If you’re confident in your calligraphy abilities and want to use them to make extra cash, it may be time to address envelopes for clients! If you’re at that point, I’d recommend reading two articles first: How to Make Extra Income Selling Calligraphy and 8 Tips for Starting a Calligraphy Business. Once you’ve read those articles, you should be ready to start advertising your services! But what do you do once someone reaches out to hire you (and ultimately decides to work with you)? This article endeavors to answer that question!
1. Send Over a Clear, Transparent Price Quote
If there’s one thing people like, it’s predictability, particularly when it comes to knowing how much something is going to cost.
Before you put together a price quote, find out as much information from the client as you can. Are you only expected to calligraph the recipient’s address, or are you writing a return address as well? What color of ink does the client want? What color are the envelopes? (You might charge more for dark envelopes because they aren’t compatible with a light box.) Are you expected to put postage stamps on the envelopes? Get a crystal clear idea of what the client wants, then send them an itemized price quote. If they accept, I’d suggest charging a 50% deposit up front, then collect the other 50% right before you give the finished envelopes to the client.
2. Decide on Envelopes
In some cases, the client will already have envelopes that s/he wants you to use. In that case, you should have them send the envelopes to you, and ask them to include 25% more envelopes than you actually need. Those extras will account for any mess-ups!
If you’re lucky, the client may not have chosen envelopes yet. If that’s the case, give them guidance in choosing. Paper Source and Cards and Pockets are two of many great places to purchase high-quality envelopes, and the client can have the envelopes sent straight to you! Remember: even the most beautiful calligraphy can’t elevate a flimsy envelope to pure elegance, and oftentimes you can’t help but experience ink bleed on cheap envelopes. (If the client insists on low-quality envelopes, though, there are ways to keep the ink from bleeding — see tips #2 and #3 in the Seven New Calligraphy Tips article.)
3. Have the Client Send Over an Address List
While the envelopes are en-route, ask the client to send over his or her address list. Emphasize that they should provide the addresses exactly as they want them written!
Once you receive the address list, give it a brief look to see if you have any questions. You may notice a potential typo or two, which is worth asking about because it will make your job easier and also show the client that you’re paying attention to detail!
4. Send the Client a Photo for Approval
When you have the address list and the envelopes, make your first envelope! Then, before you create any other envelopes, send a photo of that envelope to the client.
The preview photo serves two purposes. First, you can get feedback from the client as far as receiving confirmation that they like what you’re doing. They may end up asking you to tweak something (e.g. ink color, line spacing), or they may say, “Yes, awesome!” Second, you’re showing your professionalism. Keeping the client updated is important because it demonstrates how serious you are about their project.
5. Pace Yourself
After you receive confirmation from the client that everything is looking good, set a daily (and digestible) envelope goal.
If you write out too many envelopes in one sitting, you may experience hand cramps and back/shoulder issues. So: space it out! If you have 100 envelopes to address and a week to do them, shoot for 15 envelopes per day (or whatever is most comfortable for you). If the client has several envelopes, you might send them a progress photo halfway through. This will serve to build excitement and show the client, again, that you are working seriously and diligently on their order.
6. Double-Check the Envelope Addresses
After you finish with all of the envelopes, double-check (and triple-check) every single one against the address list that the client sent over. The addresses on the envelopes should exactly match the addresses on the address list. Watch out for silly typos … many times, I have been surprised to see that I switched around numbers or wrote a name incorrectly.
If you’re certain that the envelope addresses correspond with the address list, you’re finished with the job! I would communicate to the client at that point that you’ve triple-checked the addresses, but if a mistake has occurred, you are happy to re-do any mistake addresses immediately and for free. (On that note, make sure you keep a few of the extra envelopes; that way, you can create new envelopes at a moment’s notice.)
7. Send the Envelopes to the Client
Unless there’s a shortage of time, the client will likely want you to send the addressed envelopes straight to them. Then, the client will stuff the envelopes, add postage, and send the envelopes out themselves. (That said: you may have a different agreement; maybe it’s your responsibility to stuff and add postage, or maybe you send the envelopes to the wedding planner — every envelope job is different!)
One advantage of sending all of the envelopes to the client at once is they can admire your handiwork, which makes them feel good about their purchase. I think it also makes them more excited about their event, and helps them to visualize how special the envelope recipients will feel! Remember to package the envelopes carefully. If possible, put a piece of paper between each envelope to discourage ink from rubbing off onto neighboring envelopes. Wrap packs of envelopes in plastic to avoid moisture damage. Finally, make the package as gift-like as possible, with a thank you note and maybe another pleasant surprise (e.g. a tote bag with your logo on it). If the client isn’t local, send the package via a reliable carrier, and get insurance for the package! FYI: the client should pay for shipping.
8. Check In
Once you know that the client has received the envelopes, check in with them to make sure that everything looks good. Thank them again for working with you, and reiterate that you are available to calligraph mess-up (or last-minute guest) envelopes.
If the client has had a good experience working with you, the possibilities about what can happen are unlimited! Maybe they start recommending you to their friends, or maybe they continue an ongoing business relationship with you. Perhaps they write you a rave review that draws other clients. No matter what, good work and amazing customer service go a long way, and every order brings with it an opportunity to progress your skills and your business!
I hope that you enjoyed this post, and that it cleared up any questions you may have about how to address envelopes for clients. Before you go — one question I want to acknowledge is one that I receive all the time: “How do I know that I’m ready to sell my calligraphy?” There’s no right time or “Aha!” moment. I’m not sure that you’ll ever feel ready! Just jump in, post photos of your work online, and see what happens. If you have an interest in using your calligraphy skills for profit, rest assured that you can do it!
Have a great week, and we’ll reconvene on Friday, when I’ll release the TPK Virtual Calligraphy eCourse (read more about it in this blog post)! It’s been months in the making, and I’m excited and relieved to finally make it available. 🙂