Friday, November 6, 2009

please be part of my focus group...

Note cards by artist Suzette MacSkimming

Earlier this week, in preparation for my upcoming studio tour, I decided to explore the notion of getting note cards printed. It has been a while since I have offered note cards for sale but I remember well the angst of printing them myself. I recall spending oodles of cash on printer ink, then there was lots of time spent sourcing great paper stock at great prices (or not so great prices), spending forever on the computer to get things formatted properly (so the images wouldn't print crookedly and then they did anyway), sitting by the printer doing production control...well, on and on the trauma this time I started looking at outsourcing the job!

So far it would seem that the companies are coming in quite close in terms of cost. There are some major differences though. One well known on-line printing company (Vista Print) can only give me a 4" x 5.5" size (I want larger). The crop is goofy - for example borders may occur on top and bottom - it depends on your painting format. There is no option for text to appear such as my name, name of the work pictured and my website address. Yet they do offer full colour printing which gives my images the best chance of being identical to the original.

A printing firm locally is a bit more expensive but I would get a larger card, 5" x 7", which is what I want. The cards would be professionally set up so there would be proper borders. They also allow text and as I can pick them up, I save shipping fees. Ah, but the printing might not be as close to the original as I would like.

So now for the focus group bit...what would you pay for a quality art card?
Please keep in mind that the aim here is not to offer reproductions that would be matted and framed. For this I would be offering a much larger size and a totally professional printing job - from the scans to archival inks. These are simply note cards - a colour image on good paper stock, folded, blank inside, with a bit of text with my name etc. on the back.

The picture at the top of this post shows note cards that I purchased from artist Suzette MacSkimming last year. They are 5" x 7" and the printed image is approximately 4" x 5". There is identifying text on the back and envelopes were included. I paid $2.00 each. (I tried using the company she used but they no longer print note cards. Bummer.)

Given the quotes I have received so far, if I did a large print run of 500 cards (10 different images with 50 cards each), the cost comes out to about $1.25 to $1.30 per card. So if I charge $2.00, I will be able to recoup my costs. Obviously this isn't a money making project, note cards never are. I would be simply doing this in order to offer a larger product line and to allow people who might not be able to purchase an original to take home a favourite image. In some cases the originals are not for sale anyway.

My wonderful readers/focus group, do you think $2.00 is the right price?
Someone commented to me this week that people will pay $4.00 or $5.00 for a Hall Mark type card and they thought $2.00 was too low. Humm... I look forward to your response! Oh and thanks in advance. I appreciate the input. :-)

Woo-hoo, it snowed yesterday!!!! Yup, I love the white stuff - skiing, snowshoeing, beautiful vistas, no mosquitoes, no poison ivy, no yard work, the ability to follow wildlife tracks...I could go on and on but instead here are some pictures I took this morning.

Time to put this birdbath away and to get out the heated one...

Deer visited my flower garden this morning (the picture shows their tracks).

I no sooner filled the feeders and the birds were swarming around me...

Zooming in on a chickadee...what a cutie.

It is to really warm up this weekend so my winter wonderland will melt. Ah, but this brief treat will do me until the real winter hits some weeks from now. I am off to walk the pooch before supper. More time in the snowy woods...yum...


Paula Pertile said...

$2 does seem low for a card to me. I consider 5 x 7 to be a 'full size' card. Note cards are smaller, like 4.25 x 5 or so.
When I do note cards, I put them in packs of 6 or 8. Individual greeting cards I put in a clear plastic sleeve for protection. I charge at least $3 for the full size cards. I haven't decided yet what to charge for a set of note cards.

I think the only way to really make any money with cards to is to do very high volume with a printer - that way the cost per unit goes way down. But then you have to sell the darn things!

Laure Ferlita said...

I don't know what shipping would cost you, but it seems to me $1.30 per card is high for printing costs. I googled greeting card printing services and got over 10 million hits. I do know printers are hungry for work right now and you may able to find better pricing by doing a little telephone/online work. Don't be afraid to ask for samples either.

Vista Print has some real deals, but I would steer clear of them for art cards.

As to the cost of the card, I would recommend doing some research on Etsy or Artfire and see what cards comparable to yours sell for.

jen hook said...

I agree $2 is too low - I would expect to pay $4-$5 for artists greeting cards.

BTW Do you REALLY have a heated birdbath?

Vicki Greene said...

I really don't think that you would have a problem selling your cards for $2.50 - 3.50 each. Your work is beautiful and the cards will be delightful. I go to a garden festival every spring and there is a watercolor artist that has a booth and has been there for the last 10 - 12 years. I buy 4-6 or her cards each spring at 3.50 because they inspire me so I don't think you would have any problem to up your prices a bit.

Pencil Sanity said...

