How to be a Successful Freelancer in the Greeting Illustration Industry

How to be a Successful Freelancer in the Greeting Illustration Industry

Everyone utilizes greeting cards and cards are very popular among people of all ages, through greeting cards people express their feelings to one another.  There are a variety of cards available on the market in different sizes and shapes to suit the tastes of different people. The greeting card business is lucrative and if you are a successful greeting card illustrator you could break the bank.  But there is tight competition as there are many card manufacturers who have already established their business.  There is always a great demand for well-designed and beautiful cards.  You could take up the career of a greeting card illustrator in-house or work as a freelancer.

Working as a Freelance Greeting Card Illustrator

When the firm hires a greeting card illustrator, it gives him all the required specifications to design the card and all the required guidelines.  To start off your work, be sure to adhere to the company’s specifications to the very minute detail.  It is better to adhere to cards that are more popular and choose marketable cards like anniversary cards, Christmas cards or Birthday Cards etc. Try to focus on the card design and layout to easily market your cards.

The designs that you make need to be unique and should look elegant not on your desk alone, but in shops as well. When the cards are stacked up on the stands on the stores they stand upright and the lower half of the card is obscured.  So, get the message of the card highlighted on the upper half of the card, this will attract the attention of the buyer and make it easy for the buyer to view the card. The card designs should be brightly coloured and bold, especially if it does not contain any words.  When you design a card, make it specific, and the cards that you design should be vertical, as most of the stands cannot lodge horizontal ones.  Making standardized 5” x 7” cards will help in selling them away easily.  Leaving a margin with some bleed through around the design is a good idea which will allow handling space at the production process.

The wording that appears on the outside should be made on a separate layer and should not overlap on the illustration.  The greeting card illustration should make a decision on the dimension, specification, look and feel of the card and whether it fits the company’s specifications. The illustrator should be thorough in the basics and be familiar with the software as much as possible and be able to predict the final outlook.  The images should be neatly edited and handled and software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop gives you an added advantage.

Make a portfolio of your Greeting Cards

The portfolio should showcase your talent and be the best of your artwork.  The design and wording should be elegantly placed and should not overlap with each other.  The colour, style and layout should be neatly done.  If you are interested in licensing the artwork, it’s good to format the greeting card accordingly.  Developing neat borders, frames and colourful backgrounds makes it convenient for the illustrations to be used in numerous productions.

How to market your Greeting Cards once you finish them

You have two ways of marketing your greeting cards: you can market it yourself or through an agent.  In order to do the marketing of the greeting card yourself you will need to do a lot of groundwork and it is time-consuming.  If you go for an agent there are a lot of benefits, first of all the agent may have good contacts in the way of art directors in various companies and can make it possible for your work to be seen by them.  If you get the help of an agent, they can assist you in making a great portfolio and advise you on themes and styles that will make your card marketable easily. All the routine formalities like paperwork, promotion and marketing will be handled by the agent. This will increase your productivity as you can concentrate on your work and spend your valuable time designing elegant cards. The only negative point in employing an agent is that it will prove expensive in the way of commission.  Always choose an agent who is experienced and willing to work for less and who will promote you in a big way.

The other option to market your card is doing it on your own.  First of all, you need to know that there are already thousands of cards manufactured by well-established companies out there. If you want to beat them, your prices should be competitive and your cards innovative.  For this you need to study the market and understand its demand and supply.  Have a rough idea of the type of greeting cards that are already available.  When you introduce your line of greeting cards into the market, you could do something novel and innovative, such that has never been seen before.  This will attract a new customer base for your brand of greeting cards. Checkout the local retail store and have a look at the designs and this can help you in choosing the designs for your cards.  It’s obvious that adding your greeting cards on the racks of thousands of greeting cards will not make any difference unless it looks appealing. Try to introduce elegant and customized greeting cards for special occasions like anniversaries, Christmas, Easter, Birthdays or Valentine’s Day and this will surely attract new customers. If you prepare your greeting cards in the required format surely your cards will not go unnoticed.


Take your job as a freelancer seriously and treat it like your own business.  Even if it requires travelling, go ahead and work hard at it.  Be eager to learn new things in your business and learn the intricacies of marketing minutely.  It’s a good idea to keep a database of your designs especially when you want to license them as you would not make the mistake of licensing the design twice.  If you need training or attend workshops, you should do it without fail.  Organize your time between designing and marketing your work.  At the initial stages you can approach small companies who are willing to give you a chance and even if you have to work for a smaller fee, do it. In this way you can become a successful freelancer soon.

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