Tips & True Costs For Selling Greeting Cards on Etsy

JGaulard

Member
Staff member
Pro Member
My lady and I have recently taken an interest in color photo printing. We've got oodles of very high quality photos that we've taken through the years and thought it might be nice to see these photos on paper.

Over the past few weeks, We've been doing a lot of printing. We purchased a Canon PIXMA Pro-100 photo printer from Amazon for $299.99 during the Christmas season. Along with that, we bought some photo printer paper. To be more specific, we picked up the Canon Pro Paper Samples Pack from Amazon as well for $11.42. This was a decent purchase to experiment with the different types of papers. My conclusion? The glossier, the better.

Since we had some gear, we thought the next logical step would be to start printing in an attempt to sell some prints and greeting cards online. And as you may already know, Etsy has cornered the market when it comes to this type of thing. We set up an account and got to it.

Okay, selling cards on Etsy in theory is wonderful. You basically tell yourself that since you have a printer, that's all you need. What you don't consider when giving birth to thoughts like this is the many costs that are associated with printing and selling. That's why I wanted to write this post - to inform you of what it actually takes.

First and foremost, let's not forget about the cost of ink. Color printers burn through ink pretty quickly and for the printer we own, the ink pack costs $115. That needs to be taken into consideration. Of course, the printer comes with ink when it's initially purchased, but that won't last long.

Since we thought it would be easiest to start selling greeting cards, we had to look around for some specifically sized card paper. Apparently, this isn't as easy as one would think. Since the printer brand was Canon and since the sample paper we purchased was Canon as well, I first looked around for some 7"x10" greeting card paper made by none other than - Canon. Nope. Couldn't find it. After an exhaustive search, I ended up buying some high gloss 60lb Red River greeting card paper that already had the score in it for folding. This cost $44.95 for 100 pieces. But wait, since we were also going to sell the cards to people for actual use, we needed envelopes to go along with them. We bought 100 envelopes from Red River as well, which cost an additional $16.95. As you can see, costs were climbing.

Wait, I'm not done. After printing a few fabulous looking cards with our magnificent new printer, we were excited to list them on Etsy. We created an account and got listing. At this point, I think we have six or seven items in our account. If anyone made a purchase, I figured we'd put the card and envelope inside another envelope and ship it out to them. Simple enough. Apparently, my calculation was lacking because we weren't happy with that arrangement. If we were going to print, sell and ship these cards to people, we wanted them to be stellar and worth every penny someone spent on our product. Because of this, we spent a few extra dollars buying some clear protective bags that we could slide both the card and the envelope in before shipping. This is a very nice touch. We used ClearBags for this product and ordered some high quality and biodegradable bags. These bags came up to $17.72, which included shipping.

Finally, we have the shipping mailer itself. I looked all over for thick "envelopes" and couldn't seem to find any. The reason for this was because I was using the incorrect term. What I was searching for was called mailers, not envelopes. Envelopes are created from thinner paper and mailers are created from cardboard. Mailers are much more rigid and are perfect for mailing prints, cards and anything else you don't want damaged by the USPS. I bought 100 Pratt 7"x9" mailers from Amazon for $25.95, which I thought was fair.

Regarding Etsy itself, I think each listing costs $.20 and they last for four months. Don't quote me on that. Also, there are fees associated to each sale that's made, but I don't have those figures right now. Basically, what I'm trying to do with this post is to educate you about what you might be spending if you become interested in printing out your photography for sale on the internet. Gone are the days of simply printing and mailing. What I've learned is that customers require a much higher standard. They like the plastic bag and the nice mailer. Of course, the product has to be of the highest quality as well, but that's a given. I'll list the costs I mentioned below for easy viewing.

Costs

$299.99 - Printer
$11.42 - Sample Paper
$115.00 - Color Ink
$44.95 - Card Paper
$16.95 - Envelopes
$17.72 - Clear Bags
$25.95 - Mailers
$.20 - Etsy Listing Fee
-----------------------
$532.18 - Total

Just to put one listing on Etsy, we've already spent $532.18. Again, this is with the extra ink included, but I kept that in there because I know we'll need it soon. Also, I'll tell you that the more you buy of these things, the cheaper everything gets. For instance, 100 envelopes might cost $.16 per piece, but 1000 envelopes will cost much less than that. Perhaps $.09 each or something similar.

I hope this post helped you in some way. Do you have experiences you'd like to share about selling photography and prints on Etsy (or Ebay)? If so, please let us know below. Also, if you have any questions about this process, please ask below as well. Thanks!

PS - There are also costs associated with having a computer, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop and having the knowledge necessary to put each greeting card file together for print. I left these out because I made an assumption that someone who is interested in selling online already has the things.
 

JGaulard

Member
Staff member
Pro Member
I'd like to update this thread. We recently decided that it would be silly to own all this equipment and these supplies without offering prints to anyone who might want some of our wonderful photography. With that in mind, I just ordered the supplies we'd need for this endeavor, namely a picture mat/backing board/clear plastic bag set and some extra large mailers. We'll be offering an 11"x14" mat and backing board that's made for an 8"x10" print. The mailers I ordered are 12.75"x15". I think these will be very nice. I haven't ordered any 8"x10" glossy paper yet because I figure that we'll use up what we have in the sampler pack we already have. I mentioned that in the post above. I will order the 8"x10" glossy paper from Red River Paper soon, so I'll include that in the costs below.

Here are the prices:

$33.95 - 11"x14" Picture Mat Set
$25.49 - 12.75"x15" Mailers
$42.94 - 8"x10" Glossy Paper
-------------------------------
$102.38 - Total

So, to add these prints into the mix, it will cost us approximately another $100 to get going. That's not terrible, but I can see how all these initial start-up costs can be prohibitive for some.
 
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