Greeting cards are bought every day of the year, with some occasions selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cards over a matter of a day or two. Now wouldn’t you like to have a piece of that pie?
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Beginning of full transcript. It has been edited for clarity.
You’re listening to Take On Life After 50, the podcast for people over 50 who want to supplement their retirement by doing what they love. I’m your host Diane Ziomek, and this is where you’ll find practical how-tos and inspiration to create the life you deserve. Whether you want to replace your current income or supplement it, I’m here to share my experiences, ideas, and even some of life’s lessons when it comes to side hustles.
Welcome to Episode 7: Creating and Selling Greeting Cards as a Side Hustle.
I hope you’ve had a good week. We had some reprieve from the frigid temperatures for a few days, but the last couple have been bitterly cold again. Winter isn’t ready to loosen its grip on us quite yet. It really isn’t all that bad though, because it gives us creative people a good excuse to stay inside and make things.
In this episode I’m going to talk about card making as a side hustle. You can either make ready to ship cards or design cards using graphics software and delivered to your customers via a platform such as Etsy, or via your own website or offer both. Not everyone has access to a printer and may want a handmade card for that special someone. Stay tuned to the end where I’ll give you another side hustle you can start as well.
I remember when I started scrapbooking. I went to Creative Memories class with my sisters and I had such a hard time cutting my pictures. Once I got it through my head that it was okay to cut them I was able to create some fun pages. One of my favorite layouts is of a trip to a petting zoo over 20 years ago. I took my kids, my niece, and my mom and we had a blast. I got some amazing pictures and created the scrapbook pages while the outing was still fresh in my mind.
Now, what does scrapbooking have to do with card making you may be wondering.
First of all, if you’re a scrapbooker you already have a lot of the supplies needed for making cards. You’ll have cutters, adhesive, stickers, cardstock in a variety of colors, paper punches, washi tape, and more.
If you’re not a scrapbooker that’s okay too. You can get started with your card making adventure for less than $50. All you’re really going to need is some cardstock in a variety colors, some good paper cutting scissors, (which you most likely already have), a ruler, markers and some stencils. (Once again, something you probably already have.) If you have a steady hand you can even forego the stencils and write the message freehand.
You can finally put the boxes of pencil crayons and geometry sets to use that are left over from kids school days. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose kids had to have new sets every year. Even though the one from the previous year was just fine. I swear I have at least a half dozen geometry sets in my house. I recently dumped a bunch of pencil boxes into large freezer bag so I am also set for crayons for the rest of my life I’m sure.
If you find you’re enjoying the card making process you can invest in some additional materials such as a good paper cutter, an envelope maker, pop dot adhesives, embossing tools, glitter glue, calligraphy pens, and the list goes on. There are thousands of items you can use for making cards. A quick search on Amazon will show you just how big a variety there is, or even walk through the papercrafts selection of your local Michaels or your craft store. Most dollar stores also have a fairly decent selection of paper, paper glue, embellishments, and so forth.
Now that I’ve covered some supplies, it’s time to decide on what types of cards you’ll make. You have several options here depending on how much time you have or want to spend on making cards.
First of all, there’s the holidays and celebrations. You might decide you want to only be busy a few times a year so you concentrate on Christmas, Easter Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Canada Day (for us Canadians), Fourth of July (for our southern neighbors), Halloween, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
You can pick and choose whichever holiday or celebration you want to make cards for. If you personally don’t celebrate Christmas, then it really doesn’t make sense to do something you don’t have an interest in.
Second are the special occasions. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, baptisms. The list goes on and on. You can pick and choose here too, because there are so many options.
Third, there’s the everyday cards. The sympathy cards, get well soon, thinking of you, welcome to the neighborhood…you get the picture. If you’re not sure of all the reasons people buy cards, just go to your local pharmacy or department store and peruse the card selection, make notes, get ideas, and then go home and start with one type. It can be whatever you like because as a card maker, you have the flexibility and the creativity to do as you wish.
Did I mention greeting cards are a multimillion dollar industry?
Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are probably the two most profitable occasions for card makers. If you make cards, then there’s a pretty good chance you’ll sell some of these two dates come around. Add in a few other occasions, and you can keep busy all year round if you so choose.
But what if I don’t want to spend hours making cards that no one may buy you ask. In that case, you can do one of two things.
A, you can make the card after your customer orders it or, B, you can create printable cards. With printable cards you design the card on your computer using clipart, fonts, and even photos (which you must have the rights to). You then export it as a PDF which a customer can print at home or take to a local print shop. This method works well if you don’t want to create ready to ship cards or even as a sideline to handmade cards. You pick the occasion, design the card, then list and upload the digital file to a platform such as Etsy, Shopify or even to your own website.
