Card Designing is an art.
However, if you love making handmade cards or are passionate about it, then it might be time for you to start a handmade card business. When stepping in the business avenue, it requires an extensive knowledge of the industry, and the work you would do.
As a hobbyist, you might design different greeting cards or try hands-on business cards, but when it comes to business, you need to be clear about your offerings and process. There are a lot of things you need to check before starting a greeting card business. For instance, your line of designs, package and services, management tool, card design software, and so on.
Starting a handmade card business requires proper planning and research. Whether you’re starting it as a part-time job, to earn some extra income, or as a full-fledged business model, read this article to know about the things you need to check while launching a business.
Table of Contents
1. Research About the Industry
Before you start ideating your business plan, research the industry well. Check the brick and mortar shops and online stores that sell handmade cards. See what they sell, what types of cards are in demand, and what’s not selling. Check the price of the cards. (Though they are not the final ones. Card makers might have sold it to wholesalers, who then might pass on to retailers and then the customers. So, the price the customer pays is not what handmade card makers receive.)
Thus, good and in-depth research is necessary. Many would also say that the business idea is not ideal. Let me tell you, the annual retail sale of handmade greeting cards is more than $7.5 billion. If they say, nobody buys greetings. Tell them, in the UK alone; customers purchased over 875 million cards in 2019.
Thus, opting for the greeting card business is not a bad plan. Knowing where to start and what to include is important. While researching, look out for legalities, and how people prefer buying it – through third party stores like Etsy or directly through the web store. A few might even prefer offline, so check the stats.
And remember to pen down your research, always!
2. Identify your Target Audience
Identifying your target market is an imperative step. It would help you identify who your cards are aimed at, i.e., the group of people who would buy your cards. They can be hipsters, kids, professionals, couples, etc.
Knowing about your target audience will also help you with marketing. If you know your audience is kids, for example, you will learn how to market your greeting cards to attract them and the ones buying greeting cards for kids.
3. Brainstorm Some Ideas
So, if you opt to go for a kid’s greeting card, you need to brainstorm some unique ideas. For example, the unique content you might add, special techniques and designs you might implement, and so on. Whether you want to create designs with hand or use card design software to develop appealing artwork designs.
With collective ideas, you can give your greeting card business a structure.
4. Decide a Specialty
The main thing to know about is your style. The market is saturated. There are different categories of cards that are in demand. So, to make your work pop and draw attention, explore different styles and choose the one. You can also go with trends. For instance, a combination of card, artwork and gift is the latest trend and a useful niche for handmade card makers.
Some other ideas you can try are:
- Pop up cards,
- printable customized cards,
- Musical cards,
- Every day cards like birthday
- Seasonal cards for special occasions
- funny/inspirational cards
5. Prepare a Business Plan
Now, write a plan for your greeting card business. Include the funds you will need, your estimated budget, and information such as where you will buy your supplies, how you will market your business, where you will sell the cards, and so on.
Along with your business requirements also include your goals and targets for business expansion in a specific time. Often, businesses plan for the things that they would require. They fail to add the gains they want to achieve from the business.
You don’t make the same mistake. Plan everything and then go forward.
6. Consider your Budget
Generally, the budget planning falls under the business plan, but it requires a separate section as it is an integral part of the business.
Before you start your greeting card business, you need to be sure that your business plan is watertight. Fortunately, for a handmade card business, you won’t face startup cost problems as other businesses do. For example, you might not need costly equipment. However, if you opt to go online, you might need to go for eCommerce development or integrate a card design software.
So be sure that you have enough budget for your business. Take into consideration every tiny thing. Bifurcate the funding into different activities such as a specific amount for marketing, eCommerce websites, supplies, etc.
Lastly, keep a certain amount aside for emergencies.
7. Save Cost on Supplies
Note down all the materials and supplies you would need, such as papers, pens, colored pencils, embellishments, etc. And lookout for the suppliers that supply on wholesale rate. Hold back on purchasing materials on retail price, as the total might add up. Only purchase the inventory that’s required, don’t stock in bulk. Buy in advance only when you have made some profits.
You can go according to your budget, but don’t go for low quality products. It would tarnish your business image.
To find wholesale suppliers, check industry contacts, trade journals, the internet, and so on. Likewise, check the quality of their products.
8. Save Money on Craft Tools
Just because you’re starting a new business doesn’t mean you need to purchase everything new. Save money by using the same paper cutter or craft tools that you’ve been using till date. If you need to buy one, see if you could sell the old tools. For instance, you can use the same old scissors or quilting needles.
If you plan to use card design software for designs, you need to choose the one that would stay with you for long. If you buy low quality, less featured product customization tool; you may have to replace it sooner.
So, stop the urge to buy new tools and also don’t go buying cheap things.
Insider Tip: Stop the urge to buy new tools and also don’t go buying cheap things.
9. Apply for License
Apply for your business license with your state or local government. Many jurisdictions require a license even for a home based business. Therefore, check all the rules and regulations in your area and apply accordingly.
