If you love making cards and would like to take your card making one step further, perhaps it is time to start planning a handmade card business. If you are thinking about selling handmade cards and extending your hobby into a business, we have some tips to get you started.
How to Start a Card Making Business
A card making business is an ideal business for a whole range of people. Making and selling handmade greeting cards provides the opportunity to simply earn a few extra dollars or, right at the other end of the scale, to build a significant income.
Most small card businesses fall half way between these two extremes. Handmade cards remain popular and many people like to give handmade cards to mark birthdays and other special occasions. For more information about the greeting card market in general and how this reflects on handmade cards take a look at this article - Greeting Cards Facts and Figures.
Workshops and Training
If you are starting a business for the first time there's a wealth of support and information available, including our free Facebook group. If you are selling on Etsy, you will find tutorials widely available to get you started. You'll also find a wide selection of books published on the subject of running a successful handmade business (check out the books at Amazon). When looking at books, make sure you find books which are up to date. The market for selling handmade cards and other products is constantly changing.
Another great option is online training and workshops.
Where Are You Going To Sell?
One of the first things to do is to decide where you are going to sell your cards. Are you going to sell online with your own store, on a managed platform such as Etsy or through local businesses? What ever option you take, having your own online presence is key, and this is nowhere near as difficult as it may seem!
You will find a range of low cost courses to get you started with your first website.
Before You Start - Plan!
Before you start selling your handmade cards take a little time to plan. Investing time in planning up front can help you stay on track, meet your goals and avoid any nasty pitfalls along the way.
- Find a Market - Finding a market for your handmade cards is one of the most essential parts of setting up a card making business. Word of mouth and selling cards to family and friends will only go so far when it comes to selling cards. It is also important to determine a market for the cards and good research will help to determine the opportunities. This might be selling cards through local business, at craft fares or online. The increasing number of online craft marketplaces, such as Etsy, Handmade @ Amazon, Artfire and the many other specialist sites that have recently launched, means that selling online is a viable proposition for anyone with access to the Internet. No technical skills are required to set up an online store within these online handmade marketplaces. Starting a store on Etsy is quick and easy to do.
- Who Is Your Target Market? - Identifying your target market is key. Your target market is the group of people who will buy your cards. Knowing your target market will help you define your prices and determine where to market your cards. For example, if you sell cards which will appeal to hipsters, your target market is going to be very different than if you are selling cards for kids. If you are going to cover a range of cards and styles you will have a range of target markets and you will market specific groups of cards to the relevant target market. Knowing your target market also helps you with marketing. If you know who this demographic is, you are much more likely to be able to reach out to them directly with your marketing efforts.
- Find Your Niche - If you take a look at the successful handmade card sellers on websites such as Etsy, you will see that very often they sell into a tightly defined niche. This is useful in a crowded market. If you are worried about competing in a very general market, take a look and see if there is a niche you can break into. There are many handmade greetings cards available and to be really successful you need to offer something a little different. In many areas the market is swamped with handmade cards. Finding a niche for your cards will help to really make your cards stand out. Ideas for suitable niches for handmade cards include creating a 'green' handmade card business where all products used are recycled or cards focused towards certain demographics. A niche will make you stand out. When you are thinking about a niche, a great place to start is the things that inspire you or make you smile.
- Product Development - while simply making some cards and putting them up for sale might prove successful, it also might not! Product development will help to take the guess work out of making products that sell. One of the most common reasons why someone is not successful is because they have not researched the market and carried out a product development plan before starting.
- Commitment - When you are planning make sure that you will have the time available to build and maintain a card making business. There is a big difference between making a few cards for family or friends and running a small business. The timely fulfillment of orders is an important part of building a successful card making business. The making of cards, however, is just part of the time required to run a successful card making business. Marketing and promoting the business, creating new designs, sourcing products and administration are just part of the other aspects of running a business that will eat into the time available. The making part of your handmade business is actually quite small - you will need to allow for over half your time to be spent in marketing, customer service, administration etc. You will also need to think about how you will handle things like vacation and at the other end of the scale busy periods. This is why good planning is essential. It will help you to avoid any nasty surprises later on.
- How to Price Your Handmade Cards - You will also need to price your handmade cards and ensure that you are covering your costs and making a profit. There's a very simple formula you can use as the base for pricing your cards which will help you get started. We've covered this in more detail here.
How To Sell Your Handmade Cards Online
Selling your handmade cards online can be a very attractive option. However remember that this isn't a case of simply listing your cards on Etsy and waiting for the sales to come in. Far from it! You will need to work hard taking top-knotch photos of your cards, crafting superb product descriptions and learning about SEO and keywords to really get your online business off the ground.
Don't worry if this sounds daunting. The Etsy seller's handbook is a fabulous source of information and will help you get started.
Marketing your cards is key. You need to let people know about your cards and where they can buy them. Social media is a great place to get word out about your handmade cards. Whether it's Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram or another, you have a tremendous opportunity to reach a wide group of people the world over. You can also use social media to sell your cards. Look for Facebook sales groups - groups that allow selling to members. Some groups do not allow selling and you will risk coming over as spammy if you post in these groups without permission. Do a search on Facebook for Etsy groups - you will find plenty to choose from! Instagram can also be a great place to show your work, make sure the link in your profile is to your store.
As well as planning the types of cards to sell, you will also need to determine your production calendar. Greeting cards are very seasonal, therefore you will need to be planning seasonal cards in advance to give you time to make and sell the cards in time for the relevant season.
Presentation and Packaging
The presentation of cards is part of the key to the success of handmade card business. A card that is neatly presented in a cellophane envelope looks more professional and can command a higher price than one that is unpackaged. Presenting cards in some form of packaging has other benefits too - it stops cards from becoming dirty or dog-eared and it also gives the ideal opportunity for further marketing. A label on the back with your phone number or website address could well solicit further orders. If you are going to sell online, remember to consider how you are going to package your cards for shipping and cost this into your pricing formula.
Check Terms and Conditions of Stamps and Graphics
If you are making cards or other products using third party graphics, remember to check out the terms of the artist. Not all font creators, stamp and graphics designers and other artists allow you to sell work that you have created using their work, and other companies have restrictions. These restrictions might include limiting the number of cards made from any one stamp in a year or how the cards may be sold (for instance from retail outlets only and not online or from markets). Some companies require that the stamp information is placed on the back of the card or that the designer's name is credited. Before starting a handmade card business which uses artwork from another designer, be in a stamp form or ready printed, check whether this artwork comes with a Commercial Use license and whether you can use it to make items to sell.
With a little forward planning and research, a handmade card business can be a great way to combine stamping with a commercial opportunity.