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How to Start a Greeting Card Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Greeting Card Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$4,050 - $8,100

Revenue potential

$55,000 - $180,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 – 3 months

Profit potential

$50,000 - $73,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Declining

Commitment

Flexible

Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s, graduation — the list of events that call for greeting cards is nearly endless, which is why the US greeting card industry is worth more than $4 billion. If you’re a graphic designer or artist, or even if you just have a creative eye and a flair for words, you could start a greeting card business and bring a bit more joy into people’s lives while grabbing a share of that market. 

You could even start from home with just a small investment. But first you’ll need to understand the greeting card business and how to launch a company. Fortunately, you’ll find everything you need in this step-by-step guide, creatively designed to put you on a path to entrepreneurial success.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a greeting card business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you. 

Pros

  • Share the Love – Create cards that will make someone’s day
  • Flexibility – Work from home on your time
  • Good Money – High markups on cards

Cons

  • Saturated Market – Compete with big players like American Greetings and Hallmark
  • Skills Needed – Creative and unique designs are necessary to stand out

Greeting card industry trends

Industry size and growth

greeting card industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the greeting card industry include:

  • Eco-friendly greeting cards made with recycled materials or carbon-neutral paper are in demand. This presents an opportunity for a greeting card business to stand out. 
  • Handmade and personalized greeting cards are also popular, creating another opportunity to target a more niche market.

Challenges in the greeting card industry include:

  • Online greeting cards are growing in demand and have become a billion-dollar industry. This means competition for physical greeting cards, but it also could be an opportunity for a tech-savvy entrepreneur.
  • The rising cost of the materials used to make greeting cards is cutting into the profit margins of greeting card businesses.
greeting card industry Trends and Challenges

Demand hotspots

  • Most popular states – The most popular states for craft artists are Oregon, California, and Texas.((https://www.zippia.com/craft-artist-jobs/best-states/)) 
  • Least popular states – The least popular states for craft artists are Colorado, Vermont, and Missouri. 
greeting card industry demand hotspots

What kind of people work in greeting cards?

  • Gender – 72.1% of craft artists are female, while 23.5% are male.((https://www.zippia.com/craft-artist-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education – The average craft artist has a bachelor’s degree.
  • Average age – The average craft artist in the US is 40.6 years old.
greeting card industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a greeting card business?

Startup costs for a greeting card business range from $4,000 to $8,000. Costs include a computer and laser printer, design software, and paper or other materials to make greeting cards. 

Online learning platforms like Skillshare and Udemy offer many greeting card courses if you’re looking to brush up on your skills and market trends. 

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Paper, ink, design software$500 - $1,000$750
Computer and laser jet printer$2,000 - $3,000$2,500
Total$4,050 - $8,100$6,075

How much can you earn from a greeting card business?

The average price of a greeting card is about $5. Your cost to make each card will be about $.50. The $5 price is when selling directly to consumers. You could also offer your cards to retail outlets at wholesale prices of around $2.50. Your profit margin if you sell directly to consumers online is 90%.

In your first year or two, you could work from home and sell 30 cards a day, bringing in nearly $55,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $50,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. As your brand gains recognition and you get repeat customers, sales could climb to 100 cards a day. At this stage, you’d rent a commercial space and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to around 40%. With annual revenue of more than $180,000, you’d make a tidy profit of nearly $73,000.

greeting card business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a greeting card business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Competition from American Greetings and Hallmark, as well as online greeting cards
  • Having excellent artistic skills to create unique designs

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a greeting card business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research greeting card businesses in your area and online to examine their products, price points, and what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the market is missing a handmade card business, or a quirky message greeting card business.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as Christmas cards or Valentine’s Day cards.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.

What? Determine your products or services

You’ll need to determine a theme for your cards, such as humor, or if you want to specialize in something like birthday cards or offer a variety of cards. Then, go ahead and create your designs.

How much should you charge for greeting cards?

The average price of greeting cards is $5. Your costs will be limited to the cost to make the cards. You should aim for a profit margin of about 90%.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

If you sell direct to consumers, your target market will be broad. You should spread out your marketing to include sites like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. If you sell wholesale to retail outlets, you can find business owners on LinkedIn, or you can call them directly.

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a production facility or even a store. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
greeting card business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Greeting Card Company Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “greeting cards” or “birthday cards”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Happy Cards Inc.” over “Thank You Cards”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Greeting Card Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: A concise overview of your greeting card business, highlighting key aspects and objectives for potential investors and stakeholders.
  • Business Overview: A snapshot of your greeting card business, outlining its mission, vision, and the problem it solves in the market.
  • Product and Services: Detailed information about the greeting cards you offer, emphasizing unique features and value propositions that set them apart.
  • Market Analysis: An examination of the target market for your greeting cards, including demographics, trends, and potential growth opportunities.
  • Competitive Analysis: An assessment of competitors in the greeting card industry, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, and strategies to differentiate your business.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategies for promoting and selling your greeting cards, encompassing channels, pricing, and promotional activities to reach your target audience.
  • Management Team: Introduction to key individuals responsible for leading and managing the greeting card business, showcasing their relevant skills and experience.
  • Operations Plan: Details on how the greeting cards will be produced, distributed, and any partnerships or key suppliers involved in the process.
  • Financial Plan: Projections and analysis of the financial aspects of your greeting card business, including startup costs, revenue forecasts, and break-even analysis.
  • Appendix: Supplementary information such as additional data, charts, or supporting documents that provide further insights into your greeting card business plan.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to greeting card businesses.

