High Frequency Marketing
PR & Media Relations in Spanish - Website positioning

WRITE SIMPLE GREETING CARDS

Most of us enjoy getting greeting cards from time to time.

Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, the birth of a baby, and

other occasions mean even more to us when we are remembered by

friends, relatives and colleagues. A well written card can make a

genuinely personal statement for any occasion. That's why

greeting cards continue to be a sincere and effective means of

communication. In fact, the demand for greeting cards is such

that it is now a multi-billion dollar industry and still growing.

Since there will always be birthdays, holidays and other

occasions appropriate for card sending, the market remains stable

and prosperous for talented and creative writers. Besides the

ever popular traditional greeting card messages, greeting card

companies are constantly looking for fresh and innovative ideas

and concepts. And although most companies employ staff writers

and artists, the opportunity for free-lance writers is very real

and substantial. Many greeting card companies actually encourage

free-lance writers to submit a regular stream of card ideas.

Writing greeting cards on a free-lance basis is a creative

way for writers to make excellent part-time money. In some cases,

extremely talented and prolific writers can write greeting cards

full time and make a comfortable living. Of course, the amount of

success a free-lance writer can expect from writing greeting

cards depends on talent, initiative, knowledge of the industry,

and time devoted to creating new ideas and concepts.

Many free-lance writers are attracted to writing greeting

cards simply by the nature of the work. Everything is usually

accomplished from the writer's own home. All that's needed is a

typewriter and a fairly consistent supply of new ideas. There are

no agents, or complex contracts to deal with, and most business

transactions are done by mail.

As a rule, writers who have success in the greeting card

industry are creative people who not only love to write, but also

understand what other people want in greeting cards. These

writers have learned the secret of "marketability and

sendability" and as a result are able to express, in a minimum

number of words, a multitude of sentiments.

Getting started writing greeting cards on a free-lance basis

is not at all difficult. You don't have to possess a college

degree, or live in New York. What you will need is the ability to

create messages that people want to send and receive. You'll also

need to be familiar with what is already on the market; what

people are buying and sending. Then you'll need to know which

companies are most likely to accept your particular type of

submissions.

This report will offer information and suggestions about the

greeting card industry and how to create and submit material that

could earn you $150 or more per idea. It is not intended as a

guarantee against rejection. Even the most successful writers are

familiar with editor's rejections. But, if you are creative,

enjoy writing, and are willing to follow specific company

guidelines, you could soon be making good money doing something

that is both fun and challenging.

WHAT GREETING CARD COMPANIES ARE LOOKING FOR

While the greeting card industry is not stagnant, and new

ideas and trends are frequently being developed, the three basic

card categories remain the same -- traditional, studio (or

contemporary) and alternative. And when publishing a line of

greeting cards, in any category, a company must cater to the

people who are most likely to buy and send cards. In most cases,

that means women between the ages of 18 and 50. So the majority

of companies are looking for cards that target issues these women

care about; relationships, success, religion, money, health, and

so on.

Even though traditional and contemporary cards continue to

be a staple of the greeting card industry, there may be an even

better opportunity for the free-lance writer in tune with

relevant issues. Issue oriented, or alternative cards, are

becoming increasingly popular even with smaller companies that

are expanding their lines in order to reach this growing market.

Alternative cards offer a response to non-traditional card-

sending situations and can be just as viable a means of

communication as traditional cards. Some of today's best selling

cards are non-traditional cards commemorating new jobs,

promotions, and salary raises. Other top selling alternative

cards deal with relationships, even the break-up of marriages.

Still another significant line of alternative cards is aimed at

people who have experienced, or are experiencing, drug and

alcohol addictions. At least one greeting card company has

already created a complete line of such cards, in cooperation

with a drug and alcohol abuse foundation.

Whether the sending situation is traditional or non-

traditional, it's safe to say most companies prefer a personal,

conversational style message rather than a verse of rhyme.

However, rhymed verse is often used for inspirational cards,

which also have a fairly large market. Most companies specify

their individual preferences in their writer's guidelines. That's

why it is essential to know what a specific company is looking

for before you make a submission.

Another ingredient many companies are looking for is humor.

Cards that convey a message with humor are very popular,

especially with the baby boom generation, which makes up a large

portion of the card-sending market. The preference, even with

humor, is for short messages that are immediately understood and

funny. The ideal is to have an attention-getting, one-sentence

lead in on the outside (or front) of the card, with an equally

brief, but effective, punch line inside. The intention is to get

the potential buyer/sender hooked by the lead-in message so

she/he can't resist opening the card to get to the punch line.

