After a stamper has made a few cards, word starts to get around and soon, family and friends start to make the first tentative approaches about buying some cards. Before long, this word spreads and orders are coming in from friends and family and the seeds of a new business are being sewn.
Starting a Card Making Business
A card making business is an ideal business for a whole range of people. Making and selling handmade greeting cards provides the opportunity to simply earn a few extra dollars or, right at the other end of the scale, to build a significant income. Most small card businesses fall half way between these two extremes. Handmade cards remain popular and many people like to give handmade cards to mark birthdays and other special occasions. For more information about the greeting card market in general and how this reflects on handmade cards take a look at this article - Greeting Cards Facts and Figures.
In order to sell cards effectively there are a few key points to bear in mind:
Finding a Market
Finding a market for your handmade cards is one of the most essential parts of setting up a card making business. Word of mouth will only go so far when it comes to selling cards. It is also important to determine a market for the cards and good research will help to determine the opportunities. This might be selling cards through local business, at craft fares or via an Internet site. The increasing number of online craft marketplaces, such as Etsy, Artfire and the many other specialist sites that have recently launched, means that selling online is a viable proposition for anyone with access to the Internet. No specialist skill are required to set up an online store within these online handmade marketplaces. For more information and a list of online handmade marketplaces see - Online Handmade Selling Venues
Making sure that you have the time available to build and maintain a card making business is so important. There is a big difference between making a few cards for family or friends and running a small business. The timely fulfillment of orders is an important part of building a successful card making business. The making of cards, however, is just part of the time required to run a successful card making business. Marketing and promoting the business, creating new designs, sourcing products and administration are just part of the other aspects of running a business that will eat into the time available.
You will also need to carefully plan your handmade card business. As well as planning the types of cards to sell, you will also need to determine your production calendar. Greeting cards are very seasonal, therefore you will need to be planning seasonal cards in advance to give you time to make and sell the cards in time for the relevant season.
Check the Angel Policy or Terms and Conditions of Your Stamps
Not all stamp designers allow you to sell work that you have created using their stamps, and other companies have restrictions. These restrictions might include limiting the number of cards made from any one stamp in a year or how the cards may be sold (for instance from retail outlets only and not online or from markets). Some companies require that the stamp information is placed on the back of the card or that the designer's name is credited. This policy is known as an 'Angel Policy' and each stamp designer or retailer will have their policy readily available. It is worth checking the Angel Policy of a stamp designer before designing any projects that incorporate their designs. See this List of Rubber Stamping Companies with Angel Policies for information from over fifty companies.
Designing or commissioning your own stamps is a good way to incorporate images into your designs that are unique and specific only to you. This will also avoid any restrictions that an Angel Policy may impose.
The presentation of cards is part of the key to the success of handmade card business. A card that is neatly presented in a cellophane envelope looks more professional and can command a higher price than one that is unpackaged. Presenting cards in some form of packaging has other benefits too - it stops cards from becoming dirty or dog-eared and it also gives the ideal opportunity for further marketing. A label on the back with your phone number or website address could well solicit further orders.
There are many handmade greetings cards available and to be really successful you need to offer something a little different. In many areas the market is swamped with handmade cards. Finding a niche for your cards will help to really make your cards stand out. Ideas for suitable niches for handmade cards include creating a 'green' handmade card business where all products used are environmentally friendly or offering a customization service whereby cards can be customized with a name or perhaps a special greeting.
With a little forward planning and research, a handmade card business can be a great way to combine stamping with a commercial opportunity.