5 Ways to Sell Greeting Cards Online
It would be easy to think that physical greeting cards are a thing of the past with so many people opting to send a quick electronic card or a brief message on a social media channel instead. It's true; card giving has changed, and as creatives, we need to adapt to this market. Many events and milestones are still worthy of physical cards, however, and recipients feel far more special when they receive one. Birthdays, weddings and thank-yous top the list of occasions that still call for physical greeting cards.
Some things haven't changed much. When it comes to shopping for greeting cards, there are two kinds of people: those who read cards before they buy them and those who look at the image on the front cover then, without opening the card, take it to the cash register. I fall into the first category; I have been known to spend a good deal of time scanning, reading, picking up and putting back a variety of cards before making my selection.
It isn't that I'm a card snob—I'm not—I just want the cards I send to mean something to their recipients. I want them to either laugh out loud or tear up and want to hug me. It was this love of sentimental and funny cards that started my journey into the process of designing them myself. Here I would like to show you a few of the different routes you can take to sell cards online.
5 Methods for Creating and Selling Cards Online
- Upload designs to print-on-demand sites like Zazzle.
- Sell handcrafted cards on Etsy or another marketplace.
- Build your own website to sell your cards.
- Sell messages and designs to existing greeting card companies.
- Fulfill custom greeting card requests on freelance sites.
1. Upload Designs to Print-on-Demand Sites like Zazzle
I sell cards through the website Zazzle, and I love it. There are other print-on-demand sites that are similar, including Cafe Press and Red Bubble. If you're unfamiliar with the term print-on-demand, it means that the company will print a previously uploaded image on a product if and when someone buys it. A customer on the site can find a product they like, customize it if they wish and then have it printed and shipped to them.
People like you and I can upload images for use a wide variety of products, including greeting cards, and sell these products through print-on-demand companies like Zazzle. The site takes care of the printing and fulfillment, so I never have to buy any of the products unless I want to. I find the site easy to use, and I like the fact that my product will continue to sell for years to come.
The amount of money a designer makes is set by the designer. There is a base price, and then the designer adds the commission they want to make. By default, it's 10 percent, but you can make it higher or lower. The profit you make on each card might only be 20 cents, but when you know this card will sell for years, you can understand the benefits.
Still not convinced? What if I told you that you can upload as many as you want? Don't just think of it as 20 cents for one card. let's say you have a hundred card designs all available for sale 24 hours a day, year-round to a worldwide audience. Now can you see the earning potential?
Advantages of Using Zazzle or Other Print-on-Demand Sites
- No financial outlay: This was a big bonus for me, as I wanted to make money–not spend it.
- No shipping: Zazzle ships the product after printing it.
- No questions from customers: Zazzle handles all customer questions. However, it is possible, if you want to allow it, for a customer to contact you for a design request.
- No payment hassles: Zazzle handles all payments and pays the designers via PayPal or check depending on your location.
- Ongoing sales: If your design continues to sell, you get a source of ongoing passive income.
2. Sell Hand-Crafted Cards on Etsy or Another Marketplace
If you design handmade cards, there are numerous sites you can use to sell them. Unlike the print-on-demand sites I mentioned above, there will be costs associated with making the cards. But although the cost of making each card is higher, the profit is higher as well.
You will need to buy any crafting materials necessary to make your cards. This may include blank cards, rubber stamps, stickers, pens or any other supplies or adornments you wish to include.
If you are already producing cards but want to expand your market, Etsy is a great place to start. Many people have had great success using this site to promote and sell their greeting cards. Etsy isn't the only place to sell your cards, though. Below is a list of additional sites you can use. Some you will know, and others you may not have heard of.
Sites You Can Use to Sell Handmade Cards
- Dawanda (Europe-based)
- Folksy (UK-based)
Costs Associated With Selling Cards in an Online Marketplace
- Cards and craft supplies
- Monthly payments, listing fees or sales commissions to your host site
3. Build Your Own Website to Sell Your Cards
There is nothing preventing you from setting up your own website to sell the cards you create. There are two ways to do this. One is to build a website that can take orders and then ship the cards to your customers. The other way is a bit easier and involves having your own website but not handling product-production, orders or shipping.
For this second method, you'll need to use a print-on-demand site like Zazzle in conjunction with your own website, which you will be building to showcase cards that you (and/or other designers, if you would like to expand your product selection) have created.
When a customer clicks on a product on your website, they will be taken to a page on Zazzle where they can customize and order the product. By sending the customer to Zazzle, you make 15 percent of the sale for the referral. Plus, if it was your own product, you'll receive your normal Zazzle commission as well. When you send someone to Zazzle, a 45-day cookie is placed on their computer, so even if they don't buy immediately, you still have the opportunity to get the referral bonus for the sale if they come back to purchase your card later.
Potential Disadvantages of This Method
Although it's exciting to have your own website, it will have to compete in search rankings with the likes of Etsy, Zazzle and Hallmark. I don't think I need to tell you that they have deep pockets when it comes to advertising and search engine optimization (SEO). I don't want to discourage you from making your own website to sell your greeting cards, but be aware that you'll likely need to spend a good amount of time building and tweaking it.
In order for people to buy your cards, they'll first have to find your website. You will either have to learn about SEO or pay someone to do this to increase your visibility in the search rankings. You may actually end up spending more time doing this than designing your beautiful cards.
4. Sell Messages and Designs to Existing Card Companies
Another option is to sell designs, ideas, poems and sayings to an existing greeting card company instead of selling cards of your own. Hallmark is the best-known, but they have in-house designers and writers. Don't be put off by this, as there are plenty of smaller niche companies that buy many of their designs from freelancers. They pay these freelancers for the legal rights to the card design, message or verse.
