View Full Version : About making and (hopefully) selling calendars

11-06-2004, 08:19 PM
I started this topic in todays's (11/6/04) Daily Wash, but thought it best to transfer it to a separate thread.

Here's what I wrote in 2 posts in the Wash:

Several friends have said I should sell calendars (but they're speaking as friends, not as business people). I was wondering if there's anyone out there actually making money creating and selling calendars? I searched the site and found some old threads discussing this, but not much current info.

I did a cost breakdown, and - assuming that I can find good paper that permits printing on both sides for $0.50 per sheet (the photo quality paper I'm using now is single-sided only and runs a minimum of $0.65 persheet) - my costs to make a calendar would be $7.50 to $8.00. But I'd add 10% to that figure (preliminary printing, etc). So cost is now almost $9.00 If I sold them on my website, there'd be shipping - say $3.00 to $4.00. Ignoring profit for a moment, this means people would be paying around $12.00. For less than that, they can get a professionally done calendar, with bigger pages and better prints at almost any bookstore. And a profit of a couple of $$ per calendar would be nice (my time is worth SOMETHING, after all), so the asking price goes up to $14.00 or $15.00.

Doesn't look practical to me.

Back to the drawing board...


Thanks for the thoughts regarding calendars.

Kim, the monthly calendar I made for my friend's daughter (and I'm doing similar versions of it as gifts for other friends & family) is titled Scenes from Huntington Beach and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. The approximately 20 photos in the pool from which I'll choose 12 for each calendar are all either sunrises & sunsets, clouds, flowers, waterfowl, beach, etc. scenes. So I guess it is clearly a regional kind of thing with the overall theme of nature/animal/outdoors subjects.

I'll try to locate some less costly paper today, then see what happens. I browsed Barnes & Noble's website this morning, and their monthly wall calendars are priced a little higher than I thought - from $12 to $17 if I remember correctly.

I went to a local independent paper company today and bought some of their photo paper. I wanted paper that allowed printing on both sides, but that wasn't available. Anyway, they had several types of photo paper. I prefer a more matte finish for a calendar (after all, people often write on calendars and a glossy finish makes that more difficult). They didn't have a true matte finish so I chose the least glossy.

The bottom line is that I got 250 sheets for just over $50.00 US. That's just over $0.20 per page, compared to $0.65 for the cheapest HP photo paper I had been using.

I did a test print of my calendar on this paper, and noticed that the quality of the prints was close to what I got with the HP paper. Some photos were better, most had a slight deterioration, but not too bad. I think the difference has more to do with my printer than with the paper - a better printer would obviously produce better results. Overall, the quality was acceptable, and certainly cost-effective. With the HP paper, my cost per calendar (assuming 14 prints - 12 months plus a front and back cover) was around $13.50 (not including shipping, which I'm estimating at $3.00 to $4.00) per calendar. With this other paper, it's down to just over $8.00.

Since local bookstores sell monthly wall calendars for between $12 and $17, I think I can offer them at somewhere around $12.00 plus shipping, make a small profit, and still be competitive.

Anyone who's considering doing something similar and wants more details - or who has experiences of his/her own to share - is welcome to PM me.

11-06-2004, 09:10 PM
Dave... I made 35 calendars last year as my Christmas Dinner favours... They were especially well received... I made certain that I had everyone's Birthday's marked on them, for one thing... :D

I use HP Bright White Everyday Photo Paper... which, I think is cheaper still than what you're using. It's a very nice weight and prints up beautifully, both sides. I paid $9 Canadian for 100 sheets...

How do you bind your calendars?

I have a binding machine (I made Cookbooks one year, too...) that punches the holes and inserts a plastic binder... really looks nicely finished...

With my cost of ink, the plastic binders and the paper, I calculated my cost out around $10 Canadian per Calendar... oh... I used cardstock for the covers, too...

11-06-2004, 09:19 PM
Thanks for the response Char. I'll look into the HP paper you mentioned.

I've been taking my calendars to the local Office Depot to have them bound. They punch the holes and use a plastic spiral binding, plus a clear front & back cover. A few days ago I had them do 2 calendars like this, and the total charge was $3.96 US. Reasonable, I think.

