45 – Making & Selling Greeting Cards
Making & Selling Greeting Cards

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This week Nikki interviews Laura about her experience with designing, making and selling greeting cards. Laura has been making handmade greeting cards for over 15 years and has professionally designed over 100  greeting cards for manufacturers and publishers in the craft industry. She believes there’s something really special about receiving something handmade or custom printed in the mail, especially in the digital age that we’re in. She shares some great tips and resources to help you get started if you want to make and sell greeting cards yourself this holiday season.

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Topics discussed

  • Laura shares how she got started making handmade greeting cards
  • Her transition from hobbyist to professional greeting card designer for craft manufacturers and publications
  • How she began selling her own card designs
  • Types of greeting cards you can make and what sells well for the holidays – you might be surprised!
  • What makes a greeting card design stand out
  • Some of Laura’s favorite card designers
  • Recommended supplies for hand making and printing cards
  • Standard greeting card sizes and shapes
  • Packing and shipping your cards
  • The quickest way to produce handmade cards
  • Using purchased images vs illustrating your own 
  • Turning finished original artwork into printed cards
  • Using a print on demand service
  • Pricing your cards
  • Licensing your card designs to other companies
  • Laura’s plans for her own card designs

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Nikki

0:00
Laura, are you sitting down? I am. I have a cocktail with no bourbon in it.

Laura

0:07
What? Is the world coming to an end?

Nikki

0:12
Well, I just happened to have some delicious ginger fruit juice that I thought would be really good with some cucumber vodka. And I was right. I was right.

Laura

0:25
Interesting. All right. Okay, Nikki, let’s reel it in. What are we actually talking about today?

Nikki

0:30
Okay, okay. So last week, you interviewed me about calendars. And I thought that this week, we’d turn it around, and I’ll interview you.

Laura

0:39
Cool.

Nikki

0:40
So we both sell greeting cards. But I’ve only designed a handful, and I’ve had them printed, but I know that you have a lot more experience than I do with both making and selling them. So let me ask you the questions this week, because I know that there’s a lot of questions that our listeners and I want to ask.

Laura

1:01
Awesome, ask away.

Laura

1:05
Hi, this is Laura Lee Griffin.

Nikki

1:07
And this is Nikki May with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

1:16
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.

Nikki

1:30
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Nikki

1:39
Okay, Laura, tell me your Startist story around greeting cards. When did you first start making them?

Laura

1:45
Well, Nikki, I’ve been making handmade greeting cards for over 15 years. I believe there’s something really special about receiving something handmade in the mail, especially in the digital age that we’re in. And I was first introduced a greeting card design when I started rubber stamping and paper crafting. And essentially that’s using someone else’s image, like a stamp company, and then inking the image with colorful inks, stamping it on paper and adding different collaged elements to create a finished card. And you can also stamp an outlined image in black or print out a digital image on your home printer and color it in with advanced shading and texture techniques using things like colored pencils, inks watercolor, or my personal favorite Copic Markers.

Nikki

2:34
Oh yeah. And if you have any interest in playing with those, you should definitely take Laura’s awesome Skillshare class on Copic Marker Essentials.

Laura

2:43
Thanks for that shameless plug, Nikki.

Nikki

2:47
We aim to please.

Laura

2:49
Now I first just made cards for friends and family. I was investing a lot in supplies though, and decided I should try to make a little money at it to support my spending habits. Yeah, and I wasn’t really ready to create a big production line yet. So I actually started designing unique cards for companies and publications in the craft industry. So I began submitting my work and had over 75 greeting card designs published primarily in magazines like like Rubber Stamper, Stampington’s Take 10, PaperCrafts and a few others like that. That’s all then I became a card designer for Hero Arts Rubber Stamps. Basically making videos on how to create greeting cards from scratch using their supplies. And I would write instructional posts for their website and how to make different greeting card designs that I had created. And I did that for a few years and then decided to begin teaching others at in-person workshops, how to create beautiful cards themselves, which I’ve been doing now for, man for about 11 years. So I transitioned those workshops to Zoom last year with the pandemic and we basically create one to two greeting card designs each workshop. But instead of using other people’s images, which frequently have limited copyright use, I now illustrate my own digital stamp designs to use under my Laura Lee Griffin Designs brand. So I guess you could say that I have an expertise in both creating handmade cards and teaching others how to do the same.

