Greeting cards, by their nature, are meant to be displayed. Some of them feature art so gorgeous, you could put them in a frame and hang them on your wall.
So if your visual arts abilities are less “Thomas Kinkade” and more “juice-box-addled toddler who’s only half paying attention to what he’s doing,” then it may not even have occurred to you that there’s a place for your talents in the greeting card industry.
That’s where you’d be wrong.
Even if you think Adobe is a spice you buy at Whole Foods, there are a few greeting card companies that accept work from freelance writers — no artistic talents needed.
Our guide below covers everything you need to know about freelance greeting card writing jobs, including how much you can make, which companies are looking for writers, how to land the gigs, and more.
How Much Do Greeting Card Writing Jobs Pay?
While the list of companies actively soliciting copy-only submissions is short, the stack of dollar bills you have the potential to earn with these companies is fairly tall.
Among the companies listed here, pay can be $100 or more for each accepted verse. So forget about the cents per word you might earn from an article — how about $5-10 per word? At the high end of the spectrum, Blue Mountain Arts pays $300 for the first accepted verse (and even more for subsequent verses), but their cards feature multi-line poems as opposed to one-liners.
This pay is even better when you consider there’s little to none of the research, interviews, outlines, and all the other behind-the-scenes work that some other forms of writing involve. You just need to speak from your heart, or, in some cases, your snark organ.
Will you make a huge income writing greeting cards? Probably not, but it can be a fun supplemental way to make money writing.
How Do You Become a Greeting Card Writer?
One of the best things about greeting card writing jobs is that most companies don’t care whether you’ve just been nominated for your third Pulitzer Prize or your mom’s refrigerator is the only place your writing has ever been published.
Just show them the verses. If they like them, they’ll either put one or more of those exact verses in their cards or they’ll use those verses as the basis to start a working relationship, depending on the company.
If you want to write greeting card verses, the most important thing to do is familiarize yourself with the company’s work before submitting.
You don’t want to send jokes so filthy they would make your grandma faint to a company that publishes inspirational poems about the nature of friendship. (Maybe that previous line should read: “… jokes so filthy your grandma wishes she’d thought of them herself …” We don’t know your grandma.)
Luckily, getting a feel for a company’s style couldn’t be easier, as pretty much every seller has their full catalog right on their website.
Another tip, from Amy Smyth, co-owner of A Smyth Co.: “Be willing to edit, change and write a lot of lines to get to some good lines.”
Be sure to carefully follow the submission guidelines, which vary wildly from one company to another. Some companies want you to let them know how you imagine the card looking, while others just want the words, thank you, and they’ll handle the rest in-house. A Smyth Co., for example, wants submission ideas using a Google Sheet.
As always, we also highly recommend visiting the Freelance Writers Den, an excellent resource for freelance writers who are trying to find ways to make more money. The Den has over 300 hours of valuable courses and training materials that show you how to run a success writing business. Learn more by becoming a Den member.
Greeting Card Writing Jobs You Can Pitch Right Now
1. Blue Mountain Arts
Founded by Susan Polis Schutz and Stephen Schutz, this company publishes not only greeting cards but poetry anthologies, calendars, framed wall prints, inspirational books and more.
What they’re looking for: According to their submission guidelines, the company is looking for 50-300-word works of “contemporary prose or poetry … that reflects the thoughts and feelings people today want to communicate to one another, but don’t always know how to put into words.” Even when it comes to oft-used themes such as parent-child relationships, verses should be “refreshing and unique or … express age-old sentiments in new and different ways.” The company’s “don’ts” include rhymed poetry, religious verse and one-liners.
If your work is selected for further review, you’ll hear from them within eight weeks. Once a piece is selected for further market review, it could be up to two years before you get final word on your submission. In other words, don’t count on your earnings from this company to pay next month’s rent.
According to Ingrid Heffner from Blue Mountain Arts’ editorial department, they occasionally look through writings under market review for their greeting cards to find material that would work for an anthology project such as a calendar or book. In that case, they would buy one-time rights for the piece.
Complete submission guidelines can be found here.
Rates: If your work is accepted for their greeting cards, you get $300 for your first accepted submission and even more for subsequent accepted work, up to a maximum of $700; pay is $50 if accepted for an anthology project.
2. Oatmeal Studios
If you lean more toward the sarcastic than the sentimental, this company might be more your speed.
What they’re looking for: Oatmeal Studios is looking for “humorous greeting card ideas that appeal to a range of ages and interests.” While you don’t need to be an artist to submit to this company, their guidelines ask that you describe the artwork you envision going with your verse.
Their card categories are Birthday, Get Well, Retirement, Belated Birthday, Anniversary, Thank you, and Congratulations, but editor Dawn Abraham says they use very few from the last two categories.
“At prime political moments we consider political ideas that can be used for these occasions, especially birthday,” she says, adding: “We are always looking the most for birthday ideas, especially ones that poke fun at getting older.”
Oatmeal Studios’ writer’s guidelines can be found here.
Rates: $100 per accepted verse.
3. Calypso Cards, Inc.
What they’re looking for: According to their submission guidelines, Calypso’s greeting cards are “sophisticated, contemporary and innovative.” While they have multiple lines of cards, they’re specifically looking for writers for their Selfish Kitty line of cards. They describe Selfish Kitty as “a humor line which is edgy but not cruel or degrading,” aimed toward consumers who are “young, urban, educated.” For these, you don’t need to provide art ideas, as the company designs the artwork after the text is selected.
Their submission guidelines can be found here.
Rates: Calypso Cards, Inc.’s website doesn’t mention how much they pay, and the company didn’t return emails seeking comment, but this is another company that probably won’t be giving you next week’s grocery money. “We review several times a year, but several months can go by between reviews,” their website states.
