So you want to learn how to start a greeting card business.
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Making people feel warm and fuzzy with awesomely matched words and graphics is big business. These greeting cards are present in almost every occasion, from birthdays to funerals, anniversaries to job promotions, baby announcements, and even just day-to-day of expressing one’s love for another person.
Have you been a part of this industry as a writer crafting the words for greeting card companies? An artist making the graphics? A poet adding rhyme and rhythm to texts? Or are you inexperienced coming into the business?
Steps to Take to Start a Greeting Card Business
There are many questions to answer when figuring out how to launch any kind of company, which is why your first line of business should be to build a solid plan.
1. Create a Solid Business Plan
A business plan not only gives you a “map” to the business you want to build, it also helps you decide if you really want to pursue such a venture.
- Money matters: How much money you can invest. If you have a partner investing on this idea, how much will he/she put into the business and how much of the income will be put back into the business.
- Perform proper costing (list down cost of paper, printing services, artist fees, writer fees, and so on)
- Amount range you plan to sell your greeting cards for
- Amount you must set aside for paying employees or contractors like cartoonists, poets and so on.
- Ongoing expenses to run your greeting card business (This could be anything from business insurance to printing equipment, desktop publishing software, computers, rental cost if you’re leasing an off, and so on)
- Target market: Who is your initial target market? Do you plan to expand this to include other market groups?
- Niche: Are you planning to focus on a niche for your greeting card business? For example, greeting cards with funny jokes, greeting cards drawn in a particular style, hand painted greeting cards, greeting cards handmade with buttons, greeting cards embellished with leaves or other nature’s trinkets.
Important Decisions to Make
Selling online, vs. selling in real life
If you decide to sell your greeting cards exclusively online, it will remove big expenses like office rental and upkeep of your own printing equipment.
If you plan to sell in real life, think of the commitment level you’re willing to give.
Can you join artist markets and introduce your brand to the world, talking to would-be customers face to face? Of course, you can also sell both online and offline, if you wish.
Handmade vs. Print-on-demand
When it comes to greeting card design, you need to decide if you want to go the handmade route or print-on-demand cards.
Choosing between these two methods will affect everything from your business plan, to production, selling method, and even marketing.
The main benefit of going the handmade route is you’ll attract a very specific target market who value how artists do it old-school.
Every card is undoubtedly special.
However, producing these cards require a lot of time and effort in the artist’s part, which means there will be less cards produced and less income made.
Print-on-demand greeting cards begin just like any handmade card, but once the first card is designed, it will become the prototype for future cards and only printed when a buyer decides to pick a design from your greeting card catalog.
2. Make Your Business Legal
You may be starting a business that revolves in creativity, but you must still take care of the legalities:
- Name Your business. Know that the legal name can be different to the brand you’re going to use throughout your greeting card business. But picking one that resonates with your product should be your main goal.
- Establish a business entity, such as corporation, LLC, etc. This prevents anyone from suing you as an individual (and sue your company instead).
- Get ready to pay taxes. Before you can run your greeting card business, you have to apply for an EIN via the IRS website.
- Secure a permit. Check with your city or state what kind of business license you’d need to operate your greeting card business. This is super important because delaying a business permit could lead to paying fines, or worse, get shut down.
- Open a business bank account. This separates your finances as an individual and as the business owner of your greeting card company. If you can secure a business credit card while you’re at the bank, do so. It could help with future expenses and build your company’s credit history.
- Get insured. If you plan to hire employees or rent an office, it is important that you get business insurance. It will prevent would-be headaches in the future.
- Set up the company’s accounting. Learn how to do your own company’s books at the earliest stage of your company’s life, so you’d be able to keep an accurate and detailed record of your company’s revenues and expenses.
3. Begin Branding
Now that we finished the serious side of how to start a greeting card business, let your creativity fly free with branding and brainstorming card ideas, themes or collections.
“Branding” means promotion of a product or company, so why would be begin branding before actually creating the product? You’ll see.
There are 3 important things you should do first:
- Build a website – It’s very easy to build websites these days, especially if you choose the drag-and-drop, hosted sites like Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and the like. Joining any of these sites is easy. Just register, pay for a plan, choose a website template, and within an hour or two, you have a working website. You can even add a shop to your website.
- Build your company’s online presence – The easiest way of marketing products (without any investment) is through social media. Join the big 3 – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Set-and-forget LinkedIn. And turn Pinterest into your catalog of greeting cards.
- Print business cards and samples of your product – If your goal is to sell greeting cards beyond the internet, you should be armed with business cards whenever you join art bazaars, artist conventions and other similar events.
Make sure you use the same business name for all 3 tasks. You want people to know your greeting card business, so using different names for every platform would just confuse your potential market. Be consistent. Decide a voice for your company (formal? conversational? Not-safe-for-work? Too cool for school?) and then stick to it all throughout your channels.
4. Get Cranking with Crafting and Selling Greeting Cards
Everything we learned about how to start a greeting card business boils down to this.
- Brainstorm ideas. If you’re hiring talent to do the artwork and text for your greeting cards, then begin brainstorming with them. If you’re the one drawing, then you just need to turn those ideas into something tangible.
- Create a content calendar. Your goal as a business owner is to produce greeting cards enough to meet deadlines, seasons and holidays. You have to organize your staff so that you’ll be able to release Valentine’s Day greeting cards on time, or produce Christmas greeting cards two or three months before December.
- Create, create, create. If you’re doing traditional greeting cards, you need to gather your supplies (paper, markers, paint, watercolor, etc.) and just create the cards you’ve brainstormed. If you’re making a digital version, then you just need a computer, drawing tablet, and the right software to do the job for you.
- Printing greeting cards. This depends largely on how you wish to sell your greeting cards. If you’ve already talked to a publishing house where the greeting cards will be sold, then you have to print them on a massive scale. If you’re selling them one-by-one directly to customers, you have several options:
- Continue promoting your stuff. While creating greeting cards, you should be consistent in updating your website, Facebook, Pinterest and other platforms. These will serve as free advertising for your business. Plus, it would let customers know that you’re open for business.
Wrap Up: How to Start a Greeting Card Business Successfully
A greeting card business can be launched completely from your home, much like these 50 ways of starting an online business.
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You can control how small or how big you want to launch your company.
In fact, many small businesses begin operations on a part-time basis, then scale up to full time and gradually bring it out into the world when the company’s finances are stable and ready for expansion.
You may think that the $1 to $5 price tag of greeting cards won’t lead your business into success, but think about this for a minute: every time a greeting card is created under your wing, this card can be sold multiple times online and offline.
It won’t become a $20-billion Hallmark company, but since you’re running a passive income generating business, its earning potential is endless.