Like you, I add birthdays, anniversaries, etc. specific to the recipient if I know those dates.

For the calendar I gave JJ when she was at LAX last week, I remembered to have Calendar Creator insert Australian holidays.

What kind of printer do you use? I'm limping along with a cheap HP DeskJet 722C, and I'd like to get a better one.

11-06-2004, 10:15 PM
Dave, I have an HP Photo Smart P1000... it's 3 years old... HP is still making Photo Smart printers, but they've come way down in price and REALLY produce beautifuly quality prints...

The ink is expensive, though... I pay $74 for a 38 ml colour cartridge and the smaller black cartridge runs about $25...

However, I can get a lot of photos from those cartridges, but I've never actually calculated cost per print because I print so many different sizes.

I've been saving my pennies (figuratively) ever since I visited Lauren in Michigan last spring... She had just purchased an Epson 4000 which prints with archival ink on a wide bed. It uses 8 separate ink pots...

It's really a pricey printer, but the quality is professional. My BIL is an Epson Dealer and is able to order a printer for me at wholesale... I finally had enough money to place my order just a couple of weeks ago... The printers are in such high demand that Epson cannot keep up production and they are 3-4 months backordered...

11-07-2004, 05:49 PM
Guess what ???

I sold 5 calendars today! I took a sample to daughter's soccer game, showed a couple of the other loyal Intensity fans. I didn't push them at all, but one fellow (the father of a player) asked if he could buy 5 of them. I'll print them today, have them bound tomorrow, and deliver them to him at next week's game. Having found cheaper paper, I settled on a price - $15.00. (Maybe a tad high, but he said he'd buy them without even asking the price.)

BTW Char, I picked up some of the paper you recommended. Haven't had a chance to try it yet, but will later this afternoon. It's a little lighter weight than what I've been using, but seems to be heavy enough. And being double-sided really helps control the costs. I also got a small pack of Staples house brand of double-sided matte finish paper, so will try that too.

Then on my way home, I stopped at my local liquor store to pick up my daily 2 beers, bought a scratcher and won a little cash. Also learned that the owners of the store are selling the business and offering "going-out-of-business" discounted prices, so I ended up buying 6, but for less than 2 usually cost. Still have some left, so come on over while they're cold.

11-14-2004, 10:07 PM
I've never posted here before... I hope I'm doing this right.

The calander is a VERY good idea. I'd like to market my paintings in the form of prints. I have the market, just not the know-how. Could anyone offer me information on going about getting them made? I'm interested in prints made on garden flags first of all. Also greeting cards and calendars. I'm very new to the world of selling my art and I sell a lot of original paintings without ever having a print made (is that a bad thing?). What is the most cost effective and quality way to go about the greeting card thing? Does anyone know anything about having prints done on garden flags? What is the best scanner for doing this myself?

My name is Brooke. Forgive me for my lack of expertise. I'd very much appreciate any tips that you are willing to give me about anything mentioned above and anything I might be overlooking. :confused:

Thank you in advance.


11-15-2004, 06:28 AM
Hi Brooke, and Welcome to WetCanvas!

There are probably a better places for you to pose your questions. Maybe the Art Business Forum and the Computers/Technology Forum.

Scanners - if you need to scan something that's larger than letter size, it'll be a rather expensive scanner. An alternative method that some may use is a good digital camera (and strong photography ability).

Sorry, I have no first-hand experience to offer about getting high quality prints made. But I do know that there have been many threads about this elsewhere on the site. Here are links to a few of those threads:

Inkjet v. giclee (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=213059&highlight=inkjet+printers)

Making Prints from Paintings (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=210465&highlight=inkjet+printers)

New Inkjet Reproductions Thread 12/15/02 (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=118974&highlight=inkjet+printers)

The jury is still out on whether making & selling calendars is a good idea. Here are my thoughts right now...

