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How to use thortful to promote other projects

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Michelle Hird has brought us greeting card designs for over 18 months now with her HELLO LGBT brand. However, over the past year she has been working hard to introduce Binx the Jinx into the world. Binx the Jinx is a new children’s book, written and illustrated by Michelle Hird, and released in August; it’s core message is one of love and respect for others. To promote her book further she has illustrated a collection of Christmas themed greeting cards to share on thortful.

Why using your card designs to promote other projects is a good idea?

After all the fuss of promoting my book once it was released and things died down, I wanted to keep the same spirit I had when it was all so fresh. Binx the Jinx is one of my biggest accomplishments and inspires me everyday. Using the character Binx throughout my artwork keeps me motivated and encourages me to keep things alive. I love finding new and different ways of expressing my character and using Binx for my new Cat Christmas Card Collection is a great outlet for that.

More Christmas cards are sent each year than every other holiday combined, so it made sense to me to use this as the perfect opportunity to promote my book, gain exposure for my character and (through thortful!) earn some extra pocket money in the process! The fact that my main character is a cat is another bonus; according to the Telegraph, ‘we are obsessed, sharing more than 3.8 million cat pictures and videos every day. That is more than twice the number of selfies – 1.4 million.*’ Although my audience may be quite specific – there is clearly a huge market out there.

How fellow creatives can do this

According to a feature from Writers And Artists; the UK population spends more than £1.3 billion a year on greeting cards** – so we already know there is a massive market to sell our cards, to people with all kinds of different design preferences. Do your research, take a look what already exists, what is trending and what works. What kind of cards do you buy for others or do your family/friends buy? As a starting point; I spend an hour or two scrolling through the online card shops (thortful included!) or going out into independent art shops for my own market research. Using this method helps my idea process and helps me determine what designs will be strong enough to sell. However, I do think it is important when creating new cards for thortful, to use whatever subject you are instinctively drawn to. Whether that be humour, beautiful fonts, cute animals, photography – this will automatically make you excited to start inventing new ideas. Once you understand who your target audience is and have found your niche – you are one step closer to creating, strong, sellable cards!

Why it can be effective

Since August, Binx the Jinx is now recognisable to my friends and family, my social media outlets, bookstores where I have given readings and he has also been advertised across posters on London’s Baker Street. I am slowly starting to gain an audience for Binx, which is another strong selling factor and so it makes commercial sense to expose him through such a popular holiday. 

Like me, once you get your burning ambition for your new collection, there will be no stoping you! Naturally you will be thinking of what your character/characters can be doing next. The same goes for typography, or any other art form you chose –  ask yourself, what story will you tell next?

How useful thortful is in this process

thortful have been incredible at listening to my ideas, and even though they can be quite vague, they have helped me find solutions. I have only had my Cat Christmas Card Collection up for 24 hours and I have sold 10+ cards already!

Through the help of my publishers, who have constructed a social media marketing plan to target their own/mine and thortful’s social media audience at key times, using the promotional imagery I have supplied to them. I try to get involved in the promotion process as much as possible by liking, sharing posts that are made and interacting with people who start up a conversation. Capturing my existing audience whom have already purchased the book and hoping to buy greeting cards to match or simply to support me as an artist. Through the use of social media and features such as this, I am hoping to gain new cat loving customers. 

I hope this helps inspire you if you’re either procrastinating or in a bit of a creative slump! Having done your market research, believing in yourself and your ideas will certainly help you build the strongest, most cohesive, sellable line you can. 

Merry Christmas,

Michelle

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/pets/essentials/why-cool-cats-rule-the-internet

**https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/artists/advice/179/preparing-your-portfolio/identifying-your-audience/the-greeting-card-industry

Christmas Card Sharing Images

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Sharing can help you to boost your sales, especially around one of the biggest card-buying seasons of the year! We’ve created some Christmas-themed images to help you let your followers know that your cards are available on thortful. Simply use the programme of your choice to slot your own designs into the blank space, and share away 🙂

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Just right-click or cmd + click to save, and remember to link through to your profile or the card itself when you share!

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Christmas Card Gift sharing images

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Share your designs and let your followers know that they can now send some snazzy Christmas socks or a beautifully crafted Advent calendar along with your cards! Simply use the programme of your choice to slot your own designs into the blank space, and share 🙂

Why not use one of our captions to make it EVEN easier to share?

My @thortful cards are now available to send with an amazing choccy gift! Get them here > [Link]

Need a pressie AND a card? The folks over @thortful have got you sorted with my designs now available as Christmas Sock Cards.

A card and a gift in one: Advent Cards are new @thortful. 

