The Handmade Card Business: Card Codes

Determining Card Codes

Codes are those numbers and letters you always see on the back of greeting cards. Since it is very difficult for you or a sales reps to take orders by writing down the description of the card, you really need to identify the cards with codes.

Everyone has their own coding system and you can create your own. It's helpful, when you have cards of the same style or of the same family, to prefix all of them with a similar code. That way, when you or your sales rep needs to take a fast order, she can just write one prefix, and a series of suffixes. For example, let's say you have ten Christmas cards and you have coded them like the following example:

36-GO Christmas Card Goose
23-TR Christmas Tree Card
47-CG Christmas Card Green
37-CR Christmas Card Red
39-BL Blank Christmas Card
55-BI Bird Christmas Card
88-WR Wreath Christmas Card
78-AN Angel Christmas Card
99-SA Santa Christmas Card
63-SN Snow Scene Christmas Card

This way of coding cards can be very difficult to write when taking an order, especially for reps who are often taking orders simultaneously for several different card lines. While the letters give you an abbreviated description of the card, the numbers are all over the map. It is also hard to rely solely on letters because you can run out of them pretty fast. A better way to code these same cards would be like the following example:

36-GO Christmas Card Goose
36-TR Christmas Tree Card
36-CG Christmas Card Green
36-CR Christmas Card Red
36-BL Blank Christmas Card
36-BI Bird Christmas Card
36-WR Wreath Christmas Card
36-AN Angel Christmas Card
36-SA Santa Christmas Card
36-SN Snow Scene Christmas Card

Notice that the only difference is that you have changed the prefix. Now when you or a rep takes an order, you can write it out like this:

One dozen each of the following:
36-TR, BL, AN, SN

On the invoice, these can be written out in long form later.

The main point is that you don't want to use complicated codes that are hard to record while you are making a sale.
Codes can also be organized by the time the cards were created. For example when you introduce a dozen new designs to a pre-existing line, you might prefix them all with the same number like the 100 series or the 6X series. Be creative and see what card codes you can come up with, that will help you remember what card it is by heart.

More Articles on the Handmade Card Business

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.

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.

Greeting Card Design and Illustration 12 step-by-step demonstrations show how to create successful greeting cards Samples of 130 actual greeting cards Twelve step-by-step demonstrations by professional greeting card artists show you how to combine basic illustration techniques with the eight most popular mediums. This art technique book is a comprehensive and practical guide to all aspects of designing and creating professional greeting cards.Samples of 130 actual greeting cards.leads you through every stage of the design process.

Painting Greeting Cards for Fun and Profit The author and a group of other successful greeting card artists offer friendly and practical business advice on all aspects of producing, publishing, pricing, packaging and marketing greeting cards

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. Kate's Note: See my book review here with photos and information.

Mary Engelbreit: The Art and the Artist This book is about her path into art licensing and greeting card design. She is now a successful licensor, her career spans over decades, and she was awarded "best art license of the year" by LIMA. Kate’s Note: See my book review on "7 things I learned from Mary". This book is one of the more encouraging and practical books I've read in awhile. She confirmed my inherent belief that if someone tries to impose rules and prerequisites on entering this career, someone else will come along, break all the rules, and become successful.

The Very Best from Hallmark: Greeting Cards Through the Years. This collection of 750 of Hallmark's best takes readers through seven decades of birthdays, births, trips, holidays, get well wishes, graduations, and more. The story of this remarkable company is as fascinating as the cards.

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.


Kay Murphys Studio said...

Great idea...

Brenda Salzano said...

Love your tips! jotting this one down for sure. For my jewelry, which is so many and all different I found giving them one of the numbers in my iphoto. Iphoto give each photo a number and I take keep that number with the card when they are put into boutiques. Helps me to find that exact piece if someone sees it and asks to make something similar. I sure never remember when they say, " i would like one like this teal, ocean bead thing" LOL! I make cards too, and never thought of numbering them this way! Thanks!