Last year I started designing cards for sale and after not enjoying the home print process and finding having them printed to be pretty extortionate, I started uploading to Thortful and have had mixed successes with cards, but sold over 25 thousand in this year, so needless to say I'm really enjoying it! Not only does it give me the opportunity to design with purpose, but it's a very low pressured way of selling designs with no outlay and lots of earning potential. The thing i like best is that I get to do the fun part - designing, without the tedious process of printing, packing and trying to market my makes. Having had some really good sales this past year and one best seller for Mother's day too, I thought I'd share some tips for any other artists out there wanting to sell or start making card designs
Do some research
It's a good idea before starting a design to do a little research first. Research tells us what people are searching for, what's being promoted by the sites (this will be their best selling cards) and also to make sure you don't waste time designing something that someone has already done - been there, done that! You may even be surprised with new special occasion ideas, inspiration for your own designs or just to get a good idea of card layouts that work and themes that are popular. If you look on Thortful for example, in their drop down menu it will have card themes such as 'funny' or 'couples', but also popular search items like 'Line of Duty' or 'Spice Girls', so you could get a heads up on what's likely to get you a sale and land your card in search results.
Exclusive and non exclusive, you decide!
When uploading cards you can decide if your design will be exclusive to Thortful or non exclusive. Exclusive means that the design will only be sold to Thortful, and not on any of their competitor sites such as Scribbler or Moon Pig. You can still sell on your own Etsy shop etc though currently, though I imagine this will change at some point. Non-exclusive means that you can sell the same design to other card sites or shops too. The problem with non - exclusive though is that it seems like a good option for getting more sales, but it means you will be penalised by not showing up as high in the ranks or appearing in promotions. TLDR - Exclusive cards will sell better, you just cant sell the design to competitors.
Design cards you love, that will appeal to many
If you're wanting to sell cards online, it's likely that the main incentive is to sell many cards and make some money, so making ones that will appeal to more people just makes sense. I think though that although you want to sell lots, if it's not a design or theme that you like it might make the design process a little dull and if it's not fun, we won't want to do it for long. So I'd recommend throwing a little pinch of what's popular into the design for mass appeal, but also buckets worth of your own design style and passion so that this will reflect in an awesome design. TLDR - make a design you like that will also appeal to the masses, don't just design with others in mind entirely or make anything too niche.
A sad but quick lesson I learnt from selling cards is that online, plain 'arty' cards with no text just don't sell well. You'd think they'd be super popular as they are suitable for every occasion and can be kept or even framed after the event, but unfortunately they just don't sell and I believe aren't promoted by the site as much either, so it would be more up to you to direct buyers to your page which for me takes away the nice easy part of this kind of card selling! When adding text, it seems more popular to have a punny line, a specific age, or just something funny/sweet along side the regular 'happy birthday' or 'Thinking of you'.
Learn from rejected designs
With Thortful, your design either gets accepted to the main catalogue, accepted to profile only or rejected (ouch). The main catalogue means that your card will appear somewhere in a search and is the best option for making good sales numbers and therefore money from your designs. Profile only means that people will only see them if they clock on your profile name or click on a direct link. Although these can still sell, it's a lot less likely people will find them and relies more on you promoting your designs and getting that link out there for clicks - not ideal. Rejected just means they won't appear on the site for some reason, this could be a spelling error, something that goes against their rules or maybe something that wouldn't print well or look good printed. Don't feel bad though, if you love the design and see no reason for it to be rejected or put on profile only, you can either tweak the design, try selling elsewhere or even sell on your own Etsy shop. If you cards never seem to make it to the main site, send an email with some examples to the site and ask for feedback, this will save you making the same mistake again or maybe even decide their site isn't a good fit for you, it happens!
Try new designs
If you're having no luck with your designs, keep going! Sometimes the ones you love don't sell and designs that you knock up in a few minutes end up selling thousands, it's all a little trial and error, but once you find a style that's received well, you can create a set of cards in that way. Don't be afraid to experiment, try out new designs and layouts and if you've not designed cards before, have a look at cards in shops and online to see what kind of fonts and colours work well too.
Think about the end result
When designing, think about how this may look when it comes out the printer, whether it would still work if the edge got cropped slightly or colours came out a little darker. Does the font stand out from a distance (it'll look small on the website so good to be readable from further away). Make sure the design isn't cluttered for cluttered sake and that any elements of the design add value to the overall result. Simple cards seem to do very well and my best sellers have both had white backgrounds which is strange for me as I love busy colourful prints!
I hope that helps anyone starting out with cards design and although it's cheesy, just make sure you're having fun with it and find a way to make the design process enjoyable. This has really good earning potential for a nice passive income with no physical printing/packing/posting which is just amazing! You'll find my cards for here and here.