Nikki

4:20
That’s awesome. That’s a lot of experience. So when did you start actually selling your cards and not just giving them to friends and family?

Laura

4:28
Well, I’ve sold my handmade cards for years in local holiday markets and pop up shops, trunk shows and things like that. I’ve also had greeting cards made through online printers that I then packaged to sell at those events. And I haven’t experimented much with online or print on demand selling. But I do plan to sell from my own website in the near future. And I know some people have had a lot of luck with Etsy, but personally I find that the pricing there tends to be a bit low especially for handmade cards.

Nikki

5:00
Yeah, I find that too, and since you happen to have a beautiful website, why not just use your website, right?

Laura

5:06
Yeah.

Nikki

5:07
So let’s get into some details about cards. Tell me, how do you even start? What’s different about designing a card versus just making a small piece of art? What makes a really good card design?

Laura

5:20
Well, honestly, it’s similar to any art that you make. Think things like the rule of thirds, complementary colors, adding dimension. If you were to walk into Target, for example, and look at all the professional card lines like Papyrus, that you see, and you see, like, what makes them stand out. Having sentiments on the inside and the outside of the card, having embellishments and you know, just take yourself on an artist date and go to, I don’t know, a Hallmark store or Target or one of these places that sells a lot of greeting cards. Look around, and see what styles that you sort of gravitate towards and what you think makes those cards special and stand out to others. And then take those elements and infuse those into your own designs.

Nikki

6:08
Those are great ideas. So how do you know what’s gonna sell? What are people gonna want? Do you think about different occasions or just kind of generic greeting cards? And then, are there different kinds of cards that people buy at certain times of the year?

Laura

6:26
Yeah, I mean, certainly, you’re going to have holiday cards that sell you know, during the holiday season, right, as people are preparing to send greeting cards to their friends and family.

Nikki

6:34
Yeah right.

Laura

6:34
But, remember that that even during the holidays, people are looking for more than just holiday cards. So during holiday season, I’ve sold birthday cards, get well cards, just because and hello cards, humorous cards, masculine cards, sympathy cards, pet cards, anniversary, wedding cards, thinking of you… cards that don’t even have a sentiment on them, so they can be used for almost any occasion. A beautiful floral can really be sent for just about anything, right?

Nikki

7:06
And that’s my area of expertise. Slap a flower on it.

Laura

7:11
Slap a flower on it and you can sell that for any occasion. So you know, keep a notebook of all your crazy card ideas and think outside of the box too, because two of my favorite card designers are Leigh Standley of Curly Girl Designs and Emily McDowell of Em & Friends and we’ll link to both of them in the show notes.

Nikki

7:31
I love Emily McDowell’s cards.

Laura

7:34
Oh, they’re awesome.

Nikki

7:35
She’s so clever.

Laura

7:36
Yeah, it’s clever, they’re sarcasm, they’re very different than the normal sediment you’d see on a card. And they’re just awesome. So, in fact, there’s also a book that I think she co wrote called, There’s No Good Card For This.

Nikki

7:50
She actually has a whole series of cards about things like cancer. Where, like, you don’t know what to say when somebody’s sick, so she just says it right out in a funny, sarcastic way. And then you just laugh about it. They’re really brilliant.

Laura

8:08
Yeah, they’re amazing. And so I absolutely love her work. And she’s won awards for it. She’s just a great person to look at for awesome sentiments.

Nikki

8:17
Yeah, I actually bought a whole series of her cancer cards for a cousin that had cancer. And she appreciated the hell out of it.

