Advantages of a Handmade Card Business Part 1: Financial Investment

by Kate Harper

For the home-based business, the handmade card has several advantages. The first advantage is they require a small financial investment.

Handmade greeting cards are low risk. You can easily and cheaply buy enough supplies to actually try out your ideas in the marketplace. For example, If you came up with 20 designs and you wanted to make a dozen of each design to show to stores for feedback, you don't have to print up a 1000 of each card design. You can easily handmake 12 copies of each card without incurring major expenses.

Many supplies can be bought at the local art store or outlets. For example, here are some example costs for creating 20 new cards, a dozen of each card (total 240):
1 box of envelopes (250) an outlet store $10-$15
1 package of cardstock (250 sheets) $10-$15
Cellophane bags (250) $10-$13
Glue (1 small bottle) $3
Assortment of papers/materials $20-$50
Pens, pencils, markers or paints $10-$20
Total $73-$120

If you tried print the same amount of cards professionally, you could easily spend $1000. On the other hand, if you create a line of handmade cards and they don't sell, you aren't stuck with lots of expensively created, unsold cards.

Of course, after you start a full blown card business you're going to incur many other expenses, such as marketing costs, labor, sales representatives and others. But the point I make here is that before you actually invest a lot into the details of starting your business, you will be able to "test out" your ideas first, and possibly adjust them before you make any major financial leap.

Starting a home-based card business does not require a large amount of money, rather it requires "sweat-equity," time and energy. If you have the money to blow, then go ahead. But if you can't take the financial risk, don't go overboard by being tempted to buy things you think you are "supposed to" have. I am an avid believer in keeping things cheap and simple. I am always ask myself "Do I really need this to run the business or am I just giving myself a perk?"

I was so frugal when I first started my business, that I didn't even have professional business cards. I used store bought invoices and hand-stamped my name on them. I collected used shipping boxes from local stores and then slapped a "RECYCLED PAPER" sticker on it.

The one thing I did not skimp on though, was the actual product: the card. I used high quality materials, and was willing to spend what was necessary to make the product the best it could be. Over time, I was able to hire contract labor, buy real invoices, buy business cards, get promotional materials, and pay reps.

See Other Advantages of a Handmade Card Business:

Handmade Card Business Part 1: Financial Investment

Handmade Card Business Part 2: You Change Designs Quickly

Handmade Card Business Part 3: Financial Investment

Handmade Card Business Part 4: More Designs & High Quality

Handmade Card Business Part 5: Higher Retail Price

Handmade Card Business Part 6: Homebased

Handmade Card Business Part 7: Easier for Beginners

Handmade Card Business Part 8: Card & Gift in one

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.

Pushing the Envelope Things the small greeting card manufacturer needs to know about finding, recruiting and retaining a winning sales force can be found in this easy-to-read handbook. Written from both the manufacturer and sales rep perspectives, this nuts and bolts guide is full of industry information, sales tips and guidance for building successful and profitable rep relationships. Kate's Note: This book was written by my top selling sales rep in the country.


PrittieHartPress said...

As usual, Kate, great advice! Keep it coming for us novices :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Kate,
This is my first time on your site, great timming for me because I am considering partiscipating in the Nat'l Stationary Show in May. I have a line of cards that I have marketed in my area via Art Shows, and outdoor community markets since 2006; I have also sold them wholesale (small quantities) They have been well recieved and it has been suggested to me many times that I should go to the NSS. What is your advice for a novice. Thanks so much for having this blog.

Anonymous said...


Can you advise on protecting my work. The copyright online is very complicated.

Karie Jorgensen said...

Hi Kate,
I'd love to know where you find 250 envelopes or cards for $10-15.00 These must be the 8.5 x 11" full sheets that you need to cut and fold?

Kate Harper said...

Karie, That's what I did in the beginning (cut them down) but a printer will often sell you cut down paper scraps if you ask them. Maybe knock on some doors.

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