycle for the iPhone may seem like a bit of a con but they do actually work if you are consistent with them. Not only can you analyse your sleep with funky little graphs and charts but you can also regulate your sleeping patterns. The app will wake you with an alarm when you are coming out of deep sleep so you will awake feeling refreshed as opposed to grumpy and groggy. The app will also automatically start recording you if you sleep talk, which is also pretty cool/absolutely hilarious.

2. Listen to music in the morning.

Whether you use the radio as an alarm or just put a CD on in the car, music will help wake you up as it activates different parts of your brain and will help you avoid lapsing back into wanting sleep.

3. Plan your outfit.

This may sound silly but can remove an element of stress in the morning. By laying your clothes out the night before you won't be faced with a pile of crinkly shirts and un-ironed trousers first thing in the morning.

4. Make a to do list.

If you find yourself forgetting things first thing in a morning, stick a list of things you need to do or take with you on the front door.


5. Have breakfast.

Just because you are an adult now, it doesn't mean the same rules don't apply – breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. If you have the time, a bowl of cereal is great way to start. If you have even more time, porridge or a bacon sandwich is even better. This is probably pushing it on a Monday but remember that something is better than nothing so grab a cereal bar and a banana on your way out.

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Revamp your printed marketing

Revamp your printed marketingGiving your printed marketing an overhaul can be an expensive endeavour, particularly for smaller businesses with smaller budgets.

The marketing industry has moved on far enough that knocking something up yourself often seems outdated and unprofessional. But it doesn't have to.

Hiring a designer is expensive business. They will charge you for their time and the use of their resources. If you want professional-looking marketing material, this is a cost that is hard to avoid, but equally hard to finance, especially if you are just starting out.

There are ways around this though. If you are creative (we're not talking painting the Sistine Chapel, we're talking coming up with a concept and maybe a couple of images) and own a printer then you will be just fine.

Tip number one. Invest in a decent printer. If you have a small business, a smaller printer will do. We're guessing you won't be printing billboard ads any time soon so stick with a smaller all-in-one inkjet. Stock up on colour ink, photo paper and some nice thick paper/thin card.

That's the hard bit done. No, really.

Now you need to decide what you want to print. Let's start with the basics - business cards.

Business cards are your key to the outside world - your on-the-go marketing technique if you will.

So why settle for a boring white rectangle with your contact information on? Your business card can say a lot about your business in a very small space.

Playing around with the shape of your business card is one way to make it stand out from the crowd. The beauty of printing your own is that you won't be charged a small fortune for having a quirky shape.

If your company is in the sustainable energy field, use a leaf shape for your card. A bakery? Use a cupcake. A postal service? An old fashioned luggage tag. A mechanic? A car wheel. We could go on!

There are so many ways to make your business card stand out - all you need to do is think outside the box, if you will excuse the pun.

Printing onto thin card and then cutting around your new quirky card is a far cheaper option than getting someone else to print it for you.

If a rectangular card suits your company better then play around with the content and visual design.

The same applies to your promotional posters.

These days there is so much information that could be stored on a business card - not only do they include your name, business, address, email and phone number but can also feature your Twitter account, Facebook, LinkedIn...the list goes on.

Play around with the layout of these things. A linear list is not the only way to display information.

Using an infographic is a great way to portray a huge amount of information in an interesting way that will capture potential clients' attention for far longer than a list of contact information and a descriptive paragraph about what it is you can offer them.

Whilst you will struggle to put an infographic on a business card, a poster is the perfect size. There are many free internet programmes you can use in order to create a personalised infographic for your business. Your company logo, slogan and any stock images can all be included and you will be amazed at the range of visual creative possibilities there are on offer.

Create a marketing work of art and print onto photo paper in order to give it that extra professional element.

Leaflets can also be made and printed at home. Again, searching online for a free programme and designing it yourself will not only save you money but will give you completely free reign over visual layout and content.

By ensuring that all your promotional material includes a similar colour scheme, fonts and general style will bring all your printed marketing together. Affordable but professional-looking marketing could be a lot easier than you think. What you spend in time you will more than make up for in cost!


But if that still seems like too much why not let us do it for you! - Head on over to INKredibleprinting.co.uk

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Design and print your own infographics

Design and print your own infographicsWhether they are motivational posters for your office, your latest business plan or a quirky edition of your CV, infographics are great.

Infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge. The advantage of this form of presentation (apart from being aesthetically pleasing) is the ability to display a lot of information quickly and effectively.

There so many uses for infographics. They can be used to display statistics, strategy plans and even CVs. Whilst these snazzy graphics used to take a lot of time and personal creative input, there are now several websites that do the majority of work for you.

By simply Googling 'infographics' you will be inundated with a number of different websites that make creating your own pictorial spreadsheet remarkable easy.

Having a few ideas in mind before you start is probably a good idea, as well as any images or photos that you want to feature in the design. Aside from that, the website will probably do most of the work for you. There are arrows, different shaped text boxes and stock images galore.

If you are struggling to come up with an interesting idea for an upcoming presentation, create and print an infographic and hand it out instead of giving a Power Point presentation.

Make sure your printer is loaded with coloured ink and you are good to go. Printing your infographic on photo paper will give it an even more professional look.

Displaying statistics using an infographic is far more interest, and eye catching than any old pie chart or bar graph. If your stats include data about how 73 out of 100 people prefer strawberry icecream to vanilla, having 73 tiny pink people next to 27 white people is a far more interesting visual representation. Even better, scrap the people and use tiny icecream cones.

Technology such as iPads has changed the way we display data, but this doesn’t mean the end if printing- it just means we need to make the printed way we display information just as exciting and new.

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Buying a printer for business use

Buying a printer for business use

When thinking of buying a new printer for your business you’ll likely find yourself scratching your head, bamboozled by the plethora of options available.

There are a number of pertinent questions you must ponder because just going out and purchasing any printing device can soon come back to bite you on the proverbial backside.

One of the first things to ask yourself is if the business needs a multi-functional printer or a single-function one?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you just need something which can fire out documents quickly when planning an office but if you are looking at buying things like fax machines, photocopiers and scanners, then why not get a business printer which does it all?

The advantage of having an all-in-one multi-functional printer other than cost is that it will save space.

Despite this, a single-function printer may still be your best bet because they can be set up specifically to handle a single task, meaning that they can work away without causing your staff to have to wait around just because Jeff wants to send a fax at the same time Susie wants to photocopy some files etc.


Single-function laser printers are also often faster than multi-function ones priced in the same or similar bracket

Do you need colour? That’s another thing to consider. While the obvious answer would be “yes”, if your primary function is printing out letters and basic filing documents then a colour printer may not be worth the expense.

If, on the other hand, you want to print out high-quality promotional leaflets and brochures then colour is a definite must.

What many large companies do is invest in colour printers in departments such as sales and marketing while just using black and white workhorse printers in departments where documents are kept simple in design such as administration.

The quality of print varies greatly from printer to printer and indeed manufacturer to manufacturer so it is important to do some research before committing to buy. For general office use you’ll probably be looking at how crisp the text appears but also consider how good a printer’s graphics are if you want to print marketing brochures and such like.

Speed is also important to consider. If you are only printing handfuls of documents each day (say less than 20 pages) then your printer will not need to be mega fast but if you are churning out letter after letter all day everyday then you’ll want something which handles tasks with the speed of a racing car.

Lastly, the biggest and usually most important thing to consider; cost.

It’s easy to look at the price tag of a printer and think you’ll save by buying the cheapest which fits your needs but that is rarely the case in real terms. While printers have wide ranging purchase costs, they also have wide ranging running costs.

David Stone from PCmag.com says the best way to work out cost efficiency is by multiplying “the cost per page by the number of pages you print per year, then multiply that by the number of years you expect to own the printer, and add the initial cost of the printer”.

Using this method it may well be the case that a slightly more expensive printer saves you money in the long run.

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Maintaining workplace comfort

Maintaining workplace comfort

Everyone's in the office for longer these days, aren't they? The standard nine-to-five a thing of the past, it's becoming increasingly common for workers to be putting in ten-hour shifts or even more just to get stuff done.

But while all this extra time sat at the desk is likely to make your employer think the world of you, it can't be all that good for your health.

And that's not just your mental health but your physical health too. Sitting down for long periods can sap your energy, straining joints and muscles and being an all-round not-very-good-thing.

Thankfully, help is at hand. We're no experts, but here's some useful ways you can ensure your body and mind stay fresh at work.


Give me a break

Breaks will be factored in to your working day by your employer but you can also make sure you keep yourself supple and alert by taking little mini breaks throughout the day.