Laura

8:27
Yeah, they didn’t say things like, “this is part of your journey,” you know? Yeah, so the other so the other designer I love I mentioned was Leigh Standley and Leigh Standley has cards that she has, they have hand stamped sentiments. And then they have these paper pieced illustrations that she’s put together that are just amazing. So she has one that says, “I’m fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world.” She’s got some really cute ones like that, and so her lines are amazing. And so we’ll definitely link to her as well. But those are two people that they actually license and wholesale their work as well. But it gives you some cool ideas of ways you can approach cards differently. Now when it comes to handmade cards, not ones that are sort of pre printed, I really love the designs made by Jennifer McGuire Ink. and Kristina Werner.

Nikki

9:21
I’m going to have to look them up.

Laura

9:23
Yeah, both of them come from the crafting world. They’ve worked as actual designers for companies, a variety of different companies. So a lot of the work that they do is using pre-made products, but it shows you how you can do that beautifully and even perhaps take your own designs and utilize them and perhaps in a similar way in the actual design elements of a card.

Nikki

9:47
That’s kind of the same background that you came from.

Laura

9:50
It is, and in fact I used to be on a design team with Jennifer McGuire years ago at Hero Arts. And I have a lot of respect for both of them. They have amazing YouTube channels where they have all different types of projects that that show you how to create dimension on cards, and approach things in an interesting way. So that’s a great resource, free resource to go out there and look at.

Nikki

10:11
Cool, and we’ll definitely link to that in the show notes. All right. So talk to me about the particular details. Are there standard sizes of cards and envelopes? Do you make your own or do you buy blank ones? And then work from that? What do you do?

Laura

10:30
Okay. Well, first off, you always want to use quality products and a really thick card base. Nothing says cheap, like a flimsy card that barely stands up on its own.

Nikki

10:41
Oh, yeah. Even if you printed it from your home printer, you don’t want to feel like you printed it from your home printer.

Laura

10:47
Correct. Correct. And I think a lot of beginners make that mistake, they just go out and buy some sort of cheap, one-off cardstock they can find it there at their local craft store and it just does not work well. So you can buy cards premade at places like Michael’s or even higher end like PaperSource. They do a lot of custom invitations, and you could pick out you know card bases from that, but it does cost more, so I tend to make my own. I prefer 110lb cardstock, like there’s one called Neenah Classic Crest Solar White, which is a really great thick cardstock. It comes in different weights, but I really like that 110lb one.

Nikki

11:28
Is this for printing or for hand-making, hand-painting.

Laura

11:33
This one is primarily for, I would say it’s for handmaking. As a card base. You can also use like a stiff watercolor paper that could look really pretty, as well, as a cardbase. I’ve done that before. Or you can get colored cardstock that’s thick at your local craft store. I know we have Joann’s here in Dallas, but in your area of the country, it might be different. But Joann sells packs of like really thick cardstock that’s colored. So that would be another way to go if you want a color in the base of your card. You just want it to be pretty decent weight. And then I use a Fiskars paper cutter just to cut those cards down to size and what you call a scoreboard that enables you to basically put a crease down the center and then you can fold the card perfectly. Folding with your fingers most of the time and trying to get an even straight line does not work.

Nikki

12:22
Right. Oh, that’s cool. I’ve never seen the scoreboard.

Laura

12:25
Yeah, unless that’s a superpower of yours. It’s not my superpower. So…

Nikki

12:29
That would be a very specific superpower. It’s a very niche superpower. Saving the world one folded greeting card at a time.

Laura

12:45
In the US standard handmade greeting cards sizes are usually A2 which is 4 1/4″ by 5 1/2″. So it’s basically an 8 1/2×11″ sheet of paper cut in half and then folded. So one sheet of eight and a half by 11 gives you two card bases.

Nikki

13:02
Okay, that’s handy.

Laura

13:03
And if you want a bigger card, you could cut down to a five by seven inch, but you only get one of those from a sheet of paper instead of two. Some people also like square cards, like a five inch square card.

Nikki

13:15
I love square cards.

Laura

13:17
You know, I love square cards too. The only thing you need to be careful about when it comes to square cards is that it actually costs more to ship them. And I think people don’t always realize that.

