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How to be a greeting-card writer: Avoid angels and lean into the vegetable puns

Gemma Tipton offers a beginner’s guide to taking up a new cultural pursuit

Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat. A greeting-card writer? I could make money out of that!

I’m a dab hand at a cheesy rhyme. In fact I do it all the time

Not so fast. Haven’t you noticed those cards are out of fashion? These days people seem to prefer witty puns about vegetables.

What a swede idea. That makes me very hap-pea. I’ve bean getting inspired

So was Ali Jones, whose Bold Bunny cards do all the hard work on the cover. Blank inside, they have a winning combo of graphics and sometimes, but not always, a one-liner. This might be a pun, a joke or a lovely sentiment that isn’t overly sentimental. Where there is text, it has to work perfectly with the image.

Pics first, then?

It’s different for everyone. Jones started out in graphic design, having taken a diploma in marketing, advertising and PR. She eventually left working as a consultant behind to set up her own greeting-card business. If you’re a words person, fret not: there are options.


I’m getting confused. Do I set up on my own, freelance, or join a company?

All are options. Desktop design and digital printing have made it much easier to do it yourself, although you’ll still be faced with marketing and distribution. Jones works off a Mac, and says that other essentials of the business include printer, pens and general art materials, plus styling gear for any photography. She outsources printing. “When I started, in 2011, I was six months pregnant. So with that as my shield, as I was quite shy about going in and cold calling, I’d just approach shops that I thought fitted with my design sensibility. Doing trade shows is also a great way of finding customers.”

What about selling my brilliant verses?

Hallmark, the daddy of ’em all, doesn’t take submissions, but others do. The UK-based Greeting Card Association has an online guide for aspiring writers that includes links to trade magazines and fairs, and gives payment guidelines. These range from 50p per line to £25 per verse or, sometimes, £150 for an idea. There, is, they say, “money to be made here – but you have to be good”.

I’m good, I’m good!

As talent knows no boundaries, you might also look to the United States, where the Make a Living Writing website has links to card companies that accept submissions. Do your homework carefully, and see, for example, that Blue Mountain Arts are not looking for “rhymed poetry, religious verse, or one-liners”. They also suggest avoiding cliches, including “special”, “gift”, “angel” and “sending you a hug”.

What if I’m an angel with a special gift?

A cliche can be gold in the right hands, especially where the image undercuts the words. Jones says that inspiration can strike at any time. “Some ideas work out, others are left there and can conjoin with another ‘Bam!’ moment down the road.” Cards can start with the design or the text. For her Creature range, she will think of an animal to see what pun can be derived from its name or habits before drawing it up.

Then it’s happy ever after?

There are cards for that. But it’s still hard work. (There are cards for that, too.) “Bold Bunny has taken a long time to build. You are never off duty, but I get to be with my girls everyday at school pickup,” she says. There must be a card for that.

The An Post deadline for sending Christmas cards in Ireland this year is Thursday December 21st

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton contributes to The Irish Times on art, architecture and other aspects of culture