Last time I pointed out some of the factors you will need to take into account if you decide to by-pass greeting card publishers and POD stores and make your own cards to sell. I highlighted some of the tasks and costs involved but if you still decide that this is the best way to go, there are so many other ways to sell your cards that this will be quite a long post!
Here are half a dozen of ways that I hope will help you to make your decision about which way suits you best - please feel free to add your own tips and comments about your experiences of selling greeting cards that might help others:
1. Selling at craft fairs. Many artists take this route successfully and some of the best-selling greeting card designers in the UK started out this way. But make sure you distinguish between craft fairs and craft markets as you are less likely to be able to charge a decent price for your greeting cards and sell enough of them to make it worthwhile at a craft market.
The general rule of thumb is that if it is a craft fair with a fairly high entrance fee, you will be selling to people who are prepared to pay a fair price for a greeting card. I have seen stalls in craft markets where greeting cards are sold, but they are not usually the main item on the stall, but an add-on to a range of more expensive goods. I have discovered that the ‘normal’ price of a stall at a craft fair in the UK is around £30 for a day so be aware of how many cards you need to sell in order to make a good profit and reward you for your travelling time and the day that you spend minding your stall!
2. Selling through local craft shops, coffee shops etc on a sale-or-return basis. In my experience, most such outlets will take about 30% commission, which I think is quite reasonable. But as with craft fairs, the volume of greeting cards you can sell locally will be limited, although this may be quite adequate if you live in a city or densely populated area. Also, as with craft fairs, you may find yourself out on the road rather a lot of the time, checking whether you have cash to collect or stocks to replenish. I have found, too, that I needed to allow a fair amount of time, waiting for the shopkeeper to be free to talk to me and then time is often needed for conversation with the shopkeeper! Sometimes it can help to phone and arrange a meeting in advance but if the shop is manned by one person alone, it is hardly worth bothering to do this as they are unlikely to know when they will be busy serving customers.
3. Selling outright to shops. It always feels good to make an outright sale but unfortunately the drawback is that retailers do not expect to pay you much for your cards, however attractive they are. If a retailer intends to offer your greeting cards for £2.35 each, it is unlikely that they will pay you much more than £1. With your profit margin so low, you need to sell a lot of cards to make a reasonable amount of money. It is unlikely that you can achieve this locally but you could employ an agent who will present your greeting cards to retailers in other parts of the country. The agent, however, will need to be paid his commission, so this only makes sense if you are thinking in terms of a large volume of sales and this would require a big initial investment, either in stock, if you are using a printing firm, or in raw materials, if you are printing the cards yourself.
4. An alternative way to ‘go national’ rather than ‘local’ is to set up a Partyplan arrangement. For this you will need to recruit ‘sellers’ or ‘consultants’ nationwide to hold ‘parties’ in their own areas to sell your greeting cards from which they earn a commission. You will need to carefully research other partyplan schemes to decide on the details of your arrangements – things like the commission the ‘sellers’ will earn, recruitment arrangements and remuneration and so on. There are websites and forums where you can discover how other partyplan schemes operate and you will probably want to register your business somewhere along the line for greater credibility. You will need to be well organised to keep track of such a scheme and you will also need to be reasonably good at recruiting ‘sellers’ at the beginning.
5. Moving from ‘local’ to ‘national’ to ‘global’, you can sell your greeting cards through your own website. This is possibly the cheapest way to run your business as no commission will be involved – all the profit will come to you! However, the competition is bound to be at its fiercest if you decide to go global and you will need to have a really unique selling proposition, or to have found a niche market that is as yet not catered for, if you are going to succeed in such a huge market! Time will also be needed to promote your website both on- and offline and a certain amount of knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will be useful.
6. A variation or even an add-on to having your own website is to use websites like ebay or etsy. These differ from using the PODstores in that you will still have to do the printing and packaging and the shipping to the customers. But it could all help sell more cards.
It may be that you will begin with a combination of several of these outlets for your greeting cards and then refine it down to the ones that are easiest for you to manage while still bringing in the income you need. Whichever way you decide to go, I hope that some of what I’ve learnt and passed on in this series of blog posts will be of use to you! Good luck!
The suggestions I've offered are based on my own experience as someone living in the UK. But for those who are in other parts of the world, you'll find a wealth of additional information and advice on these two websites -