Paying others to make your Cards

HIRING CARD MAKERS
Copyright © 2010 Kate Harper

When you hire card makers, how much should you pay them?

Ideally we all want to pay people a lot and make them happy! But first you need to figure out what you can afford and what your expenses are. Besides materials, you need to assign a per-piece-manufacturing rate for your card. In other words:
How much time does it take to make each card and how much can you pay people to make each card?

TIME MOTION STUDY

The first thing you need to do is a time and motion study. This will help you figure out how much time it really takes to make your cards.

You will time yourself making different parts of the card, and then add up all the time to get a total. Here are tasks you might break up into manufacturing categories, depending on your card line: cutting, pasting, gluing, painting, adding the envelope, and packaging the card in a cellophane bag.

For example, in my article yesterday, I demonstrated how I made my own cards. Here is the way I would divide the tasks: 1)gluing the pieces on the cards and 2) putting them in cello bags with envelopes.


HOW TO DO A TIME STUDY

STEP 1: MATERIALS
Get all the materials out for 100 hundred cards and put them on your worktable. (Ideally we would want to make more like 500 cards, but I'll use 100 because it's an easy number.) Make sure they are for only one design style.

STEP 2: QUIET TIME
Make sure no one else is around where you are working, so you won't be interrupted.

STEP 3: LISTS THE TASKS
Divide up your card tasks. My cards have 2 tasks: gluing and bagging.

STEP 4: DO THE FIRST TASK
Get ready to do the first task: Gluing. Write down the time on the clock, and immediately start gluing the cards.

IMPORTANT:During this time, don't watch TV or talk to anyone. Don't answer the phone or the door. This will disrupt your pace. If you stop to answer the door, even if you subtract that time, your pace will be very slow when you return to the task and your numbers will be inaccurate.


STEP 5: WORK FAST
Really concentrate on working as fast as you can in a comfortable way.

STEP 6: WRITE DOWN YOUR TIME FOR TASK #1
When you are finished gluing 100 cards. Stop and write down the number of minutes it took you.

STEP 7: TAKE A BREAK!
Take a break and let your cards dry.

STEP 8: DO THE SECOND TASK
Now do the same thing, except this time, you will be doing the second task: assembling the envelope and cello bag.


STEP 9: WRITE DOWN YOUR TIME FOR TASK #2 Again: Note the time you started and when you are finished.

STEP 10: ADD UP YOUR TIME
You should have two numbers: The minutes it took to glue 100 cards, and the minutes it took to bag 100 cards. Add together your total minutes and get a grand total.

STEP 11: CALCULATE HOW LONG IT TAKES YOU TO MAKE ONE CARD
Let's pretend you total time was 100 minutes. That means you made 100 cards in 100 minutes. That means each card took 1 minute to make. Before you think that it is impossible to make a card in 1 minute, let me tell that by using my manufacturing method, I was able to make one card in 24 seconds without rushing. That is how important it is to set up a "factory" system (versus making one at a time.)

STEP 12: ASSIGN A WAGE
First of all, translate all your numbers into per hour. So if you make 100 cards in 100 minutes, then you can assume you make 60 cards in 60 minutes (more or less). This number is important when you start determining your wage.

Now take the number of cards you can make in an hour (60) and divide it by the wage you expect to pay someone (Let's say $10 an hour) This will give you the piece rate pay of 16 cents per card. So that means you can pay someone 16 cents to make a card. (For more information, see IRS guidelines for contract workers).



OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

I always tried to aim to pay double or triple minimum wage rate, but that's because I wanted good people who would stay with me long term. Don't dismiss the idea of a minimum wage rate at the beginning, especially if your card makers want to work at home. To them, this is a big perk so they don't have to commute to a job everyday.

COSTS TOO MUCH?
If you find that your cards take too long to make and you can't afford to pay someone, see what part of your card making is taking the most time and try to eliminate it.

If part of your time study involves cutting or folding paper, consider having a printer or copy store do this. They can do thousands of cards quickly at pennies per card, whereas paying someone to do this by hand could cost 5-10 times more. Having a printer score cards, especially can save you a lot of time and money.

OTHER OPTION:
Once you make and sell over 1,000 cards you need to consider hiring labor. When I first started, I gave my cards to organization that did contract factory jobs. They even did a time study for me for free and offered to pay 12 cents to make each card. I couldn't believe it! It sounded like so little! Eventually, I found it easy to contract my piecework out to artists who also worked for other people. Artists are great people to hire!

