Sunday, February 10, 2008

How to set up a greeting card business - Part 1

I love greeting cards and if you’re an artist trying to make a living selling your art, you should too. A few articles ago I mentioned that I recently set up a distribution deal with “Starshine Arts” in Eugene OR. Here is how I got this far.

Artist’s opinions on greeting cards vary. Many feel that if they were to offer cards for sale, their matted and or framed print sales would suffer. Others, like myself, find them a valuable income stream adding to my art sales. I can’t remember the last time I did a show that I did not cover my booth fees with greeting card sales alone. To me, greeting cards enhance my total sales.

Every artist has to decide for him or herself whether or not to add cards to their mix but I can speak from experience that at least for me, they work out great. I had seasoned artists tell me that greeting cards would degrade my work not enhanced it. When I listened, I missed out on a respectable portion of my yearly sales. When I finally tried cards and found out how many people purchased them because they either could not afford my larger prints or just wasn’t in the market for art but bought the cards anyway because of their affordability I got over the stigma of what others thought.

Now, I don’t leave home for a show without them.

Like others who gradually get into selling greeting cards of their designs, I printed my own, in my studio, on cards that came in “kit form” from different paper companies like Kodak, HP, Staples etc. I grumbled everything I ran out of a certain card instead of being happy I was out and needed to print more. I reasoned that it took me the same amount of computer/printer time to print a card as it did for one of my 8x10 prints and because I sold my prints for nearly 10 times that of a card, I was loosing money every time I printed a card.

Correct thinking, just not thought out completely. Once I decided that greeting cards were going to stay, I looked for ways to make the whole process more efficient. Local printers could handle the printing of the cards for me and then all I would need to do was to fold, insert an envelope into the center of the card and put them both into a clear plastic sleeve. The logic was right but it didn’t scale. Local printers needed quantities of at least 1000 cards PER design to get the price per card down to where I needed it to be. Since I had over 200 different cards I wanted printed that was out of the question.

I started researching a better alternative and found out that a new, at least to me, Indigo digital printing press was being used for “short” runs which would make it feasible to order quantities of 50 cards of each design instead of 1000. I settled on one firm in Canada but have since discovered many companies offering the same service.

Now when I run out of a certain design I don’t get bummed and head to the Epson 4000 and start printing, I just e-mail my supplier and request X number of cards of X design. They print them and 7-10 days latter I have the cards back in stock. Ready to allow me to sell enough to cover that ever-increasing art festival booth fee, I hope.

Tomorrow I’ll cover the details of how I layout my cards in PhotoShop and InDesign.

1 comment:

Sue O'Kieffe said...

I have been looking for information for alternative printing for my greeting cards. Thank you for writing about the solution that you have found.
I would love to subscribe to your blog but do not see a way to do that. Am I blind? I only see a link for subscribing to your comments. Anyway, I'll be back when I have more time and look more closely at your art. I also create mandalas. I hope you will come by and look at my work.
~Sue O'Kieffe