Kensie Kate

Happy, colorful design & hand lettering


The Best Places to Print (+ 4 Tips for a Better Printing Experience)

Business, Small ShopKensie Smith1 Comment

I've been selling prints for almost 5 years now! I can hardly believe it. I've made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of lessons in that amount of time. I want to help you avoid some of the same mistakes I made, so I'm going to start sharing information that would have been really useful to me 5 years ago. 

The number one question I get asked is about where to have things printed. I totally get it. It can be really frustrating to find a reliable location that is high-quality and convenient. And so I present to you, a list of my favorite places to print (+ some tips that will help you have a better printing experience.)

My favorite places to print based on quality, speed, and price.

1 | Alphagraphics

Alphagraphics was were I printed my designs for the very first time and they've never disappointed me since. Their staff is highly knowledgable and the quality of their printing is excellent. Sometimes I email files and then they call me when they're ready to be picked up (almost always the same day) and sometimes I bring my files in on a flash drive and usually they're able to print them right away. Their pricing is higher than a lot of other places, but there is a peace of mind that comes from knowing that your order is always going to be printed beautifully and accurately.

Quality: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Speed: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★ 

2. FedEx Kinko's 

FedEx Kinko's is a pretty standard print shop. There are locations all over the place, which is nice. I've always been able to walk in with files on a flash drive and have them printed immediately. They quality isn't stellar, but it's decent, especially for things like labels or things that don't have to be perfect.

Quality: ★ ★ ★ ★ 
Speed: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

3. Printmark (Provo, UT)

I actually haven't printed here before, but if I still lived in Provo, I totally would. I've heard wonderful things and everything I've seen printed by them has been really high-quality. Their pricing is really competitive too. 

Quality: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Speed: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

4. BYU Cougar Creations (Wilkinson Center)

I've printed here a lot of times since it was a 5-minute was closer to my apartment than any of my classes at BYU and because their pricing is so cheap. They do a pretty good job, but I had to have things re-printed a few times. I would always go in person and if something didn't look right, they were able to re-print for me. 

Quality: ★ ★ ★ 
Speed: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (they get 6/5 stars because it really is that cheap)

5. BYU Printing Services (North of the Marriott)

First things first: if you live anywhere near BYU and need wedding invitations (or any other large order like that), go here! Every time I design wedding invitations for my friends, I tell them to go here. They're pricing is so good and the printing is much higher quality than Cougar Creations. They aren't a same-day service so I don't print with them super often (because I usually need things quicker), but if you have a large order and can wait a few days, this is your place.

Quality: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
Speed: ★ ★ ★ 
Price: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (again, they get 6/5 stars because it's that good)

6. Persnickety Prints

Persnickety Prints is an online print shop with amazing quality. They use photographic printers, which is awesome for photos, but not the greatest option for prints. I don't print here very often because I usually like to print things where I can get them the same day.

Quality: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
Speed: ★ ★ ★ 
Price: ★ ★ ★ 


If you like the idea of ordering things online rather than going to a print shop, is a great option. They're printing is excellent and they have a lot of options for paper and different products. Things that don't have to be ordered often (like business cards) are great options.

Quality: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
Speed: ★ ★ ★ 
Price: ★ ★ ★ 

8. Vistaprint

If you are just starting out and literally need the cheapest option possible, this is your place. They quality is not awesome (some things turn out better than others), but you won't find anywhere cheaper. I have printed business cards and postcards with them. You don't have to order super high quantities, which was really great when I was starting out and trying some different products.

Quality: ★ ★ 
Speed: ★ ★ ★ 
Price: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

And now for a few tips that will make your life so much better (or at least make printing less of a headache :)

Tip #1 | Always request that things be printed actual size

This is probably pretty obvious, but there's nothing worse than getting a whole stack of prints, only to realize that they're all an 1/8 of an inch too short. 

Tip #2 | Get your order cut

I clearly remember the day that a blessing from heaven in the form of an Alphagraphics employee told me I could have my whole order cut to the right size for a couple of dollars. Every print shop I've ever been to has had a guillotine cutter that is capable of cutting a whole stack of prints at the same time. Most places charge 50-75 cents per cut. SO. WORTH. IT. 