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your greeting card business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a greeting card business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a greeting card business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.

 You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your greeting card business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Adobe, Canva, or Print Artist, to design your greeting cards.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

Marketing

For your greeting card business, the marketing strategy should focus on showcasing the uniqueness, creativity, and emotional appeal of your cards. Emphasize your range of designs, the quality of materials used, and any special features like personalized messages, handcrafted elements, or eco-friendly materials. Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

Kickstart Marketing

  • Professional Branding: Your branding should reflect the creativity and sentimentality of your products. This includes your logo, business cards, website design, and packaging.
  • Direct Outreach: Connect with local gift shops, bookstores, and specialty retailers to stock your cards. Attend craft fairs, markets, and trade shows to showcase your products and build brand awareness.

Digital Presence and Online Marketing

  • Professional Website and SEO: Develop an engaging e-commerce website that showcases your greeting card collections with high-quality images and descriptions. Use SEO best practices to rank for searches related to greeting cards, special occasion cards, and custom cards.
  • Social Media Engagement: Utilize visually-oriented platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to showcase your cards. Use Facebook and Twitter to engage with customers, share promotions, and highlight occasions and holidays.

Content Marketing and Engagement

  • Card Design Blog: Share posts about card design inspiration, the creative process behind your cards, and ideas for celebrating different occasions.
  • Email Newsletters: Keep your subscribers informed about new card collections, special discounts, and seasonal offerings.
  • Video Tutorials: Create video content showing the design and creation process of your cards or tips for choosing the perfect card for various occasions.

Experiential and In-Person Engagements

  • Pop-Up Shops and Markets: Set up pop-up shops or booths at local markets, festivals, and events to sell your cards and interact with customers directly.
  • Card-Making Workshops: Host workshops for making handmade cards, which can attract enthusiasts and provide an interactive brand experience.

Collaborations and Community

  • Collaborations with Artists and Designers: Partner with local artists or illustrators to create unique card designs, bringing diverse styles to your collections.
  • Community Involvement: Participate in community events and charity initiatives, offering your cards for fundraising or awareness campaigns.

Customer Relationship and Loyalty Programs

  • Loyalty Program for Repeat Customers: Implement a loyalty program offering discounts or exclusive designs to repeat customers.
  • Customization Services: Offer personalized services where customers can request custom designs or messages, enhancing their experience and satisfaction.

Promotions and Advertising

  • Targeted Online Advertising: Use online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ads to target customers interested in gift-giving, special occasions, and stationery.
  • Seasonal Campaigns: Capitalize on major holidays and occasions (like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day) with themed marketing campaigns and promotions.

By implementing these strategies, your greeting card business can effectively attract customers looking for unique, thoughtful cards, establish a loyal customer base, and stand out in the market for its creativity and personal touch.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your greeting card business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your greeting card business could be: 

  • Handmade cards for any occasion
  • Custom birthday cards to send your personal message
  • Business greeting cards – send the perfect message to your clients
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a greeting card business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in greeting cards for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in greeting cards. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a greeting card business include:

  • Greeting Card Designers – design greeting cards
  • General Manager – ordering, staff management, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.

Step 13: Run a Greeting Card Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

The greeting card industry is still alive and well, even in the face of competition from online greeting cards. If you have creative skills and can make unique cards that will stand out, you can be successful. Profit margins on cards are high, so you can start from home and grow your business relatively quickly.

Now that you’ve done your homework, it’s time to start designing your heart out and embark on your entrepreneurial journey!

Greeting Card Business FAQs

Can a greeting card business be profitable?

Yes, a greeting card business can be profitable. Cards cost little to make, and you can sell them for $5 or more each. As long as you can create unique, appealing designs, you can be successful.

What greeting cards sell the most?

The greeting cards that sell the most can vary depending on the occasion and market trends. Generally, the most popular types of greeting cards are for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions such as weddings and graduations.

Do greeting cards need copyright?

Yes, greeting cards are subject to copyright laws, and any original artwork, text, or design elements should be properly attributed and credited to the original creators or owners.

How do I publish my own greeting cards?

To publish your own greeting cards, you could begin by developing your designs and creating a portfolio of your work. You could then research different printing options, such as online printing services or local print shops, and consider the cost, quality, and customization options of each. 

Who is the largest greeting card company?

The largest greeting card company is Hallmark, followed by American Greetings and Papyrus. However, the greeting card industry has many small to medium-sized businesses, and there are opportunities for independent artists and designers to establish their own niche in the market.

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How to Start a Greeting Card Business