OTHER WORKERS:
Here are some other staff you might want to hire:


Order Entry Clerk


Systems Analyst



Warehouse Manager





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More Articles on the Handmade Card Business
----------------------------------------------------------------------













----------------------------------------------------------------------
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.





 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.





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.




 Clean and Simple Cards: Celebrate the Basics of Design Theory

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.

How to Set Up a Handmade Card Factory

(Step by step instructions also featured on Instructables website)
Copyright © 2010 Kate Harper

It may seem unbelievable that I serviced over 2,000 stores for about 15 years making cards this way, but it worked great. Of course, after awhile I paid other people to make the cards.

Here is an example of a manufacturing process for a card business.

THE TASK

In this task, I need to glue two items on a card, and put them in a bag with an envelope.

This picture is an example of probably the worst way to set up for this task, and will probably take 3 times longer. 

Here are better ways to do it:




BETTER SET UP

Lay cards in a row and start adding glue.

Overlap the cards in areas that are not going to be glued. You can get more cards on the table that way.





GLUE

Notice I added glue on the cards, but I didn't glue anything on it yet.

Since the glue takes awhile to dry, I know I will have time to lay down the pieces before it dries.

Partially dried glue is ideal, because when you place something on it, it has more "stick" to it than fresh runny glue. Runny glue tends to let things slide around too much.

ORDER and DIRECTION

The pieces are placed down starting with the top row. Note the order and direction of both gluing and placing the pieces.

Drawing a circle of glue is a whole lot faster than a square shape, and it sticks just the same. Note also the card has a pre-printed black frame, to help the cardmaker guide where the glue should be placed.



STACKING

Is it time to remove the cards from the table to glue another set?

No.
Don't remove anything. Put a second stack on top. I can make this stack go about 10 levels high.



ENVELOPES and BAGGING

This picture is an example of how NOT to set up your workspace for bagging.
Put the cards and envelopes in locations on your work table so that you never cross one arm over another. This is very inefficient.
Also, if you are throwing away paper scraps away every minute, make sure the garbage can is on the same side of the table as the hand that is throwing the scrap away.

BETTER SET UP

The picture shows the pieces near the hand that will them up.

PRODUCTION TIP
Break up card production into segments.

Do all of your gluing at once, then all your bagging, etc. This not only gives the cards time to dry before they are packaged, but you will develop a faster rhythm. Also, you lose a lot of time adjusting when you transfer from one task to another.

Bagging cards is a great thing to do while watching a movie. Card gluing is a great thing to do while listening to music or talking on a hand-free phone.


STORAGE


The most efficient way to store cards is in long envelope boxes, which resemble shoe boxes. Allot an entire box per card style (see photo on right). You might notice the blue paper clips and the red post it's. I used the paper clip to warn me the card style is running low, and the red post it's to remind me I am going to drop this card, and to not remake anymore.

Group cards into 6's or 12 when putting them in the box, (that's the way card are usually sold). You can do this by rotating every 6 cards.

Don't store cards in damp areas. Dampness can cause the envelopes flaps to stick to themselves. Also, don't pack cards too tight if you use cellophane. It has a tendency to stick to itself since it is biodegradable. Bags need to "breath."






Here's a book I found helpful in learning how to manufacture a handmade item. See my book review here with photos and more information.


By the Batch Innovative new ideas for creating fabulous cards (and envelopes, tags, and bookmarks) in batches, with impressive results. The wide range of techniques presented includes everything from the tried and true (rubber stamping) to the unexpected (polymer clay), from the spontaneous (smudge-and-smear) to the whimsical (shaped cards). And author Judi Kauffman shows precisely how to put pedal to the metal and create whole batches of cards in just one sitting. 










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More Handmade Card Business Articles
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----------------------------------------------------------------------
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.





 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.





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.




 Clean and Simple Cards: Celebrate the Basics of Design Theory

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.

How to Simplify Card Making for a Profit

Handmade Card Manufacturing
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.

COLORS
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.

MATERIALS
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.

PREPRINTING
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.

HANDSIGNED CARDS
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.

PRECUT
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.


What is "Handmade," Anyway?

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.



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