I'm still not completely over the fact that no one mentioned this to me before and I spent endless hours cutting every single print and piece of chipboard by hand. Oh yes, they will cut chipboard too. I buy a whole box at a time and then have it all cut for less than $5.

Cutting individual prints or pieces of chipboard is for suckers. And I was apparently a sucker for a really long time because no one bothered to tell me there was a better way.

Tip #3 | Screen color does not equal print color

I'm sure you already know this, but things don't always look the same way they did on your screen once they're printed. I like using colors that I've printed before and know turn out well to increase my chances of being happy with the final product, but be prepared to have to adjust. It's a good idea to print one of everything to check the colors before printing the rest of your order.

Tip #4 | Use bleeds

Have you ever cut something and you get that pesky white edge no matter how close to the edge you try to cut? That's the reason designers use bleeds. A bleed is a border that goes around your design so that when it's cut, the color goes all the way to the edge. A 1/8 inch bleed is pretty standard. That means that if I want to print a design that ends up being 8x10, my print file is actually 8.25x10.25. 

So there you have it. Any printing locations or other tips I should know about? Happy printing!


15 Simple Tips for Getting Stuff Done : How I Stay Productive While Working

Business, printableKensie Smith1 Comment

We’ve all had those work days where you look back and realize you didn’t get nearly as much done as you had hoped. I’ve put together a list of all the tips that have helped me get things done, both at my office job and when I’m working on Kensie Kate projects. I hope these easy tips help accomplish amazing things!

1. Use a Checklist (& Carry Tasks Over)

One day I spent 5 minutes creating this simple weekly checklist and now I don’t know what I would do without it. I keep it right in the middle of my desk, right above my keyboard, so I can always see it. I print one off at the end of each week and start filling it in for the week ahead. First I add the things that I know need to happen on each day. Then I carry over any tasks from the last week that I haven’t completed yet.

Click on the image above to download the checklist

Click on the image above to download the checklist

As I go throughout the week, I check things off as I finish them and at the end of the day, I carry over any unfinished tasks to the next day. This helps me complete some of the things I’m not super excited about because eventually I get tired of adding it to the next day so many times ;) When a new task comes up, I either add it to my list, or write it in the margin so I can schedule it later.

This printable also goes right along with my next tip, which is...

2. Create Your Schedule Ahead of Time

Using my weekly checklist, I’m able to see exactly what I need to get done every day. Knowing what I’m going to be doing each day makes it so much easier to get started and accomplish more. It helps me know just how much I need to get done, which helps me know how much time I can really spend on one thing. Not only is this system a really simple way to keep track of tasks so I don’t forget to do things, it helps me see how much is on my plate so I don’t over-schedule too many things for the same day.

3. Work in Time Blocks & Group Similar Tasks

I’m going to profess my love even more for that super simple weekly checklist because seeing everything that I need to do in a day helps me work smarter. I’ve found that it’s easier for me to work on similar tasks all at once, rather than scattering them throughout the day. I also add time limits like “I’m going to give myself 1 hour to….” Working in “time blocks” helps me stay focused on one thing and get more done, but it also helps me make sure I’m not spending too much time on one thing.

4. Get Up & Move Around

I tend to get really focused on what I’m doing and, without meaning to, I can easily end up sitting and working at my computer for hours without a break. I’ve found a couple of ways to help with that. 1) My Apple Watch gives a subtle alert if I have been sitting for too long. When I get that notification, I’ll stand up and walk around, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes. 2) I keep a water bottle at my desk. Not only does this help me drink more water, but every time it’s empty, I take a quick walk to fill it up.

5. Look for Ways to Speed Up Repetitive Tasks

If you find yourself doing the same thing on a regular basis, look for ways to speed it up. Even if it’s something that doesn’t take a lot of time, invest a little bit of time to do something that will save you time later on. Back to the weekly checklist for a second. I used to create a new one by hand every week until I finally spent literally 5 minutes making one that I could easily print off every week.

