Business At A Glance
Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes
If you love picking out and sending just the right card for everyoccasion, and if you’re a whiz at designing that perfect card yourself,then niche greetings cards is the business for you. This is a fieldwith room for growth, and while the big players like Hallmark do tendto dominate the market, most of the country’s more than 1,800 greetingcard companies are small ones.
You can help businesses develop andmaintain a rapport with their clientele by sending customized cards forspecial occasions. You can also send cards announcing clients’ specialevents and even embellish cards with your customers’ signatures andlogos. You’ll purchase blank cards at wholesale prices and, dependingon the size of each project, imprint the message on your own printer,have them imprinted commercially, or design and print each card on yourown computer system.
Or you can go the retail route and design cardsfor the regular consumer market. The advantages to this business arethat you can start part time, it’s fun and creative, and it’s a warm,fuzzy, feel-good business–even though you don’t see the recipients ofyour cards, you know they’re enjoying them. For this business, you’llneed a sense of fun, creativity and–the flip side of the coin–goodorganizational and time-management skills. When you send out cards forbusiness clients, you need to stay on top of things. But you’ll need tostay far ahead of the calendar with a retail design business, too.Winter holiday cards hit the stores soon after Halloween, and Mother’sDay missives appear soon after St. Patty’s Day–which means that you’llhave to have yours designed, printed and ready to ship even earlier.
For custom corporate cards, your clients will, of course, be otherbusinesses. You can target just about any type, but your best bets willbe those who need to stay firmly established in their customers’ minds,like doctors, dentists, insurance agents, real estate brokers,apartment managers, car salespeople, hair stylists and shopkeepers.
Anddon’t forget those corporate types with customers, vendors andsuppliers all over the country. Sign up these clients by–howelse?–sending them greeting cards. Design a catchy card that explainsyour business, then follow up by phoning for an appointment to showyour card portfolio. Send a one-time mailing of your cards for acharitable organization free of charge–make sure the cards mentionyour company and what you do.
Use this same mailing to get write-ups inlocal publications. While out and about town, ask business owners ifthey’re planning a sale or promotion, then offer your services to sendout card announcements. If you choose the retail road, you’ll sell toretailers or distributors. You can start out small by selling yourwares to local specialty shops and boutiques or shoot for sales repsand distributors by displaying your products at trade shows like theNational Stationery Show held each May in New York City. (Call GeorgeLittle Management at 914-421-3200 or go to www.glmshows.com for moreinformation.)
You’ll need a computer, a high-quality color printer, a scanner,greeting card or desktop publishing software, and–if you’ll be takingthe custom corporate route–database software for maintaining mailinglists and a resale license for buying cards at wholesale prices.