Freelance Writing for Greeting Cards:
Getting Ideas

Which comes first on greeting cards - the words or the pictures? It works both ways; graphics can be formed from an idea that starts as words, or the graphics can inspire the words. While a good writer can incorporate both, you may find success with one or the other. But don't let your tendency toward one keep you from reaching your potential by trying the other.

Common greeting card themes

Use the following list as a basis for developing ideas.

  • Congratulations
  • Thank you
  • General well wishes
  • Love
  • Admiration
  • Affection
  • Thinking of you
  • Appreciation
  • Apology
  • Missing you
  • Encouragement
  • Motivation
  • Sympathy
  • Get well
  • Advice
  • Can't think of the words

Where to get ideas

Ideas can come from any place and every place. Anything and everything. Look at the list below and soon you will learn how to think in such a way that you can generate ideas anywhere. --Be aware of trends - While traditional and alternative greeting card ideas sell well, the card industry, just like many industries, keep abreast of popular culture. That means you need to as well.

  • Which movies are popular?
  • What do you see on magazine covers?
  • What is happening in politics?
  • What are the latest clothing styles?
  • What are the top book titles?
  • What are the popular TV shows?
  • What pets are popular?
  • What is happening on the music scene?
  • What about toys?

The list could go on and on - you get the idea. Be aware of what's going on around you.

--Listen to people of different age groups - If you have children, spend some time listening to what they talk about with their playmates. As Art Linkletter found out, kids say the darnedest things and that often leads to profitable material. Go to the mall and sit near a bunch of teenagers.

--Go to the library - Pick out any book - fiction or non-fiction - and read the back cover and the front inside flap. I chose a book from my shelf and found these words: "In the words of e. e. cummings, 'the eyes of my eyes are opened...'" That made me think of something for an "I love you" card: "I love the way you see things."

--What are your hobbies and interests? - I'm a home-improvement do-it-yourselfer. I could think about particular projects I've done recently, pick something that happened, and turn that into a sentiment for Father's Day that many men can relate to.

--Your life - What did you do today? Grocery shopping? Hair salon? Fired an employee? Cleaned the bathroom? These mostly run-of-the-mill events all can give you ideas if you capture the thoughts that the happenings cause. Maybe at the grocery you saw coconuts which made you think of travelling which made you think of the pleasures of life which made you think how important it is that we need time to recharge. The average person has thousands of thoughts a day - pay attention to those thoughts.

--Go to card and gift shops - Look at the greeting cards on display. Of course you don't want to copy what you see, but let what you see give you ideas of tangents you can take.

--Go for a walk - Your neighborhood can be a source of ideas. Is it busy? How does that make you feel? Is it quiet? What feelings does that bring? Go for a walk in the woods. Reflect on the importance of nature.

Greeting cards are about communication. Pick up on communications between people - verbal and non-verbal. Did someone give you a compliment today? There's a ready-made sentiment idea. Did you enjoy your visit with your sister? What feelings did that invoke?

Did you do something stupid today? Turn that into something humorous and you've got another idea.

Let your mind wander and watch where it goes. When you can do that, you'll have a never-ending supply of ideas.

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