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!)

 

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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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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Websites in Creator Bio Information

We’re making a small change to the rules on our bio lines for creator profiles: we’re no longer going to be allowing links to other websites which offer creators’ content for sale to be a part of these.

This is because there is a conflict of interest here, as we pay fees in order to bring customers to the site and convert them into buyers. This means that if a customer then goes to a creator’s own site and purchases here instead, we are effectively paying to bring customers to your site and making a loss ourselves!

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If you’ve not got any web addresses in your bio then you don’t need to worry. However, if you do then you’ll need to change your bio line to remove it by July 1st. If you don’t remove it yourself by then, we’ll be doing it for you, so it’s advisable to make sure that your description makes sense without it!

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What about social handles? We’re still happy for you to have these on your bio information, as these don’t lead to a direct link to any of your other card outlets, and they can be a great way for customers to get to know you as a brand.

If you have any questions then don’t hesitate to give us an email on team@thortful.com 🙂

New Creator Payday!

 

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We’ve decided to change our creator payday to the final working day of the month!

This is partly to make it easier for you guys to know exactly when to expect your royalty payments (we know it can be a bit of a pain to work out when the third Thursday of the month is!). It’s also because it will mean that the actual date varies less, which will make it easier for us to know where we’re at too!

You’ll still be paid one month in arrears, (i.e. January royalties are paid at the end of February, February royalties are paid at the end of March and so on) so it will still function in the same way, but with a different due date!

Make sure you’ve got your Paypal details all up to date by logging in and going to Account > Sales > Sales by card 🙂

A thortful Success Story

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As one of thortful’s biggest success stories over the last 6 months, Kasia has had quite the journey with us! From a few odd sales here and there to one of our top selling creators for Valentine’s this year, she’s grown her thortful sales and become almost an overnight success. But how did she do it? Below, she shares her story and gives you some of her top tips for raking in those royalties!

My journey with thortful started off as an experiment, and I must admit I didn’t have any particular idea what I was doing at the beginning! I simply created my profile, uploaded a few designs with funny little monsters and that was about it! I didn’t really worry about making my cards suitable for any specific occasions, or about drawing them in any particular style. If I’m honest, looking at it now, I think that my approach was a bit soulless and mechanical. Without giving the whole process much thought, I just took the path of least resistance, and as a result, saw very few sales.

It all changed in December last year. As huge movie geeks, my friends and I often spend time discussing films, TV series, and documentaries. During one of these conversations an idea came to my mind: what about drawing something I’m really, truly, passionate about?

This was how my Star Wars themed card series came to life! The whole creation process was great fun. It seemed so natural and easy to draw my favourite movie characters, to make them speak their funny language and to play with their unique features.

Kasia xmas card for blog

 

I quickly found that tapping into particular trends is a key step that will take you further on your way to becoming a successful thortful designer. Finding a new trend and predicting the next big thing is never a simple task, but keeping your finger on the pulse will make it easier.

Read popular design magazines, sign up to art newsletters, follow famous art bloggers, pay attention to the issues your friends and colleagues are buzzing about, observe which are the most popular topics on social media. What are people interested in? What is getting them talking and capturing the collective imagination? These are the questions that you should be asking. Paying attention on what’s going on around you will give you a broader picture of what people want and what trends are hot!

I also decided that this time round my cards should target specific, card-sending occasions, and as Christmas was coming up I took this as my inspiration. Playing a bit with the characters, I adapted them specifically around this theme, and managed to secure a good few more sales than usual!

This just goes to show that when designing your cards, it’s important to remember what occasion they are for. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, a Wedding Anniversary or Birthday, creating your designs to target specific events will always help you to produce a more customer-orientated product, and as a result it will drive more sales.

Kasia Valentine's card for blog

 

As my Christmas collection did well, I decided to stick with the movie theme. I extended my collection of characters but this time they were equipped with Cupid’s arrows and heart-melting declarations of love, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The whole collection was an instant hit! 

I soon learned that once you’ve established a design which is popular, you can always create new versions to fit other occasions by changing captions or references, which will give you more opportunities to sell your cards. And if you need some ideas of different events and occasions? Just head to the thortful website!

Once you find your niche, remember your bestsellers and grow your collection around them. Making what you know consumers want yields far more sales than making whatever you feel like and hoping there’s a market for it! It is much smarter to find where your passions and skills intersect with what customers seek.

I discovered that humour was key for me, too. I use it all the time in my cards: it is basically at the centre of every design I do, and the simpler the joke the better. By making my cards funny, I found that I was giving customers more reason to choose my designs, and my sales reflected this.

If it fits with your design then why not try implementing some humour in your cards? From a humorous caption to a clever pun, anything you can do to give a little laugh can help your designs stand out. It will make them feel good, and most importantly it will really help customers to remember your cards: a perfect recipe for a success!

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It’s been quite a journey we’ve been on together with thortful for the last few months, and I couldn’t ask for a better team to work with. They’ve watched me grow and been very supportive along the way, patiently replying to all my questions, and solving any arising issues at the speed of light! They’ve advised me on my designs, suggested ideas that worked really well and have been even kind enough to let me takeover their Instagram account for a weekend! You can be sure when starting your thortful profile that you’ve got a whole brilliant team behind you, who will always be there for you to answer any questions you might have.

