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If you are an artist or a photographer, it is very likely that friends and relatives will have asked you why you don't sell your images for a profit. I expect that you sell originals, but why not also make some money from selling printed greeting cards or limited edition prints?
The big advantage of selling printed greeting cards or limited edition prints is that you can keep selling the reproductions of the same image for many years, even after you may have sold the original work.
If you are an artist or a photographer, you may already have an outlet for your work. If not there are a huge range of places where your work can be sold, either as prints or as greeting cards.
It is always a good idea to take a tour of some local greeting card outlets to view other people's work and to see what is selling. In recent years, the soppy sort of greeting card, with an insincere rhyming message inside has tended to go out of fashion. The trend is now towards either cards with a funny message or for artistic cards with a photographic or artistic image. Very often these cards are plain inside which means that you have a wider market as the cards can be used for birthdays as well as for other occasions.
The market for greeting cards is vast and shows no signs of diminishing. Despite the rise in social media and e-cards, printed greeting cards remain very popular and are sold in almost every kind of retail outlet that you can think of. This means that once you can establish a market for your greeting cards, you can have a steadily rising income for life.
Creating a brand definitely helps your greeting cards to stand out from the card. Even a thumbnail image on the reverse of the card helps to make your cards stand out from the crowd. Design a simple logo featuring your name or your trading name and make sure that it stands out from the crowd. Remember, you can trade as anything that you like, provided that the name is not already being used in the same line of products. No-one can stop you using your own name either.
Just about every type of retail outlet sells greeting cards. They are incredibly popular, with many people buying at least one greeting card every week - often more. Have a look around your local area and see who is offering greeting cards for sale. Start locally and work outwards as this makes it easier to keep the stock levels up. You can sell your greeting cards in fuel stations, public houses, garden shops, garden centres, retail stores, gift shops, florists, fancy goods outlets, boutique shops, art galleries, photo galleries, greeting card shops, antique shops - the list is endless!
It is best to create greeting cards that appeal to you. Only you will know your target audience. Your friends and family have probably already suggested that you sell some of your images as greeting cards so ask them first which ones they think are most likely to sell. Show a few images to local shops and greeting card retailers as their opinion will be invaluable. Most greeting cards are bought by women, but of course, some of them are bought for men. This means that there is a fantastic range of subjects that will sell, from the 'chocolate-boxy' images such as kittens and flowers through to serious art. Anything from humour (sometimes crude), vintage cars, nostalgia such as railway stations or country scenes, farming, locomotives, ships or even horses may sell to men. Women buy humour, irony, photo, flowers, painting and almost everything else.
The best way is to get inspiration from others. Don't blatantly copy any designs that appeal to you but instead allow yourself to be inspired by a these. If you already paint, you will hopefully already have a range of images that you can turn into greeting cards. Even if you have sold a work already, many people will be delighted to let you reproduce images as greeting cards, as this increases the perceived and often the actual value of their painting.
If you have the skills and patience to make greeting cards at home there is definitely a market for hand-made cards. Some people create a stock of hand made cards, utilising the designs that they have found to be popular, while other people create custom greeting cards, to a theme chosen by the customer. It is up to you. The problem with hand-made greeting cards is that they are very labour-intensive, often taking up to 30 minutes to make. This limits how many cards you can produce and also how many cards you can sell. Many people who make embellished cards, have the basic card printed and then add 'the twidly bits' such as miniature clothes pegs, paper flowers, standard shapes etc which can be bought quite cheaply from places such as Hobbycraft
All you need to do to get your greeting cards printed by Centreprint is to choose your greeting card size, then upload the image(s) to Centreprint when you place the order. Centreprint do all the rest, creating the finished artwork for the greeting card(s) and send you a hard copy printed proof before going to print
Take the plunge. Make or order a small sample of your favourite design, and see how they sell locally. Make sure that your greeting cards are either very well-made or printed professionally. Packing your greeting cards with a suitable envelope in 'cello' bags is always a good idea as it keeps the stock clean and easier to sell. High quality diamond-flap heavy-weight white envelopes are free with greeting cards ordered from Centreprint.