On the positive side:

1) there are many programs that help you create very good looking calendars.
2) I find the process fun
3) it's kind of a rush to see your work somewhat professionally presented
4) even if you don't sell calendars, they make inexpensive and usually appreciated gifts

On the negative side:

1) Given that mass-produced and probably more professional looking calendars sell (at least in my area) for between $10 and $18, it's not easy to make and print them yourself, price them low enough to sell, and still turn a profit. My costs include ink (this is hard to estimate, but it's clearly my highest cost), binding (you can have them bound by most print shops, Kinko's, Staples, etc, or you can spend the big bucks and buy the binding machine & supplies yourself), paper (can be very costly, but I've found good alternatives to the expensive name-brand papers), clear covers (when the folks who bind my calendars provide these covers, they charge me $0.75 each. I bought 100 sheets myself at a local paper company, and my per sheet cost is $0.13). One way to cut per calendar costs would be to produce them in volume (price break on binding large orders and other economies of scale), but I'd have to have a run of at 100s or 1000s, and I don't think I'll sell that many.

2) If you try to have local merchants (since the theme of my first calendar is "Scenes from Huntington Beach", and since HB gets a lot of tourists, I've approached businesses likely to attract tourists - gift shops, surf shops, etc) sell your calendars, they'll want both a large share of the income and a low selling price. With the problem of controlling costs above, I think it unlikely that I'll sell many through other businesses. Which means I need to sell more through my website. That means that I need to create the text and graphics pushing my calendars (which I just finished doing - at least the initial version) and generate a lot more visitors than I'm currently getting.

Other possibilities I'm looking into are realtors, insurance agents, accountants - anyone who habitually gives calendars to their local clients.

3) I think the season for selling calendars is very short - probably only from November to January.

4) Although you can get good results printing calendars at home, I want to upgrade from my older inkjet to a newer and better one (not just for the calendars, I'd like to sell greeting cards and prints of my photos).

11-15-2004, 08:59 AM
Hi Dave!
Are you making a calender from photographs, or with prints of your paintings?
Could you show us one? If you've already done this, could you please direct me to the link?

11-15-2004, 10:28 AM
Hi Dave!
Are you making a calender from photographs, or with prints of your paintings?
Could you show us one? If you've already done this, could you please direct me to the link?
My current calendar is from photos I've taken in Huntington Beach CA, where I live. (Last year's featured some of my watercolors.)

I did post some preliminary photos in the Daily Wash several days ago, but here are some newer ones.

I've decided on 2 different versions. The BASIC version is portrait orientation, with the photo and the monthly calendar on the same 8.5" x 11" page. The DELUXE version is landscape orientation with the photo and the monthly calendar on separate 8.5" x 11" pages. Both versions have a front cover showing smaller photos and which month they accompany; also a back cover with text about other calendar options, my website URL, and my email address. I won't include pics of the back cover here.

BASIC calendar cover

BASIC calendar monthly example

DELUXE calendar cover

DELUXE calendar monthly example

You can also see my website (RollinsArt (http://mysite.verizon.net/droll13/)) for these pics of my calendar and other info. For example, on my website, I offer a couple of customization options for interested buyers.

11-16-2004, 01:54 AM
Thanks Dave!

I appreciate you taking the time to clue me in.

I bought some photo paper that's printable on both sides inexpensively at Wal mart. I have a print shop program to help me along on setting up the calender, but this deskjet printer does no justice for the paintings! LOL I knew it wouldn't. The pics I have stored on here of my paintings were taken with a nice digital and really the pics are good, for me anyway, I'm no photographer... But if I take about 30 pics, I can usually get a good one.

Since I've already bought the stuff, I'll go ahead and finish it, but it will definitely be cheesy. I think I would have been better off with a more matte finish paper. You're right! They will make nice Christmas gifts if nothing else. Maybe I can even save the pics to a disk and take them in to get a nice calendar made at Staples... I'll see what they say when I take this one in to be bound.

Your calendar is BEAUTIFUL by the way. It looks very professional. I can't remember now if you said how you had yours printed... I'll have to look. Great job anyway!

I do think that Garden flags would sell as well. Yard flags and porch flags, etc.... I've searched the net on them... No luck on how to have them made...

