Home Forums Starting your journey Help needed for Greeting Card startup

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  • #999892
    ChristianCards
    Member
    • Total posts: 4

    I am embarking on a new business in a niche of the Greeting Card industry in Australia.

    I have questions for anyone who has successfully run a Greeting Card business.

    Since I don’t know which card designs will be most popular, I thought it best to get my own printer and cardstock and make them individually as orders come through my website.

    Once I get an idea of the most popular designs, I can get them produced in bulk overseas and cut down on costs and labor.

    Here are my questions:

    1. What size cards are the most popular in Australia?
    Or what size cards would you recommend producing?
    (there are so many different sizes, it’s bewildering)

    2. Where can I buy good quality cardstock (300gsm) that won’t get stuck in an Epson EcoTank Inkjet printer? (That’s the most economical printer I can find)

    3. What would be the best way to get cardstock cut to size?
    Buy a guillotine to use at home? Or does this risk producing ragged edges?

    4. What is the best way to score the cardstock for folding?
    A device like Scor-buddy, or an electric scoring machine?
    Or bring the cardstock to a professional for scoring.

    5. Where can I buy good value envelopes for the cards?
    (I don’t mind sourcing overseas, especially if I can get decent quality recycled envelopes.)

    6. For box-sets of cards, is it most economical to get the boxes made and covers printed overseas?
    Can anyone recommend a reliable company for this?

    Since margins in the greeting card industry are not large, I know that I need to be wise in keeping costs low in every aspect of card production.

    I hope that someone has the answers I need and can prevent me making mistakes.
    I look forward to hearing some responses, and thank you in advance.

    #1221780
    Dave – FS Concierge
    Moderator
    • Total posts: 2,523

    Welcome to the forums [USER=116452]@ChristianCards[/USER]!

    I think making them individually is a good way to start. That way you’re only producing cards that have been sold. It allows you to test the business and also experiment with ways of producing the cards.

    I know nothing about making cards, but here are a couple of thoughts.

    1) The first phase I would consider a test to see if your cards are popular.
    2) Don’t worry about profit margins at the start. You can switch to a lower cost method of production if they get popular.
    3) Just find the easiest way to produce them on-demand initially. For example cutting to size is likely a complication you don’t need. Choose a size that matches a card stock you can get your hands on easily. Personally I’d be looking for pre-made card/envelopes that I just have to print on (even if they cost more).

    Later you can buy in bulk, make from scratch, etc, but for phase 1 figure out what’s selling, who’s buying, and what they like/don’t like about your product.

    Good luck!
    Dave

    #1221781
    ChristianCards
    Member
    • Total posts: 4

    Thanks, Dave.

    It means a lot to have your input.
    I decided to figure out how to make them at home for the exact reason you mentioned – to figure out what is going to be popular.
    I don’t want to have 1000s of cards I can’t sell.

    However, the problem I am facing now is how expensive cardstock is if I buy it in Australia.
    I bought a stack of 500 sheets of cardstock on Ebay that was much cheaper than any other paper supplier in Australia.
    However, I did some testing yesterday and the results were disappointing.
    The cardstock seems less than the 300gsm also, so it was rather floppy.
    So I’m learning the hard way…
    I need to get higher quality cardstock.

    If anyone knows of a good paper and envelope supplier either in Australia or overseas, that would be extremely helpful.

    #1221782
    Blueedge
    Participant
    • Total posts: 47

    Oh my word, I so need to reply to you :) Firstly, good luck with your business, creating something is always exciting and should be fun. Now to help you and answer your questions

    Here are my questions:

    1. What size cards are the most popular in Australia?

    We sell A6 which is half an A5 folded, they are very popular. Although they’ve been overtaken by Card size which is 130cmx180cm (which is also similar to the US size of 5″x7″) DL’s are not so popular, squares can be. One thing to always consider is the envelope size, they are the realy killers for profit margins.

    Or what size cards would you recommend producing?
    (there are so many different sizes, it’s bewildering)

    2. Where can I buy good quality cardstock (300gsm) that won’t get stuck in an Epson EcoTank Inkjet printer? (That’s the most economical printer I can find)

    There’s the tricky bit, 300gsm card is notorious for jamming printers, we usually get ours printed by a specialist priter on a XEROX huge machine.

    3. What would be the best way to get cardstock cut to size?
    Buy a guillotine to use at home? Or does this risk producing ragged edges?