Be top of the Good List this Christmas and stand out from the crowd with my cheeky design, now available from @thortful as a Sock Card!

Just right-click or cmd + click to save, and remember to link through to your profile or the card itself when you share!

 

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Your guide to making Christmas a thortful success!

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With the Christmas season already upon us, make sure you’re promoting your thortful cards in order to make the most of the seasonal sales. We’ve got five great tips to help you fly through the festive period and get your cards selling.

1.Plan plan plan!

The key to getting your Christmas merchandising right is planning when to post. Make a schedule, plan some nice posts around your cards and then stick to it. You can even do some research on the best hashtags to use, then pop them onto all of your posts!

2. Time is of the essence

Try to post around once a week, to keep the momentum going, and check what the best timings are to post so as to catch as many followers as possible. Start early, and target those early-bird buyers who are keen to get their hands on your designs, then progress to posts emphasising that ‘the time is now’, and of course close to the time you can make your posts appeal to last-minute buyers and quote the final posting days.

3. Targeted posts

Make sure that your posts are aimed at a specific group or narrowed down from being generally festive in some way. Generic Christmas themes won’t help you to stand out, so try to think about specific niches. Whether this takes the form of cards for a specific relation or family member, cards around a popular theme (think gin or Star Wars!) or simply funny cards which appeal to a particular sense of humour.

4. Hashtag #thortfulchristmas

Get your tags and hashtags right! First of all remember to tag us @thortful and use our Christmas hashtag #thortfulchristmas to let people know where to get your cards. Use as many hashtags as you can on platforms like Instagram – do your research ahead of time and make a list of relevant hashtags to use on every card post, then add individual hashtags which are highly relevant to your design.

5. Fit your posts to our marketing

We’ll be focussing on the following themes for our marketing, so aligning your own posts with ours will help to optimise.

  • Unique cards – it’s much easier for us to promote cards which are a little bit different or unusual
  • Funny cards – humour sells!
  • Rude cards – obviously this ties in with humour, so rude for the sake of it won’t cut it, but cards that use rude humour can work really well.
  • Specific trends and niches: gin, prosecco and booze, cats, dogs, and movie themes (think Star Wars, Elf and Home Alone).

How to use trends to inspire your card designs

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Hi, my name’s Nicole and I’m the owner and designer at Native 21! I’ve teamed up with thortful to give you a few handy hints and tips on following trends to inspire card designs…

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Keep your ear to the ground

Is your Twitter timeline filled with Great British Bake Off puns? Facebook flooded with witty and relatable memes? Don’t just endlessly scroll, take inspiration! Social media isn’t compulsory, but it’s a huge bonus. Be sure to follow and like the popular news and media pages and get a feel for the latest trends. What are your friends sharing, what content are the media pages posting, or are you seeing posts about ‘great episodes’ of ‘that TV show’ over and over?

Personally, I’ve only ever seen 2 episodes of Game Of Thrones (I know, I know) but we’re all pretty aware that it’s probably the most popular TV show ever. It’s because of this I see Game Of Thrones cards doing so well as it has such a large audience and fanbase, even if I have to research who ‘Jon Snow’ is and when winter is actually coming!

Find the niche

Don’t be scared to experiment with creating a design that might be a little niche or ‘out there’: that’s exactly what customers are looking for! How many times have you wished for something really unique, only to find no such thing exists? Be your own Dragon’s Den success story by creating something new and exciting. Controversial, slightly rude and even explicit cards also work wonders as you definitely wouldn’t find those on the high street, but they will be sure to put a massive smile on the recipient’s face (or more likely, an awkward laugh when they open it in front of the entire family). Celebrity figures adored by the millions and Hollywood heartthrobs also make for brilliant designs, but have you ever seen that certain someone on the front of a birthday card? If not, what are you waiting for!

Your own (funny!) take on it

The best trend-led designs are those that bring a new (humorous) perspective to a character or theme. What is the character known for, or what do they typically do or say? Think about how you can spoof this in your design, or poke a little harmless fun at the character, whilst still relating it to a card-sending occasion where possible. Puns work really well here, but you can also use illustrations to the same effect.

Blast from the past

Just because it’s not all over your timeline, doesn’t mean it’s not still relevant. Think back to that TV show you watched as a teenager, that cult classic that still tops everyone’s favourite movie list, or something that screams ‘throwback’. Don’t just wish a Happy Birthday, give the gift of good ol’ nostalgia.

Hashtag #RELEVANT

Be proud of your creations and share with your Instagram followers! Using relevant hashtags – whether this be trending celebrities or memes – will allow new people to find your designs and head straight to Thortful. Tag that celebrity or news outlet because you never know who is scrolling through.

