If you’re looking to start making and selling greeting cards, read this post first. We’re going to talk about whether there’s still potential in selling them or if it’s not worth your time.
We’ll cover this as well as how to start your own handmade greeting card business in this post.
Hi, my name is Mei and I help makers, artists and designers make a consistent living from selling their handmade products online.
Now, you might think that with email, text messaging, and social media, that no one sends greeting cards anymore. Fortunately for you, the greeting card market is as strong as ever and is even expected to grow for at least the next five years.
6.5 billion greeting cards are sold each year in the USA. Germany sells 600 million cards a year and the UK greeting card industry is worth over 1.6 billion pounds sterling alone, which is almost 2 billion US dollars.
Keep in mind that a lot of those sales are taken up by major brands like Hallmark, Walmart, and Target, but it shows that there is still a demand for physical greeting cards and there are opportunities to collaborate with major retailers if you’re unable to find a gap in the market on your own.
To give you more of an idea about who buys greeting cards, you should first know that approximately 80% of greeting cards are purchased by women.
Greeting cards are considered an impulse purchase product with an immediate, somewhat urgent need. People are grabbing a card on the way to visit a relative or while shopping for a gift. This does not necessarily translate well into online sales, but there are still plenty of people who plan for birthdays and holidays in advance and like to customize cards to give to friends and family.
On that note, they are a very occasional item. This means that people need a reason such as a holiday or an event to buy one. You’ll probably see a spike in sales at certain times of the year; Christmas being the major one, but you’re still likely to achieve sales throughout the year if you make cards for birthdays and other celebrations.
There are two main categories of greeting cards; every day and seasonal. The best-selling everyday cards are birthday cards, followed by wedding and anniversary, get well and sympathy, then friendship and encouragement cards.
For seasonal cards, Christmas themes are the bestsellers, followed by Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Graduation cards.
How to Make Greeting Cards
When it comes to making greeting cards, there are several ways you can go about it.
First, you can create the card by hand, using all sorts of materials and decorations such as cardboard, paper, glitter, and the usual arts and craft tools and supplies.
If you’re good at drawing, you can draw your own designs on them. Many people like to emboss or engrave their cards for a more professional look, but you may have to invest in specialist equipment in order to achieve those effects.
Speaking of which, you can totally also make really cool designs with a Cricut machine.
Creating greeting cards completely by hand can be time-consuming, but some people appreciate a handcrafted card done well and are willing to pay a little extra for it provided you’re in a very clear and specific niche.
Reddit is a great place for sharing tips and design ideas, especially on the Etsy and cardmaking subreddits. thesprucecrafts.com, which I’ve mentioned before, is also a great place to learn cardmaking skills for free.
Alternatively, you could choose to print greeting cards. You make the initial design using a computer or an iPad and keep re-printing many copies of the same card design.
While they may not sell for as much individually than a made-completely-from-scratch card, you will be able to make far more in a shorter period of time. It makes much more financial sense in the long run, as you will earn more by selling in higher quantities.
That said, it’s harder to stand out from the crowd this way, and it could arguable be less fun for you to create.
Keep in mind you’ll also need to be very careful that you do not infringe on any copyright laws with any of the images you use as your designs.
Cardmaking supplies are relatively cheap to source. In order to maximize your profit margins, you’ll want to buy in bulk at wholesale costs.
It can be tempting to go on a shopping spree and buy lots of cute additions for your cards, but remember that this should be reflected in the selling cost of your finished product and if it climbs too high then very few people are going to want to buy it. So there’s a balance there.
Selling Cards Online
Selling cards online can be tough, since lots of people buy them on impulse in physical stores and are not willing to wait a couple of days to receive a card. However, there are still plenty of ways to earn a living from card making online.
You can try selling on the usual sites like Etsy, Amazon and Shopify. Most sites will take a cut of your earnings at around 15-20% and you may have to fight for buyers’ attention because there’s a lot of competition out there.
Your designs will need to stand out in order to grab attention and make sales.
