Copyright © 2010 Kate HarperThere are many ways to simplify your card design to save costs. I am going to use the card sample to the left as an example of how I simplified a design.
I reduced the card color from 4 to 2 (only Black and Red). My stores felt the colors could easily be dropped since they didn't add much to the design. This card worked better as a "Less is more" design. Can you get away with a fewer colors? Printers often charge more for extra colors. Try using an Copyright © 2010 Kate Harper, How To's, Products, Start a Card Business, **Copyright © 2010 Kate Harper,envelope as one of your colors.
Do you really need all the materials you are using for decoration? Or can you just get away with a few?
Before, on this card, I had the long quote strip glued on a third piece of paper. I removed it. Instead, I used a very highly textured card back (not seen in photo) to give it a handmade paper feel. I made sure that I could still print my logo on this paper, (some papers won't go through a press) by asking a local printer.
Have you chosen difficult materials?
If you are making a collage style card and can't decide whether to use cloth or paper materials, consider how difficult it will be to cut them. Cutting 500 small pieces of cloth may be more difficult than cutting 500 pieces of paper.
Can you preprint part of the card, such as the back, text or the background pattern? Rather than rubber stamp the red image, I decided to eventually get it printed on the quote strip.
Are you hand signing each card? Stop. Stores know it is impossible for a card designer to do this long term and still be happy (or sane). They want to know you are serious about doing business and will be around for awhile
BORDERS AND FRAMING
Do you really need a border? If you are trying to create a border around your design by using paper or handwork, try using a colored envelope instead, like I have used a red envelope in the example. It becomes as a natural border around the card.
Can you get cards pre cut, pre scored and pre folded? This card had all of these things, including a precut quote strip.
USE THE SAME CARD BACKS FOR EVERY CARD.
Avoid imprinting card ordering codes on the back of cards. Try to have the same back for each design (meaning, the actual card you are gluing or printing on). In a million ways, this will save you a lot of money.
Some stores may fight you on this and demand you imprint card codes, because all the big companies do it that way, but trust me, I ran a business for a decade and no one stopped buying from me over card codes. Once I explained to them it's just way too expensive to print 100 different backs for 100 designs, they were sympathetic.
If you print 5,000 copies of card #257, it will end up in your basement once you realize it is a bad seller. That's a waste of paper and a waste of money. Stores want you to imprint card codes for their reordering convenience, but remind them it may cost you $20,000 - $50,000 for that little convenience. You are trying to make a living too, and you can't take those large financial risks. Besides, in 90% of the cases, your sales reps already knows the card codes by heart anyway (because they are memory geniuses). Print one universal back to use with ALL your designs.
If you are machine printing part of the card, is it still handmade? Everyone has a different definition of what handmade is. In my case I was paying people to glue the card, put the envelopes in the cards and slip them into individual bags. I consider that handmade.
It's possible to take this card one more step and print the whole thing with an embossed raised edge (which I did). A card designer may not be able to afford the cost of machine printing and embossing, especially when they aren't sure if the card will sell.
Making a card by hand is also good way to test out a new idea before you invest a lot of money in printing it.Don't worry so much if the card is handmade or not. Just remember that what matter is that you are the designer and people are buying your cards they like it! If you feel uncomfortable calling your card handmade, consider calling it handcrafted, hand assembled or Made in the U.S.A.!
Some purists may not want to reduce their handmade card designs to a manufacturing level, but if you want to make a good living in this business:
You need to aim towards what will sell, and what is not overly labor intensive.Remember, your goal is to not be a card slave. Your goal is to make a living selling your art.
Find your own "sweet spot" when addressing these challenges.
For me, when I shop for cards, I'd rather buy a local artist's mass-produced machine-printed card, rather than a beautifully handmade card that was outsourced to another country. I like to invest in my community.
I hope you liked this article. Please leave feedback on the comments below. It helps me know what topics are interesting to you. -Kate
Handmade Card Business Articles by Kate Harper
Backcopy:What to print on the back of your cards
The Handmade Card Business: Card Codes
The Handmade Card Business: All About Envelopes
Starting a Handmade Card Business: Manufacturing
How to Make a Living in the Handmade Card Business
Making Cards: Questions to Ask
Simplify Card Making for a Profit
How to Set Up a Handmade Card Factory
Paying People to Make Your Cards
Here are books I own or recommend for learning about the card business. Some are out of print, but used copies can be found online. They cover themes such as starting a card business, writing text, designing cards, technical skills, copyrights and marketing your work.