It is vitally important that your greeting cards are good quality, printed professionally and presented properly. Your sales outlets will be used to receiving cards that are well produced and that sell well. Take care that you have chosen a size that fits onto the racks that your retailers use. The most popular sizes are 140mm square and 5" x 7" in portrait or landscape format.
Unique cards will always sell, especially if they are aimed at a local market. Views of Cornish Cliffs will sell well in Cornish holiday shops. Attractive images or paintings of remote Scottish landcapes will sell well in Scottish tourist shops and so on. Greeting cards with embellishments are still popular, especially if a little quirky or unusual. Vintage black and white photographs (which you could always recreate with your own models) that have a funny caption sell well. Greeting cards with scrapbook-like decorations are popular, so look for inexpensive items that can be added to your designs to increase the perceived value. Mulberry paper is an attractive hand-made paper that leaves a lovely soft edge when torn. Make some mulberry paper embellishments for your cards or incorporate ready-made cut-out shapes that you can buy cheaply via Ebay™ or Amazon™
Greeting card embellishments are available from a wide range of retailers and from Ebay™. Hobbycraft carry a large range as well. Embellishing your greeting cards can make them stand out from the rest. The only downside to adding items to the front of your greeting cards is that it makes the envelope over 5mm thick then the card will have to be posted as a 'Large Letter' which costs more.
People love a hand-made card because they have a hand-made feel that makes the recipient feel that the giver has chosen the card just for them. Only you can decide on what type of greeting cards to specialise in.
It is a good idea to only make or buy in a fairly small quantity of greeting cards to start with. This is one advantage of buying from Centreprint as you can order from as few as 20 printed cards. Obviously, once your card range is successful you will order in larger quantities and get the benefit of much lower prices. To test your greeting cards, ask a local shop to stock the cards and ask them to report back on customer comments and how they sell. A good investment is to give the cards to the shop in return for their help.
Set up a stall at a local craft fair. Pay attention to how people respond to your cards and take note of their opinions. Ask the advice of other greeting card sellers. Most people are very helpful to a newcomer.
Create a social media presence. Many people have started out in the greeting card business by starting a social media presence. Initially you may just sell a few cards to your friends and family, but as news of your products grow, sales will increase. In this day and age it is very important to market yourself online so make sure that you have a website, however simple. A fun and catchy name helps as well, especially for your website and for your Facebook page. Ask friends who you think may be interested in your cards and ask them to spread the word amongst their friends and contacts. It pays to get your name out there.
Especially if your greeting cards are out of the ordinary, you should be selling your cards online. You can either establish your own ecommerce website with someone like Wix or you can sell on Ebay or Etsy. Many people find that it is easier to sell online than face to face, although nothing beats having your cards for sale locally in a range of retail outlets.
As people only buy birthday greeting cards in small quantities, they are not as price-conscious as when buying larger amounts, such as Christmas cards. This means that if the card attracts them they will be happy to pay your price, up to say £2.99. However, please bear in mind that the greeting card retailer is going to want to double their money. This is the standard mark-up in the greeting card trade. So if you sell a batch of greeting cards to a retailer for £1 each, they are going to want to retail at £2 plus the VAT. In practice this will price the card to the public at £2.20 or even more. However, it is a very nice feeling to buy a batch of cards at around 20p each and sell them wholesale at £1 each. Initially, it is also a good idea to offer your cards on sale or return to the retailer so that they have no risk. Make sure that your cards are packed in glass-clear 'cello' bags to keep the stock clean, then if any particular cards do not sell in one outlet, you can try them in another.
If you are an artist or a photographer, consider selling limited edition prints of your images. If they sell as greeting cards, they are also likely to sell as prints. The following is taken from the Wikipedia entry for Giclée: Giclée (from French), commonly pronounced “zhee-clay,” is an invented term for the process of making fine art prints from a digital source using top-end ink-jet printing. The process uses very special inks and equipment and the prints are available printed in special watercolour paper or on canvas. The downside is that Giclée printing is very expensive. A much more cost-effective way of getting a range of prints for sale is to buy Large Format Prints from Centreprint. These are of superb quality and are very reasonably priced. You can either sell the prints as they are or get a local picture framer to frame them for you, thus adding considerably to the value. The framer may even offer to display your prints for sale. Another way is to hang your images in a local pub or tourist attraction and offer to split the proceeds with the owner.