If you’ve ever thought about printing your own greeting cards to sell, perhaps at Craft Fairs or through your local shops, you’ve probably discovered that using a printing firm is probably not the best way to go. In my experience, printing firms usually want to print at least 50 of each of your designs. So it simply won’t work if you are just wanting to ‘toe-dip’ to find out whether your cards are popular enough to sell.
But with home printers becoming better and cheaper all the time, the answer is obviously to do it yourself. All you need by way of equipment is the printer, a trimmer and maybe a bone-handled dinner knife to help with the folding.As far as ‘consumables’ are concerned, suitably heavy card (280gsm and upwards is best), envelopes, cellophane sleeves and self-adhesive labels to seal them are all reasonably easy to obtain, as are the replacement ink cartridges for your printer.
All the printing, folding, trimming and packaging are a bit tedious but it’s good to see your greeting cards looking so professional so you embark on your printing/selling project with enthusiasm. So far, so good.
But wait! Even before you invest in your equipment and supplies, stop and ask yourself whether printing your own cards is something you will want to continue with indefinitely. Because, in my experience, unless you have money to burn, once you’ve begun, it won’t be easy to stop without losing money!
Take this scenario:
Because most of the items are more affordable if you buy them in bulk, you’ve stocked up on 100 sheets of suitable printing paper, 1000 envelopes and cellophane sleeves and a pack of 210 self-adhesive labels, plus a set of new ink cartridges.
You print 75 cards and your ink cartridges run out, so you buy new ones. Then you print 25 more cards and you cardstock runs out but you still have a lot more ‘juice’ left in your ink cartridges – and 900 envelopes, cellophane sleeves and 110 self-adhesive labels.
So you buy more card, only to find that, before you’ve used it all, the ink cartridges need replacing again...and so on and so forth. Even if you manage to buy the same quantity of most of your supplies, it’s almost impossible to predict how long the ink cartridges will last because different types of designs use vastly different amounts of ink.
If you are fully committed to printing your own cards for the foreseeable future, it will probably all even out in the end. But if you’re unsure whether your cards will sell, or whether you will want to continue spending time on what is a rather tedious, time-consuming task, you will need to take into consideration the fact that you will be spending out on supplies long before you begin to cover your costs through sales and you are likely to have a constant surplus of one or other of the items.