What is Thortful?
I was approached through my Etsy shop by a company called Thortful. They specialise in printing and sending cards designed by artists, illustrators, cartoonists etc… from across the globe. As a customer, the premise is that you choose a design, and they print and send it either to you, or directly to your chosen recipient. You can choose to have the inside blank, or personalised with your own message, or even with your own handwriting (using their Apple or Android apps). For the most part it’s like a cross between Funky Pigeon/Moonpig and the likes of Redbubble/Zazzle.
What are the cards like?
The cards are A5 in size, printed on ultra smooth 350gsm card. They feel really nice and the print quality is pretty decent. On the back, there is a considerable amount of Thortful branding, although they do also credit the designer with the name of their company and a short bio. Each card costs £2.99 + postage of 64p (a first class stamp, very reasonable). The cards are delivered in a brown envelope. It is not hard-backed, and I have read a review from someone claiming that their card arrived bent. This appears to be an isolated review, however, and I’m not sure that the absence of a hard-backed envelope is a deal-breaker.
What’s in it for me?
As a designer, I am able to upload up to 20 of my designs, for free and without exclusivity. I retain all rights to the images. I can retire any or all of my designs at any stage. There is no contract. When you have more than 10 designs, you are eligible to be featured on the Thortful homepage, and across their social media platforms. I currently have 12 designs uploaded, but have yet to be featured (although I am still very new, so I will need to give this some time).
When someone buys a card, Thortful take care of the order from start to finish (printing and posting). I do nothing. And I earn 50p from every sale. Designers are paid monthly, through Paypal once sales have reached at least 10. It remains to be seen how popular my card will be, and Thortful appears to be a business near the beginnings of its growth, so I doubt this will be a money-spinner. Still, an extra trickle income would be nice.
I have attempted to ‘steal’ my own designs from their website (using the right click button) to check if my work is vulnerable on Thortful, but it seems to be fairly secure. I’m sure anyone bloody-minded enough could find other methods (screenshots, etc…) but I doubt they would, and even if they did, I’m pretty sure the resultant image wouldn’t be of a good enough quality to do anything untoward with it.
You get a profile on their website, but you can’t add much to it. It would be nice, if nothing else, to be able to add social media links – perhaps this feature will be added later? Essentially, if you want to use this as another way to promote your existing business, you really can’t, as it is very insular and limited in that respect. Having said that, if you treat your Thortful profile as a separate entity to the main bulk of your online business, then it’s fine. I have used the CushoPeas branding, rather than the Cushobi branding for that very reason. It feels like a separate branch of what I do, so I have made that distinction clear on Thortful.
I want to stress the point that, before I joined, I had a few email conversations with a member of the Thortful team and they seemed genuinely nice. How refreshing! They also made the process easy and pleasant – and that counts for a lot in my book.
What is Thortful’s web presence like?
As it stands, Thortful have 96 Trustpilot reviews with an average rating of 9.6 out of 10. I checked out the two negative reviews (as I always do!) and one referenced heavy Thortful branding on the back of their cards, while the other referenced a bent card. Both of which I mentioned earlier, neither of which are deal-breakers. And both times Thortful responded in a positive, helpful way to the complainants. I was also pleased to read that they’ve taken on board the comment about excessive branding and have promised to address the issue in due course.
Socially, Thortful have 2,180 Facebook followers, 3,176 Twitter followers, 488 Instagram followers and 79 Pinterest followers. Those stats could use some work, but like I said, they seem to be a growing business and I think that they’re full of potential, and numbers could – and likely will – soar over time.
What’s the app like?
I can only speak for the Android app here but with 5,000 downloads and a 4.7 out of 5 rating, it seems to be doing fairly well. It’s got a nice clean design, it’s laid out for ease of use, and it’s fit for purpose. I like the idea of being able to incorporate your own handwriting inside your card, but am yet to try out this feature and therefore cannot attest to how well it prints.
What’s the verdict?
All in all I think Thortful is full of potential and I’m excited to watch them flourish. For designers it’s a fabulous idea, but I can’t imagine it will bring in huge numbers of sales until more awareness is raised. Still, there is *seemingly* no harm in trying it out and seeing how things develop. If nothing else, it’s another weapon in the online crafter’s arsenal.
Why not check it out and let me know your thorts (see what I did there??)
Materials + Labour + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail
The above seller’s formula is what most craft business owners are told to use when working out how to price their items. It’s what is fair. I mean, let’s face it, as much as we crafters, artists and other creatives do what we do because we love it, if we’ve taken the leap into selling our makes, it’s because we want to see a return for the time, money and passion we’ve invested.
And rightly so.
But, see, there is a fundamental flaw in using the above formula that most, if not all, crafters also have to take into consideration; what consumers will actually pay. Most of the time the two figures don’t even come close to each other.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a popular item and work it through: The featured image on this post (see above) is a bespoke card I made for a customer whose friend’s last name is Fox. She saw and fell in love with my button fox wall art (see below) and asked if it could be turned into a card. My answer was, and is always, “of course.” Because I love a challenge and I am a people-pleaser to the core.
My framed button fox took me about an hour to make. Let’s say I pay myself the current UK national minimum wage – because this is work – that would be £7.20 for the labour. The materials cost around £5.00, expenses would be around £2.00 and I always try and give myself a profit of around £5.00 on each piece of wall art. That gives me a total wholsesale price of £19.20 and a retail price of £38.40. Would people pay that? I’m still undecided – and at wholesale price, Finn the Fox is still unsold!** – but for a piece of wall art, it’s a possibility.
Now, let’s take the formula apply it to my fox card. As a reference point, the fox is the exact same size in the wall art as it is on the card.
So, again, it took about an hour, perhaps a shade under this time, so I’ll set it as £6.30. Materials varied slightly (no frame, different paper) so they came in at £2.20, expenses stayed at £2.00 and it’s a card, so I usually allow a profit of just £0.50. That gives me a total of £11.00 wholesale and £22.00 retail.
Take a second to digest that.
£22.00 for a greeting card.
OK, so clearly that’s never. going. to. happen. So here’s what I did: I took away my labour costs and sold the card at wholesale price, which brought it down to a much more respectable £4.70.
Can I just say here that this handmade hustle is HARD. Because I can guarantee you that there are hundreds of card makers (and other crafters) out there completely and consistently underselling their work. The main bulk of my business is cards, but there really is no profit in them. When I make and sell a card, I do so purely for the enjoyment, and I’m OK with that. I’ve made peace with that.
What I really want you to take away from this though, whether you’re a creative or not, is that the next time you see something that’s handmade and think HOW MUCH?!?!?! please first consider this formula, consider the maker and consider the time and care they’ve put into creating it. But most importantly consider this:
They are probably STILL selling themselves massively short.
** Somebody very lovely has since bought Finn. I hope he’s enjoying his new home – I certainly miss him!