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1. Is a greeting card business profitable?

How to start a greeting card business: 2024 guide

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?

The greeting card industry enjoys plenty of demand year-round from seasonal cards to birthday cards. 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.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • 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.

  • Conduct market research to understand your target audience, their interests, and shopping habits. This allows you to stand out from major competitors and tailor your cards to a specific audience.

  • Create a memorable brand by defining your brand values, crafting a unique story, and designing a cohesive visual identity to establish your business's personality and build customer loyalty.

  • Creating a solid business plan is vital to setting your card business apart from the competition.

  • Register your business and obtain the necessary licenses, considering the best business structure for your needs (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation).

  • Partner with a print on demand (POD) provider like Gelato and create designs using tools like Gelato's Design Maker. Consider different types of card stock and coatings based on your design needs.

  • Develop a marketing strategy to attract customers through keyword optimization, social media, email marketing, and influencer partnerships. Establish an online store on platforms like Shopify or Etsy, and ensure your branding is consistent across all promotional channels.

  • A reliable print on demand provider like Gelato can help you take your greeting card business to the next level by handling everything from order fulfillment to delivery.

Is a greeting card business profitable?


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 to realize 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.

How to start a successful greeting card business step-by-step

Let's take a closer look at how to turn your creativity into a profitable business. Here are the steps you'll need to take as a new business owner to set yourself up for success.

1. Conduct market research

Analyzing greeting card market

Market research is the foundation for building a successful greeting card business. It allows you to understand your target audience, identify trends, and create greeting cards that resonate with people. 

Here are some key areas to explore during your market research:

Target audience
  • Demographics: Who are you designing cards for? Age, gender, income level, location, and even family structure can all influence card preferences.

  • Interests and values: What are your ideal customers passionate about? Do they have a quirky sense of humor? Are they environmentally conscious? Understanding their values will help you tailor your designs and messaging.

  • Shopping habits: Where do they typically buy greeting cards? Do they prefer online stores, brick-and-mortar shops, or a mix of both? How much are they willing to spend on a card?

Competitor analysis
  • Identify your competitors: Who are the major greeting card companies, and what kind of cards do they offer? Are there any independent sellers in your niche market?

  • Analyze their strengths and weaknesses: What are their most popular designs? What could you do differently to stand out?

  • Pricing strategies: How much do your competitors charge for similar cards? This will help you determine your own pricing strategy.

Market trends
  • Popular themes and designs: What kind of greeting cards are currently trending? Can you incorporate any seasonal or cultural influences?

  • Sustainability: Is there a growing demand for eco-friendly greeting cards made from recycled paper?

  • Personalization: Are people looking for ways to personalize their greeting cards with custom messages or photos?

Utilize market research tools like Google Analytics and strategies such as social media listening—that is, pay close attention to online discourse about greeting cards to discern customer preferences and criticisms. Additionally, staying on top of industry trends by reading pertinent publications and reports will provide a competitive edge. Lastly, using online surveys and polls will allow for the gathering of targeted data from your potential customer base, granting invaluable insights into their wants and needs.

2. Find a niche market

A niche market is a group of people who share 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 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:

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.

3. Develop a strong brand identity

Crafting a card brand identity

Your brand identity is the essence of your greeting card business. It's more than just coming up with a catchy brand name or a logo; it's the personality that sets you apart from the competition. To develop a strong brand identity:

  • Define your brand values: What core principles guide your business? Are you playful and lighthearted? Or do you specialize in elegant and sophisticated designs? Clearly define your values and ensure they resonate throughout your brand identity.

  • Craft a memorable brand story: Every successful brand has a story to tell. What inspired you to start your greeting card business? Sharing your story helps customers connect with your brand on a deeper level.

  • Develop a cohesive visual identity: This includes your logo, color palette, typography, and overall design aesthetic. Consistency is key! Ensure all your visual elements complement each other and reflect your brand values.

  • Craft a unique voice and tone: How do you want to communicate with your audience? Friendly and casual? Or professional and polished? Developing a consistent voice and tone across all your marketing materials will help you build brand recognition.

By investing time and effort into developing a strong brand identity, you'll create a foundation for long-term success. Your brand will become instantly recognizable and resonate with your target audience, fostering customer loyalty and trust.

4. Write a business plan

A business plan is your roadmap to success. It outlines your business goals, strategies, and financial projections. While it may seem daunting, a well-written business plan will not only help you secure funding but also keep you focused on your long-term vision. 

Here are the key components of a business plan for your greeting card business:

  • Executive summary: A concise overview of your business, including your mission statement, target market, and competitive advantage.

