Starting a Handmade Card Business: Manufacturing

Copyright © 2010 Kate Harper

"Manufacturability" is a word I use to describe the method of analyzing your card designs to see how they can be mass produced in an efficient and cost effective manner.

While you probably don't need to worry about this when you first start designing your cards, you might want to think about it early, so you don't create a series of cards that are too difficult to make on a larger scale.

Some people are easily put off by the idea of mass producing handmade cards. It sounds like a contradiction. Shouldn't handmade items be a labor of love that has special meaning? This is exactly the line that divides a hobbyist from a business person. Both people are skilled artists, but the business person is the one that intends to use their artistic skills to create an income.

There is nothing wrong with spending an hour making a card for Aunt Betty, but if you seriously want transform this "craft" into a business, you have to consider that your time is worth something.

You shouldn't be setting up your entire business just so that you can become the world's best card slave.

If I had to choose anything I felt should be taken seriously in the hand-crafted card business, it is the process of manufacturing. The key questions about how to chose materials, the way the work area is going to be set up, how these things can affect production time, and the quality of the work all need to be addressed.

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

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.


artpaw said...

Great post, very generous info! I ran a handmade card biz in the mid 90's and I sold to many large clients including Paperchase in London... they ordered dozens of single styles. After my first trade show I had to learn production very very quickly. For me it was all about costing each card down to the penny and production. Kate, I love your phrase "card slave", even when doing it well you can end up feeling that way when you sell a large volume.

I woud love to see the independents take handmade back from the big company pretenders. I left the biz at a time in the late 90's when the industry giants were starting to sleeve $5 cards and glue a few gems to the outside to try to carve into the handmade market. I miss designing, the trade shows and the small sellers, but I don't miss the small margins. I have really been enjoying your blog!

Kate Harper said...

Thanks so much for your kind words! There is a formula for making it work financially and I will be talking about that more on the blog.

PrittieHartPress said...

Thanks, Kate! I am REALLY looking forward to the next installments...the sooner the better :)

Patti Gibbons said...

I must be one of the last hold outs. Though I have designed cards and had them printed, I still love my one-of-a-kind cards. Yes, I do have a full time job, but I intend on making money on them and my art when I retire. There is something about using antique paper and making mini works of art that inspires me. As a business person I still have a goal as to how much money I want to make per hour..and usually set that from 25-50.00. If I can make that while making my cards (that is gross-) I am doing well and I am happy, which is what it is all about.

Kate Harper said...

Patti-You are realistic about giving yourself a good wage (and not working for $5 and hour). There are still ways to use fun materials and create designs "on of a kind." It's just that once you come up with a new design, it can be manufactured and sold by other people. And yes, happiness is what it is all about. It depends on what your goals are.

Anonymous said...

I am an artist and I've been making handmade cards for 11 years. This is the first time I am hearing something so educative and informative from an artist especially in the handmade card industry.

Adelodun Ade.
Lagos, Nigeria.

Unknown said...

Kate, thank you for this information! I am just starting in the card design area. I'm an oil painter and want to use painted art for card designs. Is it possible to control the entire production process and still make a living: from painted art, to printed card, to packaging and delivery to local stores? Can't wait for your response! Claire

Unknown said...

still today i have found many of greeting cards articles, blogs and watched out many of fabulous cards design but never read any instruction for making it carefully.. It's really wonderful and help me a lot by giving very valuable tips.. now i want to make Birth announcement photo cards for my little one birthday to send my relatives..

Birth announcement photo cards said...

still today i have found many of greeting cards articles, blogs and watched out many of fabulous cards design but never read any instruction for making it carefully.. It's really wonderful and help me a lot by giving very valuable tips..