Greeting card printing is deceptively simple. There is a lot of forethought, planning, and decision-making involved before the cards ever get to the printer. Whether you are looking to print holiday cards, cards featuring your own designs that you will sell, thank-you cards, invitations, or one of the other possible uses, there are some tips to keep in mind to ensure you end up with the perfect card.
1. Start with the right materials.
When you think of a greeting card, what comes to mind? More importantly, when you think of your cards, what do you see? There are a lot of options to consider as far as the size of your card, the material it is printed on, and even whether you want it to be folded.
Flat versus folded is the first thing to decide. Folded cards are more standard and traditional, and have room for a printed or written message on the inside. On the other hand, flat cards are perfect for announcement and invitations, and can have handwritten notes on the back. Flat cards are cheaper than folded, because they use less card stock. However, as a regular greeting card they can seem more impersonal.
The next decision is what size your card should be. A standard folded card is 5″ by 7″ and made from paper that is 10″ x 7″. If you are planning on selling your self-designed greeting cards, this is likely the size you want. For families and businesses that are making holiday cards with photos, this is a good size for photographs as well. Smaller cards that fold up to 3.5″ x 5″ are good for thank-you cards, general note cards, and invitations.
Finally, but in many cases most importantly, choose the right card stock for your needs. You can choose between matte and gloss paper; glossy paper is more protective and shows off photographs well, while a matte finish is softer and has a different feel. For thicker cards choose 14-point card stock, but thinner 10 or 12-point will suit many needs.
2. Don’t forget about envelopes.
Since cards cannot be mailed without them, envelopes are important to remember. They are more than just packaging, though; envelopes impart a sense of surprise to the cards they contain. Plain white envelopes are standard and in most cases are ideal, but other colors are also available.
Most printing companies can provide you with envelopes for your cards. This can be the best choice, because it means you will not have to buy them separately and you will get the right number. However, it is a good idea to weigh your options before deciding. Cost is one factor, but another is the variety offered. If the company printing your cards only offers white envelopes and you want colorful ones, you will have to find them elsewhere.
3. Consider the design carefully.
The design is where the possibilities of greeting cards come into play and is the most important aspect of any card. The front of a folded card is the first thing someone sees when they open the envelope, and for a flat card the design is all there is. Designs set the tone of a card, and it is especially crucial for businesses and other professionals to send the right message to their clients.
Your design can be anything you want. For artists or photographers who want to sell their own cards, their design is a piece of their artwork. Families celebrating a holiday can use a picture of themselves or a themed design. Businesses should tailor the design to the purpose of the card and remember to keep greeting cards from being promotional. Thank-you cards can have almost anything on them, but they should be tasteful.
If you have a design you want to use, the printing company will work with you to make it look great on your cards. In most cases you will need to upload a digital file containing your design. On the other hand, if you just have a general idea but need help with the final design, the company might be able to offer suggestions.
4. Be careful with the inside message.
The first question to ask is whether you want text on the inside of your card. If the design says everything you need and you plan to add a handwritten note inside, leave it blank. On the other hand, a simple greeting can go a long way toward making the card more special for the recipient. For designers planning to sell their cards, the right greeting will help sales considerably.
What is the right greeting? That depends on the purpose of the card and the intended audience. Simple, heartfelt messages are a good choice. Before sending it to the printer, run your proposed greeting by a few friends, family members, or colleagues to get their approval.
5. Don’t be tacky.
That is putting it bluntly, but the idea is to keep your card appropriate for the recipient. Businesses should choose tasteful designs and appreciative messages that do not patronize their clients or seem like advertisements. Thank-you cards can reflect the personality of the sender but should be respectful of the people being thanked. Holiday cards can be fun or formal, but anything that would offend or embarrass a family member is probably a bad idea.
6. Get a proof before placing an order.
A card that looks bad, is illegible, contains errors or typos, or has an upside-down design will at best reflect poorly on the giver and at worst can provide misinformation. Getting a proof copy will allow you to check for any imperfections either in what you submitted to the printer or in the final product. Do not rely only on your own eyes for this; hand the card over to someone else to double-check it for you. The last thing you want is a holiday card that misspells your family name or an invitation that lists the wrong date.
7. Ask for help.
The printing company can assist you with any questions or concerns you have about printing your greeting cards. They have years of experience and want you to be satisfied with the final product, so don’t hesitate to contact them if you need help.
Bonus Tip: Order the right amount.
Be sure you know how many cards you need before placing your order. Running out of cards can be inconvenient and stressful. It is better to have extras than to have too few, but 100 extra holiday cards, invitations, or event-specific thank-you cards that get thrown away are a waste of money.
When It All Comes Together
Greeting cards are often used to mark exciting and memorable times in our lives, and greeting card printing should be fun and rewarding as well. Following these tips will result in cards you can be proud to call your own.