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Don’t let your cards just be plonked on the mantlepiece with the other plain obligatory greetings cards – stand out! In essence – eat, sleep, meme, repeat – and you’ll do just fine!

Find Nicole’s cards here.

How to tag your cards

Tag it right

 

We know that the science of tagging can be more complex than nuclear physics, so we’ve written a simple guide to give you some key tips on how to tag for optimum results on thortful. Remember that if you miss one or two then you needn’t worry as we edit and optimise them when moderating, but if you can get them right first time then this will speed up the moderation process and get your cards into the catalogue quicker!

 

DEMOGRAPHICS

First of all, decide what gender the card is for:

Male    Female    

Then decide what age group the design is for. If it’s a birthday design for a specific milestone, then add the age specific age instead of the age group:

Child    Teen    Adult    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10    11    12    13    14    15    16    17    18    21    30    40    50   60    70    80    90    100

 

RECIPIENTS

Where applicable, if your card is designed for a specific relation then please add the relevant tag(s):

Dad    Brother    Sister    Daughter    Son    Cousin    Aunt    Uncle    Grandmother   Grandfather    Grandson    Granddaughter    Godmother    Godfather    Godson    Goddaughter    Stepsister    Stepbrother    Stepdad    Stepmum    Niece    Nephew    Fiance    Fiancee    Boyfriend    Girlfriend    Wife    Husband    Partner    Brother-in-Law    Sister-in-Law    Father-in-Law    Mother-in-law    Son-in-Law    Daughter-in-Law    Twin    Newlyweds    Couple    Gay couple    Teacher    Colleague    Friend

(Please note if you add a recipient tag which is not relevant or your design is not specific enough for this recipient then we will have to remove it!)

 

STYLE

Next add tags that apply to the style of the card. Please only add the tags which are relevant to the features of your design – erroneous ones will be removed:

Cute    Funny    Photographic    Modern    Trendy    Arty    Pretty    Pun    Traditional    Spoof    Typographic    Retro/Vintage    Typography    Contemporary    Humour    Illustration    Rude    Cheeky    Animal    Love    Quotes    Inspirational    Booze    Alcohol    Pet    Cat    Dog

 

POPULAR SEARCHES

Add any of the tags which are relevant for popular searches.

Prosecco    Gin    Wine    Beer    Cycling    Cat    Dog    Avocado    Cheese    Cake    Unicorn

 

SPECIFIC TO YOUR DESIGN

Finally, make sure to add any tags which are specific to your design. For example, this might mean adding the words of the caption, or the illustration featured.

Sometimes this involves being more specific about the style tags (i.e. if it’s got an animal on it, what animal is it?) or perhaps it has a specific person or character on it (who is it?), or if it has a floral pattern then add ‘floral’ and ‘flowers’.

 

WHAT NOT TO ADD

There are some tags which can mess with our search system, which we ask you to avoid:

  • Don’t add a singular and plural of a word (i.e. ‘flower’ and ‘flowers’ or ‘pony’ and ‘ponies’)
  • Don’t add the occasions themselves (cards are automatically returned in searches under the occasion category they are entered into, so there’s no need to add a it as a tag as well)
  • Don’t add duplicate words (i.e. ‘dog’ and ‘cute dog’)
  • Don’t add compound word tags (i.e. ‘funny cat’ ‘funny-cat’ or ‘funnycat’)
  • Don’t add the word ‘card’ (we are a card website so this tag is not necessary and will be removed!)

 

Creator Updates: what we’re working on

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We got some great feedback from you guys after we asked you what you thought should be changed or improved upon, in order to help you along your thortful journey. One thing we found was that a couple of the common suggestions that came in were for things which are already in the works though, so we wanted to take this opportunity to let you know exactly what we’re working on, and what we’ve got planned!

We’re currently in the process of making some improvements to the creator Sales area: you might have spotted that we’ve already changed the navigation menu to give you your own ‘Creators’ area, making it clearer for you guys (and customers too!).

However, there is still lots more planned for this development! On the Sales Overview page we’re going to be making it possible to change view from overall sales to sales by month, so that you can see a breakdown of how your sales play out over a particular month.

In addition, we’re going to be giving you the option to click onto a specific card from the Sales by Card page and get through to the card’s own sales graph, so that you can see when particular designs make the most sales. For example, one card might sell really well for Valentine’s, but not so well over the Anniversary season, so you could use this info to work out a new version of the design specifically catered towards an Anniversary!

We’re already planning to put in the option to sort by bestsellers and most recently uploaded on the Sales by Card page, so hold tight as this is in the works too! In addition, we are planning to pop an option to filter by uploaded cards on there so that you can choose to filter out those which you’ve taken down. 

