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Photo Greeting Cards
(without a greeting card attachment)

Tom Bailey, CPC, SPFE
Cameras, Film, Etc.
St. Petersburg, FL


The Baileys and Nikon, the wonder dog (22154 bytes)Not having a greeting attachment on our Gretag 96 printer made life a little difficult. We built an amazing Rube Goldberg special for use on a Durst M5/8. However we found it to be a real pain to run and all but impossible to personalize. While trying to solve an imprinting problem for a plaque I discovered by accident that photo paper would run through my ink jet computer printer. With that discovery I began playing with other things and found an easy way to make greeting cards.

Should you decide to try our neat little method of making photo greeting cards, here are the basics, based on what I have done. You can most likely think of your own wrinkles, which will make this process even better. Begin by printing on some blank processed paper of the type you would be using for making greeting cards. This will tell you if your equipment and paper combination will work. We use Mitsubishi paper (Mitsubishi is not back printed so the customer has a clean surface to write on) and a Canon model 610 inkjet. Next you will have to determine how to get a 2 inch blank space on your photo. Luckily for us the Gretag printer has a print size called greeting card which prints a 3 X 5 image on 3 X 7. It may be possible in your printer to make such a size or mask off an area at the paper plane.

A wide variety of software could be used, including Word, Photoshop, Corel, MGI Photo Suite and many others. I have been using Printshop 5.0, simply because I began using it many years ago on the Apple II. I am one of a handful of people ever to buy the Apple Ilgs version. The Main Menu on Printshop gives you lots of options. I use the envelope mode and select the stock 6 X 4 size envelope from the size menu. There are several holiday items in the clipart file which comes with Printshop. I would suggest that you also purchase Broderbund’s ClickArt Celebrations & Holidays CD. It has a large holiday section with lots of nice artwork. Broderbund has just introduced a new ClickArt Christian Graphics art religious disk which I do not have - yet. According to their literature it contains Christian, Catholic, and Jewish art work.

Once you select your artwork try a test print as some high detail artwork does not print well in the small size used on a photo greeting card. For some reason, that I do not understand, some artwork prints beautifully, better than you would guess based on your view on the monitor. And other stuff that you think will be great looks like – doo-doo. Also keep in mind that you will need to make both vertical and horizontal versions of each greeting. If you are working in Printshop’s envelope program you need to rotate everything 90 degrees counter clockwise for vertical cards.

My suggestion would be to offer about six styles of greetings each year, pointing out that they are Exclusive to your store. I also plan to have another six to eight greetings that we will sell, at a premium. The premium priced greetings will be offered as a limited item with the promise that no other customer will have that design this year. These can then be my "new" greeting for the following year. If you are not inclined to put your own greetings together, check out PhotoTidings, Inc. They offer most of their greetings on disk. If you use their service be prepared to tell them what system you are using (Mac or PC), what program and the desired file type (tif, jpeg, etc.)

The sample card with the Announcing Our New Son greeting is made with a PhotoTiding digital greeting, which they provided.

BaileyH.JPG (24514 bytes)
Customized, localized greetings are easy when you make them on the computer!

Remember that you can sell lots of other things in addition to holiday stuff, engagements, change of address, graduation, moving, for sale, wedding, and naturally birth announcements, are just some of the possibilities.

BaileyC.JPG (17211 bytes)
Remember you can sell lots of other things - to realtors, for instance

Actual production of the cards is somewhat time consuming. I place a stack of cards on the printer and walk away and let it do its thing. I sometimes take the work home and run it in the evening, checking on the progress during TV commercials. Most likely you will find that the greetings come out of the printer slightly damp. I have found that if I let them stack up by themselves, and leave the stack allow sit undisturbed for awhile the dampness is not a problem. Rush them and they may smear. Greeting such as the sample with the castle and the For Sale which includes the flag have a much longer dry time due to the heavy ink application. Remember RA-4 paper is not designed to absorb ink. To begin printing, Printshop asks you the direction and location of your imprint. I use the 3rd from the left in the top of the two rows asking about direction. Your printer may use a different direction .

Youneed to provide envelopes. Check with the various minilab suppliers, most offer them. If you are in a bind and need envelopes today for an unexpected rush job check your yellow pages for a paper supply house, or ask your print shop who they buy paper from. Standard 3 X 7 cards will need what the printing industry calls a "Monarch or 7 " size envelope. For 4 X 8 cards you will need standard # 10 business envelopes. I have found that the prices are better from some of the minilab suppliers than the printing supply houses. It is highly recommended that you provide one extra envelope for every 25. Most of the minilab suppliers (including PhotoTidings) will provide the envelopes pretabbed in 26’s, and generally at lower cost than those found at a printing supplier.

Packaging is always fun. You can purchase boxes from the same people who sell envelopes. Or stack up the customer's order and use holiday gift wrap paper and wrap it like a present. This is a cheap solution that customers find attractive. If you choose this route run one extra card to glue or tape to the outside of the package so they don’t open the order in your lab and you have to rewrap. If you are really tacky, stick them in an order envelope!

To promote your service, layout, in a Printshop sign file, all your greetings, and include one photograph with the greeting on it. If you do not have a scanner use a photograph from the Photoshop disk or other photo image cd. Include some sales information, but keep it as clean as possible. Save the file to disk as a JPEG, or other file format as suggest by your service bureau. Send this disk to a friend, or a service bureau, and have a negative made. Use this negative to print your wallet stuffers and to make 8 X 10 counter cards. You may wish to have one of your greetings recorded onto a negative also. By double printing a photo and then the greeting you can make a 15 X 30 display greeting card.

E-mail questions to: Tom Bailey