Advice, Not Spam
You've signed up, gotten a Greeting Card Universe store, uploaded your designs, and don't know how to get more card clicks and visits to your store. When traffic is dead as a doornail, what can you do to give your store a boost?
Now the cat's out of the bag!
Tips That Can Help
First things first, a little background for those not in the know: Greeting Card Universe is an on-line greeting card retailer (that's real paper greeting cards, folks, not ecards) which prints cards as they're ordered by the buyer (yep, a POD business) so it's more environmentally friendly. Artists can open a free store, upload their designs, and receive a commission on sales. More information can be found at GCU's website HERE.
I joined GCU two years ago when it was just getting started, and while I'm not yet ready to retire on my millions (hah!) I do earn a nice quarterly commission. How nice? Sorry, I won't reveal the actual number, but my sales have shown steady growth, and I am one of GCU's top sellers. What's my secret? Lots of hard work, actually. I have stores at other POD sites, and I've been at the "making a living on-line" thing a while, so you could say I'm experienced. Want to see?
Why have I made this lens? Well, GCU has an active and friendly forum that welcomes questions from newcomers. Some of the top questions asked by many newbies are: "how do I promote my store?" and "how do I get more visits and clicks on my cards?" Everyone wants to be noticed, of course. Traffic equals potential sales. That's an equation we all understand.
So you have a GCU store and you want to earn more money by selling more cards, which means you want to drive more traffic to that store, right? Okay, let's get the most important thing out of the way. Please repeat after me: there is no magic solution. There is no easy, effortless, 100% guaranteed method of getting visitors to come to your GCU store and unload their wallets into your pocket, and anybody who tells you otherwise is... well, let's say they might be a trifle deluded, and leave it at that.
The only way you're going to make more sales is to work hard at it. Put elbow grease and brain power to work. Treat your on-line business like a job, not a hobby. Learn some effective ways of promoting your cards, and work, work, work. Anyone who has been successfully selling their merchandise through POD businesses like Zazzle will tell you the same thing.
What do you do? Here are 7 tips to help you promote your GCU store that have worked for me. Incorporate some or all of them into your regular routine. Experiment to find out what works for you and what doesn't. And good luck selling your cards! Oh, and if you earn a million dollars, don't forget who gave you the advice! :-)
1STUDY THE MARKETPLACE With so many artists (2700+ as of this writing) and so many greeting cards (close to 200,000 and rising every day), your cards need to stand out from the herd to be seen by potential customers. Be selective. A badly cropped, out-of-focus picture of your Great-Aunt Gertrude isn't going to appeal to anyone except your relatives. Make cards with a purpose. GCU has given artists really great tools like the top on-site searches for the last 30 days. Study that list. What are buyers looking for? Check the other cards in popular categories. You don't want to plagiarize, but this will give you a good idea about what designs are sellable and what's not. Finally, study the category list. Are there categories that don't have a lot of cards in them? Design a card to fit.
2UPDATE FREQUENTLY Don't make the mistake of thinking that putting in 10 cards, sitting back and waiting for the sales to roll in will make you an overnight millionaire. That attitude isn't going to earn you much, if anything. Apart from other self-promotion (more on that below) you need to add new cards to your store as often as possible. I try to put in new designs every week.
3PICK A NICHE General birthday and other general occasion cards or blank note cards don't get a huge amount of attention from buyers on GCU. In fact, the catch-all "blank cards' is one of the biggest and least traveled categories on the site. I repeat, design cards with a purpose. One of GCU's strengths is the ability to offer very specialized cards (like age specific birthday cards from 1 to 110, or a plethora of "will you be my bridesmaid" etc. wedding party cards). Decide what your niche is going to be, and make cards for that niche. Specialization can be rewarding. For example, after doing some research, I identified a need for greeting cards designed for cancer patients. I created cards to fill that niche, and I've had more success promoting those specific cards than my shop in general.
4START A BLOG A blog just about your greeting cards isn't very interesting to visitors, so you need to up your game. What can you blog about that will tie in with your cards? Well, suppose you're a photographer who has made cards with pictures of plants and critters in your garden. You could make a blog about your personal experiences as a gardener or wild-life photographer. A blog updated daily will get more attention than something that is indifferently updated once every blue moon. Get into the habit of spending five minutes a day updating your blog. You can post links to interesting on-line articles, too, or Squidoo lenses that relate to your topic. And a few times a week, include a picture and link to one of your cards. There are plenty of free blog sites out there, so you don't have to spend a dime. Use GCU's own Sell This Card feature to provide links to your own cards and other artists' cards in your topic, and earn money, too. In addition, every time you update your blog, use a free blog pinging service like Pingoat, Pingates or BlogBlip (I'm sure there are others as well). What the heck is pinging? I'm going to point you to Wikipedia for that one.
5SQUIDOO LENSES FOR PROMOTION
Best advice I can give: don't create a Squidoo lens just to promote your greeting cards, and nothing else. Family and friends might cruise by if you give them a heads-up, but other potential visitors will likely take a pass if all they see is self-promotion. By all means, go ahead and promote yourself (hey, some day you may be famous!) but also create Squidoo lenses about a topic that ties in with a product line you're promoting. Remember I talked about cards for cancer patients? I've got Squidoo lenses on a number of topics relating to cancer which are "sponsored" by my product line. At the bottom of each article (or sometimes at the top, it depends on the information I'm presenting) I've got a nice picture of some of my cards and a link to click to find these cards on GCU. Don't forget you can cross-promote, too. Post a link to your blog on your Squidoo lens, and you can post a link on your blog to the lens if applicable. The more backlinks, the better your page ranking on some search engines.
