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

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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!)

 

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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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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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:

Find my cards at thortful v3

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Zoe Brennan: How to Design a Bestseller

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At Zoe Brennan we know the benefit of having a best-selling design. Here’s how you can too.

Let’s start with an analogy. Picture a football team. You have your defenders, midfielders…okay, we’ve exhausted my football knowledge but you get the point: there’s loads of different players. Now let’s focus on who’s up front- the striker. Without them there’s no goals, no glory. They’re the one that gets lifted in the air, their name chanted as the final minutes tick down. They turn a team that can hold their own into a winning team.

Enough with the football analogy: what I’m saying is it’s okay to have a decent line up of designs that can go the distance but everyone really needs a few big hitters that will catapult them to the next level.

Every design can’t be an out right winner. (I wish they could be. Believe me) There will always be those who out perform the others, it’s just the law of averages. So, how do you go about creating a bestseller?

 

Think Seasonally– big card buying occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s Day etc. are going to be your rocket fuel. Our Financial Burden card out sold our other designs by over 6000%. (Yeah, I know, mental.)

 

Be On Trend– there’s always a focus for comedy. Sometimes it’s meme-led, other times it’s purely topical (be that political, celebrity focused or lifestyle-led for example). Try following a few humorous pages on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll soon spot what the big thing is right now. How can you put your own spin on it?

The same idea goes for what’s in aesthetically- follow blogs, grab some books, and get researching what’s coming into fashion.

 

Be Relatable– when designing for specific occasions think about what really gets you, what grinds your gears or floats your boat. You’ll soon find others feel exactly the same way and when a design speaks to someone directly they’ll snap it up in a heartbeat. Design the card you want to buy.

 

Plan in Advance– Christmas doesn’t start when the tinsel comes out; ideally, you should have seasonal designs done about six months in advance. I know it feels wrong to be finishing festive designs when you’re still wearing shorts but it’s the best way to get maximum exposure. You’re more likely to stand out if you’re ahead of the game.

 

Take Chances– be different. You might think your idea is too niche to work but that’s exactly what customers are looking for. Follow your heart and think outside the box. No one likes to see the same thing again and again.

 

If you’re thinking of starting to design cards but feel overwhelmed, don’t worry about having hundreds of awesome designs. It’s perfectly feasible to have just a handful of carefully crafted designs and still reap the benefits. Get it right and that might be all you need.  

Find Zoe Brennan cards here.

Card Sharing Images

Sharing your designs can really help to let your followers know that they can send your cards with thortful! We’ve created some handy, non-occasion based sharing images to help make it easy. 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!

Card blue landscapeCard blueCard green landscapeCard greenCard orange landscapeCard orangeCard red landscapeCard redCard yellow landscapeCard yellow

 

Happy sharing!

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Tips on writing a card to a friend or family member suffering with mental health issues

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Creating a Moment of Intervention. . .

Want to send a card? Not sure what to say? You’re not alone.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell which of our well-meaning comments will be helpful and which may actually hurt more than they help.  Below are some guidelines from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance for letting someone know you’re there if they are suffering from a mental health disorder. 

Put the statements into your own words, the most important thing is that your friend or loved one knows you’re there, and that they have your support.

WHAT HELPS WHAT HURTS
I know you have a real illness and that’s what causes these thoughts and feelings. It’s all in your head.
I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help. We all go through times like this.
You are important to me. Your life is important to me. You have so much to live for – why do you want to die?
Tell me what I can do now to help you. What do you want me to do?
I can’t do anything about your situation.
You might not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change. Just snap out of it.
Look on the bright side.
You are not alone in this. I’m here for you. You’ll be fine. Stop worrying.
Talk to me. I’m listening. Here’s my advice…
I am here for you. We will get through this together. What’s wrong with you?
Shouldn’t you be better by now?

 Source: http://www.campusmindworks.org

Instagram intro GJW x thortful + Chasing the stigma

Gary James McQueen (nephew of the late Alexander McQueen) has collaborated with thortful to design an exclusive range of cards especially for sending to friends and family suffering with mental health issues, with the aim of bringing the subject to the forefront. All proceeds from sales of these cards will be donated to Chasing the Stigma, a charity bringing people together for a better understanding of mental health.

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Chocolate Card Sharing Images

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Share your designs and let your followers know that they can now send a luxury bar of chocolate along with your cards! Simply use the programme of your choice to slot your own designs into the blank space, and share away 🙂

Here are some ideas on how to caption them:

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 available as Chocolate Cards.

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

Be top of the friend/son/daughter list and stand out from the crowd with my cheeky design, now available from @thortful as a Chocolate Card!

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

 

Choc cards blueChoc cards greenChoc cards orangeChoc cards redChoc cards yellowchoc cards blue landscapechoc cards green landscapeChoc cards orange landscapeChoc cards red landscapechoc cards yellow landscape

 

Happy sharing!

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Nine signs of mental health issues in friends or loved ones

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Mental health is complex, often it’s not a single change but a combination. The following nine signs are not to help you diagnose a mental health issue in a friend or loved one, but instead to reassure you that there might be good reason to seek more information about your concerns.

1. Feeling anxious or worried

We all get worried or stressed from time to time. But anxiety could be the sign of a mental health issue if it’s constant and interferes all the time. Other symptoms of anxiety may include heart palpitationsshortness of breath, a headache, restlessness, diarrhoea or a racing mind.

2. Feeling depressed or unhappy

Have you noticed that your friend has lost interest in a hobby you used to share? If they’ve also seemed sad or irritable for the last few weeks or more, lacking in motivation and energy or are teary all the time, these could be signs of depression.

3. Emotional outbursts

Everyone has different moods, but sudden and dramatic changes in mood, such as extreme distress or anger, can be a symptom of mental illness.

4. Sleep problems

Generally, we need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Persisting changes to a person’s sleep patterns could be a symptom of a mental illness. For example insomnia could be a sign of anxiety or substance abuse. Sleeping too much or too little could indicate depression.

5. Weight or appetite changes

Many of us want to lose a few kilos, but for some people fluctuating weight or rapid weight loss could be one of the warning signs of a mental illness, such as depression or an eating disorder. Other mental health issues can impact appetite and weight too.

6. Being quiet or withdrawn

We all need quiet time occasionally, but withdrawing from life, especially if this is a major change, could indicate a mental health issue. If a friend or loved one is regularly isolating themselves, they may have depression, bipolar, a psychotic disorder, or another mental health issue. Refusing to join in social activities may be a sign they need help.

7. Substance abuse

Are you worried a loved one is drinking too much? Using substances, such as alcohol or drugs, to cope can be a sign of, and a contributor to, mental health issues.

8. Feeling guilty or worthless

Thoughts like ‘I’m a failure’, ‘It’s my fault’ or ‘I’m worthless’ are all possible signs of a mental health issue, such as depression. Your friend or loved one may need help if they’re frequently criticising or blaming themselves. When severe, a person may express a feeling to hurt or kill themselves. This feeling could mean the person is suicidal and urgent help is needed. Call Triple zero (000) for an ambulance immediately.

9. Changes in behaviour or feelings

A mental illness may start out as subtle changes to a person’s feelings, thinking and behaviour. Ongoing and significant changes could be a sign that they have or are developing a mental health issue. If something doesn’t seem ‘quite right’, it’s important to start the conversation about getting help.

Chasing the Stigma is a mental health charity which aims to normalise and humanise mental illness, offering real solutions for anyone who might be struggling. They are working with thortful and designer Gary James McQueen to create greater communication for people suffering with mental health issues. Send one of Gary’s exclusively-designed cards to a friend to let them know you’re thinking of them.