Nikki

13:28
So not just shipping the cards when you sell them, but the postage for sending an individual card.

Laura

13:35
Correct. So for your customer to take that card you made and send it to their friend or family member is going to cost them. I forget what it is right now, but there’s a separate stamp you can buy, that’s basically for the fact that it doesn’t fit in the sorting machine.

Nikki

13:49
Oooh…I wonder I wonder if it’d be a good marketing idea to pre-stamp your square cards.

Laura

13:56
Yeah.

Nikki

13:57
And then just kind of include that in the price but sell it as a pre-stamped.

Laura

14:00
So now that they make these forever stamps, you can basically do that, right? Because if you sell something even a year from now, it could still be usable at that rate. So that’s Yeah, that’s a good idea.

Nikki

14:11
I love that idea, I never though of that before. I have one every now and then.

Laura

14:17
So I buy my envelopes from a local Dallas paper store, but you can find plenty of them online, you know where you can purchase them in bulk for like two to four cents each. So envelopes do not need to be expensive. And if you’re going to get your cards printed, especially if it’s not you and you’re printing it online, you’ll have many different options for your online or local printer. And they’ll provide corresponding envelopes, usually. You’ll just want to pick a size of the card and a format that works well for the art and illustration that you’re uploading. If you have different, you know, sizes to choose from.

Nikki

14:50
Right. Okay, so what considerations do you need to think of when you’re shipping your greeting cards to customers?

Laura

14:57
Well, it’s it’s helpful to use stronger photo mailers, so the cards won’t bend. And I guess that depends on the volume that you’re sending. Because if somebody orders several sets, it might be a small box you use. But I know that you can get these online at Amazon. There are some other suppliers that also sell shipping supplies, but Amazon’s easy and convenient, and you can get them fairly reasonably priced. And I really like the Kraft colored ones. You know, they, I feel like they’re a little bit more environmentally friendly, because they’re not bleached.

Nikki

15:29
And they have that handmade feel.

Laura

15:33
Yeah, they have thatsort of handmade feel and you can decorate them and do different cool things to them. And we’ll link to the ones that I’ve used in the show notes. You always want to write “do not bend” on the outside of the envelope, usually on both sides.

Nikki

15:45
Do they really pay attention to that, or is that just an invitation for people to bend them?

Laura

15:50
I think it depends on what kind of day they’re having. But I will tell you, that always reminds me at the beginning of Ace Ventura when he’s kicking the UPS box down the hallway. And maybe I’m old, so people don’t remember that. But it always cracks me up. Yeah, I think that the do not bend does help because when I haven’t done it, I’ve actually had some arrive that have been twisted and fold it in half, even though it’s like a hard to bend envelope, they crunch it up and they stick it in a mailbox. So having that on there, since I’ve started doing that I haven’t had that happen. But it’s just something to be aware of. If it’s a smaller envelope, then it’s not that big of a deal. But if you’re shipping anything bigger, like if it’s a long envelope card on the inside of it, or multiple cards, and you’re shipping something bigger, just want to be aware of that.

Nikki

16:41
Alright, are there any other considerations for shipping handmade cards?

Laura

16:46
Yeah, so to protect dimensional cards, you can add a layer of either thin bubble wrap or tissue so that those elements won’t come through the card and won’t be damaged. Let’s say you have a series of handmade cards with alcohol inks on yupo paper, for example. That can get a little bit sticky, and in the heat, if it’s like in the summer Texas weather and you’re mailing that to someone, it’s probably gonna stick to the inside of that stiff envelope. So putting just a layer of vellum or wax paper or something like that on the front of that card will keep it from being a hot mess once it gets there.

Nikki

17:22
Okay, and so while we’re on the topic of handmade cards, what about the production of them? How do you handle making a whole bunch of cards at one time?

Laura

17:34
Yeah, so when you’re making handmade cards, it’s helpful to work in batches, and really sort of create an assembly line for yourself.

Nikki

17:42
All right.

