BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Cat Thisius

Where to print photos into greeting cards

I would like to get custom greeting cards printed from some of my photos and try selling them. This will be a 'mom and pop' venture to start. Is there anywhere you'd recommend using online that is reasonable? I know quantity is a factor with pricing.

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10/3/2005 1:02:03 PM

Robert Hambley
  A few ideas - - bonus of being able to sell the cards online as well. Standard folded greeting card. You completely create the card. and have greeting cards (but are the postcard style and limited to just adding your picture to their predesigned card)

Hope this helps get you in the right direction.

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10/3/2005 2:10:39 PM

Michael H. Cothran   If you have a decent ink jet printer, you can print your own. You would set up a simple template, using 7x10 pre cut paper that you can buy from Rid River, and save it. Then just size, and insert each new image. With PS, you can add text, pinstriping, drop shadows, etc.
I do just that, and sell them at Arts & Crafts shows for $5 each. My cost with matching envelope, and a clear packaging envelope is about 50.
Michael H. Cothran

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10/3/2005 3:53:08 PM

Michael H. Cothran   Oops, sorry.
That should be "Red River." Website is
Now I use an Epson 1280 printer which accepts 8x10 paper. As such, I buy Epson's Heavy Weight Matte paper in 8x10 size, then cut off an inch. I lightly score the 7x10, then fold it into a 5x7, insert the matching white A7 envelope, and package in a Crystal Clear self-sealing envelope. On the back, I have the image title, catalog number, my name, location, web address, and phone number.
Michael H. Cothran

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10/3/2005 3:59:32 PM

Susan Patton
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/1/2004
  Hi Cat,
Depending on the quantity you need, you might want to use an inkjet printer and do them yourself. I have done it both ways. I too have an Epson 1280 and started by printing my own. It worked well for small quantities but was a bit pricy. I eventually took the plunge and had a professional printer (my son is in the business) print them. I did the set up and submitted camera ready art to save a few dollars. The cost becomes pretty reasonable per card if you order a large quantity.

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10/3/2005 5:14:59 PM

Michael H. Cothran   Cat & Susan,
The secret to economical ink jet printing, and I should have mentioned this in my previous response, is to use a continuous inking system with the Epson 1280. Without this, Susan is absolutely correct - the cost of OEM cartridges will eat away all your profit.
My CIS (continuous inking system) came from, and is made by No More Carts. I use quality Lyson Fotonic Inks, which I also buy from Inkjetart. There are cheaper inks, but Lyson is as good as it gets for dye-based. A 4 0z bottle costs $25 (lesser brands can be had for $8-$10 per bottle), so all six colors would be $150 to start, but they are worth $2000+ in Epson cartridges. My cost per note card with matching white A7 envelope and a Crystal Clear packaging envelope is 50 cents. I sell them for $5 each out of my booth at juried arts & crafts shows.
For anyone who does portrait work, it seems to me that it would really boost business to offer note card packages with your regular print packages.
But, to reiterate, you have to use a continuous inking system in order to keep it profitable.
Michael H. Cothran

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10/4/2005 8:22:45 AM

Diane Dupuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2003
  I've ordered some from - great quality - not cheap though!

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10/4/2005 9:18:08 AM

Susan Patton
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/1/2004
  Thanks for the tip Michael. I will definately be looking into this as those cartridges are always needing replaced. When printing at home I use Avery's 4 1/2x5 1/2 note cards and with the cost of the cards and ink I was est.60 cents/card. My cost/card dropped to 17 cents each with the printer but I ordered a ton of cards and will have them forever. (I've discovered marketing is NOT my strong suit...I would much rather produce than sell!!)

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10/4/2005 9:41:48 AM

Cat Thisius   WOW! Thank you for all of your great tips and ideas!
Has anyone ever used a place like Office Max or Staples?
I did some notecards at Shutterfly a few weeks ago when they had a discount, but like Diane said, they are spendy. I think it averaged out to 86 cents each for a tiny card and envelope.
For those of you printing on ink jet printers, does the ink smear at all? That's my biggest worry is that the color will fade or if water gets on it it might get damaged. Right now I have a HP 2110xi all-in-one printer. Outdated, I know :)

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10/4/2005 1:00:36 PM

Michael H. Cothran   Cat,
The ink is dry to the touch when it comes out of the printer, so there's no smearing, although it is better to let the prints air dry about 24 hours before packaging. This allows the gases in the ink time to disperse.

