Are you a graphic designer and are looking for a way to get into the amazing wedding invitation stationery industry?
Or do you already have a shop and are wanting to scale or change your business model a bit to suit your current needs? This post covers the three main types of invitation shops & the pros and cons of each.
In case you are new to this world of digital invitations for weddings, bridal showers, birthday parties, funerals etc. then don’t worry. I will break down the basics below.
If you are planning on opening an invitation shop on Etsy and are wondering which format is right for you, read on. I’ll shed light on the most popular formats.
Traditional Printed Invitations
These are traditional printed invitations, which a vendor will create from start to finish. The customer received the final, printed suite ready to be posted.
Shops offering printed wedding invitations have existed since before the internet, and will continue to exist. These are the most sought after, and most popular invitation shops. They provide a full solution to their customer, where the customer need only place their order, and provide information to be included on the cards.
The designer could be creating custom suites from scratch, or they may be personalising existing suites which the customer chooses from. Either way, there is very little DIY (if any, at all!) involved from the customer’s/ bride’s side.
This is the most requested format of invitations (in general). Most people just want to receive their invitations ready to be mailed! They do not have the time, energy or expertise to DIY them.
Pros of Opening a Traditional Printed Invitations Shop
- Most in demand in general
- Much higher profit margins per order as all your orders will essentially be bulk orders. So, you need fewer clients to turn a profit and sustain a good income.
- Easier to get word of mouth clients as all the invitees will receive YOUR final work product
- Harder for newer business to compete with your shop as there is a higher barrier to entry (getting your paper suppliers, printing vendors, envelope vendors, shipping vendor in order is not as quick and easy compared to the other Shop formats mentioned in this post)
- Because of that, you will be less prone to business fluctuations and will have a steadier business
- Fonts, art graphics & watercolor clipart are easier to license (most shops will have a straight forward license for this type of commercial use)
- Many designers say this format gives them the most job satisfaction as they get to see (and share!) their work in the final, coveted printed format.
Cons of Opening a Traditional Printed Invitations Shop
- You will have to put in more work in the beginning. Getting your paper suppliers, printing vendors, envelope vendors, shipping vendor in order is not as quick and easy compared to the other Shop formats mentioned in this post.
- Depending on how much customisation you will provide to your clients, you could be spending some more time in customer support and emails.
Printable Invitations (Fixed)
In this type of product, you the designer will create a fixed design and list it on your shop. The customer will contact you with their specific personalisations (usually restricted to just names and information like date, address etc.). Extra customisation (like change of font / change of color) is charged extra. You make these changes yourself and email them a final, fixed design as a digital JPEG or PDF file (or both). The customer cannot make any changes by themselves. You have full control over your files. The customer will take the digital file you give them, and have that printed either at home or at a print shop of their choice (or use the digital file as is for e-vites).
Pros of Opening a Printable Invitations (Fixed) Shop:
- Easier and cheaper licenses for fonts & graphics compared to Templates
- Harder for misuse or abuse as your customer only receives the final, fixed files
- Full control over your design
- Your brand is not susceptible to dilution as you design the final product and that’s what your customer gets
- No logistical issues regarding printing & shipping
Cons of Opening a Printable Invitations (Fixed) Shop:
- You still have to customise with lower per-order margin (as opposed to Printed, where your margins are much higher)
Editable Invitation Templates Shop (using Corjl / Templett / PDF / Zazzle etc.)
This type of product is an editable invitation. This means, you use a software like Corjl / Templett or even Adobe Acrobat to design your invitation. Then you list the editable design on your shop. Your customer is given the ability to change the text themselves. Some designers even allow their customers to move around the artwork in the design (not recommended).
You only create your designs and list them. Your work ends there (apart from support queries). Once the customer purchases a file from you, they are on their own and need to make their own edits. Once they are done editing, they can download a JPEG version of it which they can print or use as is.
Pros of Opening an Editable Invitation Templates Shop:
- Your work ends once you’ve listed the templates
- This type of shop will generate passive income for you
- Some customers like having the ability to edit their own designs themselves instead of going back and forth with the designer
- No logistical issues regarding printing & shipping
Cons of Opening an Editable Invitation Templates Shop:
- Limited fonts and graphics to choose from
- Much more expensive licensing for Fonts (you need a license which permits you to embed a font).
- Unclear licensing for graphics (except specific shops) (for eg. in my shop, I have a specific clear license for templates called the Template License, but that’s not the case with majority of the graphics you see on Etsy or Creative Market (for example, none of the licenses on Creative Market allow use in templates)
- Very low barrier to entry. Every day there are tens of new template shops opening up on Etsy which makes the market saturated and tough to compete it (unless you stand out with unique designs!).
- Susceptible to brand dilution as your customer has final control over the design.
- Susceptible to abuse as a customer might purchase one template and create several designs using just the one. Therefore, it’s important to lock in certain elements so as to prevent such abuse.
There are different pros and cons of all three types of Invitation Shops. Of late, there has been a trend of Printable Invitation (Fixed) Shops moving to the Editable Invitation Shop format. This is understandable, as the new format allows for passive income. However, one must keep proper licensing in mind, as what we don’t see is that behind the scenes there are still many shops which use fonts and graphics without the proper licensing and end up having their shop reported and even closed.
With proper licensing in place, you can truly do business, create a passive income channel and breathe easy, knowing that (a) you’ve done the right thing, and (b) your business and income are safe!
I offer different types of commercial use License (Small Commercial, Template & Large Commercial license) with clear terms. It can be purchased with any clip art product from my shop. You can review the brief terms of these licenses here.
I have stressed a lot on proper licensing in this post, because as an artist, that is very very important to me and my peers! We are all here sharing our gifts with the world, but we should remember to do right by our peers. A business built on honesty is most rewarding and long lasting.
So friends, regardless of which type of shop you choose to open, make sure that it fits your own personal goals, and keep the long term in mind. Time, energy and resources spent in building a strong foundation will help your business grow organically and keep growing!
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