I was also thinking of buying canvas paper and printing out stuff right here at home on that.... then retouching them with paint here and there... might be more cost effective than paying for giclees (sp?).. most definitely not as good, but it will be fun to try anyway.

It was incredibly nice of you to offer me your time and knowledge and I really do appreciate it very much. Even if my career in art never goes anywhere, I'm having a lot of fun. Happy Painting!

My Best Regards,

Brooke :)

11-16-2004, 07:12 AM
Thanks Dave!

I appreciate you taking the time to clue me in.


Brooke :)
You're certainly welcome, Brooke.

One good photo out of 30 sounds like a very good ratio. I know that's much better than I do.

I'm printing my calendars at home. The first bunch were printed on an old HP DeskJet 722C. I used an off brand of single sided glossy photo paper (KromeKote Glossy Inkjet paper by Smart papers LTD) for the front & back covers. For the inside pages (photo & monthly grid) glossy photo paper didn't deliver good images, and being single-sided, it was cost-prohibitive. One of the other WetCanvas members (CharM - a very nice lady) suggested trying HP Everyday matte photo paper (this is quite lightweight - just 36 lb, and I didn't think it would work). But the results were very good in the BASIC version of my calendar where the photos are smaller. With the larger photos in the DELUXE version, the photos weren't nearly as sharp - but satisfactory in my opinion. Overall these two papers gave the best compromise between quality output and affordable costs.

Last night I got a new printer, an Epson Stylus Photo R320. I'd call it a mid-range printer, not at all top-of-the-line. But it can produce great looking prints on the HP premium quality glossy photo paper. I need to try that with Epson's paper. Unfortunately, my initial calendar prints with the Epson aren't as good as those with my old DeskJet. Some of the photos printed fine, but others had obvious vertical banding. I suspect it's not the fault of the HP Everyday paper I'm using, nor that of the printer. I probably haven't hit on the right combination of Quality Options and Paper Options from the Print dialogue box.

I didn't print last year's calendar (of watercolor paintings) myself. Instead I converted the Calendar Creator file to a PDF and had Kinkos print and bind them. Too expensive (around $17 each) to sell, but OK as gifts. My local Staples does the same thing, so I'm sure you can take your files to them and have them print & bind calendars for you. Just make sure to ask what file types they can accomodate.

What are garden flags?

I haven't tried any of the specialty papers that simulate canvas, silk, velour, etc. I have a small sample pack and will have to experiment.

11-16-2004, 11:02 AM
Hi Dave, I thought I would put my 2 cents in this morning. You had mentioned earlier about contacting realtors, etc. Another good place I think would be privately owned bookstores around your area (or maybe coffee shops). Your right about the biggest selling months being at the later part of the year. People buy books/calendars for Christmas presents. Anyway I do. I like to buy special calendars such as what yours looks like. I find them at bookstores or specialty shops and expect to pay more than the prices at Wally World. Good luck with your venture. Who knows shoot big, go for Barnes and Noble!

Oh, and your calendar looks very nice.

11-16-2004, 12:07 PM
Hi Gretchen,

Thanks for the suggestions. I neglected to mention coffee & donut shops, but had already thought about them. The daughter of the owner of my neighborhood donut shop is an art student, and the owner and I talk often. Her shop is right across the street from the park where I take many photos. Last week I showed her one version of my calendar, and she seemed to like it so I gave it to her. She isn't planning on selling them for me, but she'll talk it up with her customers.

Good idea about independent bookstores. Unfortunately that's a dying breed around here. I'm not sure I can compete with the prices at Barnes & Noble, but it's probably with a try

One liquor store owner who claimed to get lots of tourist traffic was interested, but the math just didn't work out. First he said it would have to be on consignment (which I'd do if the other terms were favorable), then he insisted on keeping $5.00 profit from each calendar, finally he wants to sell them for $8.00. Since my absolute lowest per calendar cost for the BASIC version is between $7.00 and $8.00 (depends on how many sets I can print before I have to replace ink cartridges), I'd end up losing $4.00 to $5.00 per calendar after he took $5.00 each.