How to design and sell your own greeting cards online
You don’t have to be employed by Hallmark to make money with greeting cards. Indeed, if you have a clever wit and the ability to pull together attractive or funny illustrations, you may be able to tap into the $7-billion U.S. greeting card market without ever investing in paper or printing.
That’s largely because an array of online platforms can help you market and produce your designs. You simply dream up the ideas and upload images. The online platforms will turn your design into cards and market them on your behalf.
How does it work and how can you get started?
Make money with greeting cards
There are five online platforms that encourage artists, designers and wordsmiths to create greeting cards that they’ll produce for you. Four of the five work in similar fashion, while one — Minted — is fairly distinct.
If you want to produce the cards yourself, you can do that too, with Etsy. So, prospective card designers have six possible choices.
Here are your options, starting with the four “print on demand” shops that SideHusl.com recommends most highly for card designers.
Zazzle allows you to upload your art and make it available on everything from greeting cards to tote bags. Artists who work with the platform say one of the reasons it stands out for greeting card designers is the site is one of the few that allows customers to personalize your design. That can boost sales for things such as wedding announcements, bridal and baby showers, and other events that cry out for personal details.
Notably, you don’t handle the production or shipping. You simply provide the card template, art and wording and earn a royalty whenever one of your card designs is sold. How much do you earn? Generally 10% to 15% of the sales price. Your royalty rate is officially up to you. But Zazzle penalizes those who set their rates above 15% by hitting them with additional fees.
RedBubble and FineArtAmerica
Redbubble and FineArtAmerica operate in much the same way. However, where some print-on-demand operations restrict the amount you can earn from royalties, these two sites have dynamic pricing formulas that let you set your own margin. Your margin determines the final cost of the product.
To clarify, each site has a “base price” for the products it sells. Artists are able to add their own margin to that base price. The sum of the base price, plus the artist’s margin, equals the sales price. For instance, if a greeting card has a $2 base price, you can choose a standard 20% markup to sell the card for $2.40. Or you can opt for a 50% markup, which would boost the card’s price to $3. You are not penalized in any way for setting your royalties as high as you want.
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Another positive: You are not restricted to just selling greeting cards. If you create a beautiful or clever design that would work well on a T-shirt or coffee mug, you can instruct these sites to sell it on whatever you’d like. Both sites have the ability to sell your designs on a breathtaking array of different products from shower curtains to hoodies, puzzles to prints.
It’s important to note that you retain the rights to your work, so you can sell your designs using the sites’ competitors too, including Zazzle and Society6.
Society6 is another well-regarded print-on-demand operation that allows you to upload art that can be used to illustrate everything from greeting cards to phone cases. It operates much like the other three, but Society6 sets the royalty rate for you on most products, generally at 10% of the sales price.
Like the others, Minted will create products from your designs and sell them, paying you a royalty. However, other than that, the site is unique.
With the other sites, you join and upload your art. You don’t need any special invitation or credential. With Minted, in order to sell greeting cards, you need to enter and win a contest on the site. Minted’s greeting card competitions offer prizes of as much as $3,500 for first place. If you win any prize — not just the top prize — you also get a free store on Minted where you can sell this design and others.
If you happen to be a first- or even second-place winner, this can be a good deal. You get both a generous upfront payment and royalties of 3% to 6% on every future sale.
But you’re not guaranteed a generous prize. In fact, you could win as little as $100. And, your prize comes with a big caveat: If you sell this design on Minted, you are not allowed to sell it anywhere else.
If you want to manufacture your own greeting cards for sale, you can do that through Etsy. Etsy is one of the oldest and best-established sites to sell anything handmade or vintage. Here you are essentially running your own business — determining what to make, how to make it and how to price your wares.
Etsy charges just 20 cents per listing — 5 listings for $1. If you sell anything, you’ll also pay a 6.5% transaction fee, plus a 3% payment processing fee. The site also added an “outside advertising” fee ranging from 12% to 15%, which applies to you if one of the site’s ads sends a sale your way. (If your shop sells less than $10,000 in goods annually, you can opt out of the program. It’s mandatory if your shop earns more.) So, if you sell here, be sure to give yourself a fat profit margin to account for potentially unexpected fees.
Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.
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