Companies that are looking for humorous card ideas are

usually emphatic and clear about the kinds of humor they will

accept. As a rule "corny" or sentimental humor is not preferred.

Most companies request humor that is "off-the-wall," "laugh-out-

loud," "irreverent," "outrageous," and in many cases, "risqué."

In other words, try to make your humorous ideas as "cliche'-

free," unpredictable, and funny as you can.

In general, most greeting card companies are looking for

cards that are appropriate for traditional sending occasions, as

well as cards for newer "issue" oriented situations. Here are

several of the most sought after types of card ideas:

(1) Birthdays. Since there's never a shortage of birthdays,

the market for original birthday cards, both humorous and

serious, remains a steady market for writers. Birthday cards can

make us laugh about getting older, or they can be sensitive,

serving as a reminder of the positive side of life, past and

future.

(2) Friendship. Good friends are hard to find, and keep.

That's why friendship cards continue to be a profitable part of

the greeting card industry. Most friendship cards deal with the

general value of friendship, or the significance of a specific

friendship. Again, both humorous and serious card ideas are

acceptable to most greeting card companies. The main thing is

that the ideas must be original and genuinely and clearly express

some positive aspect of friendship.

(3) Get Well. Like birthday cards, the need for get well

cards remains constant. Most people with not-so-serious illnesses

appreciate humorous get well cards. But, prospective writers

should be cautioned to stay away from over-used and worn out

hospital humor concerning hospital gowns, hospital food and so

on. Greeting card companies are looking for fresh ideas, not a

re-working of old ones.

There is also a need for non-humorous get well cards that

express appropriate, and sensitive sentiments toward someone

experiencing a serious illness. What greeting card companies are

looking for here is a sensitive approach to a serious, and even

grave situation. Sometimes the sentiment "get well soon" is not

appropriate, even for get well cards.

(4) Sympathy. Unfortunately, sympathy cards are always

needed. To fill that need, a writer must be able to address the

loss of a loved one with good taste and sensitivity.

(5) Love And Romance. Writers of love and romance card ideas

will do well to address all kinds of love and different aspects

of romance; first love, long-term romantic relationships,

marriage, sharing, trust, commitment, renewing an old romance,

and so on. The market is good for both humorous and serious cards

addressing the themes of love and romance.

(6) Support And Encouragement. This type of card has

increased in popularity over the past decade and offers creative

writers a good deal of opportunity. These cards can be given to

friends, relatives, colleagues, lovers -- anyone who might need

to know that they are not alone. The most common message with

this type of card is "I'm here for you." These cards offer both

encouragement and support, and can be treated in either a serious

or humorous manner.

(7) Inspirational Cards. Most companies looking for

inspirational cards request messages that address spiritual or

human potential. These cards normally deal with some aspect of

personal growth, are non-humorous, utilize sensitive language,

and require an understanding of the spiritual and human

condition.

(8) Alternative Cards. These cards are designed for non-

traditional sending occasions. The most common card ideas in this

line are those offering congratulations for a new job, job

promotion, or raise in salary. More serious issues, such as

divorce, terminal illness, and substance abuse, are also top-

selling themes in the alternative card line.

The main thing a writer should remember is that greeting

card companies are all looking for fresh ideas and messages, not

time-worn clichés and sappy sentiment. Greeting card messages

should be immediate and clear. Writers should avoid wordy or

complex messages, and be direct and original. In short, most

greeting card companies are looking for ideas they haven't seen

or heard before.

HOW TO SUBMIT IDEAS

Most greeting card companies have their own specific

guidelines for submitting editorial, verse, and artwork. You can

find out what each greeting card company requires by writing a

brief letter, asking for a copy of their writer's guidelines. You

should always include a Long Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope

(LSASE) with your request. And if the guidelines are available,

you should receive them in two or three weeks. Your request

letter need not be more than a simple, polite request. For

example:

Jane Doe

Locust Lane

Jackson, OH 45640

American Greetings

10500 American Rd.

Cleveland, OH 44144

(Your letter does not need to be addressed to a specific person.)

Please send me a copy of your writer's guidelines. I have

enclosed an SASE for your convenience. Thank you.

                                             Sincerely,

                                             Jane Doe

In order to send your request letters, you will, of course,

need a list of greeting card company addresses. You can get this

information from several different sources. One good source is

the Writer's Market from Writer's Digest Books in Cincinnati,

Ohio. Another source is The Writer's Handbook published by The

Writer, Inc., Boston, MA.

Both of these publications contain sections on greeting

cards, featuring alphabetical listings of many companies with

assorted information, including addresses and the availability

(or not) of writer's guidelines. Some libraries have these books

in their reference sections, but if not, be prepared to spend $20

to $25.

