While it may seem like greeting cards are going extinct, the fact of the matter is that they’re still a profitable industry under the right circumstances. Even in an age of digital media and online social networking, many still prefer the personal touch that greeting cards provide. Granted, the big brands certainly isn’t selling as many cards as they used to. However, niche card purveyors are doing better than ever. If you can come up with a distinctive and unique line of greeting cards, great profits await you.
Choose a Niche
Opting to be highly specific with your greeting cards is the key to making your enterprise viable. Most people that buy cards from major stores are looking for something generic. However, a small but significant percentage of card buyers are looking for something special for very specific occasions. Whether your cards will be meant as a thank you for a gift, a congratulatory nod or an expression of affection, there’s a market for your wares somewhere. Figuring out who to target is the tough part.
Research Your Market(s)
Before you begin, you’ll need to look at the profitability of any potential niche. Some will no doubt be more lucrative than others. Obviously, you’ll need to decide how to best court any given target demographic. Look at data from industry groups like the Greeting Card Association to see what’s currently hot. If you’re starting out locally by selling your cards in your immediate area, play on local themes like regional traditions or motifs to maximize your appeal to consumers.
Bureaucratic Red Tape & Paperwork
Prior to sourcing materials, coming up with physical product and marketing it to the masses, you’ll need to set up your business legally. Register an LLC or “S” Corporation to start with and get your business licenses squared away. You shouldn’t need much space beyond a simple home office to handle the paperwork side of the business. The kinds of relatively modest loans required to start a greeting card business can be had quite easily with assistance from the Small Business Administration.
Designing & Manufacturing Your Cards
Your niche success will depend greatly on a unique look and feel for your cards. If you’re not particularly experienced when it comes to graphic design or art in general, get local artists and designers to come up with distinctive graphics and backgrounds for you. During the prototyping process and the initial production phase, sites like Zazzle, Cardstore and Shutterfly can print up samples for you. Ultimately, the services of a local print shop or an online printing company will be needed to create product in bulk.
Marketing & Expansion
It’s best to start small and gradually build your business as you test the waters. Attend local craft markets and conventions to get some traction and lock down those critical first few sales. At the same time, it’s important to get a website up and running to sell and promote your wares. Put together a basic WordPress site for your business and market it using social media sites such as Google+ and Facebook. You can use Shopify or Volusion to actually sell your goods around the world.
Staying On Top of the Industry
In an industry that’s not exactly thriving, it can be challenging to increase profits and expand. On the flip side, you don’t have to worry about a particularly competitive marketplace. If you come up with original greeting cards that stand apart from the crowd, it shouldn’t be too difficult to attract loads of business and create a rabid following. By thinking outside of the box and using the web to find the right customers, your greeting card business can more than meet expectations over the long haul.