Start A Card Making Business

Learn how to start a handmade card making business without falling into the traps other people make.

People don’t suddenly wake up and decide they want to start a card making business. The idea usually appeals to crafters who have been making cards as a hobby, primarily for friends and family. The idea is also attractive because it is very flexible – it allows you to express yourself – your personality and interests while working from home. It’s easy to base a handmade greeting card business at home making the start up costs low. But you only have to look at what happened to Clinton Cards to realise the current card market isn’t the same as it used to be.

How to start a card making business

Some people enjoy making handmade greeting cards, but fewer go on to make a business out of it. That doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t. But if you really interested in selling them it’s important to keep the end in mind. This means two things. If you originally started making cards for friends and family you may not have thought about which cards could go into “production”. If you’re planning to sell to local shops, galleries or cafe’s the best thing to do is to make some samples to show potential customers. Intricate designs may not be cost effective to make commercially. So you may have to adapt your original designs. So think about what types of designs make most sense for you to produce commercially. This will obviously include a consideration of materials. A5 size cards or smaller are the most ubiquitous sizes to start with. Don’t get carried away with embellishments..as this will slow you down. Making unique water colours for example, is simple but cost effective, especially if you use ribbon or a similar embellishment to create a frame. Pick robust card weights. Anything above 250gsm should be ok to create an impression of quality, as do textured cards.

Finding your niche

If the thought of creating handmade cards for profit is inhibiting, you can reasonably think of theming your card making business. Whether it’s cats or locations or local history, it’s useful to build up recognition by theming your cards, at least t start with. You may get more ideas once you’ve spoken to your card loving friends and potential customers. Finding a niche will help you brand your handmade card business. This is important because the market for commercial handmade cards is now very competitive and prices have slumped. But upmarket gifts shops, garden centres and cafe’s, galleries and museums and National Trust properties still stock beautiful cards. Think about making cards that are in some way collectable or frameable.

Finding retail customers

It makes sense to build up a portfolio of designs at different price points to show prospective customers. One thing to bear in mind is that if you are to replicate a design time and time again your need to be sure of getting the supplies you need. Be prepared to alter your initial designs based on prospective customer feedback, especially if they think the cards are too expensive. You can also think about selling your cards on ebay and etsy but you’ll earn more once you are established. Handmade cards are also often seen at craft fairs. While you may not be able to justify a stall you could consider sharing a stand with another supplier! You can also consider, setting up your own blog or website. Your site can either function as an extension of your business card or possibly an ecommerce site, so that you an sell cards through it. Selling direct to the public is more profitable in theory although you will have to take account of the costs of maintaining a website and postage. But can be very slow going to start with.

Pricing your cards

Many crafters struggle to price their goods effectively. Handmade card makers are no exception.Typically people under rather than over price their cards because they forget to take account of their time and overheads. If every card is unique your costs (and hence prices) will rise dramatically, limiting your market. It is far better to plan in terms of limited edition cards. So when pricing your cards, just like any other business, you need to take account of:

Direct cost

Everything from pens and markers to ribbons and jewels needs to be costed across units. Making cards in sufficient numbers that you use all materials is the cost effective way to proceed.

Labour

The amount of time involved. This is a tricky one. How much do you value yourself? Too expensive and you could be out of business before you start. Producing cards of the same style in batches should make you faster.
Indirect costs

Client margin

Don’t forget that many retailers will want a 75%-100% margin. You have to bear this in mind when pricing your cards. Selling at £3 to a cafe would mean they may have to charge £6 to make it worth their while!

The main point is you don’t want to be working for £2 per hour, do you? If it takes one hour to make two cards of the same style at a cost of £4 and selling them for £6 means that you’ve only made £2 net profit! And you probably won’t have included all the costs you should have!

A useful rule of thumb is the final retail price should be made up of one third costs, one third crafter margin, one third retail profit.

Resources

Guide To Making Cards Basic tips on card making

Liz Craft Card making supplies

Handy Hippo Card making supplies

Craft Superstore Card making supplies