LAURA

17:43
And I like creating cards with dimension. So I use a lot of die cut pieces. So die cut just means it’s a shape that’s cut out of paper. So die cut machines can really help you with that and you can get die cut machines that are electronic, and you can basically create any shape you want, and it will cut it out for you. Examples of that would be something like a Cricut machine or a Silhouette machine, okay, or you can get like an old style hand crank machine, which is what I personally use the most. And you can buy these little dyes, these little wafer thin dyes that are made of like steel, and they’ll cut through the paper with a lot of basic shapes, like label shapes, circles, rectangles, so you can create beautifully layered cards very easily without having to cut anything out with scissors. I don’t know about you, Nikki, but me and like cutting a straight line with scissors, they don’t go together.

Nikki

18:35
No, no, no, no, but that gives me an idea of something. So I, I have a Glowforge, which is a laser engraver and cutter. And I mean, it can do the same kind of thing that a die cutting machine can do. Only easier, because you don’t have to make it out of steel. I can just design anything in Illustrator and make it on the Glowforge.

Laura

18:58
Yeah, I’m totally jealous of you right now.

Nikki

19:00
Well, you really should be. But I’ll put a link in our show notes to get a discount on your very own Glowforge.

Laura

19:07
Awesome. Anyway, my most successful handmade greeting card sellers have actually been some super simple cards with label shapes that were cut from gorgeous pattern paper and a really simple sentiment added on top. I’ll have an example of that in the show notes so you can see what I’m talking about. But people specifically have searched out my table or booth several years in a row just to find these elegant cards. And to be honest, they only took me like two minutes to create instead of like my Copic cards which those can take like 45 minutes sometimes to make one.

Nikki

19:44
Right, because the other ones are are assembled from things that you cut out in bulk and then just put them together versus hand coloring.

Laura

19:54
Yeah, exactly. So if you if you plan to mass produce think of what is the easiest thing for yourself. Why not paint beautiful washes of color on watercolor paper, and then cut out a die cut sentiment from the middle of them. And then you can use the letters that you cut out on one card, like on a, let’s say, a white background. And then you can take the negative space sentiment that you’ve now cut out and use that on a separate card. So it’s sort of a two for one.

Nikki

20:21
Ohhh, brilliant.

Laura

20:22
And I’ll show you an example of this in a class that I taught him how to do this with Copic re-inkers on yupo paper, it just looks so super cool. And it’s like super easy to do. So just think about what makes it easy for yourself.

Nikki

20:36
Cool. All right, what else do we need to think about when we’re making cards from like, just a variety of materials that we might have on hand?

Laura

20:45
Well, the first thing youwant to think about are copyright issues and what they call angel policies.

Nikki

20:50
Okay, and what’s an angel policy?

Laura

20:53
Well, it sounds awfully nice, doesn’t it?

Nikki

20:57
I have a policy of being skeptical of anybody who tells me they’re talking to angels.

Laura

21:04
Well, the angel policy basically is a policy that tells you how you can use their image. So for let’s say, somebody who sells digital illustrations, they’re often called digital stamps, where you can download a black and white image, you can print it out and color it in, they might have an angel policy that says, hey, you can use this image 15 times on handmade items that you sell, you can give it away to your friends and family unlimited a million times, I don’t care. But if you’re going to sell something that you’ve made with this, then you can only use it a limited amount of times. And then they’ll also have other terms about how you can use things like you can’t take their image and go throw it on Creative Market and sell it, right.

Nikki

21:51
Right. Right. Okay, that makes sense.

Laura

21:54
So that’s basically an angel policy. But if the copyright doesn’t belong to you, technically, you have to understand what those policies are and how you can or cannot use that specific design in what you’re selling.

Nikki

22:08
Yeah, it’s like a Limited License.

Laura

22:11
And it’s basically a great reason to start creating greeting cards from your own illustrations, and drawings and paintings because you can even create a whole hand colored thing. Let’s say it takes you 45 minutes, but then you can scan it in and use that over and over and over again. And you’ve just kind of did most of the work once.

