Want To Start Making Money With Your Greetings Cards Business? What Do You Need?

Are you thinking of setting up a side business, cottage industry or some variety of self-employment, as an extra income stream in these uncertain economic times? If so, then perhaps the notion of starting to make and sell your own greetings cards has occurred to you at some point. It’s certainly a popular option, especially for those with a crafty or artistic bent, and because it seems like it would be comparatively easy to get started on as a cottage industry. But is it really all that easy? What are the pitfalls, and can you really make any money making and selling greetings cards?



Thinking Of Starting A Greetings Card Business?

If you've never thought of yourself as a 'creative' type then you may be concerned at the idea of the artistic input into making greetings cards. What if you just plain can't draw? Well, there are ways around that. You probably have a few folders of digital snapshots on your computer desktop or your digital camera, right? Any cute kittens in there? Beautiful flowers? Bespectacled grannies baking cakes? As long as you took the pics, you own the copyright.  And your illustration problems are over!

Happy Birthday!

Public domain image.
Public domain image. | Source

Are You A Poet?

Or you can always make purely text-based cards. If you're the master of the witty one-liner, or you can knock out a sentimental, touching poem in five minutes, then Roberta's your second cousin... If you have a knack for sentimental mush (or puerile punny childish humour, perhaps) then it's really not so very difficult!) I doubt very much that it's necessary to be an actual poet, as such, or the next Hemingway or Thomas Wolfe. That's not the end in view: you want to tug at heartstrings or produce bellylaughs, not churn out immortal and possibly award-winning prose.


Are The Fonts You're Using 'Free'?

Whether you use pictures on your cards or make them text-only, you need to think about the fonts you use. Do you know that not all fonts are licensed for commercial use? Be careful you're not infringing someone else's intellectual property rights, which you may be if you just slap 'Happy Birthday!' on top of a card with a font bundled in with Microsoft Office. If you check out the fonts folder in your Control Panel via your My Computer folder, you'll be able to check out licensing details in more detail. Alternatively you can download great free fonts from sites like fontspace.com or larabiefonts.com. (However be careful you're downloading the correct font: there may be different versions of the same font which have different licensing arrangements or are not free.)

Do You Need A Better Printer?

Are you going to print your own cards? If so then the quality of your printer (and the graphics program you use) may be a concern. Personally I haven't run out to get a top-quality printer that produces museum-quality images with archival inks just yet. (Although I've read a lot of Etsy threads on the subject, recommending models such as the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Professional Large Format Inkjet Printer. Maybe one day!) I would like to make enough money from selling cards to get a real quality printer in the future: but for the time being I'll just price my cards appropriately according to the quality of the image I can afford to produce. (I'll also continue adding to my stock of knowledge and knowhow with programs like the GNU Image Manipulation Program, to maximise what I can create with minimal financial outlay.) If you're looking for further ideas and inspiration on setting up and running a business in the black with minimal outlay, Steve Pavlina has some great articles on the subject.

Where To Buy Craft Card

What about sourcing your raw materials? If I got to the point where I was selling large quantities of cards, then I would start looking around for a retailer or even a wholesaler who would give me a discount for buying cardstock in bulk. That day is not yet here! Instead I keep an eye out in the poundshops (I.e. dollar stores) for craft card available at the usual bargain price. In terms of quality it may not quite be of the standard I would prefer, but I modify my prices again to bear that in mind, and also keep an eye out for card on sale in the regular stationery shops.

I'd love a decent quality, heavy duty guillotine to do my card cutting (in the absence of a stock of ready cut and folded card blanks. However, until I'm showing a profit it ain't gonna happen! In the meantime I make do with pound shop/dollar-store guillotine type doo-dads, and craft knives of varying quality. It's not an ideal solution, but it'll do for now.

If you don't want to settle for just simple printed cards, but would like a few bells, whistles and decorative knick-knacks on your cards, then where do you find them? Of course, you could get yourself down to your nearest craft shop and stock up on all kinds of cute little sequins, paper stamps and bits and bobs to doll your creations up. But you already know I'm not going to suggest that, don't you? Unless you have no pack-rat genes at all, I'm betting that a trawl through your drawers, boxes, cupboards and files will yield a few bits and pieces that will make interesting card decorations. It's amazing what you can accumulate and forget all about: beads, pretty gift wrapping, buttons, sequins, all kinds of stuff. Go take a look!

Of course, some expenditure can increase the professionalism and attractiveness of your greetings cards. Cello bags and pretty labels can add perceived value to your product, increasing the price you can reasonably charge. But of course, you have to make the investment first! Initially when you're just looking to get and stay in the black with your little mini-business, I don't think these attractive extras are strictly necessary. There's even a certain charm about a slightly amateur presentation: it's half the reason so many people love to shop at craft fairs and online at sites such as Etsy. Many people love a product that was (all too) clearly made by human hands.

Of course you can't do without envelopes! But provided you stick to standard card sizes, you should be able to source lots of cheap plain white envelopes in your local poundshop, until you choose to move on to something fancier. Or you could even make your own: lots of crafty websites have easy to follow instructions.

Where To Sell Your Greetings Cards?

Once you've designed a few cards and set up your own little production line (just like the Penny Blossoms episode of Big Bang Theory!), how do you decide where to sell them? If you're going to try selling online, then Ebay and Etsy are the names that immediately spring to mind. However personally I don't bother with either of these sites much anymore. Both of them are expensive to list on (Ebay rather more so than Etsy) and I haven't had sufficient success with them to justify the costs. Currently I list on Ebid.net, which has a lifetime seller plus offer that is a bit of an outlay initially, but which I have made back in sales. Now I list with no listing fee and a very small final value fee. I'm also thinking of trying out sites such as Artfire and Folksy.com, which also are free or very cheap to list on.

I haven't moved on to offline selling yet, but lots of people recommend it. A few options are having your greetings card line featured in local shops on a sale or return basis, selling at craft fairs and sales of work or selling your cards through your workplace. There's nothing like face to face contact to help a sale along!

Is making and selling greetings cards for you? It's certainly a low-risk, low-cost option for both a hobby and a side-business – or it can be if you do it right!



Congratulations! Happy [Insert Appropriate Occasion Here]

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