Top Three Questions I Get Asked the Most by New Stationery Designers

allison barnhill designs three questions i'm asked


1.  How much should I charge per invitation?

So, the answer to this question isn’t simple and definitely requires a little bit of research on your part.  Yes, you’ll want to ensure you cover your supplies and printing costs.  But, you need to take into account the amount of time you spend on your client’s order, as a whole.  Calculate the number of hours you spend meeting, answering emails, designing the invitation, revisions, printing (if you do that in house), assembly, delivery, etc.  and, then, multiply those hours by your hourly rate.

Then, add that amount to your supply cost and any printing costs.  Some stationery designers get their supplies at cost and do mark them up on their end too.  Just make sure you capture ALL of your costs (including shipping to you), so you aren’t losing money.

Finally, add up all of the “costs” above and divide it by the quantity of invitations.  Over time, this process will become easier and some stationery designers have determined algorithms to make pricing easier.  When you are starting out though, it’s best to do your research and ensure that you understand your pricing, so you can education yourself and your clients in the future.

2.  Where do you order your supplies?

I order from SO many different places and for different reasons — and they have changed over time.  The bottom line here is that there are many different suppliers out there.  You will choose your own suppliers for your reasons.  When you start out, you may want a supplier that does in house printing and has everything you need in a one stop shop.  But, as your clients increase and their unique requests evolve, you may need to research new suppliers.  A lot of help can be found on social media in stationery groups on Facebook. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Most stationery designers are happy to help — or should!  We are all in this together!

 3. Do you advertise?

Yes and no.  Yes, for years, I advertised on The Knot, Wedding Wire, in print publications and did every bridal show in my area.  At one point, I realized I had spent over $13,000 in advertising in one year?!?! What?  That’s just plain crazy.  I’ve been in business for 14 years, so that $13K year happened to be during a year that I was cranking out paper for 350 weddings, but it is still TOO MUCH!  So, I took a step back and started to reduce my advertising to those those items that attracted my perfect client.  I didn’t just throw my advertising budget out to any client.  I picked the bridal shows with the budgets and venues that meshed well with my designs.  Over time, I admit, I have stopped advertising completely (hence the “no” part of the answer).  Now, I work with many referrals from previous clients and word of mouth.  I love that the clients that come to me know exactly what I do, what to expect and only want me to design their stationery.

Are you a (new) stationery designer and have a question?  I’d be happy to answer it…just leave a comment below.


6 thoughts on “Top Three Questions I Get Asked the Most by New Stationery Designers

  1. Veronica – Thanks so much for your comment! Honestly, over the years, my target number of weddings/orders has changed based on my business circumstances. When I was in a large studio with employees, I was doing 350 weddings a year. But, when I scaled back to just me, I found a good sweet spot in 8 orders a month (2 a week). It really depends on your income needs from the business and how much you make per order. Hope that helps! Best of luck with your business and let me know if you have any other questions! ~Allison

  2. Hi Allison!

    I loved this post! I am currently doing a side-hustle for my invitation business. My question is, is there a number of weddings you have a goal to hit each year? Or more like it, how many you’ve felt most comfortable with (when it’s only been you.)

    I have been setting goals and I have a goal income in mind and I’m trying to cast what a realistic goal would be based on my average wedding client. :)

    Thank you so much!!

  3. Hi Shaunice! My very first customer was a friend. When she got engaged she asked me to design a variety of items for her wedding. From that first client, I did get a lot of work via word of mouth – from other friends, family members, etc. Working with a friend first gave me the confidence to develop my design process without judgement.

  4. Hey Lea! Thanks for reading. Yes, I do send out samples of my invitations to potential clients. I always make a few extra invitations with each order, so I have a variety of samples of my work on hand. I do not charge for these samples, but keep in mind, they are also not customized for the client. They are just samples of my past work so that potential clients can see the quality of the printing, design and assembly. I also provide actual swatches of cardstock, ribbon, etc. But, I ONLY provide electronic designs via .pdf files to my clients for their actual design. Hope that helps!

  5. Thanks for writing this blog post!! I was curious if you send out samples of your invitations to potential clients and if so, how do you charge for those samples.

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