Nikki

22:27
Definitely, definitely. Okay, so I’ve done some of this myself, but what can you share with us about some of the things you know about reproducing your handmade work, like you were just talking about, into cards that you either print yourself or have professionally printed or even use a print on demand service?

Laura

22:48
Wel, first off, you can turn any kind of painting or physical drawing into a greeting card, you just need to digitize your handmade work. So you need a well lit photograph taken straight on. And the latest smartphones are probably decent enough to do that.

Nikki

23:04
Right, I would agree with that, as long as you’re talking about for greeting cards or small prints. Your phone camera is probably good enough for that. If you’re going to do bigger prints, you’re probably better off with, you know, a real professional photograph, or a high resolution scan. But for greeting cards, I would totally agree. Your is probably good enough.

Laura

23:27
Yeah, I’ll tell you, personally, I can never take the right photo. So I’m just, again, not my superpower. So I have an older Epson scanner and I swear I’ve had this thing for like 10 or 15 years, and it’s still going strong. So I just make sure that I set that scanner to 300 DPI or higher, which will give me basically print quality so it won’t look pixelated when it prints. And I prefer that over a photo just because you know, I can never get the angle or the lighting just right on the photos. The thing you have to keep in mind though, is if you don’t have a huge scanner, and you have let’s say a larger painting, you’re trying to turn into a greeting card, you know that you’ll be scaling down, you might have to scan the painting multiple times in different segments. And then you basically what they call stitch it, you stitch it together using a program like Photoshop, and Photoshop’s smart now it can basically do the stitching stuff for you almost.

Nikki

24:27
Fairly decently.

Laura

24:31
Fairly decently. I’ve done it before for a Christmas card that I’ve made and I stitched it all together and and you just have to make sure that everything’s flat to your scanner bed so you don’t have weird shadows and things like that, but that’s what I do. And then once you have that scanned in, then you can adjust your brightness levels, you know, anything you might need to tweak with the background textures or little flaws that you might want to remove. You can do that in Photoshop, and then you just want to say about that high resolution file. And for the iPad lovers out there, if you’re working digitally to begin with, like in a program like Procreate…

Nikki

25:08
So much easier.

Laura

25:10
So much easier because you can just say about your 300 DPI file in JPG format, and you’re totally ready to go.

Nikki

25:16
Yeah, I’ve done that both ways. I mean, I’ve, I don’t have a ton of experience with cards like you do. But I have made two sets of cards. And one were hand drawn, scanned in, and one were from digital drawings. And I gotta tell you, the Procreate, digital from the start, was so much easier to turn into print-ready files. So…

Laura

25:40
I mean, and so for illustrators, that’s a little more accessible, but if you’re a painter that might not, you know, when you paint with physical paints.

Nikki

25:47
Oh yeah, I mean, don’t let us scare you away from that. It’s not like it’s that hard. You just have to, if you’re used to taking photos of your work, or scanning your work for making prints, or just even great images for your website, you know, you’re probably used to that already.

Laura

26:04
Yeah, yeah. So you can get your greeting cards printed, either using an online printer, a local printer or your own home printer, if you have like an archival or a decent printer, it doesn’t even have to be archival, when it’s a greeting card.

Nikki

26:19
Greeting cards don’t have to last 100 years.

Laura

26:20
Yeah, I mean, it’s not like a print where it’s going to be hang up for years. So. And if you’re printing at home, and you want sort of a higher end look, for fine art greeting cards, I really recommend Red River Paper. So we talked about the paper I’d like for handmade cards, but Red River Paper, they make these gorgeous art papers for printers. And they even give you the downloadable printer profiles on their website, so that you can have the perfect settings for each type of paper.

Nikki

26:48
Yeah, that’s really helpful.

Nikki

26:50
So I always watch out for them, because it’s they have 20% off sales, and you can buy these sample kits, and they have all their art papers, like in a sample kit, and you can just test it out and say, oh, is this gonna work for my style of art, is this paper what I want to give me the look that I want. So that’s a good way to go. But they are a little bit higher end. And the thing I will say is, anytime you print at home, you’re going to have printer maintenance, you’re going to have color matching issues, potentially. So if you want to avoid all of that, you can try just a local or an online printer, just so you don’t have to deal with that on your own.

