New Online Opportunity for Greeting Card Designers

by Carolyn Edlund

Are you a greeting card designer? Blow Birthday Cards is seeking artists who want to sell their work.


Blow Birthday Cards. They offer an interesting e-commerce model for artists to sell their designs.


I recently interviewed Jerry McLaughlin of Blow Birthday Cards about their new e-commerce greeting card website, and how interested artists can gain exposure and create income. Their business model puts a different twist on selling cards, and encourages artists to submit their work.

AS:  What is the concept behind Blow Birthday Cards?

JM:  Blow is designed to shift birthday card purchasing from retail to the internet. This shift allows independent birthday card designers to begin to capture their fair share of the billions spent each year in the US on birthday cards.

By using technology that we developed in Silicon Valley, Blow allows shoppers to write any message inside the birthday card in their own handwriting and then have us drop that real, signed card into the US Mail a few minutes later. A tech reporter who saw an early version called it “magic”.

This approach makes online birthday card buying an exciting alternative to the drive-park-shop-drive-sign-find stamp-mail routine for those tens of millions of customers that are already buying everything they can online.


Side by side reproduction of a signature on a Blow Birthday Card.

Side by side reproduction of a signature on a Blow birthday card.


AS:  How did you identify this niche in the marketplace, and how did your business evolve to fill it?

JM:  I sold the last company I co-founded around the same time that I turned 50. That sale left me with some time to reflect on my life. One of the things I realized was that in my drive to build a large e-commerce company, I had become bad about keeping up with many of my good friends regularly – I didn’t even send real birthday cards once a year. I decided to change that.

I devised a system to help me keep on top of those birth dates and addresses, and I then I found myself wanting to send better cards. I didn’t find them in stores, but I did find them online from independent card designers. I haven’t been to a card store since. After I sent out a bunch, my friends started looking forward not only to a card from me, but to the cards I would send.

Some friends asked me where I got his or her card and I told them. But most were then disappointed to learn that getting these cards mailed to them in time for the birthday required more planning ahead than they were used to. Like 90% of all birthday card buyers, these friends buy their cards so close to day they either have to give the card or mail it, that they have no alternative but to keep going back to the supermarket selection.


Blow Birthday Card title


AS:  What opportunities does this present for artists? How do you work with them?

JM:  This presents birthday card designers with two big opportunities. The first is to get their names and affordable examples of their art in front of many more people than will visit even the busiest gallery on a typical day. Thousands of customers are searching birthday card related terms each day. The second opportunity is to earn licensing fees on every sale of their card designs.

When we find a birthday card designer who shares our passion for specialized cards, we invite that designer to list her birthday cards with us on a non-exclusive basis. Designers can share samples of their birthday cards designs with us through this link.

We don’t select cards. We select a birthday card designer and then allow her to add to, subtract from and otherwise change her offering on the Blow Birthday Card website. We never charge the designer for listing or for anything else. Money flows only one way – from us to the designer. We pay the designer ten percent (10%) of the price paid for every card we sell. Today we sell all cards for $4.95, so the typical fee paid to the designer is $0.50 on every card sold. We handle 100% of the production, fulfillment, customer billing, and customer service. We shoulder 100% of the marketing expenses incurred to promote their work on the Blow website.


Blow Birthday Card with Shoe Design


AS:  What are your plans as you move forward with your greeting card business?

JM:  We will continue to open the mainstream birthday card market to the independent designers who create the incredibly funny, sentimental, spiritual, nerdy, quirky, punny, sexy birthday card designs that customers crave. Every day, we get out of bed determined to tilt the odds of the next birthday card sale in America in favor of the indie designer. The big card companies have had it all to themselves long enough. When customers see what is really available to them, and when they see that they can get those designs mailed in minutes, they favor the indie designs a lot.




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  1. “…her birthday cards”? You only hire female designers?

    • Hi James. Jerry here from Blow Birthday Cards.

      Thanks for your question.

      The card designs on Blow today are all from independent card designers and artists. Each designer is invited to join Blow if, after we get to see his or her work and talk by phone, both we and the designer feel there is a good fit between the designer’s artist vision and our commercial vision. Today our designers are both men and women.

      We love promoting the designs of talented men and women equally. But to date about 90% of the designers that have shared samples of their work with us are female. As a consequence of that self-selection by designers about 90% of the designers represented on Blow are female. That is why, when we refer to one of our designers in a general way, we are more likely to refer to that designer as “she” rather than “he.” (Forgive an old English major, I haven’t been able to bring myself to refer to the third person singular using the gender-neutral but grammatically incorrect “they”).

      When we created our New Designers page on our website ( we noted that we believe there is an opportunity to design more birthday cards for men and suggested that that market gap might also represent a corresponding opportunity for men designers. (On that New Designer page we have written “By the way, there are far more cards designed by women than men and far more cards designed for women than for men. Coincidence? Maybe. Opportunity? Definitely”.)

      If you have any designs that you’d like to share with us, or know of any designers that might, we’d love to see them. We are honored to receive cool design submission through our website, email, snail mail, or in-person over a coffee. The New Designer page ( includes a submission tool at the bottom of the page).

      Thanks again for posting your question and for reading Artsy Shark! If you have any other questions please let me know. You can reach me directly through email at [email protected].

      All the best,


  2. What are the terms of the relationship between artist and “Signed”? I wasn’t able to find any, which makes me skeptical about uploading my work as requested for joining as an artist. How do you handle an artist leaving the site…do you continue to sell what’s already on the site or do you remove everything? What is the licensing agreement..the use of the image is greeting card only? Can the artist get a sample of their own card to make sure the quality is maintained? How do artists know we’re getting paid for all sold cards…are there auditing rights? How does “Signed” handle copyright infringement when someone takes an image off the site? Is there any way of knowing what cards are selling best? Thanks and I look forward to your response.

  3. Thanks for posting this… I’m heading over now to send in our greeting card designs.

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