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

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

Tech update computer blog

 

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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Occasions notebook image (blog)

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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 early notebook image (blog)

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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 notebook image (blog)

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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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Social notebook image (blog)

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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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Zoe Brennan: How to Design a Bestseller

Zoe brennan blog asset

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.

Keepsake Card Sharing Images

Share your designs and let your followers know that they can now send your cards as notebooks with 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!

 

Notebook card blueNotebook card greenNotebook card orangeNotebook card redNotebook card yellow

 

Happy sharing!

Katie signature small

 

 

Sock Card Sharing Images

Share your designs and let your followers know that they can now send a snazzy pair of socks along with your cards! 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!

Sock card blue landscapeSock card blueSock card green landscapeSock card greenSock card orange landscapeSock card orangeSock card red landscapeSock card redSock card yellowSock cards yellow landscape

 

Happy sharing!

Katie signature small

 

 

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!

Katie signature small

 

 

Chocolate Card Sharing Images

Phone sharing final

 

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!

Katie signature small