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Greeting Cards: Writing that's Short and Sweet

by Marie Cecchini

If you'd like to make some additional money writing, and take a break from researching, interviewing, and reviewing, why not try greeting card writing? It's something that is short, sweet, and to the point. Every word counts -- and it can be done in short spurts of time.

The greeting card industry generates more than $8 billion in retail purchases from consumers who purchase more than 8 billion cards. And, with over 2,000 greeting card publishers in America alone, ranging from small businesses to major corporations, there are a lot of opportunities to sell verse.

As with any other genre that is "new" to you, you will want to study what's out there. Familiarize yourself with company names, what kinds of cards or novelty items they produce, and the "flavor" of their verses or slogans. You wouldn't want to embarrass yourself by sending something considered risque to a company that only publishes religious verse.

Your next step will naturally be to seek out guidelines. Always check the internet first. It may save you the time involved in writing to request them and the postage required. If you do not find them on a company's website, but they do have contact information, email them and ask if they wouldn't mind emailing you a copy of their guidelines. Companies I have contacted in this manner have always been most gracious in responding to my request with either their guidelines, or a note telling me they no longer accept freelance submissions. It never hurts to ask.

Now you are ready to begin thinking about creating actual verses and/or slogans. The first thing to keep in mind is that a greeting card is a communication between two people, the sender and the receiver, which makes the verse very personal. You'll want to make your words reach out as if the sender is speaking directly to the receiver. These words can express sympathy, happiness, congratulations, or empathy. Whatever the situation, your words become those of the sender. You should also know that more than 80 % of greeting card purchases are made by women.

The second point to take note of is submission format, which will usually be covered in the company's guidelines. The traditional submission format is to type your verse on one side of a 3 x 5" white index card. At the top you will describe your visual (illustration idea), and below you will type your verse for the front of the greeting card (depicted as O on the index card) and the inside (depicted as I on the index card). On the back of the index card you will list your name and contact information. Your index cards will be mailed to the company along with a SASE envelope. Keep in mind that although many companies still prefer this traditional method of submission, some now accept email submissions. When submitting via email, all submissions should be typed on the same page. Whether they request snail mail or email, most companies will tell you how many verse ideas they are willing to accept at one time.

Third, you need to be aware of the types of cards that are out there. Greeting card categories include: Traditional Cards, Conversational Prose, Humorous Cards, and Alternative Cards.

  • Traditional: Traditional cards usually consist of a cover headline, such as Happy Birthday! or For a Special Son, with rhymed, metered verse inside. The buyer should always be able to tell what occasion the card is intended for either by the headline, or the cover illustration.

  • Conversational Prose: These cards are exactly that -- conversational. They use personal pronouns to make them very sender-recipient oriented. The writing is generally non-rhyming and should sound as if the sender is talking. Sometimes not more than a single sentence or phrase, the words always convey a warm, caring thought. Conversational Prose is sometimes called Contemporary Prose.

  • Humorous: Humorous cards may use puns, gags, and sometimes (but not often) even jokes in a timely, sarcastic, or risque fashion. Basically they present humorous statements on life as we see it. If humor is what you're good at, you will find it is much sought for greeting cards as well as the wide range of novelty items you can't help but notice while standing in the checkout lines at any book or card store.

  • Alternative: Alternative cards use both humor and contemporary prose in expressing thoughts for special or unusual circumstances, such as in a caring card for someone with cancer, or a humorous card for someone trying to quit smoking. These are cards that carry themes that were not available to shoppers years ago, which means card companies are expanding their lines " good news for freelancers.

Keep in mind all companies do not produce every kind of card. Check individual guidelines to find out what each is in the market for. Company needs may change from month to month, year to year. Along those lines, some companies only accept cards for various occasions during specific months, which again, will be listed in their guidelines.

In addition to greeting cards, there are companies who also purchase slogans for buttons, bumper stickers, cooking aprons, doormats, mugs, t-shirts, and other novelty items. If you can turn a twist on a cliche are famous for your snide remarks, or good as slinging one-liners, this may be the market for you. Check websites, company catalogs (some of which are available online), and card stores to get a real feel for the kinds of slogans each publisher is looking for.

While you are polishing your verse and slogan ideas, you will also want to research additional markets. One way to do this is to visit card stores and collect company names from the backs of several cards. Another way is to make use of an internet search. At the bottom of this article you will find a few sites to get you started. If you think you might be interested in taking a course before you get started, check out

Though this venue may not appeal to everyone, there is money to be made in this arena. One look at guidelines will tell you that payment can range from $40 to over $100, per verse/slogan, for newcomers. Give it a try and you just may find you have a few extra checks coming in.

More Information

Greeting Card Writing dot Com

Writers Write: Links to Greeting Cards

Copyright © 2007 Marie Cecchini
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.

Marie Cecchini is the author of five books. She writes informational articles for writers, parents, teachers, and children. She also writes children's poetry and designs children's craft projects.

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