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Tips and Tricks: How to Sell More Cards, Part 1

July 2, 2013

The new commission structure was rolled out yesterday at GCU, causing a lot of discussion. According to Mindy, all artists should have received the e-mail notification. There are a couple of discussion threads on the GCU Forum or a copy of the e-mail here if you’re interested in learning more.

Before we get into the tips, let’s take a second to find out what goals you need to set to achieve your quarterly bonus. As I’m lousy at math, fortunately Sherry at Dog Tags and Combat Boots has done the calculating for us:

“You need to sell:
428 cards for each of quarters 1-3 and 857 cards for quarter 4.
142 cards a month for the first 3Q’s and 286 the 4Q.
5 cards a day 1-3Q and 10 cards a day for 4Q.

There you have it!”

Thanks, Sherry! Now you know what you need to sell each quarter to get that bonus.  (Edited to add: looks like Tom Rent has some different numbers, check the Comments of this post). How you achieve your goal is up to you, and hopefully you’ll find some advice on this post that will help you.


Every success story needs a place to start.

First, offer good, professional, competitive greeting card designs.
This is going to be the #1 most important thing you do and it’s hard work. There’s a lot of information on this blog about finding inspiration, the technical aspects of card design, new colors and fonts, etc. The bottom line here is: don’t be complacent. Art is an evolving thing that changes as you experience new things and get new ideas. Freshen up your imagination, take a gander at upcoming trends, learn your craft. Don’t be satisfied with the so-so.

Second, work ahead of schedule.
We work a year ahead, so we never need to fret about last minute deadlines or review times. This is a very good habit to get into and will serve you well. At minimum, you should be working 4-6 months in advance, not only so you won’t be upset by longer review times, but to give search engines a chance to index your cards.

We’ve started a Holiday Heads-Up Calender in the Nuts and Bolts category to assist you in knowing which holidays to work on and when. April, May and June are available. July is coming soon.

Third, be diverse and find a niche (or two).
All artists should have lots of diversity in their greeting cards. Everybody needs general birthday cards, but there’s a mind boggling amount of competition there. To maximize your sales potential, seek out the lesser known categories. Pay attention to the sold cards displayed on the GCU front page—this will often be your first clue for uncommon categories where customers are actively buying cards but there isn’t s whole lot of competition. In addition, try to match your design specialties with a niche (or two, or three, etc). Finding the right niche will be different for each artist, but when you do identify and take advantage of niches, your sales will increase. And if you’ve found a niche for cards that isn’t represented at GCU, I’m sure Mindy would love to hear about it so she can create a new category.

Fourth, do a little housekeeping.
Go through your backlog of designs starting with the oldest. Use your most critical eye. Are there any cards that don’t fit the standards? Cards that aren’t as appealing as you first thought? Then it’s time to redesign. Do you have cards that receive lots of clicks but no sales? Try submitting to the Critique Clinic here (Fri-Sun) for peer review and advice on what may be lacking and suggestions on how to make your design commercially appealing.

Fifth, make sure to follow all the guidelines.
Following the rules GCU has set will help reduce review times and set you on your way to becoming a Star Submitter, meaning the review times for your cards will be significantly reduced. Apart from the GCU Wiki and Submission guidelines, you can also find these helpful resources here:

Card Submission 101
Designer’s Schedule
Card Designer’s Checklist

Tomorrow, it’s time for Part 2: Marketing and Promotion.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2013 1:13 pm

    Hi, Corrie, thanks a lot for starting up this topic. Always good to have everything clarified and spelled out again. One thing to add under ‘third’ here maybe, that I feel is very helpful for me as a newbie, is to go check on the top selling categories once in a while, in order to get an idea of what is asked for a lot, and selling well. I realise that may change month by month, but in the long run, I’m sure it will show a trend… and it helps me to decide what I’m going to design and add to my cards collection first… 🙂

  2. Tom Rent permalink
    July 2, 2013 2:04 pm

    FYI: The number of cards needed to be sold are much higher than Sherry estimated. Her estimate of 428 to make $150 implies $0.35 commision per card which means all cards would need to be sold at the single-card $3.50 price. I believe that $0.22 per card is a better average based on my own sales records, so that would increased the cards needed to be sold to 682 for Q1, Q2, Q3 and double that for Q4. TOM @ Comical Captions

  3. July 2, 2013 2:06 pm

    First of all a huge thank you to Sherry for doing the math for us! My mind was not up to figuring it out. And thank you, Corrie, for taking the time to help us all become successful at GCU. Much appreciated.

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