Before submitting your ideas to any of the companies below, visit their sites and get a feel for the style of cards they already sell. Design cards to fit in with their style, and if they like your design, poetry or message, you can earn anywhere from $25 to $300. You'll normally be required to sign a statement saying your idea is original and that you will not use it again anywhere else. The company will own the rights to use your design or idea from then on.
To access information about the companies below, simply type the company's name followed by the word "submission" into Google or your preferred search engine.
Greeting Card Companies That Accept Submissions
- Blue Mountain Arts: Blue Mountain Arts sells its products under the American Greeting Cards brand, and they accept submissions of poetry and prose from freelancers. They will pay $300 for exclusive rights to a piece of your original work, and as more of your submissions are accepted, the amount paid goes up. Their cards usually reflect sentiments that purchasers might not be able to express in their own words. They want words with feeling—not generic messages.
- Oatmeal Cards: Oatmeal Cards also buys from freelancers. They pay on a case-by-case basis depending on the work, but payments typically average around $75. Their cards are funny and are often but not always illustrated. They don't like ideas that are mean or gross. They also don't like poetry, which is better suited to the company above. If you can raise a giggle from kids and grannies alike, this is a good company for you to approach.
- Warner Press: This company sells boxed cards and prefers short messages of about four lines. Their payment is $35 per accepted submission, and the writing must be religious in theme.
- SNAFU Designs: This company wants ideas that will make people laugh out loud. They will pay $100 for an original and funny idea.
- Comstock Marketplace: This company will pay $50.00 for a gag line, and they negotiate with artists separately for graphics. If you create copy or imagery for adult humor, this is the site to which you should submit your ideas.
- Smart Alex: This site likes content that is "funny, edgy, and risqué!" The images they use are glamorous and often feature retro themes. Take a look at their site to see if your photos, illustrations and copy are in line with what they already offer for sale. They will look at your work and compensate you if they decide to use it. There appears to be no set fee, so they will discuss terms only after they have seen your work and decided to use it.
5. Fulfill Custom Greeting Card Requests on Freelance Sites
The final option is to respond to requests on freelance sites. If you go this route, you'll be working with a customer's specific request. This is unlike the other options where you create first and sell later; here, your customer comes to you and gives you an idea of what they would like. Although these sites offer many unrelated services, freelancers can do well creating custom birthday, anniversary or Christmas cards for clients.
Freelance Sites That May Have Requests for Greeting Cards
My First Job: Selling Cards Door-to-Door
When I was young, the first job I had was selling cards door-to-door. Looking back now, I don't know why I thought this was a good idea because I was quite shy at the time. I suspect I saw an ad in a magazine detailing how easy it was and how much money could be made doing it.
I wrote to the company requesting a starter pack, and when it arrived, I was officially in business. This didn't last long because I was clueless about what to do. What I should have done was read the instructions and suggestions that undoubtedly accompanied my pack of example cards.
Included in my introduction pack were sample cards, a brochure featuring the other lines of cards available and an order sheet. It was everything I needed to start my door-to-door business. I was confident that this was the business I would later look back on as my first experience in the world of sales.
It didn't go quite as well as I had hoped, and I came home without my sample cards because my kind and elderly neighbor next door ended up keeping them. I tried to explain that they were samples and that she would have to order her own and wait a couple of weeks, but between my timidness, her deafness and my respect for the elderly, I was not able to get that point across. She wound up with some cards for upcoming occasions, and I was out of business. Luckily, I prefer selling cards online anyway.
Which of these ideas appeals to you?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Which is better: to have a greeting inside the cards or leave them blank?
That is a great question and there is no right answer. If possible do both to give people a choice. Some people love to write their own personal message. Other people dread the thought of doing that so always opt for one with a printed message.
Another thing to think about is that your design could be applicable to other occasions. So if your birthday card has a tranquil scene by a lake, it might make a perfect Father's Day card, retirement card, or sympathy card.Helpful 44
I would like to try to make and sell my first greeting card. How do I get started?
It depends if you are actually making a card or creating a design and then uploading it. If you are going to make a physical card, I would suggest watching tutorials on YouTube or going to the library for books on how to make them. If you are going to make a digital one, sign up with the company of your choice, I use Zazzle but there are others and upload a design. There is no cost. You can use Gimp as a designing program, it is free to download and use. From there keep developing your style.
In the article, I give you suggestions for places to sell your cards.Helpful 37
Could I sell my greeting cards without making a website?
Yes. You can use sites such as Etsy, eBay, or upload a digital image to sites such as Zazzle to sell your greeting cards.Helpful 34
I am creating 6x6” greeting cards. The only place I can find a wire floor spinning rack with pockets to hold the 6” square cards is in the UK. I fell in love with the bright colored wire choices. The racks are reasonably priced, but shipping would be $300! Would a custom made rack be cheaper?
It may be, I think you should definitely contact a welder and see about a custom made one.Helpful 2
Does it matter if I initial and date under the art if I decide to upload my designs for greeting cards? Most I've seen are just drawings with no artist signature.
This may depend on the site you choose to upload it to. If you were selling your card to a company, (a one off sale), they may not allow it. Check their terms and conditions. It you are uploading it to a print on demand site, I can't see where that would be a problem. Again, check their requirements. If it detracted from the design, you could opt to put it on the back of the card.
On a site that doesn't limit the amount of designs you can have, you could try both, one with a signature and one without. The market would then tell you which they prefer by the amount of times it gets viewed and/or sold.
Some people may prefer to see the signature and date, feeling like it is unique. Others may prefer to have it without.
In the description you can also mention, your name, the date it was completed, and other information to help sell it.Helpful 1
© 2017 Mary Wickison