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Make Money as a Greeting Card Writer

Aug 5, 2008
Even with the millions of electronic greeting cards that are sent every year, giving out personal, printed cards for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, or "just because" will never go out of style. Research shows that the majority of people across the world prefer old-fashioned greeting cards - both giving and receiving.

With an estimated 3,000 greeting card publishers in the United States alone, it comes as no surprise that a lot of good greeting card copy is needed. And if you've always wanted to write for the greeting card market, that's great news! It means you have many options on where to submit your work.

Do I have what it takes?

Are you creative? Do you have a knack for coming up with punch-lines unique phrases? When you browse through card shops, do you find yourself thinking, "I could've written that."? Do you grow frustrated because you can never find the exact words you're looking for in a greeting card?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may just have what it takes to become a greeting card writer.

What are publishers looking for?

There are generally two types of greeting cards: every-day and seasonal. Seasonal copy should be submitted several months before the named holiday and, of course, every-day material is accepted at any time.

What publishers specifically look for varies, depending on the type of greetings published. Some accept only humorous verse (Oatmeal Studios), some only sentimental (Blue Mountain Arts), and some both (Gallant Greetings). Although you probably still see rhyming verse on store racks, most companies today lean towards unrhymed poetry.

But one thing all publishers look for is the "me-to-you factor." Word it in a way that doesn't sound cheesy or false, but that you might truly say to your mother, daughter, spouse, friend, etc. Come up with something fresh that hasn't been done a thousand times before.

Check out each publisher's writer's guidelines for exactly the type of copy they are looking for, as well as word count or line restrictions.

What format is required?

Typically, greeting card copy is submitted two different ways. For short quips, humor and one-liners, many companies prefer each one typed on a separate 3 x 5 card. For longer sentiments and prose, submitting each piece on a separate sheet of paper is standard procedure. You'll want to number each submission for easy reference and also include your name, address, phone number and target audience (such as, "mother", "friend," etc.).

One note: many greeting card companies now accept email submissions. Again, follow specific writer's guidelines on formatting and whether to send in the body of the email or as an attachment.

How much will I get paid?

Greeting card freelancers get paid anywhere from $10 - $500 per card. That's a vast range, I know. But if you can crank out fresh and creative copy at lightening speed, even the lowest end of that range will earn you some decent cash. If you're fortunate enough to break into a larger company, well, you do the math.

A few companies offer royalties, although this isn't the norm. Most pay for "all rights," which means you will no longer own the piece and cannot submit or sell it elsewhere. Think carefully about whether you want to give up all rights to your work before signing on the dotted line.

Where should I submit my work?

As mentioned above, there are hundreds and hundreds of potential publishers willing to consider your work. Just note, mega-companies like Hallmark and American Greetings have their own in-house writers and it's nearly impossible to break in. But many other reputable companies welcome submissions from freelancers and willingly work with new writers. Companies like Blue Mountain Arts (or, SPS Studios), Oatmeal Studios, Comstock, and Renaissance, just to name a few.

Recommended Books:

"How to write and sell Greeting Cards, Bumper Stickers, T-Shirts and Other Fun Stuff," by Molly Wigand
"You Can Write Greeting Cards," by Karen Ann Moore
"Write Well and Sell: Greeting Cards," by Sandra M. Louden
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