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10 Tips For Starting A Handmade Card Business
One - Selling Handmade Cards
Simple business practices and tips for craft people can help pay for a hobby or launch a passion into the marketplace. Card making or any hobby can add to your profit line. Maybe your hobby should be organized enough to keep track of money for supplies and materials.
A home craft business needs to stay on budget and always make money at the end of the year. Do that with a recorded spending account every month
"Working at home" is the new buzz, and yes, it sounds easy, but if you go overboard on supplies and tools, the profit will be hard to see. For the hobbyist card making is fun. Friends and relatives will delight in your handcrafted cards and a message in your handwriting: a most personal gift.
You also may be someone who has been making cards for your own use and wondering if you should expand your involvement.
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 and you have reached your first goal.
Two - It Is All About Niche
One thing you may 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.
If you have a drawing style, painting, collage look that would make your work pop and draw interest, that's a plus. Make your cards unique and your own statement.
Explore your potential for a distinctive look in designing greeting cards.
Craft Budget Tip
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.
Three - Saving Money On Supplies
Once a technique or niche is found for your card designs 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.
Four - Buy In Bulk
My designs incorporate cutting and scoring my own cards to have the color backgrounds I wanted.
For cutting and scoring your own cards buy card stock by the sheet at craft stores when it is on sale. Michael's and Joann Craft Stores maybe two in your area for this opportunity. Later when favorite colors are known buy by the ream paying close to 10 cents a sheet. A big savings. 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 heavier card stocks make beautiful cards.
When buying on the Internet take note that the 65lb/80lb. papers are sold as cover cardstock.
Do not buy anything you think you "might" use later. It dwindles your budget and those small extras cut into profit at the end of the month.
If you decide to sell handmade cards for a profit think about purchasing the envelopes by the box. 250 envelopes can cost less than 10 cents each buying in bulk.
A good 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.
Five - Paper Cutter And Tools
I use the paper cutter and scorer purchased many years ago when I started scrapbooking. It still is working fine. It is the type that has changeable wheels so I use it for scoring my cards, as well.
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 I still use the old one the most. It's over ten years old! That money could have been spent on something else.
Six - What About 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.
Seven - 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.
Eight - 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.
Nine - Monthly Keeping Records
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.
The Dome record book 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 of selling. Customers are interested and enjoy my items, a plus in any undertaking. Through any small business improve online skills and enjoy new outlets for writing and expressing myself. Beyond making cards embarrass a small world of business and profit for your own needs.
Ten - A Website for Your Business
The last element to consider for a small business is a website.
There are many online platforms that allow building a website on your own.
Try a few 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. These customers have the phone at their finger tips and look information up on a whim. They prefer seeing photos and snippets of info a website can offer.
Two things to consider about a website:
- Saving Costs. Accept website building as a business and personal challenge for saving on costs.
- Saving Time. Hire someone to build your website and saving time for your real passion.
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