Thursday, 11 August 2011

Printing your own Greeting Cards

A Word of Warning...

If you’ve ever thought about printing your own greeting cards to sell, perhaps at Craft Fairs or through your local shops, you’ve probably discovered that using a printing firm is probably not the best way to go. In my experience, printing firms usually want to print at least 50 of each of your designs. So it simply won’t work if you are just wanting to ‘toe-dip’ to find out whether your cards are popular enough to sell.

But with home printers becoming better and cheaper all the time, the answer is obviously to do it yourself. All you need by way of equipment is the printer, a trimmer and maybe a bone-handled dinner knife to help with the folding.



As far as ‘consumables’ are concerned, suitably heavy card (280gsm and upwards is best), envelopes, cellophane sleeves and self-adhesive labels to seal them are all reasonably easy to obtain, as are the replacement ink cartridges for your printer.

All the printing, folding, trimming and packaging are a bit tedious but it’s good to see your greeting cards looking so professional so you embark on your printing/selling project with enthusiasm. So far, so good.

But wait! Even before you invest in your equipment and supplies, stop and ask yourself whether printing your own cards is something you will want to continue with indefinitely. Because, in my experience, unless you have money to burn, once you’ve begun, it won’t be easy to stop without losing money!

Take this scenario:

Because most of the items are more affordable if you buy them in bulk, you’ve stocked up on 100 sheets of suitable printing paper, 1000 envelopes and cellophane sleeves and a pack of 210 self-adhesive labels, plus a set of new ink cartridges.

You print 75 cards and your ink cartridges run out, so you buy new ones. Then you print 25 more cards and you cardstock runs out but you still have a lot more ‘juice’ left in your ink cartridges – and 900 envelopes, cellophane sleeves and 110 self-adhesive labels.

So you buy more card, only to find that, before you’ve used it all, the ink cartridges need replacing again...and so on and so forth. Even if you manage to buy the same quantity of most of your supplies, it’s almost impossible to predict how long the ink cartridges will last because different types of designs use vastly different amounts of ink.


If you are fully committed to printing your own cards for the foreseeable future, it will probably all even out in the end. But if you’re unsure whether your cards will sell, or whether you will want to continue spending time on what is a rather tedious, time-consuming task, you will need to take into consideration the fact that you will be spending out on supplies long before you begin to cover your costs through sales and you are likely to have a constant surplus of one or other of the items.

Just a word of warning!

35 comments:

art2cee2 said...

Very good advice. I have printed cards on my computer for years...mostly using pre-made card blanks. I haven't tried to sell them yet. :-)

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Crystal - thank you for your comment :)

If ever you do try selling your greeting cards, you'll find plenty of advice and even warnings here as I've posted my experiences over the past year and a half!

Country Mouse Studio said...

Such good advice. I also had the same experience. I later tried with a laser printer. The ink cartridges lasted longer but the print head died.

Robin said...

Been there, done that ... totally agree! Great advice Judy!

Jean said...

Judy,I had thought about printing my own cards to sell locally. Thanks for the low down.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Carole - in the end, it seems rather obvious that it's best, if possible, to leave all the printing hassle to someone else!

Hi Robin - glad to know I'm not the only one who started out thinking it would be easy and then encountered so many difficulties it just wasn't worth it!

Hi Jean - one way that might work for you, as you're in the US, is to upload your designs to Greeting Card Universe (for instance, possibly making them 'private', and order some to sell when they have a free shipping offer on, which is quite frequently.

The more you order, the cheaper they get and, unlike traditional printers, there doesn't have to be a minimum number of each design

It doesn't work very well for people outside the US because of the shipping costs - and so far, I've never seen a 'free shipping' notice that applied outside the US :(

barbara schreiber said...

Hi Judy
I completely agree! I also had difficulties that my designs would not print out correctly (centered, filling in the front of the card) as the card sizes I had bought differed from the sizes my printer would accept as printsize! Have not even tried to sell those miserable few cards I had printed out and still have plenty of cardstock/enveloppes/celophane sleeves lying around!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Barbara - thank you for your comment, which I'm afraid I've only just discovered!