10. Set up your Office
You would need a space where you can design your cards, print them, market your business, and handle all the administration work. Even if you start the handmade card business from home, you need a dedicated space/room. If you haven’t decided on one, you can consider setting aside space in the finished basement, dining room, or a guest room.
After deciding on the place, stock it with necessary office equipment and supplies, and card making supplies.
11. Design a Range of Card
Once you have completed your research and planning, it is time to design several cards for the initial launch.
Create mockups of different cards, use various technologies like LED lights with cards, and so on. Use photos of these cards for marketing. See how much time it takes to create one and the construction problems involved in the process.
12. Take Feedbacks
It is essential to get feedback on your work. Your family and friends may give positive feedback because they don’t want to hurt you. Thus, make sure to ask for feedback from others who would give an honest answer.
Take your cards to local businesses and ask for feedback. Join card making forums and groups, share your designs and ask for input from members. Try getting feedback from as many customers as possible.
Listen to their feedback and take actions accordingly. Don’t take criticism personally; instead consider it as an opportunity to improve.
13. Go with Minimal Packaging
In the handmade card business, it’s the packaging that helps add extra charm. A neatly presented card in a cello packaging can counter more price than an unpackaged one. However, if you have to spend 40% of the cost on the packaging, then that’s not a viable option. Many customers also opt-out of individual card protection. Thus, instead of plastic, cardboards, heavy wrappings, go with a minimalistic approach.
You can choose to provide environment-friendly wraps that cost low. It would help you with budget; bring your brand into positive limelight, and save the earth.
14. Check Credit Details of Stamps and Graphics
If you use the designs or graphics of some other designers/artist, you need to give them credits. Not all the artists allow you to sell the work you have created using their work freely. Some companies have restrictions. For instance, they would limit the number of cards made using one stamp card, or so. This is why you must check their terms and conditions.
Before starting a greeting card business that uses artwork from other designers, check if they provide a commercial license, or you have to pay for a commercial image.
Insider Tip: Instead of looking out for designs from other designers, design your own with card design software.
15. Set up your Card Price
You need to set a price for your handmade cards and ensure that they cover all the expenses and bring in profits.
Comparing your card price with local stationery and stores can guide you in pricing strategies. But the most advisable tip is to set the price lower than a commercial greeting card. If you keep the prices low, many customers would prefer you as the first option.
There’s a simple formula that most of the Etsy sellers use to sell their greeting cards. It is:
Supplies cost + time cost + overheads *2 = wholesale price *2 = retail price
If this formula bewilders you, you can tweak it according to your needs.
Insider Tip: Go for specialty stores that buy in bulk. They would help you save on sales tax, overhead, and time.
16. Learn about Sales Tax
For every product/service, you need to pay tax. For example, In California, if you sell at any Craft’s fair or farmer’s market, you need a seller’s permit. The State government then uses this permit to collect tax on the merchandise sold.
Learn what are the tax rules in your area. On what services are collected, whether the government levies sales tax on wholesale or not.
17. Track your Business Workflow
How would you keep track of your greeting card business? In the initial stage, you can track the number of cards made rather than sold. You can maintain the records in the Excel sheet, check the money at the start of the day and compare it with the amount at the end of the day. With difference, you can calculate the profit you made. But this process is feasible if you have limited cards, say 20 to 30.
As the business grows, you would need software for accounting and bookkeeping. Instead of these tools, you can go for a full-fledged web to print storefront that helps track business sales, use card design software, and reach a wider audience.
18. Go Online
As I said in the above point, you must go online.
There are two ways to go online. Either you can sell your products on third-party websites such as Etsy/Amazon or you can develop your website. Both have their own benefits. But, if you ask experts, they would choose to have their web store.
Firstly, it helps with designing, printing, and marketing. Secondly, it helps with brand building and earning huge profits. Instead of searching for you on Etsy, your customers can directly land on your website and purchase cards. Also, you won’t have to give a share to other vendors.
19. Integrate a Card Design Software
High tech wizardry cards are in demand, and so are the e-cards. So, having a card design software would be profitable. It would allow you to provide your customer with unique designs. Your customers can personalize their cards just the way they want. That’s just magical!
A handmade card with unique details can be a huge success. And a product design tool can help you with that extra.
20. Market your Business
And the time is to inform customers about your cards. You can try marketing it through social media. For instance, upload images and reels on Instagram, share your cards on Facebook, in card groups, etc.
You can upload some DIY card videos on YouTube and promote your business. You can sell your handmade cards at craft fairs and local events.
You can also send out promotional offers, discounts and sales through your website.
And the Last Step is…
Bring into practice all the tips mentioned above.
Learn, Try, and Keep Exploring.
Starting a greeting card business is easy and still not easy. Unless you experiment, you won’t know what’s working and what’s not.
Pratik Shah is Creative Head of Brush Your Ideas, a Web-to-Print technology solution offering custom product design software and Web-to-Print Storefront Solutions. He has been giving his valuable tips and suggestion about business card design software.