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10 Tips for Starting Your Handmade Card Business
10 Small Business Tips for Selling Handmade Cards
- First Thoughts About Selling Handmade Cards
- About Niche
- Save Money on Supplies
- Buy in Bulk
- What About Packaging?
- Pricing Handmade Cards
- Keeping Records for State Sales Tax
- Monthly Records
- A Website for Your Business
1. Selling Handmade Cards
"Working at home" is the new buzz. It sounds easy, but if you go overboard the profit will be hard to see. For the hobbyist card making is fun. Are you someone who has been making cards for your own use and wondering if you should expand involvement and sell your creations?
These ten card making business ideas and tips will help you decide if you want to start a business. Also, keep a hobby going and use the practical tips to cut costs.
2. About Niche
One thing to think about is your card making style. Keep this aspect in mind, because in the end a niche or a unique look will sell your cards.
There is an advantage in having a drawing style, painting, or collage look that would make your work pop and draw interest. Make your cards distinitive and your own statement.
Some ideas are paper pricking, stitching on paper, pop-ups and quilling. Explore your potential for a distinctive look in designing greeting cards.
3. Save Money on Supplies
Hold back on purchasing supplies. Buy only the supplies you need to get an inventory established. Don't stock up. Do that after you have made a little profit.
Start with the packaged blanks and envelopes available at the craft stores. Experiment to see if card making is something you want to do long term.
Use your coupons. Share the first buys with a friend and split the cost.
4. Buy in Bulk
Cutting and scoring your own cards opens up color options and will save you money on a per card basis. For cutting and scoring your own cards hunt for card stock by the sheet at craft stores when it is on sale.
After making a little profit start stocking card stock by the ream. The choices to buy in bulk are the linen whites and ivories or vellum and textured card stock in 80 lb. cover weight. The 65 lb. and heavy card stock make beautiful crisp cards. The heavier papers sell as cover card stock on the internet.
Do not buy anything you think you "might" use later. It hurts your budget, and those small extras cut into profit at the end of the month.
To sell handmade cards for a profit think about purchasing envelopes by the box. A good source is Kelly's Paper. There are two in my area and I visit both to take advantage of the bonus bin buys for premium card stock in 25 to 50 sheet packages. Be persistent and you will find the bargains in your city.
Save by continuing to use to the same paper cutter or other tool purchased many years ago. If you have to buy a new tool sell the old one to a friend.
Stop all urges to buy that shiny wrapped new tool or cutter displayed at the store. You may not need a new scissors, either. I bought a new one last year, but still use the old one the most. It's over ten years old! That money could have been spent on something else.
6. What About Packaging?
Within a year of selling cards, I decided not to include extra packaging. Two shop owner associates never asked about it. While selling at the Farmer's market customers did not want individual card protection. Less packaging will mean lower costs for both you and your audience.
Packaging is one thing that infuriates me about big box stores and all modern retailers. So much plastic, cardboard, and wrappings.
For information on packaging search the Internet for 5x7 clear cello bags. Dozens of sites will come up. Go with the seller that gives the best deal and the best shipping.
Go small on packaging by searching Etsy under supplies. Artists will sell in small amounts from their bulk buys giving you the option to decide before stocking up on 1000 cello bags.
7. Pricing Handmade Cards
What is your time worth? All artists and craftsmen want a return for their time and talents. Most likely, few will see a living wage from making greetings.
Comparing the cost of cards at your local stationery or CVS can be a guide for your pricing strategies. My preference is to price lower than commercial greeting cards. If a few designs take more time or have special elements the price will go up.
Selling in the farmer's market arena and fairs offers lower overhead costs. Customers at such events are looking for bargains. No doubt many events will cause you to believe you are only supporting the venue managers.
Specialty stores buying bulk from you will allow saving on sales tax, overhead and time. The only expense may be your trip to the post office.
Profits can be low no matter what decisions you make on pricing. Remember the whole business venture can be your reward.
8. Keeping Records for State Sales Tax
In California if you sell at any craft fair or farmer's market you will need a seller's permit. This permit is the record the state uses to collect the state sales taxes you owe for the merchandise you have sold. The state franchise board have people that can help you over the phone with the official forms. As of 2010 filing in California is via the internet at www.boe.ca.gov. Official instructions are here.
The permit offers some advantages. Sales tax is not charged with wholesale. Selling to a store owner by bulk is wholesale and they charge the sales tax to the customers of their store. Also, your seller's permit allows you a sales tax break on supplies bought at wholesale stores.
Keep records on expenses and each month track 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 a profit, be happy.
Slowly build your supply inventory. If you spend too much on supplies one month watch shopping and not buy anything the next month. At year's end any card making papers you have amassed is free inventory for next year.
9. Monthly Records
I keep track of the amount of cards made, instead of each sold. It is almost impossible to keep a count when selling at fairs. Know how much money you start with in the cash box, and at the end of the day count the difference for the profit.
Keeping the records is like a scrapbook and can be a reminder of your business journey. A favorite part of card designing is shopping for paper and display items. See the process happening with good accounting.
10. A Website for Your Business
The last element to consider for a small business is a website. Many online platforms offer tools for building a website on your own. Try a few sites out before giving up, because they are not all made alike. Your own knowledge of computers will make one platform easier to use than another.
Consider the audience your cards or business draws. If your customers are Gen X or Millennial, a website would be a plus. Young shoppers have the phone at their finger tips and buy from handheld devices. They prefer seeing photos and snippets of information a website can offer.
Two things to consider about a website:
- Saving Costs. Accept website building as a personal challenge and save on the expense. It is also an avenue of creation.
- Saving Time. Hire someone to build your website and save time for your real passion.
Small Business Advantages
There are many advantages to pursuing a business. Some benefits I have enjoyed are:
- Customers find my greetings intriguing, a personal affirmation.
- The small business has improved my online skills.
- Opened new outlets for writing. Expressing myself has gone beyond making cards.
- Meeting new people interested in art.
Meeting people dabbling in the small business world.
Do you have a woodworker in the family? Use the ten tips for any hobby in the household. Enjoy the small world of business and find new avenues of engagement with a favorite art or craft.
© 2009 Sherry Venegas