Something to think about to test the waters is to offer one card at $2 and another image card of $2.50, yet a third card for $3.00 and so on. This will tell you what the folks are drawn to when they buy your cards. Is it the image, or the price. Then next time you offer them you will know what to ask for them.

Teresa Mallen said...

Well thank you focus group participants!! I really appreciate your input.

Paula, interesting comment - I hadn't realized there were cards and then note cards. I call all art repros on something that looks like a greeting card a note card! :-) I need to get out more!! Well great minds do think alike - I was planning on putting the cards in a clear plastic sleeve as I think that it looks professional, keeps the cards clean and makes the buyer think they are buying something 'special'. Aren't we just brilliant?! :-)

Hi Laure, I have done quite a bit of research both on-line and locally this week. I was surprised at how similar the rates ended up being. The quotes you initially see on-line do not usually include the set-up fee (each image that you choose to up load is charged a fee starting around $6.00 and up for one time processing), then there are proofing fees (and who wouldn't want to proof their card?) and shipping 500 cards by donkey costs around $30.00. An express order or express shipping of course costs more. The $1.25 per card price includes all of these add ons. Thanks for the Etsy tip!! I hadn't thought to look there.

Hi Jen. Thanks so much for adding your input. And yes I do have a heated bird bath!!! I have had one for about 12 or 13 years. Birds don't actually take a bath in cold weather (so please don't think they sit around shivering with wet feathers). They do love to have a source of melted water to drink. I position it on a log stump so that the squirrels can also climb up and have a drink. I think they use it the most!

Hi Vicki, ah shucks thanks...I too like to buy note cards for inspiration. You might have noticed that Suzette's work is abstract and I don't usually do abstract but gosh I like her use of colour (and I do really like her work) so I just had to grab some cards.

Hi Maria, now that is an interesting approach. I might just confuse myself but then again it would work. :-) Eventually I would have to stick to a set price as I would offer the cards on my website and I would only want to have to set up one PayPal/credit card link!

So far it looks like my card price might just be on the rise! Thanks again ladies!!!

Sydney said...

Two dollars seems too low to me. Even at $3 I would feel like I was getting a deal for a 5 x 7 card. A pack of 5 different cards for $15 feels like a good price too, although a little discount might be better there.

Anonymous said...

Got to agree with all previous comments Teresa,$2.00 is a little on the low side...I always think it is a good idea to start with your topmost price, and if that does not bring results you can always lower it. I think you cards should do well as your art is fantastic, and methinks punters will pay your price.

Heather Page said...

Hi Teresa,
I charge $2 for an 4.25 x 5.5" card. I've often thought that was too cheap, but I also want to sell! On Etsy, I charge $10 for a pack of 5, which I think seems quite reasonable. I figure that it will be rare that I'll only sell one card online, so if the pack is a bit cheaper, I'll sell more and recoup my costs. I also print up the cards myself and at one point I figured out how much each one with plastic packaging costs, but I can't remember now! I still make a bit of a profit though. This post has made me reconsider price though. Perhaps I should raise it to $2.50/card. Hmm...

Jan said...

I think your price is way too low. It depends on the venue, but I've seen note cards (4.25x5.5") going for $3 to $5 and greeting cards (5x7") going for $6 to 10 depending on the paper quality.

I have my notecards in a pet shop and they sell for $4 each. Of course, the store owner takes a commission. Although sales have fallen off somewhat (& remember that we live in the boonies) no one has complained about the price.

One other consideration for printing but only if you want notecards:

why not do the setup yourself then take the cards on a cd to your local Office Max, Staples, etc? They can run a proof and do some minor adjusting for you for a relative nominal cost. They print 2 cards per sheet of stock and can even cut them in half for less that it would cost you to do it.

I've only used Office Max so can't vouch for the other companies, but I wasn't charged a setup fee nor was there a minimum order. They did a really good job and the only thing I had to do was fold the cards and package with an envelope.

I can't remember the cost but it was very reasonable - seems as if the whole thing, including the cutting, was about .60 per card or maybe even less. The only drawback is the limited card stock selection. Something to think about anyway.

Also, I haven't used this company but it comes highly recommended and the quotes look good. I think they do custom greeting/notecards also:


In case that link doesn't work, here's the url:

Teresa Mallen said...

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts Sydney and you too Vic!

Hi Heather. Yes it can be a problem trying to have one price that fits various venues. When I eventually put mine up for sale on my website, I shall set up PayPal so that it adds shipping at the point of purchase. That way my card price is my card price. Postage does seem to keep increasing!

Jan, thank you for all of your info!! I know it takes time to type out that sort of stuff and I appreciate the effort!!

Okay everyone, I would like to shout out a great big thanks for being part of my focus group! I really appreciate your input and you have given me much to ponder. Thank you so much.