6BUILD MICRO-PAGES Like Squidoo, there are other places where you can build a free quickie webpage about your niche or your greeting cards, and get more backlinks as well as the added opportunity for traffic. Choices include Squidoo (naturally), BlinkWeb, Weebly, Jimdo, etc. Be sure to include graphics of your cards, links to the niche you're promoting on GCU, links to your website, your GCU store, your other POD stores, and your blog. The point is, get your name out there. Get your links out there. Provide interesting, informative content. Don't plagiarize, though! Don't fall into the cut-and-paste trap. Search engines won't reward naughty behavior, so be smart and write your own copy.
7AND FINALLY... When uploading your cards, pay special attention to the title of your card, as this holds the greatest weight for search engines. Your card title should be descriptive, not generic - "18th Birthday - Spotted Cow" as opposed to just "Happy Birthday." And the first five keywords are also given the most weight, so choose these carefully to make the most impact in your SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
A FEW BONUS TIPS
include your shop, blog, etc. URL in your email signature; purchase your own cards (registered GCU artists get a discount) and send them out on every occasion (because your personal logo and store URL is on the back of every card; and above all, be patient! Rome wasn't built in a day. Just keep plugging, keep making quality cards, keep studying your market, and you'll no doubt do well.
Now you're armed with the knowledge you need to go forth and conquer the world - or at least, sell more greeting cards to the adoring public you've gained!
Comments welcome, spam not so much. If you found the information helpful, please rate this lens. :-)
Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Laurie77 on August 10, 2012:
Excellent tips. Thank you for sharing! Take care, Laurie
cmadden on April 11, 2012:
Good tips. Thanks!
Patricia on July 05, 2011:
Great tips lens for GCU! Blessed! I am there, but had not given it alot of attention, I focused more on Zazzle, but recently I am giving it more attention which brought me to your lens
Crichtonslover on April 19, 2011:
Thank you for liking my Valentines Day Hearts Zazzle Gallery! :) Love your lens. ;)
brightbrightlight on April 14, 2011:
This is a good squidoo for anyone starting out at online greeting card designs. I have learned from it and I have been at GCU for over a year now. Thanks so much!
icansketchu on March 03, 2011:
Hey, Corrie! How fun to see you expand with GCU--what a whirlwind since 2007, eh? Life is quite a ride on the internet. Just thought I'd drop you a note and a big 'Cheers!' for all your initiative. I'd love to have you stop by on facebook! Cheers! -Kerra
Wmartin1963 on March 03, 2011:
Great Page, very interesting and helpful.
anonymous on September 27, 2010:
Thank you so much for taking the time to help others with this lens. The information has been very helpful, and I will ensure to take your advise in future when uploading new cards to GCU!
bmthour on September 05, 2010:
I am really enjoying your lenses about creating and selling on GCU.
anonymous on May 03, 2010:
I've just created a blog that I am featuring this lens and Corrie in...hope you have time to read it! Love your writing, Corrie's irresistable artwork...your info, knowledge and sharing of it all to others truly makes you an angel! You and Corrie make an awesome team! Hugz, Cherie
anonymous on October 26, 2009:
Good stuff. Need all the help I can get!
dlgbzh on August 16, 2009:
I just joined GCU so these tips will surely help, thanks !
grandmasandy lm on August 10, 2009:
I am trying, trying, trying so hard to get even one sale at GCU, I am beginning to think my cards stink.
anonymous on July 19, 2009:
thank you for an informative lens.I am a newbie at GCU and these would be very helpful.
Angelas_Designs on July 16, 2009:
Very informative lens. Thanks for the tips! 5 stars and favourited.
CatherineSherman on July 13, 2009:
Corrie, Thanks so much for taking the time to share this very useful, creative and encouraging information with us. Your work is great! Cathy
anonymous on July 06, 2009:
Thanks so much missminny, very well written and I sure appreciate it!! Blessings to you both!
anonymous on July 04, 2009:
Very helpful advice.
anonymous on June 30, 2009:
You've always been so generous with your information, encouragement and support. Thanks so!
NatureMaven on June 27, 2009:
Thanks for the tips on other free web page builders. *****
anonymous on June 27, 2009:
Very useful and informative information. Appreciate your sharing your expertise!
MissMinny (author) on June 26, 2009:
Thanks, folks! I'm quickly becoming addicted to Squidoo.
ARTCOR7, when we first started selling on-line (our very first POD was CafePress), it took a couple of months before we saw our first sale. Just be persistent. Sales will come if your designs are commercially appealing.
myslewis on June 26, 2009:
So much great information Corrie or is it MissMinnie;) you are very generous with your knowledge and time. I am inspired to try harder:)
anonymous on June 26, 2009:
Thank so much for your insight.
I am a newbie in the card trade and elsewhere in the net. I have not started a squidoo yet. I can say, I am your companion in the net places you have your stuff. I began two months ago and I have not received a penny on any of the places.
I have worked hard everyday 16 hours a day for two months and I am puzzled how to receive that first penny .
Your words tell me there's hope. Thank you for that. But I still have to master the way to be known or to get traffic on my sites.
Thanks for the generosity for sharing your words.
anonymous on June 26, 2009:
very informative article and a reminder to those of us on GCU about the basics
anonymous on June 26, 2009:
This was really helpful and easy to understand. Thanks for be an angel to us newbies
BuckHawkcenter on June 26, 2009:
As another Squidoo-er, blogger, GCU'er and card seller (to benefit our Animal Rescue) this was great advice. Thanks. Rome might not have been built in a day, but on-line sales are built on-line!
anonymous on June 26, 2009:
WOW! Great info for any GCU artist or any artist to really kick up their sales. Thanks for sharing your generous tips!