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Start A Handmade Card Business - Budget Tips for Starting Out

Updated on January 16, 2017
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Sherry has been using origami folds to make rosettes and medallions since 2003. She shares art/craft techniques and ideas on the Internet

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Selling Handmade Cards - Tips for Any Home Craft Business

Card making can add to your budget or simply be art pieces to give away. After thirteen years experiencing many levels of selling handmade cards, I am sharing business ideas for women, men, and retirees who need to pay for their hobby or want to go into the marketplace.

My home craft business is focused on budget and always making money at the end of the year. Mostly, I want a spending account and that is my home based greeting card business.

"Working at home" is the new phrase, and yes, I am working at home with a small endeavor. If the monetary aspect is of no concern to you, enjoy the card making ideas and production practices I outline here. Your friends and relatives will be surprised and delighted to receive your handcrafted cards and a message in your handwriting: a most personal gift.

You may be someone who has been making cards for your own use and wondering if you should expand your involvement.

On this page I will give you the practices I employ and the craft budget savings I have learned along the way. I am calling the savings Craft Budget Tips. A craft budget may be a must, but we can still have fun with a few good habits. Card making is a wonderful creative pursuit as a hobby or small art business.

Sell handmade cards or pursue a hobby and save money with these practical tips to keep the overhead costs low. Don't get into the habit of over spending.


Handmade greeting
Handmade greeting

First Thoughts About the Greeting Card Paper Craft

Selling Handmade is About Niche

One thing you may think about while you explore making cards is your style. This is something you should not get too hung up about at first, because you may not know what that is. Keep this aspect in mind, because in the end a niche or a unique look will sell your cards.

I started folding paper before card making and the card production came later. If you have a drawing style, painting, lettering, crochet, collage or any look that would make your work pop and draw interest is a plus and will make your own cards unique and your own statement.

Scrapbooking was a skill I had developed before designing cards and that is carried over into my over all look.

Explore your potential for a distinctive look in designing greeting cards.

Craft Budget Tips: For the card above the background papers are from re-purposed packaging from Macy's and Starbucks. I reuse such materials but the paper folding is my signature style. The 5x7 inch card I cut and scored from a sheet of cardstock.

Different Styles to Explore in Homemade Greetings - Have A Niche?

I love embossing and I employ that into my designs. There is marbling and paper making, stenciling, cross stitch, iris folding, fibers and embroidery. Browse Amazon like you would a book store and get card making ideas and inspiration.

handmade card business
handmade card business

Getting Started with Craft Supplies

Remember to Go Slow with Supplies

Once a technique or niche is established for your card designs buy only the supplies you need to get an inventory established.

Start with the packaged blanks and envelopes available at the craft stores. Experiment with them and see if card making is something you want to do.

Once you have decided you are going to post or sell at craft fairs you can try the ideas I outlined below.

Budget Tips: Buy just enough to try the craft out and use your coupons. Share the first buys with a friend and split the cost.

Card Stock for greeting cards
Card Stock for greeting cards

Time To Start Your Line of Creative Handmade Cards?

65lb and 80lb. weight card stock make lovely cards

My designs incorporate color and I decided to cut and score my own cards so I could have the color backgrounds I wanted. I felt limited without color for the cards themselves.

For cutting and scoring your own cards buy card stock by the sheet at craft stores when it is on sale. Michaels and Joann Craft Stores are two in my area for this opportunity. Later when I knew what colors I used the most I bought by the ream paying close to 10 cents a sheet. A big savings. The choices I buy in bulk are the linen whites and ivories or vellum and column textured card stock in 80 lb cover weight. The 65 lb. and heavier card stocks make beautiful cards.

When buying on the Internet take note that the 65lb/80lb. papers you want are sold as cover cardstock.

Craft Budget Tips: Do not buy anything you think you "might" use later. It dwindles your budget and small extras cut into the profit at the end of the month.

Blank Scored Cards and Envelopes

Blank Cards and Envelopes - Ivory - 5 x 7 - 50 pcs - Value Pack
Blank Cards and Envelopes - Ivory - 5 x 7 - 50 pcs - Value Pack

Shipping is $5.69 The cardstock is 75lb. weight. Good for card making and the envelopes flaps are squared.

 
envelopes for card making
envelopes for card making

Envelopes

If you decide to sell handmade cards for a profit think about purchasing the envelopes by the box. 250 envelopes can be bought for less than 10 cents each. I have purchased the A2 for 6 cents each in 2004.

5/23/12 The price for a box of 5x7 envelopes last month cost me 17 cents an envelope at Kelly's Paper. The prices are going up.