These changes should give you lots more data to dig down into and optimise your designs accordingly, which will mean more sales for you (yay!). 

We’re also aware that we have what can seem like an overwhelmingly large number of designs available, and this number is only growing! With this in mind, we’re going to be reviewing our filters and search functionalities, to help customers get to your designs quicker.

Furthermore, we are going to be removing some of the designs from the main catalogue which don’t sell. This is because whilst we want to offer a wide variety, we also want to cut out any non-sellers or very slow sellers from the main catalogue, as we’ve found that large amounts of designs can put customers off buying entirely. 

We have also changed the way that we moderate and approve designs over the past six months, and in line with this we have added extra info to our Creator FAQ’s to give advice on how we assess designs. For example, one of the conditions we’ve recently gotten more strict on is that we don’t allow designs which are very similar to what we have already, so this should help to reduce the risk of customers being faced with overwhelming numbers of designs. 

All in all we’ve got a fair few improvements in the works for you, which should mean better tools and systems to keep your sales growing. If you have any other requests then send them over or comment below, and here’s to your continued success!

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5 ways to make more sales

No time? No problem! We’ve come up with five quick tips to help you boost those sales!

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Have occasion cards

We’ve found that customers buy thortful cards for specific, card-sending occasions. From Birthday to Get Well to Anniversary, make sure your cards fit these. This can be as simple as adding a ‘Happy Birthday’ caption to a design, or even better, creating a design with a specific occasion in mind. Try to make sure you’ve got at least one design for each of the occasion categories we have on the site, ready for a customer to come and choose your design next time they need one!

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Upload seasonal cards early

Occasions with specific dates can rush up on you, so it’s important to stay ahead of the game and upload early, in order to make the most sales possible. Ideally, you should be uploading around three months in advance of a big occasion, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or Christmas. This ensures that there is enough of a window for your cards to be moderated and added to the category in time for even the early buyers.

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Trends notebook image (blog)

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Tap into trends

Trends can provide inspiration for designs, and help you tap into a specific audience of customers. Whether it’s Game of Thrones, yoga, or – dare we say it? – Donald Trump, cards which are ‘of the moment’ can really catch a customer’s eye. If people are talking about it then chances are they’ll be keen to send a card which references it, especially if it’s poking fun at the idea!

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Check in every month

Check your thortful account every month, to get a feel for which of your designs are selling. Have a clear-out and get rid of any which haven’t sold after six months of being live, to make more space for more popular designs. ‘Smell what sells’ as Alan Sugar puts it, and see what is selling well for you: this can give you the inspiration to adapt designs for different occasions, and upload new designs which are along the same lines and are therefore likely to be popular.

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Shout about it!

Make sure to let your social followers know that they can buy your designs on thortful. People who are interested enough to follow you on social are immediately more likely to want to buy your cards, so you’ll be preaching to the converted. Make sure to highlight the different card options too, like Chocolate cards or Notebook cards, as this can help you to stand out and offer customers something that little bit different. And the good news? You can even use our handy sharing images or badges to make life easy 🙂

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thortful Co-Founder Paul Lees on freshbusinessthinking.com

thortful co-founder Paul Lees has been interviewed on freshbusinessthinking.com. See what advice he has to give to entrepreneurs:

 

Paul Lees to entrepreneurs: you need luck, good team work, but you need to be able to make up your own mind

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“There is a lot of luck, you need a team, listen to advice but don’t always follow it.” Paul Lees, founder and one time CEO of  Powwownow, the leading free conference call company, and judge at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, has been talking to Fresh Business Thinking. Find out what a man with an outstanding track record has to say to budding entrepreneurs, the government and all those who care about the future of UK plc.

And we start with luck.

In December 2013, Paul Lees sold the company into which he has invested so much passion and dedication to a trade buyer.  He now has new ideas, big ideas, for example, thortful, a greetings card company that promises to be truly disruptive, yet when you talk to him, it is not long before the subject of luck comes up. Maybe he is too modest.

Read the full article here.

Extra badges to help promote your thortful cards!

By now you’ve probably seen (if not used!) our handy sharing images, created especially so that you can pop your own card designs in and post on social media to promote them. But just in case you want to snap some images of your own to promote your cards, we’ve now created some little badges for you to add to posts, giving your followers the info they need to buy your cards.

Simply download, then use the design/editing programme of your choice to add them to your images. Happy sharing!

Right-click or Cntrl + click to save.

 

A simple badge to pop across your photo:

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A more compact badge for narrower spaces:

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A corner badge to pop over the bottom right of your image, with a white banner:

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