Greeting Cards business is a huge and relatively little-known field and, unlike some other types of writing, newcomers with fresh ideas are positively welcomed.
The greeting card market is vast. The average American receives 45 cards a year and the market is worth an estimated $7 billion. Cards cost only a few cents to produce and generate some very tasty profits for the retailers and card publishers. No-one wants to send the same card twice, however, which is why new ideas, and lots of them, are constantly required.
There are three main areas of opportunity for part-time freelances in the greeting card industry: humorous ideas, verse and artwork. Of these, writing humorous ideas offers the best potential for most quick cash writers, so that is the field I will be concentrating on in this article.
Most humorous cards, due to their very nature, are in two parts. The outside cover sets up the gag, and the recipient opens the card to discover the punch line. Many companies will consider ideas which consist of no more than the captions with a brief description of the illustrations required.
Writing for the greeting card industry can pay well. New writers typically receive a fixed fee of $40 to $150 per idea or verse used, though some companies pay on a sliding scale according to how much they have to adapt your material before using it. If a card based on your idea sells well and is re-printed, some companies will pay you a further fee. Experienced writers typically get higher rates, and the most successful receive a royalty for every one of their cards sold.
Your first step in tackling this market is to research the market but you need to find out which greeting card companies are currently in the market for freelance ideas, and get hold of a copy of their writers' guidelines.
Once you've done that, all you have to do is come up with some great ideas! Again, the module of "Quick Cash Writing" about writing for the greeting card market goes into considerable detail about this. In this article I can only cover the basics, but here are my top tips to get you started:
Try brainstorming on a particular theme or subject: That is to say, give yourself 15 minutes and write down without stopping everything you can think of connected with that subject. Then go back over what you have written and see if any of it suggests ideas you could use. A few possible subjects to start you off are birthday, holiday, work, garden, car, food, drink and house.
Choose two totally different words or concepts: Choose two different words or concepts and see if you can find any links between them. Much humor works by connecting two apparently unrelated concepts. For example, the idea below came from pairing the words "birthday" and "recipe".
"This birthday card contains no artificial flavorings, preservatives or colorings. It is salt-fre'e with no added sugar, low in cholesterol, and guarant'ee'd fre'e of impurities... It tastes b***** awful!"
Look at existing cards and see if you can change or adapt them in some way to create an original idea of your own: For example, if you see an intriguing card on display, before opening it try to guess the punch line inside. If your own punch line is different, all you need do is change the front cover design/caption to end up with an original greeting card idea of your own.
Finally, look out for jokes/cartoons which could be translated into card format: To avoid infringing copyright, be sure to avoid simply copying the wording. There is, however, no copyright on ideas!
Quote of the Day: "If there are tow or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in catastrophe, then someone will do it."—Edward Murphy