By Sandra Miller-Louden
UPDATED FOR 2005!
Welcome to the wonderfully wild, wacky world of greeting card writing!
You may not have considered this to be a stay-at-home way to earn extra, needed income up ‘til now. And if you haven't, you should!
Why? Let me tell you.
First, greeting card writing is short; it's "do-able," even if you only have 20 minutes free time per day. In fact, that's about as much time as I had when I began in 1986, with two children under the age of 4. You don't have to be a poet to write today's greeting cards (although if you are talented in rhymed, metered verse, it won't hurt you either!) Today's cards, written by freelance writers, don't contain long-winded rhymed poetry, nor are today's verses trite, cornball jokes or gags.
Modern cards, much like modern stand-up comedians make a comment on life—our frustrations, sorrows, joys, desires. Their themes are wide and varied. They range from dieting to living with children to men (here's a question for you: Is living with children the same as living with men?) to single life to coping and stress. And the great news is, most verses today are no more than 10 to 15 words, often less.
Second, the competition among greeting card writers is less than in other, more popular writing areas. Most people know if they want to write something for a magazine, they look at the masthead for the editor's name and address. But for greeting cards, many people are clueless, not only where to send their work, but how to send it—in what format. They don't know if they have to send artwork along with their verses or they're concerned about editors “stealing” their work. I constantly have students in my classes tell me they've wanted to write greeting cards for a long time, but never knew how to start.
Third, did you know there are upwards to 1,500 greeting card companies in the U.S. and Canada alone? Most people, when asked to name card companies, get stuck after "Hallmark" and "American Greetings." (Another reason the competition is less in this area—once the majority of people send their work to Hallmark and American Greetings, if it comes back rejected, they give up, thinking they have no other place to turn). Yet, there are many mid-size companies out there that want and need a freelance writer's contribution to their various lines. Mid-size companies that many of you probably never heard of.
Fourth, greeting card writing remains one of the most lucrative areas in which to write. I recently sold a two-word Valentine's verse for $150—that's $75 per word! Payment in today's industry, of course, varies—but in general, it ranges from $35 to $200 per verse for the funny stuff; $25 to $125 for the more serious contemporary prose.
Not bad for a few, choice words!
Finally, and not to be underestimated, greeting card writing is one of the most "fun" ways to earn money around anywhere. Since the time I started my writing career almost 20 years ago, I've been published in fiction and non-fiction, syndicated book reviews, written profiles and celebrity interviews. I appeared on NBC-TV to talk about my work as a greeting card writer. My cards were featured on Live! With Regis And Kathie Lee and I've interviewed in such places as the BBC (twice!), Woman's Day, The Christian Science Monitor, International Radio's Voice of America, Staples.com, Attaché (the in-flight magazine of U.S. Air), The National Examiner (complete with photo!), Ferguson's Careers In Focus: Entrepreneurs (available in high school libraries across the nation), www.spawn.org, Talk Magazine and even as part of a Master's Thesis for a former student. Even though my non-greeting card writing work has appeared in publications such as CATS, Writer's Digest, A&E's Biography, Pennsylvania Magazine, Boy's Life and Ohio Magazine, to name a few, greeting card writing, with its short, snappy format, still remains one of my most favorite types of writing.
Above all, greeting card writing is a convenient "potboiler" (writer's speak for "keeping the financial pot boiling") if you're working on the great American novel or even less ambitious projects. You don't have to be a certain age, gender or race to write greeting cards—as long as you can comment on life as we live it and you understand the pulse of our society and translate that understanding and commentary into the succinct, punchy style of current card lingo—you will sell your work.
My students have been doing so for years!
A quick way to get started writing greeting cards is to go directly to my website: http://www.greetingcardwriting.com . There I give you a free tip sheet with several starter company names and addresses. This is enough to get you started—certainly much more than I had 20 years ago. Read the various features on my website—features all dedicated toward helping YOU become a successful greeting card writer.
If after doing this, you still have a further interest, consider purchasing my e-book through BizyMoms.com—or taking my 4 week course at Bizy's eClass Center. The links are conveniently provided for you in this paragraph.
If you want more details, you can always e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions. In fact, you might actually see your greeting card writing question on my FAQs Page. You'll also find out about additional products for sale by clicking on Ordering Info, including my second book on writing: A Few, Choice Words: Short, "Do-Able" Writing That Sells—now in its brand-new Second Edition! A Few, Choice Words covers other "ignored" writing areas, such as eulogies, book reviews, quizzes and step-by-steps/lists. The prestigious writing site, Suite101.com remarks: "This [A Few Choice Words by Sandra Miller-Louden] is a clear, well-written guide to many genres that are ignored by beginning and experienced writers. For busy mothers or harried moonlighters, one or more of Louden's mini-genres may be just what is needed to provide a steady income and a strong sense of satisfaction."
I truly wish you well in your writing dreams and hope you'll consider greeting card writing as part of those dreams. If you'd like to read how a former student of mine has succeeded in this business, click on the following link: Neighbor Newspapers - Mary Huff Chandler . In addition, other student profiles and successes can be found in the “Getting To Know You” Feature on my website.
Sandra Miller-Louden, Vice-President and Online Coordinator of Bizymom's eClasses.