While both the Writer's Market and The Writer's Handbook

are valuable tools for free-lance writers, there are a couple of

more economical ways to get the information you need. One way is

by writing to: Artist and Writer's Market, The Greeting Card

Association, 1356 New York Ave. NW, Suite 615, Washington, DC

20005. Be sure to include an SASE with your request. You can also

visit card racks in various stores and select the lines that

appeal to your particular creativity. Jot down the companies that

interest you and send them a request letter.

Trade magazines such as Greetings, published by Mackay

Publishing Corporation of New York, also offer specific greeting

card company information, as well as information about the latest

trends, trade shows, and seminars.

While submission guidelines may vary from company to company

there are some generalizations that can be made.

(1) Each message or verse should be typed on a separate

piece of paper (8 1/2" x 11"), or 4" x 6" or 3" x 5" slips of

paper or index cards. Most companies require submissions on 3" x

5" index cards, but in some cases studio-card submissions may be

required on 9" x 9 1/2" folded paper.

(2) In most cases you will be required to use only one side

of the submission card or paper. Your name, address, and phone

number should be placed in the upper left-hand corner of each

submission, and the message or verse in the center.

(3) Most companies will allow from 5 to 15 separate card

ideas with each submission. If you are not sure how many ideas or

verses a specific publisher will accept in one group, send no

more than 10.

(4) Each submission should be accompanied by a brief cover

letter. The letter should be addressed to the editor or editorial

staff, and briefly indicate what you are submitting. The cover

letter should be no longer than a short paragraph. Also include

an SASE for return of any submissions not accepted.

(5) If you make a lot of submissions, you'll need to keep

organized. The best way to do this is to create your own coding

system. Your system doesn't have to be elaborate or complex --

just something you will understand. One simple coding system is

to place your initials, the company initials, and a number in the

upper right-hand corner of each submission card.

Here's a sample card submission:

       ---------------------------------------------------

Jane Doe                                             JD-AM-1

Locust Lane

Jackson, OH 45640

(Phone number)

                        ANOTHER BIRTHDAY!

                  I'm Glad I Haven't Known You

                        All Of Your Life

                 I Couldn't have afforded FORTY

                         Birthday Cards!

       ---------------------------------------------------

Most greeting card company writer's and artist guidelines

will follow the general format outlined above. However, you

should never take submission guidelines for granted. Before you

submit, get the company guidelines and follow them to the letter.

ARTWORK

It's not necessary for free-lance writers to furnish artwork

as well as the editorial for card ideas. As a rule, greeting card

companies have artists on staff, or they commission artists to

illustrate accepted new card ideas. That doesn't mean writers

cannot submit their own artwork too. Many companies are pleased

to hear from creative individuals who can provide both the

editorial and the artwork. Again, you should refer to each

company's writer's and artist's guidelines to familiarize

yourself with individual company policies.

If you are an artist, illustrator, designer, or photographer, and

wish to submit some concept to a greeting card company, you

should understand that most companies do not accept original

artwork of any sort. Instead, you'll be required to submit

slides, photocopies, photos, promotional pieces, or some other

reproduction of your work. Generally, greeting card

companies like to see an artist's style before they ask for an

original work or contract for an assignment. So don't send any

original artwork unless a company specifically requests that you

do.

Whatever representations of your artwork you send, you'll

most likely be required to reduce your submissions to standard

sizes -- 5" x 7" or 4 3/4" x 6 1/4" for cards, and 4 1/8" x 5

1/2" for postcards. Photographs are often required to be

submitted in the form of transparencies. And color, or hand-

colored work is usually preferred over black and white.

Every piece of artwork you submit should include your name,

address, and telephone number. And while it is not necessary, you

can place the copyright symbol next to your name. You should also

include an SASE if you want your material returned. Make sure the

envelope is large enough to hold your submission, and be sure

it's stamped with the proper amount of postage.

Usually, the relationship between copy and artwork is

significant. It's a good idea for writers to think of, or plan,

the card as an entire concept. Even if you are not artistically

inclined, most card company editors appreciate intelligent

suggestions from writers about an overall concept.

NOVELTY IDEAS

Writing messages and verse for greeting cards is not the

only way a free-lance writer can use such a talent to make money.

There's also a good market for writing messages for posters, t-

shirts, buttons, telephone answering machines, wedding

invitations, and other items. In fact, many greeting card

companies also feature a line of novelty items. Some of these

companies pay the same flat fee for a novelty message as they do

for a greeting card idea.

