Updated Jan 15 2024
There's nothing quite like a great greeting card to bring a smile to someone's face. If you have a knack for creating customized or handmade cards, why not turn your talent into a greeting card business?
From seasonal cards to birthday cards, the greeting card industry enjoys plenty of demand year-round. While starting your own card business doesn't have to be complicated, ensuring you cover all the right bases to set yourself apart from the competition is essential.
We'll walk you through everything you need to know to start a successful greeting card company, from finding your niche to marketing. We'll also explore how working with a print on demand company can take your card business to the next level and cut out the need to spend your own money on supplies or shipping costs.
The greeting card industry is a multi-billion dollar market that generates plenty of year-round global demand.
Starting a greeting card business can be a great way to turn your creativity into profit.
Creating a solid business plan is vital to setting your card business apart from the competition.
A reliable print on demand provider can help you take your greeting card business to the next level by handling everything from order fulfillment to delivery.
The global greeting card market is forecast to be worth $6530.4 million by 2028, leaving plenty of room for independent sellers to enter the industry. But what about all those giant greeting card companies competing for your business?
The key is in realizing that you have advantages that they don't. By creating your own online greeting card business, you'll be in a position to offer more personalized greeting cards while enjoying far more creative freedom.
You can also enjoy the advantage of catering to a much more specific niche market than most major greeting card businesses. Maybe you've already had some success running a small handmade greeting card business by coming up with unique artwork or slogans.
Print on demand offers you the chance to produce your designs on multiple greeting cards and enjoy a higher return on each. Whether you choose to offer print on demand cards instead of or alongside custom handmade cards, either is a solid way to help your card business bring in more money while retaining its individual charm.
Let's take a closer look at how to turn your creativity into a profitable business. The first step to creating a successful card company lies in realizing that you are creating your own small business.
Whether you want to work toward turning it into a full-time job or simply a great side hustle, every good business needs a solid business plan. Here are the steps you'll need to take as a new business owner to set yourself up for success.
A niche market is basically a group of people who share a set of common traits or interests. A niche could consist of anything from pet owners, art lovers, or eco-conscious consumers to college kids or moms with a snarky sense of humor.
Successfully identifying your target market is foundational to developing a sound business structure. By selecting a niche you personally identify with, you'll be in a much better position to create products that appeal to your tribe.
Popular ecommerce platforms like Etsy offer plenty of examples of greeting cards that cater to specific niches:
TheRaccoonSociety created a series of hilarious greeting cards for pet lovers that feature moody cats.
PottyMouthPress created a whole greeting card business centered around cards featuring funny and sarcastic messaging.
When selecting a niche for your greeting card business, consider everything from your target audience to the style and type of cards you want to offer. Do you want to focus on birthday cards, Mother's Day cards, or seasonal cards?
Or maybe you want to offer greeting cards for multiple occasions or cards that feature artwork on the front with a blank interior? As you begin to narrow things down, conduct market research using tools like social media and Google Trends to see what's currently trending in your chosen niche.
If you're not already familiar with the print on demand (POD) business model, here's a quick overview of how it works in relation to greeting cards. When you partner with a print on demand company like Gelato, you'll create a free account where you can upload your greeting card designs.
Here's where the magic comes in - you don't have to purchase your inventory upfront. You only pay for what you sell. Simply feature your cards on your online storefront, and when a customer makes a purchase, we'll print your cards and ship them straight to your client for a cut of the profits.
This makes it possible to start an online greeting card business without ever having to worry about printing, inventory, or even shipping. When choosing a POD provider, you should make sure you look for print specialists who go above and beyond simple printing services.
Ask questions such as:
What are their prices, and how much more would you need to charge your customers to retain a respectable percentage of the profits?
What are their shipping rates?
Do they offer subscription plans that can help you cut down on costs as your business grows?
How many shipping locations do they have? Do they ship to multiple countries?
Do they offer high-quality cardstock material and matching envelopes?
At Gelato, our 130+ production partners can help you create greeting cards made from high-quality materials. By utilizing local production in over 30 countries, Gelato's customer service support team can help you start a greeting card business with fast, sustainable, and global shipping options.
When selecting the type of greeting cards you want to offer in your card business, you'll come across plenty of options. Not only will you be able to select from multiple shapes and sizes, but also the type of material you want to create cards from.
For instance, at Gelato, we offer greeting cards on either uncoated cardstock or coated silk cardstock. Uncoated cardstock offers a matte appearance with zero shine, so it tends to be an excellent choice for text-heavy cards that are easy to write on.
Uncoated cards make a good choice for things like thank-you notes, wedding invites, or business greeting cards, as they tend to create a more professional feel. Silk-coated cardstock falls somewhere between matte and glossy, making it much easier to write on than glossy paper while retaining its color vibrancy.
If you plan to sell greeting cards that heavily feature photos or images, then silk coated is probably the way to go. You may also notice that different materials come in various measurements called GSMs.
GSM stands for Grams per Square Meter, a commonly used measure of paper thickness in the greeting card industry. Our uncoated cards come with a GSM of 300, a high-quality GSM commonly used by top greeting card businesses.
