People are forever saying to me, "I love your card designs. You should be making more of them." This always sends me into a guilt-induced fantasy where I have more money and a business partner who can take over the tedious, organizational parts of this enterprise so that I can indeed spend more time painting wonderful designs.
There is so much "invisible" work to be done to get products ready to sell at shows, holiday bazaars, and for stores and galleries which carry my things. For the past few days, I have been ordering, sorting, packaging, and talking with shop owners about their needs. I thought you might be interested in seeing some of the invisible work that goes into creating greeting cards to sell.
Assuming that all the work of designing, painting, scanning, formatting, and printing the cards is already done, there is quite a bit of work involved in preparing them for market. (This doesn't include the marketing and selling itself, just the preparation.) Here is what I have been doing for the past few days:
Packets of cards arrived from the printer two days ago. Right away I noticed that they must have changed the paper stock I normally use. I emailed the woman in customer service to ask about it and sent samples of a previous card and this new one to show her the difference. Something has changed and I need to make some decisions about it.
Also, the folding was a little off this time and, to save time and aggravation, I re-folded some of them myself with my trusty bone folder, making a note to discuss this with the printer. When one uses a local printing company, oversight is easier. My printing company can do short runs so I have to put up with communicating long distance -- a trade off.
I must now package each design into sets of 6. Cardmakers usually sell wholesale in dozens or half-dozens. I chose half dozens in order to sell to smaller businesses.
I must include envelopes with the cards, which I get from a paper wholesaler near Boston.
I must have a way to package each half dozen, so I put them in clear plastic sleeves, which I order from another wholesaler. I often re-use these if a store has me re-stock cards myself.
When packaging card sets, I must print up a page for the back of the box showing what is included. Then collate six designs, package them in clear boxes, and label.
I warehouse my inventory of packaged cards in large boxes according to design in a large closet. I have created an inventory spreadsheet to keep track of how many packets I have of each design. In addition, I have an inventory page I bring to stores to keep track of what they have and need to order.
It is easy to get behind on this kind of work when one wants to be spending time doing the creative part. You often hear me vowing to "get back to painting" but so often the day to day business of art gets in the way.