The final results
Woohoo - I got my cards today. They look shweet. Now that I've been through the process, there's a few things I'd do a little differently, but overall I'm very happy.
Here's how I did it. I started using a Microsoft Word business card template that I downloaded off the Microsoft web site. Although I did not need to do this, it turned out that using this template allowed me to generate prototype designs quickly and easily compare the looks of different designs. Because I wanted to use a picture as a background, I had a lot of trouble finding pictures that worked (i.e. had the interesting stuff on the sides to allow room for the card info and had colors that allowed me to use a consistent contrasting colored font). Because I'm a complete moron when it comes to design, I built 10 different business cards and had trouble deciding which one to go with. Using Word ended up saving me time.
Next I downloaded the Photoshop template from the Vistaprint site. This template shows where the "safe" areas are and just makes it easy to design your card at the right size and feel confident about what you're doing. It was a bit of a pain trying to get the Photoshop version to look like my word version and it was more work to get the Photoshop card "built". But Photoshop gave me more control over how the picture looked (zoom and pan). I ended up with a better looking card than what I would have had using Word.
When I was done with the design, I saved the final version as a .jpg image. I then used Photoshop's Image Ready program to compress the .jpg image for uploading. I uploaded the entire image of the business card as a single .jpg file to Vistaprint.
Vistaprint charged me about $40 for 250 cards on fancy glossy stock. They promised shipping in 21 days. They delivered in 12.
Here are some more lessons learned:
1) I was worried about paying to upload the PSIA and AASI images, but did not need to. Putting everything on one custom image saved multiple upload charges and solved a lot of other problems too (e.g. - no online design).
2) I used some ok, but not perfect scanned logos. At the size I used on my cards, it did not make a difference. But next time I'll use the encapsulated postscript files that came with PSIA's go with a pro marketing kit.
3) Vistaprint strongly recommends getting a proof for $2. I skipped it and did just fine.
4) I'm glad I did not go to Kinkos. Their minimum order was for 500 cards and cost $70. They did not have glossy card stock. Their design book was pretty lame. The guy I talked to was totally clueless. When I asked if I could bring in my design on one of those nifty USB pen drives, he told me no- he needed it on CD because they faxed the images off site to get the printing done. I guess they could do plain old boring cards without screwing them up and I'll bet that there actually are some skilled people at other Kinko's locations. But I would not bet a lot.
5) On my design, I should have extended the logo backgrounds off the edges of the card so that there was no picture visible between the edges and the logos.
6) If I did not have Photoshop I could have cut and pasted from Word into MS Paint and saved that as a .jpg file (but then I would have ordered a proof).
7) I would have preferred to use a background picture from my home mountain. But it is going to take me all season to take enough shots to end up with one that has the color and composition right.
8) I would have preferred to get my logos balanced in size, but I did not know how to do that without distorting the logos. I also would have liked to have the PSIA and AASI logos big enough so that lettering could be read, but I would have had to drop the resort logo.
I highly recommend using Vistaprint.com