Our coated options weigh in at a GSM of 350, which is slightly thicker but more durable long-term. Each option produces beautiful, industry-level physical greeting cards that your customers are sure to love.
Now comes the fun part of your greeting card business plan - designing the cards! If you plan to produce the designs for your greeting card business, use tools such as Canva or Gelato's Design Editor to create your design mock-ups.
When creating designs for your greeting card business, be sure to stick to best practices, such as using easy-to-read fonts and avoiding too many design elements or colors. Use whitespace effectively to highlight certain elements, keep the design clean, and leave enough room for your messages or signatures.
Make it a point to visit the greeting card section each time you find yourself shopping in retail outlets or card shops. This can go a long way toward providing design inspiration and market analysis info.
Even if you're not feeling too confident in your own design skills, it's still possible to start a greeting card business with the help of a graphic designer. Head to sites like Upwork and Fiverr, where you'll find plenty of great freelancers ready to help you turn your business idea into a reality.
Consider creating a variety of different designs to appeal to as many new customers in your niche as possible. Once you've uploaded your designs to your POD provider account, it's best to order samples of each to make sure you're satisfied with the final product.
The next step in your greeting card business plan is going to be to select an online business or ecommerce platform if you haven't already. These days, there are plenty of choices when it comes to sales channels.
Ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Wix, and WooCommerce are all geared toward helping you create your own website. The perk of going this route is that you'll be able to create a highly customized storefront for your greeting card business.
But it's also important to realize that you'll also be responsible for marketing efforts designed to draw customers to your site. Additionally, be aware that some platforms, like Shopify and Wix, charge monthly subscription fees that you'll want to work into your budget.
If it's your first time running a small business, online marketplaces like Etsy are also worth considering. Rather than running your card business on your own website, you'll set up a storefront alongside a variety of other retailers from around the world.
Etsy can be an excellent way to test the waters, as it doesn't charge any monthly subscription fees. Instead, the online marketplace charges a percentage of any sales you make from your storefront, which may mean you need to raise your average price to make a profit.
Selling alongside other card companies can also be a double-edged sword. There's more competition on one level, but on another, it will allow you to start a greeting card business on a popular site where plenty of people look for unique greeting cards.
Regardless of your chosen platform, you'll want to customize your site or store to reflect your unique branding. Create a memorable business name and a logo featuring a unique brand color palette.
Be sure to use high-resolution photos that clearly show off each greeting card in your collection and create detailed product descriptions for each. Get specific about the size, dimensions, material, coating, and weight of each greeting card attached to your store.
Set up your payment and shipping options, along with a clear refund and return policy. Last, but not least, get ready to enjoy business success by connecting your store to your POD provider account.
If there's one part of your business plan you don't want to cut corners on, it's marketing and promotion. While a POD provider can handle everything from order fulfillment to delivery, pulling in potential customers is what's going to turn your business idea into a successful greeting card business.
Research tactics, such as keyword optimization, can give your card business a better chance of showing up when customers search for specific words or phrases. It's also a great idea to consider setting up social media accounts and pages under your greeting card business name.
Use your accounts to network with other sellers in your industry, make connections, and promote your greeting cards to your audience. In addition to keeping your followers engaged through regular posts, you may also want to consider running a paid ad campaign to promote your new greeting card business.
Email marketing with tools like MailChimp or ConstantContact can also be a fantastic way to promote your business. You might consider creating a newsletter or using your emails to share new greeting card designs, discounts, or promos.
Part of your business plan might even include reaching out to local shops and retail outlets to see if they would like to offer your cards in their store. If you know someone who owns a small business in your area, you might ask if they'd consider selling greeting cards geared toward customers in their niche.
The greeting card industry can be a fun and profitable place for the right seller! Here are some additional tips and tricks that can help launch your greeting card business to success.
These days, there are more resources available than ever before to help small business owners break into the greeting card industry. While it may take a little work to start a greeting card business up front, in the long run, your job will center more around creating a community around your brand.
In addition to marketing, be sure to develop and maintain business relationships with customers after they make a purchase. While it may not be possible to get to know each of your customers personally, things like asking for order feedback or advice on future designs can go a long way toward developing customer loyalty.
When setting up an online storefront for your greeting card business, it's crucial to make it easy for potential customers to find what they're looking for. Creating greeting card collections for different occasions, such as anniversaries, holidays, etc., can be a helpful way to make your store more user-friendly.
And finally, don't be afraid to experiment. Working with a print on demand service makes it easy to offer multiple designs in each collection, risk-free.
Remember, you don't actually have to invest your personal assets in a product until it's already sold. This allows you the freedom to try out multiple designs upfront and get a feel for which ones prove the most popular.
By creating and following a solid business plan, it's possible to set up your own greeting card business in no time. Setting up shop online can be a great way to enjoy the same benefits as brick-and-mortar card stores without generating business funding for a physical storefront.
Just make sure you follow your business plan to the letter and avoid cutting corners when it comes to finding ways to help your business stand out. Ready to take the first step toward launching your greeting card business?
Create a free Gelato account to learn more about how print on demand can help you start selling high-quality custom greeting cards to customers worldwide. We have all the resources and support you need to take our greeting card business to the next level.