The greeting card companies also involved with novelty items

are usually in need of editorial and/or concepts for buttons,

mugs, key rings, plaques, bookmarks, refrigerator magnets, and

other such items. In most cases novelty humor as well as serious

themes are accepted.

Mugs, which are popular gift items, work best with strong

personal me-to-you messages. Some popular themes companies look

for include birthday, get well, and personal relationships. The

messages are similar to greeting card messages, but must be

expressed in one line since the message is only on the outside of

the mug, rather than the typical two-line greeting card.

In general, slogans, sayings, or any copy for non-card

products should follow several guidelines. First of all, a

novelty product must accurately reflect the lifestyles,

attitudes, and personalities of the people who use or wear the

product. That also means that the written message must be some

catchy and relevant statement about a multitude of life

experiences. The messages on novelty products are usually

philosophical statements about relationships, dieting, school,

sex, work, men, women, hobbies, etc.

When creating slogans and statements for novelty products,

it's important to keep in mind that the end result should be a

means of self-expression. People use or wear such products as a

fun way to make personal statements. In many cases novelty

products are humorous items that allow us to make fun of life's

ups and downs as well as ourselves.

SUCCESS ANALYSIS

Eight contributing factors are measured on a 1 to 10 basis

(with 10 being excellent) based on analysis of this opportunity.

1. Time Investment                                7

2. Start-up Costs                                 10

3. Gross Income Potential                         5

4. Net Income Potential                           5

5. Income in Relation to Investment               8

6. Stability                                      5

7. Overall Risk                                   9

8. Potential for Growth                           7

Overall Potential for Success                     7.00

POTENTIAL EARNINGS

Since greeting cards is a multi-billion dollar industry,

there is good potential for substantial earnings. Most companies

pay from $25 to $150 for each free-lance idea or verse they buy.

Some pay as much as $500 for a single idea or verse. If your work

is especially original and creative, a submission of ten card

ideas to one company could bring you anywhere from $25 to $1,500

(or more) depending on how many of the ideas the company buys,

and how much they pay per idea.

In most cases a company's writer's guidelines will tell you

how much they pay per idea. That information is also available

for most of the companies listed in the Writer's Market and The

Writer's Handbook. If you feel your ideas are worth more than $25

apiece, submit them to a company that pays more. The choice of

companies you wish to deal with is entirely up to you. Just make

sure your submissions fit the specific guidelines and needs of

the company you are sending them to.

Usually, if an editor buys 2 or 3 ideas out of a batch of 10

to 15 submissions the writer is doing very well. But it isn't

unheard of for an editor to buy most, or all, of a writer's ideas

from one submission. Admittedly, for that to happen all the

writer's ideas and/or verses must be highly original, creative,

and exceptional. And they must be exactly what the company is

looking for.

While most companies pay per card or idea, a few pay small

royalties. Other companies may prefer to test a card before

buying it. In that event, the company will pay a small fee to

test the idea before they make a final decision. Many companies

also give a writer's credit on the back of the card. Some

companies will even include free samples if they accept your

idea(s).

How much a company pays per card is certainly a consideration

when deciding where to send your ideas, but it's not the only

consideration. You must also be reasonably certain your ideas fit

the particular needs of the company. You should also consider

whether the company pays on "acceptance" or on "publication."

Being "paid on acceptance" simply means that shortly after a

company accepts your idea(s) for publication you'll be getting a

check. On the other hand, being "paid on publication" means

you'll most likely have to wait a good deal longer before you get

any money. The time that elapses between acceptance of an idea

and its actual publication can be several months. That's why most

experienced free-lance writers prefer to work with companies that

pay on acceptance.

The important thing to remember regarding potential earnings

from writing greeting cards is that there are no guarantees.

Anyone who has ever written anything for publication, from

greeting cards to novels, has suffered rejection. Not every

editor will find your ideas and verses as witty, original, or

creative as you do. But if you are truly creative, prolific, and

persistent, you will eventually be successful. To a large degree,

your potential earnings from writing greeting cards is only as

limited as your imagination and creativity.

SOME TIPS

(1) As a general rule, the most successful greeting cards

are those that are short and to the point. Concentrate on

creating card ideas that work with a one-sentence front and a

one-sentence follow-up on the inside. Since most stores that

carry greeting cards have from 500 to 1,000 cards on display, a

quick glance is all each card gets. So a short, catchy, readily

understood front-of-the-card sentence has a decided advantage

over a more lengthy and ponderous message.

