When Adrienne Zoble said my sample brochure was ok, but why wasn't it in color, I had a ready excuse. For the small operation, printing full color is far more expensive and far slower than printing black and white. That was then.

Now all my brochure and mailings include plenty of color, both spot color and often full color photo images. And the hardware didn't cost me a cent!

More than a year ago Gary Grinaker turned me on to the existence of the Xerox Phaser series of full-color printers. These are big, powerful office printers that use a series of solid inks to produce incredible color, incredibly fast (up to 16 pages per minute). 

Here are some of the applications I've been using the printer for:

  • great labels for all my CDs
  • full-color calendars for customers
  • fold-over greeting cards
  • tri-fold, double sided brochures for all our services
  • duplicate instruction manuals for older cameras
  • Letterhead stationery
  • Gift Certificates
  • Signs
  • Shipping labels
  • Invoices for all our online sales
  • Employee manuals
  • Postcards

In fact, I've networked all my computers so that I use the big Xerox for printing just about everything except paychecks.

The $4500 printer is free for me, as long as I print enough pages each month and buy my supplies from Xerox. After 36 months the unit is mine, and I suspect the price of supplies will go down. Hey, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch! However, the service contract is free for 36 months, too.

The program is simple. You go to the website http://www.freecolorprinters.com and fill out the form. You have to tell them how many pages you expect to print each month, and if they like your numbers Xerox will ship you this big, heavy piece of equipment that you're going to fall in love with.

Be careful with your estimates. If you don't make as many prints as you promised, you'll get hit with a $100 charge for each month you miss it. (They do credit you for lifetime page usage, so if you go over for a few months and then have a bad month you don't get charged.)

How many does it take? Apparently at least 1,800 pages per month. I had to keep edging up my estimates and didn't get approved until I got to 1,905 pages per month. One month I didn't make my numbers and got hit with the $100 charge, and that hurt.

That's why you've got to make sure that all your work goes through that printer!

What else can you do with it? I had a customer who wanted a couple of hundred high quality 8x10s and about 800 of lesser quality (i.e, cheaper). The high-quality, full priced prints I made on my Konica QD-21 using RA color paper. The "lesser quality" prints I printed on the Xerox. Quite frankly, they looked almost as good but the paper was thinner, so there was an excuse to charge less for those prints. Equally frankly, I have to admit that the "cheaper" prints on the Xerox cost me more per print than the RA4 prints - but I still made some money on color Xerox prints, and made a lot of money on the RA4 prints. The customer was happy, he didn't have to track down a laser copy special price at Staples, and I made my print quota with Xerox very handily that month!

We also use it to print labels for CDs, which it does very well.

Help me pay for my supplies: Xerox gives members of this program a $100 credit toward supplies when they refer new members. Please mention this referral number if you join the program. 609653  …Chris