When it comes to cards, I’m for Etsy all the way. I like it for ideas and inspiration plus the customer base is already there. That doesn’t mean you can’t list your cards elsewhere. But if you’re just starting out, it’s an ideal platform. When designing digital cards, be sure to make the file in the finished size for ease of printing. Use a 300 dpi (or dots per inch) setting for the best quality and include instructions on how to print the cards in a separate download for your customer. You may choose to indicate cut and fold lines which I highly recommend. You should also indicate whether the card is best suited for cardstock or photo paper.
I have printable word search Valentine cards in my take on life after 50 printables Etsy shop, which I have included files for in three sizes. That way my customer can choose whichever size works best and print accordingly. And because the words are everyday vocabulary, the smaller sizes also work great for class parties.
The benefit to digital downloads is your customer can purchase, download and print the card all within a few minutes. I have found this to be a necessity at times simply because I live in a rural area and I don’t have access to the card aisle at the pharmacy 24/7. When I shop on Etsy, I do have access 24/7. I can print my purchase at 3am if I so choose, and I have done that.
Granted, the cards aren’t three dimensional, sparkly or handmade, but it’s the next best thing when you need a card right away. Plus, you can add your own embellishments if you so choose.
You’re also going to have to come up with pricing your cards. When mailing physical cards I suggest no more than $10 each, which should include shipping. Browse Etsy to see what others are charging and what they charge for shipping. Remember to look at listings shipped from your country, as all pricing and shipping is not created equal. With digital files the price can be less but don’t sell yourself short. It takes time to create digital products too and your pricing should reflect that your time is worth something.
Now for a little bonus.
If you decided making cards is something that you are interested in you can use the same skills and materials to create customizable invitations. I personally wouldn’t suggest committing to creating 100 handmade wedding invitations, but it’s a service you could provide on a smaller scale for perhaps a baby shower, or birthday party. This is where the digital files would come in handy because your your customer could take them to a local print shop and have them done much quicker than if they ordered from a specialty shop.
If taking the invitation route, you’ll collect the information required from your customer, edit your invitation template, and deliver the file via email. Be sure to specify in your listing that they will not receive the file as soon as payment is processed as it takes time to key in their information. Encourage them to review the file when they receive it to be sure there aren’t any errors before they have it printed. Even the most careful typist can end up with a typo, which is often, in this day and age, related to autocorrect.
I recently designed and printed baby shower invitations which will be going out in the mail within the next couple of days. I will be listing them in my Etsy shop but not until mid to late February as the ones printed are for my daughter’s baby shower. And I really can’t have family and friends seeing them on Etsy before they arrive in their mailbox now can I?
As I wrap this up, I want to say this. It doesn’t matter what your skill level, whether you do physical or digital cards and/or invitations, or which platform you use. The point is to have fun with it. You’ll get better and faster as you go along, and the ideas will naturally start coming to you. Use those cards you see online for inspiration, but don’t copy someone else’s work exactly.
When it comes to pricing stay competitive no matter how fast you get. Undercutting other creators hurts everyone. In the end, you’re a creator, and your time is worth something. If you want to make a profit, you can’t be selling your cards for $1 apiece.
Next week, I’m going to switch gears a bit and talk about writing ebooks and publishing on KDP (or Kindle Direct Publishing). Publishing an ebook can become a great side hustle which provides passive income. Join me next week to learn more. I’ll see you then.
Thanks for listening to this episode, and I hope you’ve been able to take away a little something from it. If you want to learn more about me, visit my website take on life after fifty.com and get your copy of three side hustles to fill your piggy bank. Also, if you have questions that you’d like me to answer in either personal email or podcast, you can email me at info at take on life after 50 dot com
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
After I finished recording and uploading the episode to Buzzsprout I had a couple of thoughts I should have included.
- You can use photos in your cards and invitations, as long as you have permission (in the case of customized items). If you took the photos, then you have the right to distribute as you see fit. Something like this would be ideal for birth announcements or family Christmas cards.
- If you’re serious about card making and want to invest in some specialized equipment, a Cricut would soon pay for itself. If you already have one, you know the possibilities are endless with it. I’ve been wanting one since I worked at the library and used it there. It’s now on my Amazon Wish List, along with some other accessories. I do have an older style but its design and cutting capabilities aren’t near what the new ones are. (Cartridges and a 6″ mat.)
- Have a storage system for your supplies. Clear plastic totes with lids are great for stacking items such as washi tape, scissors, punches, adhesives, and more. I suggest the hinged lid 12″ X 12″ for your 12″ sheets of cardstock.
Let me know your thoughts on card making. Do you foresee it as something you might try?
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