COVER: On Valentine’s Day, I’m going to fill my bathtub with hot milk, toss in a few jars of cocoa, then take off all my clothes, jump in, and pretend I’m in a nice big cup of hot chocolate.
INSIDE: You’d make a great marshmallow.
I sold that greeting card to Chicago-based Recycled Paper Greetings nearly twenty years ago. Since then, I’ve sold more than 1,300 ideas for greeting cards and related products such as T-shirts, coffee mugs and post-it notes to eighteen different ‘social expression’ companies in the United States and England.
In case you’re wondering, yes, writing greeting cards is a blast! When I first hooked up with Recycled, in fact, the excitement of it completely consumed me. I was thinking of birthday ideas on the way to work, Father’s Day ideas in line at the grocery store, coffee mug ideas in the shower. I asked a lot of questions, did a lot of browsing at card stores, and put a lot of time and effort into understanding the psychology of the market.
I learned that about 95 percent of cards are bought by women, so to the best of my ability, I tried writing from a woman’s point of view. I learned that it’s okay to insult Dad on a Father’s Day card but don’t even dream of taking a cheap shot at Mom when Mother’s Day rolls around. And I learned to craft a message that was as general as possible so a card would appeal to the largest audience segment possible.
And, of course, I learned the three cardinal rules of the greeting card industry:
• A card has to be sendable
• It has to have a crystal-clear message
• It has to have a me-to-you sentiment
If I had to sum up in one word what greeting cards are all about, it would be this: Relationships. If you’re going to write cards, you better be able to put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s a lot older than you are, someone who has a brother even if you don’t, someone who just had a baby even if you haven’t.
Click here to order my 12,000-word eBook, How to Write Humorous Greeting Cards, on Amazon for just 99 cents! In it, you’ll find:
• Nine basic rules that must be followed when writing greeting cards
• Eight insights that will help you better understand the greeting card business
• Eleven business tips that will help you present yourself as a professional
• Sixteen techniques that you can use to write greeting cards that sell
• Techniques for writing T-shirts, buttons, coffee mugs and Post-it notes
• Dozens and dozens of examples of cards and related products I’ve sold to all the major greeting card companies
Click here to read some excerpts from the eBook.
I was having so much fun writing cards that I invited some funny friends of mine to write with me. For more than ten years, we looked forward to getting together every Monday night for a 90-minute writing session. Without fail, and much to my amazement sometimes, the group managed to come up with good ideas week in and week out, no matter how often we were forced to visit the same old categories we’d mined countless times before.
Group energy is a powerful force. When different points of view converge, the range of ideas generated will far exceed the output of any one individual member. Working alone, I may come up with four to six ideas in an hour; in the same amount of time, a group will generate fifteen to twenty ideas.
Our card writing heyday was a decade or so ago when we were under contract with Cincinnati-based Gibson Greetings. We’d send them twenty ideas a week and they’d send us a check for $600. But then Gibson was acquired by American Greetings, the second-largest card company behind Hallmark, and that revenue stream became a dried-up creek.
While opportunities for freelance greeting card writing still exist, the market has definitely slowed down. Many companies are relying almost exclusively on in-house staff and contract writers; and e-mail and online greetings are taking a big bite out of the greeting card market.
I’d like to close with a card idea given to me by Michael Levin, a member of our writing group and a very talented writer and actor. It made me laugh out loud and it sold instantly, as I knew it would:
COVER: Happy Birthday to my Brother! I like it when people ask if we’re related.
INSIDE: That means there’s still an element of doubt.
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier
Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.
• an overview of the book
• the complete table of contents
• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
• a sample end-of-chapter story
• endorsements from authors and thought leaders
Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!
THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
Schedule a Mastery Mentoring phone session with Phil to learn how to apply principles of spiritual living more effortlessly and effectively. Priced affordably! Click here to e-mail Phil for details.
Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.
Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.
Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.