You've been making cards, just for fun, for a little while now, and people seem to like them. You think you might like to take the plunge and have a go at selling your creations. Well, with a little bit of research, you can be one of the growing numbers of crafters doing just that. Read our step-by-step guide to find out how. [[image:PennyBlackExamples.jpg|centre]] ===Inspiration The first and most important step of your card making enterprise is, of course, to come up with some great designs! Time spent to get these right will really pay off later, so take as long as you need. You can find lots of sources of inspiration if you look in the right places: * Card project ideas on websites and in magazines. * Cards for sale in shops. * Front covers of books. * Posters, paintings and photographs. While you won't be able to copy these outright, you can take elements you like and adapt them. Think about seasonality, and try to come up with designs to cover all the important occasions in the calendar. That way you've a better chance of attracting business all year round. If you plan on using [[s89|rubber stamps]] in your designs, you'll need to check if the stamp designer has an "angel" policy, allowing people to sell cards bearing their designs. [[image:PennyBlackSelection.jpg]] Find out if they do, and whether there are any limitations, before designing any cards using their stamps. You should be able to find out from their website, but if not, drop them a quick email. If you are using any pre-made items like backing papers and embellishments, you'll also need to find out whether any of these designs are copyrighted, and if so, whether there are any conditions of use. Some designers require attribution on the card, some specify maximum numbers of cards you can sell per year, etc. Again, you should be able to find out on their website or by emailing them. When you've arrived at a few designs, look at them with a critical eye and ask honest friends for their feedback. It's really important to get your designs right, since all the other parts of the process can be refined along the way - but ultimately your success (or otherwise) will depend on whether or not people like your cards! Remember, once you've built up your bank of designs, you have them forever - all you need to do is reproduce them. So take your time and create designs you're really proud of. ===Unique Selling Point [[image:Stickerooskids.jpg|centre]] If you can, it's definitely worth trying to find a unique angle that sets you apart from other card makers. There are lots of people making handmade cards out there, so it's a good idea to have something that makes you memorable. * Could you use 100% recycled materials? * Write your own verses to go inside? * Specialise in making cards for a particular occasion, or in a certain colour scheme? * Create a set of characters that feature on all your cards? * Or even offer a bespoke service where you create cards to order? Come up with something that will give people an extra reason to buy from you, besides your beautiful cards. ===Materials [[image:craftsupplies.jpg]] Once you've finalised your designs, draw up a list of what you'll need to make a batch of each. The price of materials can vary quite dramatically, so do your homework to make sure you get the most for your money. If it's practical for you in terms of money and storage, it can work out a lot cheaper to buy your materials in bulk. At Handy Hippo, we offer volume discounts on many of our card making basics, and will always consider requests if you plan on spending over a certain amount. Just [[ email or give us a call]] to see what we can do. ===Packaging Always put your finished cards in [[s80|cello bags]] to keep them pristine and make them look professional, and though it might sound obvious, include envelopes! It's also a nice touch to put a sticker on the cello bag with your business name and contact details on. Remember, unlike lots of other purchases, cards are sold on appearance alone, so try and make the whole package as appealing as possible. Keep in mind the importance of repeat business. It costs a lot more money to attract new customers than to hold on to existing ones. So keep them coming back for more! If you plan on sending orders via post, a little touch like including a handwritten thank you note with their order goes a long way - and only costs you pennies. ===Pricing Pricing is a delicate balancing act. Start by working out your rough cost price per card, to give you an idea of the minimum you need to charge to make a profit. Then resist the temptation to price your cards too cheaply. Bear in mind that people looking to buy a handmade card are looking for something special for somebody they care about, and will expect to pay a bit more. If a card is too cheap, it won't seem as special - and it will also undermine the time and effort you've put in. On the flip side, pricing too high will make people reluctant to buy! It's an important thing to get right, so do your research. Look around on websites and at craft fairs to see what prices similar cards are being sold for. //Now onto [[ Part 2]], where we'll look at the exciting business of selling your cards...//