Now, we're in no way suggesting you skive off, just make sure you get a minute to stretch your legs here and there.

Why not stick your printer at the other end of the room – an excuse to go for an extended jaunt whenever you need a print-out, get the blood circulating. Or head for a quick walk outside. It might only be for a few minutes, but you'd be amazed at how fresh you'll feel.


Stretch!

Turn the office into your very own gym! Why not practice a few simple exercises – some pulls, push-ups, press-ups and stretches.

You could do it after your lunch or as you approach the mid-afternoon. If you're short of space in the office, have you thought about joining a gym close to work and nipping out on your lunch?


Switch it up

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. To that end, sitting at the desk all day isn't good for you. Think about the tasks you can do to get you out of your seat. Offer to collect the mail from the foyer or answer the phone.


De-stress

Struggling to maintain a decent work-life balance? Work getting a little too much? There are lots of things you can do to aid your mental wellbeing.

Have you thought about cycling to work? Great idea – gets you out and about and freshens you up ahead of the working day.

If the office politics is all getting a bit too much, how about a swift pint after work with a colleague – have a good moan.

If you feel you'd like to see your family a little more, consider asking your employer if you can work from home. Lots of companies are offering flexible working these days.

These are little things – but you'd be really surprised at how they can make your working day that bit more bearable.

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LVCR: An update

Guerney's beautiful shoreline isn't the only thing attracting big business to the island.

In our blog post on Thursday we spoke a bit about Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) and how it could soon change.

We explained it all in the post but to give you an ever so brief summary: LVCR is a tax relief that allows – or, ahem, has allowed, firms in the Channel Islands to export some goods exempt from VAT.

This means you could buy a DVD or CD from one of the retailers and find it a little cheaper than a UK retailer.


Lots of businesses – and the government too – think the tax relief is unfair and a long campaign to end it reached the High Court yesterday where a decision was finally made.

Well, we kept our beady little eyes on proceedings and we've just logged on to give you an update. And as planned, the tax relief on low-value items will be scrapped from April 1st, a court has ruled. It means as of April retailers that base themselves in the Channel Islands – Jersey and Guernsey – will no longer be able to avoid paying VAT on certain products.


As a retailer based in the UK, we support the move, which the government has been planning for some time.

It puts us on a level playing field with everyone else. Fair, no?

 

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What is LVCR and why does it matter?

Guerney's beautiful shoreline isn't the only thing attracting big business to the island.

For years firms based in the Channel Islands have been able to significantly undercut their rivals on the mainland thanks to a VAT loophole.

The UK government wants to close this loophole from April 1st, and with a judicial decision on it expected later today, we wanted to lend you a few thoughts on it.

It's called Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) and is essentially a tax relief on cheaper goods.

 

What it has meant is that retailers based in Guernsey and Jersey have been able to ship products worth £15 or less – like CDs, DVDs and, of course, printer consumables – without having to pay any VAT.

It's all part of a government effort to save at least £100 million in lost sales tax and make it fairer for UK businesses.

Play.com was the first major company to take advantage of the tax relief back in 1998, transforming in the process the shape of UK ecommerce.

 

For consumers it made perfect sense: cheaper products bought over the internet. But for some time there has been growing concern from many retailers that the loophole is simply unfair, and is damaging business.

On the other hand, the governments of Jersey and Guernsey say closing the loophole would have a big impact on their economies and employment.

Last November the government reduced the LVCR threshold from £18 to £15 and from April 1st 2012, it wants it disbanded completely.

While LVCR is undoubtedly a hot topic, what most retailers are looking for is simply a level playing field.

 

We're looking for a level playing field in the online market.

"It's a very competitive market out there, and now, more than ever margins are tight," said Tom Coley, our general manager.

 

"A company shipping their products from the Channel Islands or anywhere else the LVCR applies can easily undercut us by up to 20 per cent simply because they don't have to charge VAT. This makes it very difficult for us to compete."

 

Getting the best deal for the consumer is what we're all about. We want to help you save money wherever possible – that's the ethos INKredible was built on and we work very hard to get the best deals for our customers.

 

"But when customers are coming to us saying they are going elsewhere because they've found the same product almost a quarter cheaper from a company based in the Channel Islands it's quite a slap in the face," Tom said.

 

"We're not asking for preferential treatment, just a level playing field."

 

What are your thoughts on all this? Let us know. And with a decision expected later today, we'll be keeping you posted.

 




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