Nikki

27:25
For sure. And what can you tell us about using other professional printers?

Laura

27:31
Well, many of them will give you multiple options on the type of paper to have your greeting cards printed on and they’ll probably be at different price points. So you can get either a glossy or a matte finish or somewhere in between.

Nikki

27:42
And if you’re working with a local printer, you can do some kind of fun things where you can do some die cuts or layering different materials, right?

Laura

27:53
Right. And as with anything, you’re going to get better pricing from a printer by ordering higher volumes, right?

Nikki

28:00
For sure.

Laura

28:01
But if you want to test out the market first and see which card designs will sell best, I love using Moo, which is a company, they do awesome business cards, postcards, all kinds of things. It’s an online printer. But what I love about them is you can get 25 cards with different designs on each card in a single order. A lot of places will have a minimum that says you have to order 20 of the same card. Well, you don’t with them, you could just literally order 25 or 50 in one order.

Nikki

28:32
That’s what I do with my business cards for sure. I’ve also had some really good luck with so Moo is great, but they don’t do square cards. So when I wanted to do a series of square cards for my birth month flower sets, I found some great ones through Awesome Merch. And they’re just another great company that does…

Laura

29:02
They makes awesome merch?

Nikki

29:03
They make awesome merch, as the name might indicate. We’ll include a link to that one too.

Laura

29:13
Yeah, and there’s some others that are pretty common names you’ve probably heard of before, like Overnight Prints, Vistaprint. Shutterfly, you know, these are all companies that offer very similar services, they just the products might be slightly different or the types of papers they use. So it’s always good to test it out before you place a huge order and just see if something is to your liking. And another helpful hint is a lot of these companies will let you add something to the back of the card. So don’t forget about that. Don’t think of just the the front and the middle of the card, but think of the back of the card, because you can put your logo on there. Some of them even have a place where you can put a photo like a small image of the card front. So to me, it’s like having a little bit of extra advertising space, right.

Nikki

29:56
I’ve even seen some really cool designs where like part of the design from the front has extended onto the back.

Laura

30:03
Oh, cool, yeah.

Nikki

30:04
Yeah, yeah, so something to consider. Alright, so let’s talk, let’s talk pricing. Are there set prices that greeting cards usually sell for? What is the difference between if they’re handmade cards versus printed? Single cards or packs of cards? Are there standards for these things? How do you even know where to start?

Laura

30:29
Yeah, well, handmade cards are like mini pieces of art. So if you invest a lot of time into them, they should be priced accordingly. But it’s helpful to cut down your costs and time where you can when you’re coming up with the card design. So this idea we talked about earlier about, you know, creating an assembly line, making things a little bit easier for yourself, that’ll allow you to offer a card at a competitive price, but that doesn’t, I guess that gives you compensation for the time that you invested. So I always sell a single card at a higher price point than a group of cards. And the strategy I’ve used in the past is, I might sell a single card for, let’s say, $7, or a set of three for 15. If I have single cards out there that people can pick through and look and choose from. And so nine times out of 10, in my personal experience, the customer is going to choose three instead of one because they want to get that better deal. Right. So I’ve sold hundreds of dollars worth of cards in a Christmas market doing that, because they always walk away with multiples.

Nikki

31:29
But just make sure that when you’re coming up with a price for the multiples, that you’re not discounting it so much that it’s not worth the time you’ve put into it, right?

Laura

31:39
Oh, yeah, for sure, definitely. And I’ve seen very high end cards, like ones that are really physical paintings that people have done. And those those might be way more, you know, $15, $20 or something for the card, because it’s also a mini piece of art. I’ve even seen people have a card that flips up that the front is painted, and then they they adhere it to a little matte board so that somebody could take it and turn it into a framed painting.

Nikki

32:06
Oh cool, nice.

