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

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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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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.

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 Build a Following on Instagram

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Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms right now, and the good news is that visual content can really help you to build your brand! Not only this, but you’ll also be able to connect with your followers (and potential customers!). We’ve asked one of our talented creators Charly Clements for some tips on how to gain followers, after her latest Instagram account @reallifelines grew from zero to 25k followers in just a few months. Read her simple, practical steps to becoming a pro below:

Post Regularly

Posting frequently will help you become a notable voice amongst the white noise, as people are more likely to see your posts. Charly advises posting every day if you can: ‘consistency is key when trying to build a strong following on Instagram. People will become very familiar with your work and it will lower the risk of your followers forgetting why they followed you in the first place.’

 

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Find your Niche

It’s best to establish a general theme which reflects your brand, and make sure that all of your posts reflect this. ‘Find a niche and stick with it,’ says Charly. ‘Experimenting with different content can confuse your audience, so once you’ve found your niche try hard to build on that.‘ This might be a running visual theme, or perhaps more of a personality which is put across through your posts, but either way it needs to be built around a general theme. If your brand is doing well without including lifestyle shots or quotes then don’t get distracted with them! 

Offer Insights

Your Instagram is the perfect place to give followers little insights into the day-to-day of your work. This can really help to pique their interest, and make your brand relatable. Why not get a shot of your (relatively tidy!) workspace, or a design in progress? Just make sure the posts are relevant, interesting and fit with your brand’s personality. If you’re keen to show a less-manicured side to your brand then Instagram Stories are made for you: aligning themselves with the likes of Snapchat, Instagram have created this tool for you to give real, relatable insights into your world, and Instagram often sends users notifications to encourage them to see the videos before they’re gone!

Engagement is key

Engage with your audience – whether that’s through the content of your posts or actively finding people in your niche and commenting on their photos,‘ Charly says. Think about who your posts appeal to, and once you’ve established your target audience then think about what more you can do to make your posts relevant to them. As Charly explains, this might mean creating a post to specifically pique their interest, replying to their comments and feedback, or even finding key followers and commenting on their posts where relevant. ‘Posting content that your audience can relate to will drastically improve the engagement on your posts as well as help build a community.

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Hashtags Increase Views

Hashtags are often used as a fun way to express your personality within a post, but they can actually be used to expose your post to more users. Adding popular hashtags means that people who are looking for this content can easily find your posts, so they’re more likely to discover you this way. Ones such as #makersgonnamake, #independentdesigner and #illustratorsoninstagram are regularly searched by users, so by tagging your posts with these you’ll be putting them in front of a captive audience.

Link to your profile

Charly advises using your bio to link out to your website or a different platform, so that it’s easy for followers to find out more about you and your brand: ‘Instagram is a great way to showcase your work/brand, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket!‘ If you’re looking to use your account to drive sales then regularly linking out to your thortful profile or featuring it in your bio is a great way to make sure potential customers can find you!

Find Charly’s own range of cards here, her Real Life Lines range here, and find her on Instagram here and here.

How to: Make Sales Outside of the Big Occasions!

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We all know that having designs for the big occasions is the most hard-and-fast way to ensure that you maximise your sales figures overall, but what about those times when there isn’t a big occasion on the horizon?

First of all it’s best to ensure that you’ve got at least one design for all of the non-seasonal occasion categories – people have babies and get sick all year round!

Next, make sure your Birthday cards are up to scratch. Birthdays are the one occasion which nearly everyone buys for at some point each year, even if it’s only for their nearest and dearest! Making sure your cards are on point for this occasion is key, as this will help to maintain your sales across the quieter periods.

Get sorted for the next big occasion, even if it’s still a way off. You should aim to have your cards uploaded around 2 months prior to an occasion date (earlier for Christmas!). Getting them up early means you’ll make more sales in that initial period before the collection grows, and have a better chance of allowing your designs to gain popularity.

Think about buying seasons for occasions such as Wedding and Anniversary. Whilst cards for these occasions are bought all year round, there is a marked increase in demand from May – October every year, as the summer months bring more weddings (and by default, more anniversaries!). Make sure you’re prepared well in advance by getting your designs uploaded by April at the latest, adding to your collection or refreshing some old designs by using the ‘Update’ button to change a small element on the artwork.

Another thing to try, particularly with Birthday designs, is tapping into trends in order to increase sales by targeting specific customers. By using your designs to play upon a popular theme (think Game Of Thrones, Star Wars or Gin), you’re more likely to catch a customer’s eye, and this will give your perennial designs more chance of being chosen and help to boost those sales. In addition, if you’ve had a good seller for a seasonal occasion, is there a way you could adapt this design or concept for a Birthday or Love card? This can be a great way to create cards around themes which you know customers are already interested in.

Finally, you can also use a slight lull in sales to spring clean your profile, to push out the older designs which don’t sell, and ensure you’re ready for the next occasion. This is the perfect time to make any changes, as you’ll be able to assess your profile with the experience of the previous occasion, and get it all prepped and primed in time for the next! Use this handy guide to find out our top tips for doing this.

 

 

Your December Creator Calendar!

Get a heads up on what we’ve got planned for December, and tailor your own marketing around it with our handy Creator Calendar! Make sure to use our handy tips for getting your cards out there and increasing sales too 🙂

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thortful Creator Calendar December 2016

(Just click the link to download.)