My source is Kelly's Paper. There are two in the area and I visit both to take advantage of the bonus bin buys. There I find premium card stock in 25 to 50 sheet packages at discount.

If you are persistent you will find the bargains in your city and take advantage of them.

I am on my 8th box of 250 envelopes since 2003.

I Use the Square Flap Linen Envelopes

I make cards for the A2 and A7 size envelopes. If you are in an area that is short on bulk high grade paper and envelopes, boxes of 250 envelopes are available through Amazon.com. I always have A7 in bright white and an ivory. A2 size is the least expensive linen in white I can find.

scoring handmade cards
scoring handmade cards

Paper Cutter for Cutting and Scoring Cards

I use the paper cutter and scorer purchased many years ago when I started scrapbooking. It still is working just fine. It is the type that has changeable wheels so I use it for scoring my cards, as well.

Budget Tips: Stop all urges to buy that shiny wrapped cutter displayed at the store. You may not need a new scissors, either. I bought a new one last year, but I still use the old one the most. It's over ten years old! That money could have been spent on something else.

I have a full review of this home paper cutter at Fiskars Original Rotary Paper Trimmer.

Adhesives for Handmade Greeting Cards

I took me a some time to hit on just the right glue techniques to make my cards more professional looking.

I still use white glue for most work. I have the little bottle I can refill when needed. I add a few drops of water. This is so the glue will not clump and show through the papers. I like the white glue because if a little dab gets beyond an edge or oozes out I can use a micro cloth to dab it away. Dab in the direction of your embellishment so you do not get a glue mark on the card stock portion where it will stand out.

I have found that white glue 10 years old still works fine. I stock up when a good deal can be had. Two pack of glue for 20 cents made me happy.

You will have a better looking card if all traces of glue are not visible.

I love to add bead and button accents to the medallions. I do this with a length of fish line. I tie a double knot at the bead, glue the two ends down under the folds of the medallion or take a narrow strip of card stock or bit of ribbon to tie another knot on the wrong side of the medallion. It will never fall off or come loose.

I employ the photo splits for scrapbooking. This is when the final embellishment with backgrounds are glued together and ready to be attached to the card stock. The wavy glue blotch when the card is opened is not desirable for a finished card. Double stick tape or the splits keep everything smooth.

I never find the double stick scotch tape on sale, but the photos splits can be found at Big Lots!, the Dollar Store and on sale at Michael's. Per inch you can work the best price out in your area.

Craft Budget Tips: In the comment section a reader suggested Yes! glue for a non wrinkle surface. I bought a tub with a coupon and I found that it works wonders for gluing the medallions onto your card. It leaves the surface wrinkle free but I found the glued area becomes very stiff.

What About Handmade Card Packaging?

When I first started selling cards I thought about packaging and bought 1000 poly bags on the internet a 5X7 card would fit in, but I decided not to display my cards in them because, of course, clear cello bags look better.

I decided almost within a year of selling cards I would not include extra packaging. I wanted the savings it offered me and my customers. The two shop owners I wholesaled to, never asked about it, and in 6 years of selling at the Farmer's market I have not been asked about individual card protection. I do have the very thinnest door hanger poly bags for the purchasers to carry away their items in, but that is all.

Packaging is one thing that infuriates me about Costco and all modern retailers, so much plastic, cardboard and wrappings. I am so glad we can at least recycle most of it in the city gray bin.

If you need more information for card packaging, search the internet for 5x7 clear cello bags and dozens of sites will come up. I go with the seller that gives me the best deal and the best shipping. Last time I needed the door hanger bags I found a wholesaler within 7 miles of the house. It was so nice to not pay for shipping.

Craft Budget Tips: One can go small at first by searching Etsy under supplies. Artists will sell in small amounts from their bulk buys. See if you like the option of using the packaging without having 1000 items hanging around in the closet.

Pricing Your Handmade Cards

First, I do not price my cards as my business plan. I still price them emotionally rather than what is best for the business, or the biggest factor, what is my time worth?

Truthfully, my thoughts on this may not be good advice. The price of my cards have gone up over 10 years, but I generally, have done it on a "price of living" and a comparison to what the most expensive greetings cost in the big aisles at the stationery, grocers and drug store.

"Price of living" is what I would want to pay too. Even though many buyers think a nice handmade card is special they are not going to pay big bucks for something they may think will get regulated to the round bin. In fact, some have not bought because of the fact they image it going to the trash heap.

I must say that I do not care what happens to my creations once I sell them. I hope that whoever trashes them, puts them in a compost bin or recycle city bin.

I have seen and heard that buyers have framed them, or made a special cork board for display. I feel so good that some long term enjoyment is being accomplished and the items are appealing, but short term, couple of days or weeks is okay too.