It took some time for me to realise which ways to take and which paths to avoid in order to succeed, but today I get lots of joy of being able to do what I love and to share it with others. Hopefully my story will inspire you to pursue your own thortful adventure! 

Thanks for reading,
May the force be with you !

Kasia

 

 

Find Kasia’s thortful profile here.

 

 

How to get a press feature for your cards

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If you’re a creative type then you’ll know the power that comes with having people notice your work. Press features are a great way to get your designs in front of customers who are pre-disposed to like them and be keen to buy, as well as making your brand look great and spreading the word about your thortful designs! Here we’ve asked our resident PR expert Louise Rowlands to come up with her top tips on securing some coverage:

Choose wisely

Identify which local press titles would suit your card designs. Who is your target market? What do they read? How are your cards perfect for them? Once you’ve worked this out, find out who you need to be speaking to and put your designs in front of the right people! Who writes/sources stories or features at your key titles? It’s likely to be a reporter if it’s a news story or an editorial or features assistant if it’s a product feature. Do your research and find out what they’re looking for, and how you can connect with this. Work out where you’re most likely to get a feature too (as a story, or a product feature in the ‘shopping’ pages?) and how you can target your cards towards this.

How are your cards current?

How does your card design (or range) relate to the current zeitgeist? Is it for an upcoming occasion? Does it tap into what is on-trend? Journalists want to write about things which are relevant for their audience!

What’s your angle?

The first thing to ask yourself is what makes your design(s) (or you!) stand out, what makes it/them different from all of the other cards out there? Journalists are looking for a hook, so not just a product but a story behind it too. What inspired your design(s)? How have you made your brand unique or successful, how have you changed your own life or that of others? Being a creative person with some good card designs is simply not enough of an angle to be feature-worthy!

Have a presence

Having a thortful profile is not enough – you need to be easy to find across social media, and ideally have a website where you express some personality, and make your brand 3D. Journalists want to be able to search for you and find a real, authentic person or brand! Make sure you have your ‘story’ or USP featured somewhere, and incorporate a basic reference in your bio line if possible. This will not only ensure that your brand has a clear message, but also help to pique people’s interest when they read about you on your profile or the back of your cards!

Twitter is key

Twitter is a great tool for this task! Find out what journo’s are after by searching #journorequest, follow key journalists and publications you’re interested in and engage with them where appropriate to build a relationship. If you see an opportunity, tweet them!

Pitching to the journalist

Before you call or email a journalist it’s a great idea to create a 200 word pitch. Journalists are very busy and don’t have much time so make your title attention grabbing, then breakdown the story and angle for the journalist, and always finish an email with clear contact details. Journalists hate big picture files cluttering up their inboxes too, so it’s a good idea to include any cards or designs in a Dropbox link.

If it’s a struggle to get your cards featured directly, think about other options too: why not try offering a couple of your designs for photoshoot props – even if it’s only in the background you can still get a credit and/or link to your profile. And if you’re lucky enough to get a press feature? Make sure to let us know too, so that we can share where possible.

Louise Rowlands is an independent PR consultant: expert on all things PR, Social and Marketing. Find her on Twitter @Loulou300

How We Protect Our Creators’ Work

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Copyright and copyright theft is something that thortful takes very seriously! We know how hard you work to come up with those fabulous designs, so we want to help you make sure they’re in safe hands and aren’t liable to being downloaded, copied or ripped off 🙂 Here we run you through all the ways in which we strive to protect your work!

All of the images you upload are stored in their original format in a secure location. (It’s top secret – we cant even mention it here!) We then create five – yes, five! – different versions of the original design at a lower resolution and higher compression level, to be displayed in our mobile apps and on our website. Of course, the resolution used will depend on the device & screen resolution: the image used for an iPhone 4 is a much lower resolution than the image needed for an iPhone 6, but the main thing is that these images are not of a high enough quality to be printed at card-size.

The only time the original high-res image which you upload is used, is over the secure connection to our printers, when a card is ordered.

We have also made sure to disable the ability to right click on an image and save it, to prevent those sneaky people with ulterior motives from copying creators’ designs!

Our technical team are currently working to further reduce the quality of the image that we display on our website and apps too: our aim is to ensure the customer buying the card is satisfied with the quality of the image used (so that they’re still keen to buy your card!), but still restrict the ability of someone to copy a high quality image. The good news is that as it currently stands any image would be pixelated if printed directly off the website 🙂

Here at thortful we like to go the extra mile too, so we are also looking to implement a service called Tineye, which is a piece of software that checks all cards uploaded to our platform and informs us if these cards are displayed anywhere else on the internet. This service carries out a search on the web to see if any of our cards are being marketed and sold anywhere else, and therefore ensures that we do not sell work that belongs to someone other than the creator who uploaded it.

Hopefully you’re satisfied with the measures we’ve taken to ensure your designs are protected, but we’re always open to suggestions on how we can improve. Send us your feedback to team@thortful.com and we’ll do our best to make thortful a safe and secure space for you and your work!