Saving money on print

3 years ago by

Written by Sarah Ritchie

Your client has come to you saying they have to cut back their print budget, and can you help them? Without a moment’s hesitation you should say “yes”! Why? Because there is always a way you can save money on printing. Let’s explore some of those ways.

Print on demand

How often does your client print more units than they actually need? While it is true that the unit cost comes down the more units you print, where is the cost-saving logic if you end up throwing those extra units away? Modern print technology allows you to ‘print on demand’ – printing only what you need, when you need it. In the long-term this can save a lot of money.

Offset v digital

Example: Printing a business card, for one person, 500 units, double sided. To print this card in two spot colours on an offset press can cost double or more what it does to print the same business card on a digital press. The upside is obvious. The downside is that the digital 4-colour rendition of the brand colours will be less vibrant than their usual spot colour cards. Brand colour consistency can often be compromised when the cost saving is considerable.

Change stock

Often simply changing paper stock can result in huge savings. Printers will usually have ‘house stocks’ which they buy in bulk and use whenever a client has not specified a particular stock to use. Printers can then pass on the savings to their clients. Is your client using a specialty stock or one that is difficult to source? It might be time for a re-think.

Ganging up

Cost efficiencies can often be achieved by printing more than one job at the same time. If the jobs are printed on the same stock with the same (or compatible) ink and finishing specs, then your printer will be able to consolidate press costs and maximise the paper sheet size and quantities.

If your job is small, there is even an outsider’s chance of sneaking your job onto someone else’s print run. That way you would pay only minimal charges for guillotining and packing. This can be a great solution for non-profits and charities.

Talk turkey

When your client yells “save me some money” your first phone call should be to your printing rep. No printing company wants to lose any more business to the ‘digital’ juggernaut, therefore, they should be doing everything they can to help get a great result for your client at the price they need. This may be a negotiation of the price, or a conversation about exploring the options.

Change printing company

Are you using the right printing company for the job? Whilst supplier/customer loyalty is a grand thing, fiscal reality means you need to periodically source comparative quotes. You may need to send your print work out to various printing companies depending on the type of job and press capabilities. That’s not disloyalty, that’s working smarter.

Sarah Ritchie has been in the design and agency world for over 25 years. Originally a graphic designer, Sarah has also worked as a design teacher, agency account manager, and now enjoys a wonderful life in recruitment for agencies. Sarah is also the Founder of and author of ‘How to Wrestle an Octopus: an agency account manager’s guide to pretty much everything’, available on and Amazon now.


Up Next...

Wellington Zinefest

Wellington Zinefest are excited to announce our 2018 zine market. This year, the event will be held on 17th November at the new creative campus Te Auaha on Dixon street. Zinefest is a platform for illustrators, writers, artists, designers and all kinds of creatives to share their work with other keen audiences. Over sixty stallholders…

More from 'Interview'...

Where Creative Opportunities Lie: Arch MacDonnell on Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing

Written by Lana Lopesi  Graphic Matters is a monthly column on issues and ideas related to New Zealand Design Culture Last month Te Papa released yet another amazing book called Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing. The book co-written by Sean Mallon and Sébastien Galliot is the first publication to examine 3000 years of Sāmoan…