4. NobleWorks Cards
If you make “that’s what she said jokes” so often that the phrase is embroidered on a throw pillow on your couch … actually, you might still be too tame for some of this company’s offerings. “Although we stock our share of traditional greeting cards suitable for any occasion and even the most puritanical people on your list,” the company’s website says, “NobleWorks really stands out for humor cards that flaunt the limits of good taste and civility.”
What they’re looking for: According to their writer’s guidelines, which you can get by filling out a form on their website (your name and email address are all that’s required), the company looks for “fresh text and funny, clever writing. We prefer text that is flexible enough to be used with a variety of images.”
NobleWorks publishes cards for a wide variety of occasions, including Christmas, Hannukah, Mother’s/Father’s Day, Anniversary, St. Patrick’s Day and more, all listed on an annual schedule included with the submissions guidelines. They ask for no more than 20 submissions per introduction.
Rates: According to senior editor Kathy Krassner, “If we do select and publish a card with a verse submitted from an outside writer, we pay a flat fee of $150 for that verse/concept.” There’s also the potential for a longer-term working relationship: “If your writing style fits with ours, we may choose to add you to our writers’ email list,” their submission guidelines state. “We periodically email images to writers and ask for copy to be written.”
5. A Smyth Co. Siblings Amy and John Smyth have a mission: “To help you connect with all the people you love the most.” Their cards are timely and fun, with messages including: “I never have the urge to mute you on Zoom” and “Every time you unload the dishwasher, I fall in love with you all over again.” What they’re looking for: Let’s start with what they’re not looking for: “Nothing corny, nothing overdone,” says Amy Smyth. Before submitting to their company, Smyth suggests Googling a line to make sure it hasn’t appeared on a greeting card before — not a bad idea when submitting to any company. Smyth says you can make initial contact using the “Contact Us” form on the company’s website and indicating MALW sent you. Their verse submission process is a little different than other companies’. If you’re a writer interested in collaborating with this company on a freelance basis, here’s how to send your sample verses: “Send a Google Sheets with the columns labeled: image suggestion, category, page 1, and page 3. Image suggestion – The image that works best with the copy. Do not suggest people or products. Category is the card category – birthday, wedding, etc. For a first submission, 6 birthday lines are best. Page 1 is the copy that goes on the front of the card Page 3 is the copy that goes on the inside of the card” They’ll send a contract if they’d like to move forward. “Timing and projects will vary greatly,” Smyth says. Also: “We really want to work with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). The greeting card industry sorely needs to hear from you.” Rates: Instead of a flat fee for accepted verses, A Smyth Co. pays royalties on card sales (no advances). Note: Follow the guidelines in this listing carefully to send sample verses. A Smyth Co. works with collaborators on a freelance basis. They do not have open positions at their company. A. Smyth Co. is no longer working with outside writers.
What they’re looking for: With a slogan of “Express Beautifully” and a website that advertises that “you’ll always have sophisticated sentiments to share with those that bring joy to your life,” you might want to save that dirty one-liner for your spouse’s boss. (Nope. Nope. Don’t do that, either.)
Information on the submissions process can be found within the company’s FAQ section. Papyrus accepts portfolios for review via snail-mail. They ask for no more than 12 copy submissions at a time, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you want your work back. Send them to:
Papyrus Portfolio Review
240 Gateway Rd West
Napa, CA 94558
They ask that you allow a minimum of eight weeks for a response.
Rates: Their website doesn’t list payment information, and they didn’t respond to emails seeking comment, so if they like what they see from you, be prepared to negotiate a rate.
And one more…
Avanti: This company doesn’t get a full listing because, while they do work with writers, they have a full roster of verse contributors at this time. To be considered in the future, however, snail-mail samples of your writing to their editorial department.
If you are up for some cold-contacting, the Greeting Card Association is the place to be for card makers — corporate behemoths and independent, one-man/woman operations alike. Their member directory lists dozens of companies along with links to their websites, but most of them don’t actively seek writers’ submissions via their websites (hence the cold-contacting).
Why Write for Greeting Cards?
Because the market is so small, especially among companies that actively solicit copy submissions, it’s unlikely you can feed your family solely by writing greeting card verses. Just as with poetry writing jobs, think of it as one way to make money as a writer, but not your only way.
But it’s still worth it to give it a shot. Why?
For brand-new freelancers, it’s a great way to practice making contact with potential homes for your writing in an environment that could prove a little less nerve-wracking than the traditional pitching process (with most of the companies listed above, you’ve already been invited to submit your final product — no need to worry about whether your pitch will be accepted).
For established freelancers, greeting cards can be a change of scenery…a way to practice tightening your writing (when you only have a 5×7 space, every word has to count)…and a possible home for that joke that would have slayed at your friend’s birthday party last week — if you’d have thought of it, you know, during the party instead of on the way home.
P.S. If you are a multi-talented creative type who’s confident in your visual artwork (imagine Napoleon Dynamite’s voice saying, “Lucky!”), all of the above-mentioned companies except Blue Mountain Arts work with visual artists, independently of their writing arm. Also check out Amber Lotus publishing (they do have a blurb on their website about writing submissions, but they aren’t accepting them at this time), Leanin’ Tree, Great Arrow Graphics, Greetings Card Company, and Design House Greetings, as well as poring through the Greeting Card Association’s Member Directory.
Have you ever tried your hand at greeting card writing? Share your experiences by commenting below.
Andrea Davis is a relative newbie to the freelancing realm, having spent much of her employment in the newspaper industry. She lives in a small Ohio town along Lake Erie with her husband and two children.