(2) Since birthday cards are usually a company's biggest

seller, it's a good idea for beginners to concentrate on birthday

ideas and concepts. It's not only a good way to learn what

companies are looking for, it may also be the best opportunity

for initial success.

(3) When writing card ideas, consider sending occasions such

as birthdays, Christmas, job promotions, etc., and imagine

someone (a friend, colleague, or relative) to whom you would give

the card. In effect, you should look at your card ideas and ask

yourself if you would actually buy them and send them to people.

(4) If you think you've heard it before, then forget it.

Originality is one of the main keys to success in writing

greeting cards. One way to insure that your ideas will be fresh

and innovative is to keep in touch with what's going on in the

world around you. Read newspapers, popular magazines, go to the

movies -- anything that will keep you abreast of the latest

issues, fads, and fashions. You'll be amazed at the amount of

inspiration you'll get simply by "paying attention."

(5) Even if you are not an artist or illustrator, it's

always a good idea to have a complete concept in mind when you

create a specific message. It's also a good idea to suggest the

entire concept to an editor when you make your submission. Don't

worry about artwork. If the overall concept appeals to the

editor, a company staff member will take care of the card design.

(6) Send your rejections to other companies. Take a careful

look at all your rejected ideas. Eliminate the weakest ones, and

send the rest to another company. Rejection of an idea may simply

mean that a specific company doesn't need it. That does not mean

another company can't use it.

(7) Don't get impatient. If you haven't heard from an editor

3 or 4 weeks after you've submitted material, don't write, and

don't call. You should allow at least eight weeks for a response.

Some companies may not get back to you for 12 weeks or more. Many

companies state their typical response time in their guidelines.

(8) When most card companies buy an idea they "buy all

rights." Many of these companies will also require the writer to

guarantee that the material they are buying is original and has

not been sold to any other company. If a company requires you to

sign a release form and/or a contract to sell all rights, make

sure you understand the terms of the agreement before signing.

(9) Keep records. Use a 3"x 5" card file to hold duplicates

of your submissions. You can arrange your ideas any way you like

-- subject, season, prose, verse, one-liners, etc. Keep on file

what you send, where you send it, and the date it was sent. Of

course, you should also record whether an idea was purchased or

rejected.

SUMMARY

How much money can you make writing greeting cards? The

answer to that question is really up to you. Certainly a

creative, motivated writer can make excellent money on a part-

time basis. But it is also possible to make a comfortable living

freelancing for greeting card companies full time. Obviously, the

more time you devote to creating new greeting card ideas and

concepts, the more money you are apt to make. Just don't expect

great monetary rewards over night. It takes time.

Before you make any money writing greeting cards, you'll

have to take the first step. Become familiar with the greeting

card industry. Browse through card racks and see what the market

is offering. Get a list of greeting card companies and send for

their writer's guidelines and market list. And before you submit

your ideas make sure they fall within the company's requirements.

While there are no guarantees, there is a great opportunity

for free-lance writers to make big money writing greeting cards.

An initial small investment in index cards, postage, and

envelopes, can easily be recovered with one purchased idea. If

you are creative, love to write, have initiative, and are willing

to make the effort, you can see your words and ideas become

greeting cards and make money as well.

SOURCES

Books:

199X Writer's Market -- editor: Mark Kissling, Writer's Digest

Books, 1507 Dana, Cincinnati, OH 45207

The Writer's Digest Guide To Manuscript Formats, by Dian Dincin

Buchman and Seli Groves, Writer's Digest Books, 1507 Dana,

Cincinnati, OH 45207

The Writer's Handbook, edited by Sylvia K. Burack, The Writer,

Inc., Boston, MA

Guidelines:

Amberly Greeting Card Company -- editor: Ned Stern, Gold Coast

Drive, Cincinnati, OH

Artist's And Writer's Guidelines, by Carol Wilson Fine Arts,

Inc., Portland, OR

Creative Guidelines, the Maine Line Company, Rockland, ME

Guidelines, by Style Services, 1120 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., Royal

Palm Beach, FL

Kalan's Copy Guidelines, by Kalan, 97 S. Union Ave., Lansdowne,

PA

Noble Works, editor: Christopher Noble, Hoboken, NJ

Submitting Artwork, Photography, Editorial And Product Ideas To

Hallmark Cards, Inc., by Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, MO

Twenty Tips For Turning Your Greeting Card Ideas Into Cash, by

Greetings, Cleveland, OH

West Graphics, editor: Carol West, 238 Capp Street, San

Francisco, CA

Writer's Guidelines, by Merlyn Graphics Corporation, Canoga Park,

CA

Writer's Guidelines, by Oatmeal Studios, Rochester, VT

 

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