Creating Cat Christmas Cards: Selecting a Printing Service [Part 1]

 |  Nov 8th 2010  |   6 Contributions


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As Thanksgiving looms, thoughts turn to Christmas and Holiday cards, and for many of us that means taking the annual holiday photo of the cats and creating a card. Every year I send out a few hundred cards, and I usually have them printed through online vendors. I'm frequently asked where I get my cards printed, so this week I'll discuss several online resources you can use to create Hallmark-quality cards at reasonable prices.

It may seem a little early to be thinking about holiday cards, but some great bargains can be had on many of these sites for limited periods over the course of the Christmas season. If you plan ahead and keep your eyes peeled for special offers, you can get custom cards for less than you'd pay for impersonal boxed cards.

At the end of the week, I'll summarize the major players in a comparison table so you can see at a glance what the best choice for your individual needs is.

Shutterfly

Shutterfly was my first true love in the print-on-demand space. Its website is bright and cheery and it offers a broad array of printing options.

If you haven't been to Shutterfly for a while you'll find that in addition to new products (5"X7" story cards, 5"X7" and 5" X 5" flat stationery cards), there are upgrades to the old products, including being able to add photos inside greeting cards and full-bleed photos on calendars.

Shutterfly has also added card template designs by top designers so that you'll have nearly 200 holiday designs from which to choose. I was never that impressed with Shutterfly's in-house card designs, but the newer designs are appealing and if you don't find what you like, you can always design your own and print on a blank template.

The downside to the great new designs is that if you saved projects with old designs you liked, they are marked as discontinued and you'll have to start from scratch.

Quality
Shutterfly's quality is consistently first-rate. Photos and photo cards are printed on top-of-the-line Fuji Crystal Archive photo paper. Stationery cards are printed on 110-lb premium cardstock that's been "sustainably forested." 3" X 5" folded notecards are printed on 110lb uncoated cardstock made of 30% post-consumer waste.

Auto-Mailing
The most powerful tool in Shutterfly's arsenal is the address book. If, like me, you send out a lot of cards and wait until the last minute to do so, the address book can save the day. Shutterfly will address and mail your cards for you, giving you more time to hit the eggnog and fruitcake. This service costs only pennies more than the price of a first class stamp.

Pricing
Quantity discounts are available and they are always running special offers. It's worth your while to sign up for an account so that you can get a heads-up email on current discounts and freebies. For example, through 11/17 folded greeting cards are 20% off ($2.39 vs. $2.99 regular price for a single card). You can also get free shipping on orders over $30 with coupon code SHIP30.

Product Unit Price
QTY 1
Unit Price
QTY 10
Unit Price
QTY 50
Unit Price
QTY 100
5" X 7" folded greeting card $2.99 $2.39 $1.79 $1.59
5" X 7" flat stationery card $2.99 $2.39 $1.79 $1.59
5" X 5" flat stationery card $2.99 $2.39 $1.79 $1.59
4" X 8" glossy photo card sold in sets only set of 12: 69/card set of 50: 65/card set of 100: 44/card
5" X 7" photo card sold in sets only set of 12: 89/card set of 50: 79/card set of 100: 69/card
3" X 5" Notecards sold in sets only set of 12: $1.69/card set of 50: $1.39/card set of 100: $1.09/card

Choice of Finish?
Your finish options vary according to the specific product. Greeting cards and story cards are available in both matte and glossy finishes. Stationery cards offer a matte finish, and photo cards are glossy.

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Production & Delivery Speed
Very fast. A full array of shipping options is available, so if you're willing to pay a premium, you can have the cards on your doorstep the next day.

Other Products

Like its competitors, Shutterfly offers a wide selection of print-on-demand products. Two in particular stand out - calendars and memory books:

Calendars: If you want to create a calendar, Shutterfly offers the ability to start on any month, and they offer dozens of "themes" and background graphics. Calendars are fully customizable with birthdays, anniversaries and other special dates. You can choose from traditional 12-month wall calendars and desk calendars as well as poster-style calendars.

Memory Books: Their memory books are perfect for family holiday gifts or memorials to pets that have gone to The Bridge. Options include a high-end leather-bound book with premium paper that is nothing short of stunning.

User Experience
Just average. The interface is easier to use than it used to be, although there's still room for improvement. At times, responsiveness is painfully slow. The help system isn't very helpful. You need to engage the services of an agent in a chat session to get help. If you search for help on a topic (which, intuitively, is what most users would do) you get responses from fellow customers, not help center staff.

Overall
Shuterfly's products are great, if a little pricey. Watch for specials and you can order top-notch products at reasonable prices.

Try it for free!
For a limited time you can try a 5" X 7" greeting or stationery card for FREE. Enter code CARD4U at checkout.

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