    Get the card stock cut to size, I started out cutting our car on an old guillotine (20 years ago) and it’s just not easy to get a professional edge or cut. We also brought a manual GBC guillotine and let me tell you, the electronic ones beat it hands down. This manual guillotine cost over $2500 and is really not up to cutting, so we had to go bigger.

    4. What is the best way to score the cardstock for folding?
    A device like Scor-buddy, or an electric scoring machine?
    Or bring the cardstock to a professional for scoring.

    Don’t try to score them yourself, it’s okay for small runs, if you get into the 1000’s it’s better for you to go to a company that already has the machines and can score to any size you want.

    5. Where can I buy good value envelopes for the cards?
    (I don’t mind sourcing overseas, especially if I can get decent quality recycled envelopes.)

    We get our special envelopes made in Australia now and use other Australian business for the standard sizes. Overseas sourcing is a pain, in my experience, you have so many options and to be honest, by the time you’ve sifted through them all, it’s easier to use Aussie suppliers. I’ve spent ages doing the research and normally what you get isn’t really what you wanted – plus, along with customs and import duties, and shipping charges, which all add up.

    6. For box-sets of cards, is it most economical to get the boxes made and covers printed overseas?
    Can anyone recommend a reliable company for this?

    I can’t help with this, we use minimum packaging and I’ve never had a special box made.

    Hope this helps, I’ve been in the card making business for nearly 20years (next year is our big 20) and although it is a challenge, I still get inspired. Feel free to contact me for pricing and any other advice.

    #1221783
    ChristianCards
    Member
    • Total posts: 4

    Hi Blueedge,
    Thank you so much for your reply.
    Your advice is very helpful!

    You mentioned a specialist printer.
    Could you recommend one by name?
    All the ones I’ve looked at in Australia are too expensive, and overseas printers – I’m wary about the quality, but also the time delay in mail.

    Also, which companies do you use for envelopes?

    I’ve been progressing in my discovery of the truths you shared.
    For example, I bought a $50 guillotine today from Officeworks and was completely frustrated by it.
    I’m convinced it cuts in a slightly curved line.

    So I’ll look into the electronic ones available on Amazon or perhaps figure out how not to need one.

    I’m going to go with the 130x180mm or 5×7 because that suits my artwork best. A6 just seems too small.
    And I just want one size of envelope to keep things simple.

    Today I had the brilliant idea of looking into wholesale suppliers, as I’m eligible for the lower prices, being a business and all.
    So I’m going to order a small quantity of 325gsm semi-gloss paper and give it a trial.
    My printer had no trouble with 300gsm but the matt paper gave rather dull results.
    And with all the ink on it, even 300gsm seemed a bit floppy for a 5×7 card so I’d like to try thicker, even up to 350gsm.

    How thick are 5×7 cards, usually?
    Most of the ones I see in the store feel very thick and sturdy but I’m not sure if they are coated with some material to make them stronger.

    I appreciate your helpful advice!

    #1221784
    Blueedge
    Participant
    • Total posts: 47
    Blueedge, post: 267934, member: 2563 wrote:
    Oh my word, I so need to reply to you :) Firstly, good luck with your business, creating something is always exciting and should be fun. Now to help you and answer your questions

    Here are my questions:

    1. What size cards are the most popular in Australia?

    We sell A6 which is half an A5 folded, they are very popular. Although they’ve been overtaken by Card size which is 130cmx180cm (which is also similar to the US size of 5″x7″) DL’s are not so popular, squares can be. One thing to always consider is the envelope size, they are the realy killers for profit margins.

    Or what size cards would you recommend producing?
    (there are so many different sizes, it’s bewildering)

    2. Where can I buy good quality cardstock (300gsm) that won’t get stuck in an Epson EcoTank Inkjet printer? (That’s the most economical printer I can find)

    There’s the tricky bit, 300gsm card is notorious for jamming printers, we usually get ours printed by a specialist priter on a XEROX huge machine.

    3. What would be the best way to get cardstock cut to size?
    Buy a guillotine to use at home? Or does this risk producing ragged edges?

    Get the card stock cut to size, I started out cutting our car on an old guillotine (20 years ago) and it’s just not easy to get a professional edge or cut. We also brought a manual GBC guillotine and let me tell you, the electronic ones beat it hands down. This manual guillotine cost over $2500 and is really not up to cutting, so we had to go bigger.

