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How to Start a Greeting Card Business

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Published on March 10, 2022

Updated on September 22, 2022

How to Start a Greeting Card Business

Disclaimer: Step by Step Business’ content is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional legal or tax advice. All of our articles are thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by our editorial team. Read our editorial guidelines for more details.

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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

How to Start a Greeting Card Business

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

  • Industry size and past growth – The US greeting card industry is worth $4.1 billion. It has declined slightly over the last five years but still offers a huge opportunity, as e-cards grew an estimated 24% in 2020.[1]https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/19/business/e-cards-pandemic.html 
  • Growth forecast – The traditional greeting card industry is expected to remain stagnant for the next five years, but online greeting cards are expected to see strong growth.[2]https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/market-size/greeting-cards-other-publishing-united-states/ 
  • Number of businesses – In 2022, 568 greeting card businesses were operating in the US.[3]https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/number-of-businesses/greeting-cards-other-publishing-united-states/ 
  • Number of people employed – In 2022, the greeting card industry employed 19,335 people in the US.[4]https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/employment/greeting-cards-other-publishing-united-states/
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.[5]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.[6]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

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.

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 Business 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: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
  • 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 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: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
  • Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
  • Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
  • Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
  • Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
  • Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
  • Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
  • Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
  • Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr 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.

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 ZenBusiness’s 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. 

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.

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/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.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

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.

Marketing

Some of your business will come from the casual online visitors, but you should still invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.

Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products: 

  • Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area. 
  • Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
  • Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Buy Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
  • Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers. 

Kickstart Marketing

Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:

  • In-Person Sales – Offer your greeting cards at local markets and retail outlets.
  • Post a video – Post a video about your greeting cards. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
  • Limited edition – Offer a one-time version of your greeting cards.
  • Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
  • Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
  • Pay–per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
  • Influencer marketing – Pay people with large social media followings to promote your greeting cards. You can find micro-influencers with smaller followings and lower rates.

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. 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.

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. 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.

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

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: Start Making Money!

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

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

You can start a greeting card business for as little as $4,000 or even less if you already have a computer and a laser printer. You’ll just need a website and some materials to make the cards.

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.

Do I need a license to start a greeting card business from home?

You may need various licenses and permits at the state and local levels. Check with your local governments for requirements or visit MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance page.

How much can I charge for my handmade greeting cards?

Greeting card prices average around $5, but handmade or custom greeting cards can sell for even more. Check the prices of similar cards that are on the market to make sure that your prices are competitive.