I'm glad I wrote this post as what you've written confirms that there are bound to be people out there thinking about printing their own and I wish I'd been warned of the drawbacks before I started!

sems worn said...
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Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for your comment.

business cards said...

I must appreciate your views and important tips about printing.It's like a guideline for new comers like me.

Judy Adamson said...

Glad to know it was helpful :)

Postcard Printing said...
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Judy Adamson said...

Thank you - glad you found it useful!

brand design agency sydney said...
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chris martin said...

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Sweet Fairy said...
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Plastic Business Cards said...
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Andrew Short said...

Hi Judy,

I have been asked to do some Christmas card illustrations by someone attending a Christams fair.

This person will do all the printing, packaging and selling.

They are offering me 25% of commission, and plan to sell the cards for £2:50 each. (so I'd get 62.5p per card)

With your experience, do you think this is a fair deal? I am finding it hard to find out anywhere what the going rate might be for such work.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Andrew - first of all thank you for your comment and congratulations on being asked to do some Christmas card illustrations!

25% sounds pretty good - it's more than I currently get from any of the four websites I sell through, in fact it's double what some of them pay!

Good luck with it and I hope you'll pop back when you have time and leave your comments - it's always appreciated :)

emmassketches said...

I've just been debating whether to print at home or with a company, so it's great to read about someone else's experience!

I have found a small company who are very helpful and can print very small orders, but because they are so small they are also quite laid back, to the extent I feel like I am nagging them to get things done!

I'm now wondering whether it may be easier to just print at home. The only thing is really that ink is quite expensive and for some reason my designs are more faded them the ones done at the printers! It certainly is a bit of a dilemma!

Emma

guddukaushik said...
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ali naqvi said...
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kingdavidocscotland said...

I've been working on remembrance cards, where i did all the photography, poems and art work.

But when you look in the shops too see what massed produced cards are selling for. It's like your working at a loss before you even get started.

How anyone can compete with cards selling for as little as 85p when people have so little money too spend in the first place these days.

Plus as a photographer its recommended using printers with 6 colours for better tone. Like you said some colors run out at different rates. So theirs another headache.

I suppose we all want a distribute to take on that headache and let the rest of us do what we do best and that's creating.

Thanks for in the blog Judy ;)

http://cameron-remembrance-cards.blogspot.co.uk/

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for your comment - my way round it has been to sell through Print-on-Demand stores such as Greeting Card Universe and Zazzle. The commission is small but it does remove most of the headaches from the process. (Somewhere I have written a blog post about my experiences of some of the PODstores.)

kingdavidocscotland said...

Thanks for that quick response Judy ;))

Anonymous said...

I own a small printers who print quite a few greeting cards / christmas cards for local artists and creatives - I came across this blog whilst doing some research into if a website dedicated to greeting card printing would be well received in the digital world. At the moment we print 100's of cards a week and have become a dab hand at it, knowing the best supplies of envelopes and the best materials to use. We are planning on setting up a website where the client can upload their artwork, select the card sizes and quantities they would like, and make payment - we will then process their order and send it out via courier. We aim to offer cheap prices so the client can re-sell their cards. Would anyone have any feedback or suggestions to this idea?

Judy Adamson said...

Hi - I certainly think there is a need for a good, reliable greeting card printing company that artists can use. I no longer produce my own cards but from my experience, I think the most important factor would be the size of the print run - ie most artists don't want a huge run of one design but smaller runs of several designs. Also the price, weight of paper and colour matching would be important. Do you have a website or facebook page that I could show to friends in a (private) surface pattern design group?

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Santanu Singh said...

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Judy Adamson said...

Glad you found it useful :)

seaviewwarrenpoint said...

An interesting post, which I have just come across when trying to find a printer! I am thinking of having images of my paintings made into cards as I have been successful selling prints of my work earlier this year.

I have some work on RedBubble at present but even with a current discount of 30% - which I will no longer have the following week if I need to order more - it's still coming in at £1.02 for me to purchase a postcard-sized greetings card with a cellophane slip. Is this about right? I'm assuming people won't want to pay more than £2 ( or £1.99!) so I'm wondering if I could be bother with the hassle to make less than a pound as I might only sell a couple! What is the usual price per card from a printer if you ordered a small quantity, say 20?

marion

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