The Greeting Card Business
Get Your Greeting Cards Into Stores: How to Find and Work With Sales Reps (Updated 2017 paperback) If you like to make greeting cards, this book explains how to get your cards into stores and sell them nationwide. Learn about changing trends in the indie card market and niche opportunities available for artists. Book includes detailed guidelines on pricing cards for a profit, getting professional feedback on your designs, finding sales representatives, pitching your card line to them, approaching stores, and the industry standards you should follow. Information is also applicable to gift items, such as magnets, journals and calendars.
Start and Run a Greeting Card Business From a British author, whose country has a long history of greeting card design, she takes you step-by-step through the process of starting and running your business with lots of useful practical advice to help you, including: - Deciding what type of cards to produce - Finding your market - Dealing with printers - Copyright and licensing - Pricing and profit. Kate's note: Some specs are different (card sizes) since it is UK standards.
Greeting Card Design This volume features a vast array of fun, elegant, simple and imaginative greeting cards designed by internationally-known artists, illustrators and calligraphers. With over 300 full-color photographs of creative, popular, and inspiring greeting card designs, this invaluable sourcebook showcases the very best of what is happening in the industry today. Accompanying text explores the history of the greeting card industry and examines the major contributions from the leading innovative companies.
Card Making Ideas
The Complete Photo Guide to Cardmaking This book includes step-by-step photographed instructions for a wide range of techniques, as well as projects to accompany each area of card making. All paper-crafting techniques that can be employed for card making are thoroughly covered, including a comprehensive description of paper types available, folding options and techniques, coloring and image transfer methods, and adding embellishments. Inside, you'll also find methods for using a computer to design and print cards. More than 80 projects give you lots of ideas and inspiration to create cards of your own, using the techniques you've learned. Unique envelope templates and a helpful source list are included.
The Encyclopedia of Greeting Card Tools & Techniques Featuring hundreds of handmade cards from leading artists, plus step-by-step photographs of key skills.Sidebars on today's most creative card makers showcase their areas of expertise, from Dee Gruenig's rubber-stamp designs to Alli Bartkowski's quilling.
Creative Lettering: Techniques and Tips from Top Artists
Sixteen calligraphers, painters, collagists, card makers, fiber artists, and graphic designers—give their personal perspectives on lettering. They all offer their favorite tools, how they use them, their signature technique with step-by-step instructions and photos, and an alphabet sampler of their own font.
Uncommon Cards: Stationery Made with Found Treasures, Recycled Objects, and a Little Imagination
This DIY guide contains eight sheets of cardstock and basic stitch patterns that can be completed with nothing more than a needle and thread, either by hand or machine, transforming a blank card into a whimsical, inspired, one-of-a-kind design. The perfect expression for birthdays, graduations, or a simple thinking- of-you note, each design incorporates inexpensive and easy to find household items such as strips of fabric, brightly colored plastics, handmade stamps, and more.
The Print Making Book: Projects and Techniques in the Art of Hand-Printing
Techniques include relief-, screen- and mono- printing – all using tools and materials that are easy to source and use at home in your kitchen, bathroom, or garden. There are easy-to-use templates, step-by-step illustrations, and full-color photography throughout.
Start with a Scan A guide on how to transform raw, scanned images into attractive, finished illustrations. Filled with hundreds of illustrations, it starts by covering the technical basics of scanning, and provides the information needed to get images out of the computer and onto the printed page. The rest of the book shows how to scan almost anything (burlap, clip art, family photographs, found objects) to create a quality piece of artwork. Learn how to create textures and backgrounds, transform photos into graphics, and work with type. Two chapters discuss scanning images for the Web and using scanned images in arts and crafts projects. Book is a resource for scanner users who want to focus on illustrative techniques rather than technical issues.
More than 45 card designs are provided, with full instructions and close-ups that display card details, and the book includes source lists for recommended supplies to replicate the designs at home. The uncomplicated projects make the book suitable for beginners, and more advanced crafters will appreciate the outline of design theory that enriches their existing card-making experience. The basic tools and techniques of card creation are also covered, from stamping to hand-coloring.