Water will definitely ruin the cards, but how many times do you expect to get them wet?

Colors will fade with time, as it will on any ink jet print. However, you've got to remember you're selling note cards here, not archival fine art prints. I wouldn't be too concerned about color fading, as the Lyson ink I use is rated @ 25 years. Most Epson dye based inks are rated about 7-10 years. How long do you want a $5 greeting card to last?

Finally, if you decide to print your own, for economical reasons, you must buy a printer for which you can get a continuous inking system. The few companies that currently manufacture them (, Inkjetart, and Media Street) offer them only for certain Epson models. There might be one or so made for particular Canon printers, but to my knowledge, no CIS is made for any HP printers. The Epson 1280, @ $400 is a venerable printer, being around since 2001, and going strong simply because it is still probably the best printer on the market, especially for the price. It prints borderless, and is one of only a very few printers that accepts photo size paper - 5x7, 8x10, and 11x14.
One word of caution - installing the CIS is a pain unless you follow the instructions to the letter. You are required to "bleed" the lines before filling with ink. If you don't do it just right, you will have one big ink mess, and possible air bubbles in your new cartridges.
Michael H. Cothran

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10/4/2005 5:23:07 PM

Michele Wassell   I really like the idea of RedRiver. I just checked out there site. I have always used Photographers Edge, but they are a bit high in price for me anyway.


I have the Epson R800 printer. So if I were to go thru Red River and purchase the paper and envelopes, that is all I need, right? Then make a template in PS CS and go from there? Is it hard to do the template? I am not very good at things like that in PS yet.

Do those bottle of inks come for the R800? I have tried other good brands of inks and refillable cartridge bottles, but the inks never worked in the printer.

Michele :)

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10/6/2005 8:43:30 PM

Karen Mulich
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2005
  Hi Cat,
I would try prices, high quality printing, best price for shipping (.99) Good Luck!!


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10/7/2005 4:26:23 AM

Cat Thisius   Karen,
I just ordered some last week from! I found an ad in Family Fun Magazine. They are on their way. I will post how they turned out when they get here.
Thank you!

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10/10/2005 8:37:05 AM

Cat Thisius   Michael,
Thank you for all of your advice! YOu have been very helpful. Where do you get your plastic sleeves for packaging? That's something else I need to invest in.

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10/10/2005 8:39:58 AM

Melissa  L. Zavadil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2005
  Keep us definately posted as to winkflash cards, I would love to hear how they turned out.

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10/10/2005 8:45:16 AM

Karen Mulich
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/9/2005
  Hi Cat,
Just wanted to let you know I too have been selling my work as cards as well. I color coordinate with package card stock from "Michaels" and protect them with the plastic resealable bags from "Documounts". I found them from the back of my "Popular Photography" magazine. Shipping is reasonable if you purchase at least 200 bags........Good Luck :)

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10/10/2005 7:48:52 PM

Michelle Ross
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/1/2004
  vistaprint offers cards... I don't know the specifics but I know you can add photos and I think they will be like the cardstock finish that you get in stores. ..

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10/10/2005 8:16:11 PM

Cat Thisius   I got my cards and photos from Winkflash today, they look very nice! Nice thick card stock, the pictures look a little bit blurry, but look great to a non-photographers eye (one of my dc parents).
Here's a coupon for 50 free 4x6 prints if anyone is interested: coupon code:F73Y9GE4

Complete details at

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10/11/2005 6:17:33 PM

Nevia Cashwell
Contact Nevia
Nevia's Gallery
  Hello to all. I also am thinking about starting a little business of turning my photos into note cards or greeting cards. I have used Shutterfly and like the quality (price nothwithstanding). Going to check out all others suggested but my question concerns legality. The cards from Shutterfly come with the Shutterfly logo on the back of them. Does this make it illegal for me to turn around and sell them to others? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

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12/28/2005 5:31:55 AM

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