Lately I’ve been looking for those little things I have to do all the time and been looking for ways to complete them faster. I’ve been investing some time in creating templates that save me time in the long run. What repetitive tasks can you speed up?

6. Create Deadlines for Tasks that Don't Have One

If college taught me nothing else, it taught me that I am incredibly productive when there’s a tight deadline approaching. It’s much easier for me to find the motivation to accomplish tasks when there’s a due date, but not so much if there’s no deadline attached. So I give myself deadlines. I add things to days on my weekly checklist, even if they’re not “due” that day. This helps me fight the urge to keep putting things off indefinitely.

7. Stop Multitasking

Okay, as someone who prides themselves in being quite proficient at multitasking, this one tip is difficult for me, but sometimes necessary. It’s really easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re being productive. Let’s say you’re working on something, but then you get an email notification, and then someone comes to talk to you, and then you have to quickly look something up, but end up getting sucked into the endless pit that is the internet, and then it’s time for lunch, and then, and then, and then. And you still haven’t finished that first thing you were working on.

If you’re having trouble staying focused or just can’t seem to get something done,  you might need to block out as many distractions as possible and focus on one task so you can just do the dang thing.

8. Clean Up

It’s really hard to be your most productive when your desk or work area is a mess. Even if you feel slammed with a never-ending to do list, take a few minutes to clean up. I promise you will feel instant relief and you won’t be so distracted when you sit down to work. Even if you don’t have time to organize everything at the moment, find a way to get it out of the way so you’re not staring at a cluttered work space.

9. Give Yourself Something to Look at

As much as I enjoy having my work space as tidy as possible, I think it’s really important to give yourself something happy and encouraging to look at. Maybe it’s a plant or pictures of your family. For me, it’s this print.

10. Find Your Ideal Noise Level

I don’t know about you, but my ideal noise level is highly inconsistent. Coming from a family of 6 kiddos, I rarely thrive in complete silence, but sometimes I find myself needing to eliminate noisy distractions while I work. I know not everyone does, but I enjoy listening to music while I work, particularly if I’m working on a mundane task. I like being able to control how loud and how “busy” the music is, depending on what I’m working on.

11. Find Your Most Productive Times of the Day

I definitely wouldn’t call myself a morning person, but I’ve found that I am most productive in the morning hours or just following a meeting. Figuring that out has helped me know how to arrange my schedule in a way that helps me get the most done. I know that it takes me a little bit of time to get back into a rhythm after lunch, so I like to plan on doing something I’m excited about to get me back into the swing of things.

12. Have a Handy Place to Write Things Down

My brain is seemingly constantly flooded with ideas. That can easily become distracting, but I’ve found that keeping a handy place to write things down not only helps me focus on what I’m working on at the time because I’m not worried about forgetting my idea, but also gives me a chance to revisit that thought later.

I use a really cheap note pad as my mouse pad. This means that I always have somewhere to write things down really quick. It helps to have a list of ideas or things to do when I find myself with an unexpected pocket of time.

13. Step Away from the Computer

This is going to sound like such a first-world problem, but it’s really hard to work at a computer all day! And if I’m not careful, that’s exactly what I end up doing. My eyes start to hurt from looking at the screen for hours. My back starts to ache and my shoulders get really tight.

Are there things that you could be doing without your computer? I have one weekly project in particular that I work on every time I need a break from my computer, or I take a quick 2-minute walk.

14. Sit Properly 

Ever since I broke my neck last year, I get these huge knots on my spine. My physical therapist gave me a chart of how to sit at a desk properly and it has made a huge difference. It seems like such a silly thing to research, but a quick internet search of “how to sit at a desk properly” will yield many suggestions that can help you find your ideal setup. It’s a lot easier to get things done when you’re body doesn’t hurt ;)

15. Just start

My very last tip is to just start. Sometimes I’ll put off a task because of a lack of motivation, but when I eventually start, it’s never as bad as I think it will be. Take this blog post for example, I put off writing it for days, but once I actually started, the motivation came quickly and I was able to breeze right through it.

I hope these tips are useful in helping you get more done, because you are going to do amazing things. I know they’ve helped me! What would you add to this list? What have you found that works for you?