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Starting a Greeting Card Line (Part 1)

Starting a Greeting Card Line (Part 1)

Carolyn Edlund | ArtsyShark

Many artists think that having their images on cards would be a great way to sell their art – and they’re right! What they don’t know are basic essentials that will make or break them in the business. So as a former road warrior and sales rep who sold numerous card and paper lines to retailers for years, I will let you in on some of the secrets:

1. Forget about selling a line of blank cards. There are far too many lines of blank cards out there, and store buyers usually won’t even consider them. The reason is that 90% of cards sold are greeted. If you can’t write, get help. A compelling image will grab attention – you need a great message in the card as well to make the sale. A professional writer can make all the difference to your sales. Go to a card shop and browse to see some great examples of witty, touching and wonderful writing.

2. Greeted card lines must be in the proper proportions. What’s the most popular? Birthday card sales are 50% of the market. Friendship cards account for approximately 10%, and Blank cards are about another 10%. The next most popular categories are Anniversary, Thank You, Sympathy, Congratulations, Wedding, New Baby and Get Well. Some categories are just a waste of time – I will address those in another article.

Start with “Everyday Cards”. What does this mean? Everyday Cards are titles in the categories above. “Seasonal Cards” are cards for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. You must have a big enough selection of Seasonal to present them, and they only sell for a small period of time each year. So start smart with Everyday, and once you are really established, add Seasonal cards if it makes sense financially.

The 80/20 rule applies. This rule means that 20% of your card titles will create 80% of your sales. And 20% of your wholesale store buyers will give you 80% of your total business. Why is this important? For one thing . . .

Start small and find out what sells. When you create your line, a lot of your titles will be duds, and some of them will be really good sellers. Don’t print a lot of all your titles and get stuck with the poor sellers! Lots of production artists go to trade shows with only a set of samples and find out what sells – good sellers get produced, and poor sellers get discontinued. Card lines can be originally printed in small quantities, and sold in a similar way.

Cards are usually sold wholesale in packs of six. They must have matching envelopes, normally white ones, and banded with paper or plastic bands. Use good stock, and use a professional printer. Not your computer printer. The retail price of the card is always printed on the back.

Click here to read Part 2 of this series and learn more need-to-know basics.

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