Are you considering starting a greeting card company? Do you draw? Write copy? Or are you planning to purchase designs and content from freelancers?
Regardless of your answer, here's a list of 5 things we wish we would have known...
Actually, before I get started, let me tell you that I think you should do it! Running a greeting card company is definitely not easy but it's pretty fun. Svea and I just sit around all day drawing pretty pictures, laughing and making silly rhymes... not! Actually, Svea is currently counting every single one of our cards... by hand. Why? Because we didn't have a proper inventory system and we don't have exact counts of our cards. It turns out that stacking all the boxes up on a table in the middle of the room is not a stellar organizational system.
(Svea counting cards)
(our new high-tech storage system)
So, that brings us nicely to...
#1. Don't be in a rush to start selling your cards online. I wish we would have waited to start selling until we were totally organized and our website was perfect. We have driven a lot of traffic to our website when it wasn't functioning properly. What a waste! At one point we drove 2500 people to our website in three days but they couldn't complete the checkout process because the last page didn't funciton properly. I wanted to pull my hair out! Not really, I like my hair. It's a bit frizzy and unkempt but it works for me. So, be patient. Even if you have to delay your opening, it's worth the wait.
#2. If you're going to sell seasonal cards, start REALLY, REALLY early. No matter how good we get at card design, proofing, ordering, etc..., it just takes time. More time than you think. You have to design the cards, do the layout, order proofs, wait for the proofs to arrive, check them out, show them to your friends and family, then make any changes that you need. And there always changes. Not matter how careful I try to be, I always find at least one mistake after we order the proofs. Once the changes are made, the printer has to redo the proofs and the process starts again. Plus, you want the cards ready to sell at least a month before the holiday (more for Christmas). So you really need to start 3-4 months in advance. It sounds crazy but it's really necessary.
#3. Use Shopify. I created our original website using Wix and it was super easy to set up and really fast to get started, but... it just doesn't have the flexibility we need. We kept running into brick walls and trying to find workarounds to get the functionality that we needed but we just couldn't get it to work. For example, we wanted to sell card bundles where you can pick your own 12 cards and the cart would automatically apply a discount. In Wix, you can't do it. You have to use a coupon code to apply a discount. We don't like that. It's one more step the consumer has to take in order to purchase your cards.
#4. Don't be afraid to scrap some of your cards. If it's not perfect, or you don't love it, or it doesn't fit your brand, don't sell it. Everything you put your logo on represents you as a brand. So, if you sell something subpar, you're creating a subpar brand. It's that simple.
#5. You can't do EVERYTHING yourself. We've spent SO much time creating, editing, fixing, and tweaking our webpage. We've also been trying to run our own social media ads. For now, we packagae and send out all of our own orders. Svea creates all of our graphics from scratch and I write all the content for the cards and do the layout. Until recently, we were trying to do all our own bookkeeping. We wanted to explore some wholesale avenues for our cards so we signed up for a trade show. We designed our own booth and marketing materials. It was getting to the point where we didn't have time to make cards, which is kind of the whole point. You've got to figure out whats important to do yourself and whats not. We now have a bookkeeper and we're working with a firm to help us optimize our webpabge and help us with some social media advertising. I can't wait!
So, there are MANY, MANY more mistakes we've made along the way but these are some of the major lessons we've learned. If you have any other questions about our business, post a comment. We're an open book (or card)... haha! We don't have it all figured out yet but we'll tell you everything we know so far.