  • Company description: A detailed explanation of your business concept, including your products and services.

  • Market analysis: The results of your market research, outlining your target audience, competitor analysis, and industry trends.

  • Marketing plan: Your strategy for reaching your target audience and promoting your greeting cards. This includes online marketing strategies, social media presence, and any potential retail partnerships.

  • Management team: Introduce yourself and any key team members, highlighting your skills and experience.

  • Financial projections: This forecasts your revenue, expenses, and profitability over a specific period. While you may not have extensive financial data yet, you can use your market research to make educated estimates.

5. Register your business and obtain a business license

Formalizing greeting card business

Once you've created a solid business plan, it's time to register your business and obtain the necessary licenses to operate legally.

Decide how you'll structure your business. Various options are available, such as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. Each structure offers distinct advantages and disadvantages regarding taxes and legal liability. Consulting with an accountant or lawyer can help you determine the best structure for your specific business needs.

Next, you'll want to check with your local government to ensure your chosen business name is available. If you plan to operate under a name different from your legal name, you may need to file a DBA (Doing Business As) name. The specific business licenses you'll require will depend on your location and business structure. Contacting your local government or the SBA (Small Business Administration) is the best way to determine the exact licenses you need to acquire.

Finally, you must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is a federal tax identification number used for tax purposes and can be easily applied for through the IRS website.

6. Select a print on demand provider

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.

You can then choose the type of cards (which we supply) that you'd like to have your designs printed on. We offer high-quality options both for national and international customers.

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.

7. Choose your cardstock

Selecting quality cardstock

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 in either uncoated 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 featuring photos, 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.

8. Design your cards

Now comes the fun part of your greeting card business - designing the cards! If you plan to produce the designs for your greeting card business, use tools like Gelato's design maker 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 shop 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 design skills, it's still possible to start a greeting card business with a graphic designer’s help. Head to sites like Upwork and Fiverr, where plenty of great freelancers are ready to help you turn your business idea into a reality.

Consider creating various 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 ensure you're satisfied with the final product.

9. Create an online store

The next step is to select a platform for your online business if you haven't already. 

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 can 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 various other retailers worldwide.

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. This is where your logo, business name, and brand colors come into play! Ensure your online store reflects your brand identity by incorporating these elements throughout the design. A cohesive brand experience will build trust and recognition with your customers.

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 and a clear refund and return policy. Last but not least, connect your store to your POD provider account to enjoy business success.

10. Promote your greeting card business

If there's one part of your business 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 will 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. Create engaging blog posts, articles, or social media content that showcase your creativity and expertise. Informative and entertaining content will attract potential customers and establish you as a thought leader in the greeting card industry.

Considering setting up social media accounts and pages under your greeting card business name is also a great idea.

Use social media platforms 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 marketing 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.

This leads us to another powerful promotional channel: influencer marketing. Consider partnering with social media influencers who resonate with your target audience. These collaborations can further boost your reach, introduce your greeting cards to a wider audience, and leverage the influencer's credibility to drive sales.

Tips for creating and selling greeting cards

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.

1. Cultivate a community

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.

2. Create greeting card collections

create greeting card

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.

3. Incorporate customer feedback into new designs

Don't just sell cards; build a community! Actively solicit customer feedback through reviews, polls, and design contests. Turn their insights into action by incorporating their ideas and preferences into future collections.

This valuable feedback loop ensures your designs resonate with your audience, fostering customer loyalty and fueling creative inspiration for new greeting cards that truly connect.

4. Allow customers to personalize their own greeting cards

Today, customers crave a personal touch. Offer them the ability to personalize their greeting cards and transform them into unique keepsakes! Allow them to add heartfelt messages, names, or even photos directly to your online store. This option elevates the sentiment and creates a more meaningful gift. 

Partnering with a print on demand service like Gelato empowers you to offer your customers access to user-friendly personalization tools. Gelato's Personalization Studio allows customers to unleash their creativity and craft one-of-a-kind greeting cards that will leave a lasting impression on the recipients.

Start your own greeting card business with Gelato

The greeting card industry is brimming with opportunities for you to combine your creative talents with a fulfilling business venture. When you follow the tips and guidance laid out in this article, you'll be able to launch a thriving greeting card business. 

However, the key to success lies not only in understanding your target audience, cultivating a strong brand identity, and embracing customer feedback but also in partnering with a print provider like Gelato to make your vision a reality.

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.

Ready to take the first step toward launching your greeting card business? Sign up for Gelato today and start selling custom greeting cards to customers worldwide.


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