    4. What is the best way to score the cardstock for folding?
    A device like Scor-buddy, or an electric scoring machine?
    Or bring the cardstock to a professional for scoring.

    Don’t try to score them yourself, it’s okay for small runs, if you get into the 1000’s it’s better for you to go to a company that already has the machines and can score to any size you want.

    5. Where can I buy good value envelopes for the cards?
    (I don’t mind sourcing overseas, especially if I can get decent quality recycled envelopes.)

    We get our special envelopes made in Australia now and use other Australian business for the standard sizes. Overseas sourcing is a pain, in my experience, you have so many options and to be honest, by the time you’ve sifted through them all, it’s easier to use Aussie suppliers. I’ve spent ages doing the research and normally what you get isn’t really what you wanted – plus, along with customs and import duties, and shipping charges, which all add up.

    6. For box-sets of cards, is it most economical to get the boxes made and covers printed overseas?
    Can anyone recommend a reliable company for this?

    I can’t help with this, we use minimum packaging and I’ve never had a special box made.

    Hope this helps, I’ve been in the card making business for nearly 20years (next year is our big 20) and although it is a challenge, I still get inspired. Feel free to contact me for pricing and any other advice.

    Dave – FS Concierge, post: 267922, member: 49676 wrote:
    Welcome to the forums [USER=116452]@ChristianCards[/USER]!

    I think making them individually is a good way to start. That way you’re only producing cards that have been sold. It allows you to test the business and also experiment with ways of producing the cards.

    I know nothing about making cards, but here are a couple of thoughts.

    1) The first phase I would consider a test to see if your cards are popular.
    2) Don’t worry about profit margins at the start. You can switch to a lower cost method of production if they get popular.
    3) Just find the easiest way to produce them on-demand initially. For example cutting to size is likely a complication you don’t need. Choose a size that matches a card stock you can get your hands on easily. Personally I’d be looking for pre-made card/envelopes that I just have to print on (even if they cost more).

    Later you can buy in bulk, make from scratch, etc, but for phase 1 figure out what’s selling, who’s buying, and what they like/don’t like about your product.

    Good luck!
    Dave

    #1221785
    Blueedge
    Participant
    • Total posts: 47

    I use https://www.minutemanpress.com.au/print-shop/salisbury-south/#16/-34.7836/138.6479 for all my printing, they are ver professional and helpful plus being local to me helps. You will need print ready art work which I’m assuming you already have.
    We sell the Card envelopes for the 5″ x 7″ cards so that’s an easy one :) We sell to a lot of business now more than home card makers which is a nice way to go. The business I deal with would want an order of over 20,000 for good pricing which is what I also found with overseas suppliers.

    With the coating on cards, you might consider using a gloss card like 250gsm which does have a gloss coating on it. It’s matt on the inside so great for card making as you can add verses etc.

    One thing I have noticed is the our customers like the fact that we try to keep a lot of our products Australian made, so you might like that as a way to help sales.

    Another thing I was thinking about for you is to get actual photos or artwork printed as photos, that is very cheap and you can simply attach them to your cards. For that, the Card size 130x180mm is perfect. A lot of our customers do this. You can use double sided tape or photo corners to attach them so that’s pretty easy. We also do a slightly bigger card which is called P for Photographic and these are selling well too.

    You might also like to think about postage when selling, larger cards cost more to post which is sometimes a concern for customers. It’s not a problem if you’re handing a card to someone or if you’re sending it overseas but for post within Australia it can cost more than standard postage.

    #1221786
    Blueedge
    Participant
    • Total posts: 47

    Oh and I can so relate to the guillotine, I still get cross when I look at the big guillotine I paid for – it’s fine to cut larger sheets of paper or for small batches but a total waste of money for big lots of card. Much better to invest in larger machines later on and outsource first.

    #1221787
    ChristianCards
    Member
    • Total posts: 4

    Thanks again Blueedge for your sage advice.

    I am now seriously considering making the smaller card size (A6) as a second option for the budget conscious.
    The postage cost would be halved, and I could make 2 cards out of one A4 sheet.

    Also, your suggestion of printing the art on a separate front layer is brilliant!
    It would prevent the ink from making the cardstock floppy, and would also give me the option of using coloured cardstock which could be more attractive.
    I would have to find a very reliable adhesive though.

    I’m also going to try to find a printer who might work on an on-demand basis (printing orders as they come in from my website), and send the cards directly to customers.

    If anyone knows of printers who do this, I would be very grateful!

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