If you only need a few, it's probably better to print things yourself. But if you need quite a few, it may be better to have them printed at the local print shop, or from an online printer.
Take a few minutes before you print to "run the numbers." Figure out the real cost of each, you may be surprised and find that it's cheaper to pay a professional to print them.
Here are a couple of examples. Let's say you've designed a flyer, it's 8 1/2" x 11", color, on one side only and you want a nice glossy heavyweight paper. Remember, this flyer represents you and your art, don't go all cheapo and end up handing out something that doesn't represent you well.
To print it yourself:
Figure out what it's costing you to print each page. The cost of ink for printers varies, and the manufacturer's website will give you an idea of how many pages you might expect to get out of each cartridge. I have a fairly standard inkjet printer, basic model, nothing fancy. My ink gives me about 400 pages per cartridge, there are four cartridges in my printer (three colors and black). Total cost for the four cartridges is about $70 including tax (the real ones from the manufacturer, not the cheapos which yield poor color and fewer pages). Divided by 400 pages (more or less) means I pay about $.17 each. Plus the cost of paper, glossy brochure paper (wonderful, love it) costs about $.22 each. (If you must use regular inkjet paper, figure about $.02 per sheet.)
So, to print them myself costs me about $.17 + $.22 = $.39 each. Not bad. But remember, this is only if you need a few. If you need larger quantities, having a printing company do them may be more cost-effective.
To have them printed online:
One of my favorite places (www.overnightprints.com) costs from $1 each (small quantity of 100) down to $.32 each for 500. Add shipping costs, which adds a few cents or more to the cost of each one, depending on how fast you need them. Some companies offer free shipping. At larger quantities, it's still cheaper to have them printed for you and you'll prolong the life of your inkjet or laser printer.
Here are some of my favorites. Ask around, there are plenty more...
www.overnightprints.com Small quantities OK, good quality and prices.
www.drivethruprinting.com Great printing/mailing company for quantities over 1000. Convenient floating cost calculator shows you exactly what it's going to cost.
www.vistaprint.com Usually a bit cheaper, but the quality is often not great. If you're not that concerned about the color, give them a try.
Helpful article at eHow.com on how to calculate printing costs.
Printing cost calculator for HP printers. Is useful even if you have another brand.
Also, write to me if you have questions and I'll cover them in upcoming tips (email@example.com).
Web Marketing Mentor