Keeping Records for State Sales Tax

For Craft Sales a Seller's Permit is Required

After selling greeting cards for about a year I bought a Dome record keeping journal to keep track of where money was going and what was bringing it in.

In California if you sell in any craft fair, bazaar or farmer's market you will be asked for your seller's permit and you need it with you at the selling sight. This permit is the record the state uses to collect the state sales taxes you will owe for the sales you make. It is broke down into city or county depending on each area's tax rate. This permit is acquired at the State Board of Equalization in California. Official instructions are here.

Depending on your sales you pay by the quarter or by the year. This figure is total sales and should not be confused with an income tax which is profit. If you sell to a store owner, that is considered wholesale, and they will pay the tax. Your permit also allows you a no sales tax break on supplies at wholesale stores that keep records on that.

The Dome record keeper pictured here has an easy reading section on keeping simple records and all the basic rules that you may need for a small scale crafting business.

When it is time to pay the sales taxes you collected the entries you made in the Dome will make it easy to retrieve your figures. The state franchise board has people that can help you over the phone with the official forms. 2010 filing in California is via the internet at www.boe.ca.gov .

Keep records on expenses and each month see if the balance comes out in the red or in the black. Gauge success by the year. If in the end the figures actually show more profit than spent, be happy. Also remember, if you made a profit consider the supplies you amassed free for next year.

Budget Tips: If I spent too much on supplies one month I watch my shopping and not buy anything the next month.

Having a Small Card Making Business

I keep track of the amount of cards I make, instead of each sold. I found it almost impossible to keep a count when selling at fairs. I always know how much money I start with in the cash box, and at the end of the day count the difference for the profit. My Dome reflects: money spent for all expenses, those receipts are saved for records, money made, and a list of the items I make for sale.

The whole process is a fun occupation for me. I like keeping the records and paying my share of the taxes, and I have a shopping budget when I need supplies or that table display item. My favorite part of card designing is buying paper and display items and this shopping can be enjoyed with the profit made and still be a bit ahead. It's free shopping!

There is other advantages. My customers are interested and enjoy my items, a plus in any undertaking. Through this small business I have improved online skills and have found new outlets for writing and expressing myself beyond just folding paper and making cards.


A Website for Your Business

The last to consider or maybe if you are computer savvy, the first thing to consider is the Website.

I had so much good fun with the paper crafting that this important aspect of a small business came last, because I wanted to do the website myself. I knew I could do it but it was a slow long learning curve. The website became a reality and receiving help was the most important element. Step by step lessons made it easier through Wealthy Affiliate. I still use the WA site for hosting and getting access to keyword tools and a helpful forum and community. This is my Profile Page.

Conclusion

My articles are not written in stone and I am always adding or taking away information and tips as events and subjects evolve due to the ever changing world we occupy now. I have noticed through my visits stats, Great Britain, is still a locale with fans of handmade cards. I agree with you across the Atlantic; card-making is so satisfying.

These tips can be used for any hobby in the household. Do you have a woodworker in the family? Have them read this before big purchases are made for selling their creations.

© 2009 Sherry Venegas

Have any Craft Budget Tips for card making or an art business to share?

Submit a Comment

  • aesta1 profile image

    Mary Norton 13 months ago from Ontario, Canada

    I used to make cards for charity but that was so many years ago. Your tips engaged me once again. Your cards are very pretty.

  • paperfacets profile image
    Author

    Sherry Venegas 14 months ago from La Verne, CA

    Phyllis, I am glad the business tips were helpful. I been using article platforms like HP since 2008 and the beginning of last year,2015, I finally built a website for the niche card embellishments I like to make. I thought I was a bit savy about the internet, but getting into a website was a learning curve, but no harder than HP, just different.

  • Phyllis Doyle profile image

    Phyllis Doyle Burns 14 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

    Hi Sherry. Thanks for writing this very informative and interesting hub. Your tips and ideas are fantastic. I bookmarked this hub to refer back to it. I was looking for this type info to help me get serious with card making. I love to make cards for Valentine's Day and have a site that eventually I will open a store for my crafts (dolls and cards). Thanks again.

  • Sylvestermouse profile image

    Cynthia Sylvestermouse 2 years ago from United States

    You always have the best craft ideas and tutorials! What an awesome suggestion for a home-based business. You have been very generous to share your expertise and advise.

  • Mickie Gee profile image

    Mickie Goad 3 years ago

    This is such a helpful page for those who want to learn to make greeting cards--even if you do not plan to sell them. I always learn so very much from you! I had never heard of "Yes" glue. I would love to have you review it for "The Glue Gun Slinger Contributor" (that person is me, btw).

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