You really want to invest the time and research in developing a niche for your greeting card business. Don’t just make what everyone else is making. Pick a group of people from within the niche of greeting card buyers, and make designs specifically for them.
Get specific, find a focus and you’ll be much more successful that way.
If you have the resources for it, then you can launch your own website and advertise your products online. You’ll want to learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which is how people will find you on Google or Etsy or Amazon search, and look into how to pitch your card designs to the media.
This is a fantastic and free way to get your products in front of a large audience and in my opinion, it’s much more effective than doing social media.
Submitting Your Designs to Card Companies
Some card companies pay you for submissions if you approach them directly with your designs. Before submitting your idea to a site, analyze the style of cards they sell first so you can be sure your style matches theirs.
If they like your ideas; you can earn anywhere between $25 to $300 for one design.
Companies known to accept designs include
- Oatmeal Cards
- Blue Mountain Cards
- Warner Press
- and others
To team up with them, you first need to sign a statement to confirm that your idea is original and often that you won’t use it anywhere else. They’ll want some exclusivity with your work.
This might seem like a lot, for you to give up your intellectual property, but consider that these companies do all the work in printing, marketing, and selling the cards and you don’t have to worry about that.
How many cards do you have to sell on your own to make $300 from one design? Probably quite a few, and over a long period of time.
Unless you’re really established, this could be a good route if you’re just starting out.
Selling wholesale is also a very big opportunity for you. A majority of physical brick and mortar stores carry greeting cards.
As we talked about before, greeting cards get bought in person a lot. If you can, pitch your designs to physical stores and sell your work wholesale to them, keep a great, positive relationship and they'll keep reordering from you.
That could be your entire bread and butter and you wouldn’t have to worry about selling directly to customers online.
The beauty about wholesale is even though you’re getting paid less per item, you’re getting paid more overall because you’re dealing in larger bulk quantities. You’ll be making orders in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars per order from just one store alone. So definitely keep that in mind.
You might also want to look up art licensing where you’re “renting” your art to a buyer, like a greeting card company to use your art on a product. You can do this yourself or work with an agent to this for you, and you get paid royalties, or a commission every few months.
If you’ve bought a greeting card lately, you’ll know that there is a wide range to choose from. They can generally cost anywhere from 50 cents to $10 to $12.
They usually vary in size, quality, and detail. The average price of a greeting card is around $4-$5.
The Greeting Card Association also reports that, “Cards featuring special techniques, intricate designs, and new technologies are at the top of the price scale.”
The trick to pricing your product is to leave yourself with enough profit to invest back into the business and help it grow, and a salary is always nice to have too.
A formula I like to use to price handmade products is the cost of your supplies plus labor costs plus any overheads, multiplied by 2 to work out a wholesale price, and then times that by 2 again to give you a retail price.
So it’s effectively twice what it cost you to make when selling wholesale and 4 times the production cost when selling retail.
So if a card costs you on average 50 cents to make including labor costs, you should look to sell it for around $2 at wholesale pricing and $4 direct to customers with retail pricing.
It’s worth your time to do some window shopping of your own to see how much similar cards are selling for and then price your own accordingly.
Unfortunately with greeting cards, there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room to price any more than $10-$12, because this is what people are willing to pay, and the perceived value of a greeting card just isn’t that high.
Remember that you must also factor in the cost of delivering your greeting cards to the customer.
Check out ‘Off Kilter Crafter Ian’ on YouTube – he gives some good advice about sending handmade cards on his channel.
If you’re in the US, you’ll probably want to use USPS for shipping your greeting cards. It’s pretty cost-effective to ship greeting cards because it’s light in weight and doesn’t take up much space. Cards are usually really flat, and that gives you special cheaper pricing with USPS.
Selling handmade cards can be a profitable business, especially if you’re able to be recognized by a major card company or sell in physical stores where you’re selling in high numbers.
Greeting cards are still going strong as an industry, but to benefit from it your designs will need to be different and still worth the price.
How often do you buy greeting cards and what is the most you would expect to pay for one? Let me know in the comments!