Interview with Etsy Self-Publisher Sandra of Greetings Eh by Sandra
We love to publish all kinds of blog posts on Northern Cards, including topics such as All About The Forest Stewardship Council, The History of the Greeting Card and The Digital Age: Is the Greeting Card Industry Near Death? However, for our new interview series, we are introducing you to various people in the world of greeting cards. We'll be interviewing artists, self-publishers, printers and many more people involved in this industry, so that you can learn more about what they all do.
When and why did you decide to design your own cards?
I started making Canadian-themed cards in 2013 when my sister moved to Thailand. I wanted her to have a piece of Canada while she was away and found that I couldn't buy any Canadian-themed cards, so I decided to make her 'Greetings from Canada' cards myself. In 2016, I opened my Etsy shop after amazing encouragement from family and friends saying I should sell my cards.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Being a fourth-generation Canadian, I have always been inspired by our customs and unique way of life in Canada. One true Canadian custom is making homemade maple syrup. My grandfather tapped his own maple trees, to collect the syrup. In honour of him, I have made greeting cards with his favourite colours and a bottle of syrup.
Here are just a few other things that inspire me:
- Watching Hockey Night in Canada
- A family member worked for the RCMP
- A family member currently serves in the Canadian military
- I love animals, especially polar bears and beavers
- I am a Canada and world traveller
- I lived in Ottawa and I currently live in Toronto
- I was a competitive curler
- Being a mom
What is the typical process you go through when designing a card from scratch?Usually, I start by sketching some ideas out on paper, then decide on the colours and then start creating. Sometimes I just cut out items on my Cricut machine - cutting out shapes, wording, animals, or adding different patterned paper together, etc. and seeing what looks good together.
Do you sell anything other than cards?
Yes - I sell gift and luggage tags, magnets, and confetti that are all Canadian-themed and I also sell some seasonal greeting cards.
Where do you sell your products?I only sell online through Etsy.
Do you sell internationally?So far I've only sold in Canada and to the United States but the option is available.
Who is a typical customer of yours?
Mostly Canadians but some Americans who like to send their Canadian family and friends handmade Canadian-themed cards.
What do you think makes a card design perfect?A card that 'speaks' to a person on a personal level.
How much do you sell your cards for?The prices vary but mostly $4.25 and for a limited time including free shipping within Canada.
Do you send your own cards to friends and family?Yes, all the time. They sometimes make special requests for birthdays.
What is the best card you ever received?I've received many amazing cards, it's hard to choose.
Who would you love to send one of your own cards to?
That's a great question I have never really thought about. I guess I would choose a celebrity who maybe hasn't lived in Canada for a while, like Jim Carrey or Ryan Reynolds, as they seem like the type who might enjoy a very Canadian item and maybe it would remind them of where they come from.
What's the most difficult thing you have found when self-publishing?
I find that getting exposure to my Etsy site to be the most difficult part. When it comes to social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, I am not social media inclined. I have had to learn quickly on my own and build business accounts and followers.
Trying to post every day several times of the day to generate interest and sales can be difficult. Not knowing the hashtags to use to guarantee insight views or visits to my Etsy shop is also difficult.
What types of things have you tried to increase your exposure?I talked to every single person within my family and friends to like and share all my social media business accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. I have been promoting my Etsy shop through these outlets on a daily basis. I also search online for craft fairs and shows that are looking for vendors and sign up.
What would you say is the best thing about self-publishing?Being able to create Canadian cards and knowing that my handmade greeting cards bring joy into another person's life.
How do you actually print your cards? Are they all custom done or do you keep an inventory on hand?
I use a Cricut machine with Cricut cartridges to make my cards. I cut out each layer of the item, glue or tape together and then glue onto the greeting card. As per request, I can customize the cards that customers order. e.g. the colour of the card or the colour of the lettering. I usually make two of each card and make more as they sell out.
Do you have any words of advice for anyone who is contemplating being a self-publisher of greeting cards?
Don't be afraid to do what makes you happy.
Jean-Paul Michael has spent his entire adult life in the greeting card industry. He co-founded Northern Cards when he was 18 years old and over the last 3 decades, he has held many varying positions in the company. Today, he is proud to be Northern Cards' Publisher and a lifelong greeting card geek.