Laura

32:07
But you can definitely sell your cards in pre-packaged sets. And I love using clearbags.com. For those that don’t like using plastic in their work, they have environmentally friendly options, too, that are biodegradable. And you can buy sturdy, see-through boxes that could hold, let’s say a set of eight cards, they have clear hanging bags that will hold maybe a set of five. And they have single card sleeves with adhesive, you know, closures on them. I really like the quality of those so that’s what I’ve used over the last 15 years. I’m sure there’s other sellers as well. But..

Nikki

32:45
I’ve used them too. And, and they’re great quality.

Laura

32:49
Yeah. And consider adding a branded sticker to the back of your card sleeve or your box or just just a sticker that says thank you for supporting my small business. And I can tell you, I bought those on Amazon before in packs of 500 for like $10 or $15 or something. So it doesn’t have to break the bank, it’s just a nice personal touch. And we can link to that in the show notes as well. Now, if you don’t want to mess with branding, packaging, shipping – all the things, which let’s be honest, time is money, right? So those things are all things to consider with your pricing as well. You can sell your greeting card designs through print on demand sites, either the public marketplaces like Redbubble or Society6, or through a print on demand company that operates sort of through your own website like Printify or Printful.

Nikki

33:39
Absolutely. All right. Um, that’s a lot of great information about greeting cards. What else can you think of that I haven’t asked you about that might be helpful?

Laura

33:51
Well, some other ideas thinking outside of the box is if your audience includes a lot of makers, think of creating holiday kits of dimensional elements so that someone can make their own cards.

Nikki

34:02
Oh, cool.

Laura

34:03
It’s a really fun idea to sell in the holidays. But just keep in mind the issues we talked about with copyright here. So, you would want to use your own illustrations and not provide a black and white image for example, for someone to color in that belongs to another company or artist. That’s a big no, no, if you don’t have express permission to use it that way.

Nikki

34:21
But you’re an artist, so draw your own.

Laura

34:25
Yes, exactly. And beyond selling greeting cards directly to the customer or using print on demand, you can also look at getting your original artwork licensed to greeting card manufacturing companies or companies like Minted who have greeting cards available in Target, they have a whole display in Target.

Nikki

34:43
Right. And we’ve mentioned this in our episodes about about submitting your work, which will link to in the show notes as well.

Laura

34:51
Yeah, there are dozens of fabulous companies in the marketplace and if you search their websites, you’ll frequently find their artist submission guidelines and those will show you how to submit your work to their art directors. You never know, your card could be featured at Trader Joe’s, your local Hallmark store, Target or another awesome place that you shop?

Nikki

35:13
Well, Laura, I know that in past episodes, you have talked very specifically about submitting greeting card designs, you’ve been working on a collection to submit. So what’s your plan? What’s your next step?

Laura

35:27
Well, yes, that is the next step that I’m taking in my own greeting card design business. So I am looking to have my art licensed, I have actually submitted to a greeting card design company and been added to their list for their design briefs. So I’m starting to get those and work on designs for it. Excellent. And there are several other companies I’m going to approach. So I’m excited about that opportunity. And that’s what I’m sort of focused on next. So we will see what happens.

Nikki

35:56
Awesome. That’s a great next step. Well, Laura, thank you for letting me be the one to interview you this week.

Laura

36:04
Thank you for having me on your podcast.

Nikki

36:08
I see what you’re doing there. That’s what I did to you last week.

Laura

36:15
It is. Now it’s your turn? Have you ever sold your own greeting card designs? What has been your experience? Or do you have a question about designing greeting cards and selling them? Drop them in the Startist Society Facebook group, or through Instagram @startistsociety, or my personal Instagram @lauraleegriffin.

Nikki

36:35
And for today’s Startist Society show notes and links to all the great greeting card resources that we discussed today, go to startistsociety.com/greetingcards. And if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, we’d love for you to leave us a five star rating and review. Reviews always help us reach more Startists like you and keep us inspired to continue creating new episodes.

Laura

36:57
Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

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