Letterhead, Cheddarhead

Now that you have your marketing plan in place, including ideas for your colors and theme, we can get started with some actual designing. If you’ve had someone design your website, you’re ahead of the game. If not, don’t despair. Designing is fun! One more time, with gusto: Designing is fun!

If you’ve done a good website yourself (and, I can’t stress this enough, “good” means you’ve had significant design experience and are pleased with the results) or if you’ve had someone design your website, use what you’ve already got to begin the process of creating a letterhead. You’ll need a letterhead for your press kit and your professional correspondence. You can’t use stationary with pink kitties on it. It’s not professional. You could probably get away with some simple, classy monogrammed letterhead, but this way is fun and cheap and stays consistent with your brand.

More than likely, you have some sort of banner that goes across the top of your page. This is usually a good place to start to pull our graphics to use for your letterhead. It’s usually as simple as right-clicking and saving to your desktop. Look through your website and find those little nuggets. (Disclaimer: It’s probably best if you check with your web designer to make sure it’s ok with her. She did design the graphics, after all.) Here are some pieces from my website (an older design) I might be able to use:

(Something like the About Sonja graphic might be good for other marketing materials, like my bio for my press kit, which we’ll talk about in a different article.)
If you’ve got a book cover, you might consider using that somewhere.

There is a possibility that, if you’ve had someone else do your design, you won’t find any piece that will work for a letterhead because it’s all chopped and spliced for the web. Now you have a few options: You can email your web designer and ask for files of the graphics in a format that you can use, or you can make something up on your own.

So let’s say you can’t get anything from your website for some reason. No problem. There are a wealth of images available on the internet. Surf, surf my darlings. But please keep in mind that most images floating around on the internet are copyrighted by someone somewhere. In order to avoid copyright infringement, I suggest either making sure the website where you’re getting your graphics says “FREE” really big on it, or you’re buying them for a nominal fee from a stock image place like istockphoto. In the long run, if you’re going to use the graphic on all of your marketing stuff, coughing up a dollar to buy a stock photo is not that big of a deal.

Ok, now you’ve got a whole stack of pretty stuff to use. DO NOT USE ALL OF IT. I’m serious. Imagine if I had to cram all those pictures I just showed you on a 1-inch section at the top of a page. No. Bad. Don’t do it. In fact, I would pull down a template from somewhere like Office Templates or just Google for letterhead template.

In whatever program you choose, play with all your pretty pictures in the layout. Keep in mind that your letterhead shouldn’t take up too much of the page. I’d say 2 inches would be about the limit, but use your judgment. Also keep in mind that you’re going to have to either print this stuff or get it printed at some point (that is, if you’re planning on doing anything in hard copy rather than electronic– we’ll talk more about this later), and you’ll want to determine how much ink you’re willing to use per sheet. Include in your letterhead information:

Your name
Your web address
Your mailing address (Yes, even if you’re working electronically, always include a mailing address for professional correspondence. If you’re uncomfortable giving out your street address, I recommend getting a PO Box.)
Your phone number (Same deal. You gotta give a number. I know you’re an introvert and you hate talking on the phone. Believe me, I feel your pain. I’d much rather IM. But listing your instant messenger name is not an appropriate substitute for your phone number. Suck it up and list it.)
Your email address (And the introverts rejoice.)

You could maybe stick your slogan somewhere in there, but don’t clutter it up. Keep things streamlined and simple. It’s letterhead, not a tri-fold brochure, people.

Et voila. You have a lovely letterhead to use for your press kits and professional correspondence.

Now, here’s the lazy method: Your web designer might do letterhead as well as websites, so if you’re already paying for a web design, see if she’ll throw in a letterhead design too. A note of caution: You must insist that she provide it in some sort of editable format (i.e. not a PDF) because you’ll want to use it for electronic documents as well as print documents.

Go forth and letter!