Over the past several months, I’ve had many conversations with soul-inspired business owners who wanted my support to create and publish their own oracle card deck.
One question I’ve received often is this:
“What’s the best way for me to get my card deck printed once it’s ready?”
So today, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite tips based on my personal experience as well as the recent work I’ve done for my clients.
Basically, there are 3 different ways you can get your oracle cards printed:
3 Best Printing Solutions for Tarot + Oracle Card Decks
1. Print-on-Demand Options
First of all, there are quite a few companies that specialize in printing playing cards and oracle card decks on demand.
This can be a great solution if you’re just getting started and don’t want to invest thousands in printing a large number of decks right away. It’s also an awesome way to save time if you’re a busy bee and prefer not to do any of the shipping yourself.
For example, with printing companies such as MPC or The Game Crafter, you can have your customers order their cards directly from their website. Once an order has been placed, your deck is printed on demand and shipped directly to your customers.
You don’t have to do any of the work yourself (except for promoting your deck, of course) and your profits are automatically transferred to your PayPal or bank account once you’ve reached the minimum payout limit.
Print-on-demand solutions also come in handy if you’d like to test your deck before you start sharing it with your audience. Whenever I create a new deck for myself or a client, I typically get a prototype printed first, then do any necessary edits, and only once I’m 100% content with the physical end result of what I’ve created, I go ahead and invest in a larger number of decks.
2. Digital Printing Solutions for Small Print Runs
Most print-on-demand companies allow orders starting at just one deck. This is perfect for testing purposes or if you don’t have a huge printing budget to start with.
On the downside, production costs are relatively high with this method of printing, which means your profit per sale will be relatively low. Also, you won’t have a lot of flexibility in terms of designing your shop platform, so in the long run, it definitely makes sense to consider some other options.
The good news is that pretty much all of the print-on-demand playing card manufacturers do offer bulk pricing on larger orders, too.
For example, if you’re thinking about getting a standard size oracle card deck printed by MPC, your production cost will be approximately $30.10 USD per deck for 42 cards + packaging. If you can order 100 decks at a time, the printing cost goes down to $13.70 per deck. For 1000 decks, it’s $7.36 each, and so on.
Let’s say you’re planning on selling your deck for $35 each: If you’re printing your cards on demand, your profit per deck will only be about $5. With a bulk order of 100 decks, your profit per deck goes up to $21.30 minus shipping and other expenses. At 1000 decks, you can make $27.64 per deck minus expenses. And so on.
This option works best if you know you’re going to receive orders regularly and if you’re comfortable shipping the cards yourself, or if you want to sell them locally, but prefer to print them in smaller batches for the time being.
3. Offset Printing (for Large Print Runs)
Even though print-on-demand companies like MPC do offer some pretty good bulk discounts on large orders, I don’t typically recommend them for print runs of 500 decks or more.
There are two main reasons for this:
First of all, print-on-demand companies use a printing method called digital printing. Which isn’t terrible at all—in fact, most of the companies I’ve worked with have improved their printing quality greatly since I created my first deck in 2013. However, offset printing still is the way to go for top quality.
Also, even though offset printing can be expensive for small print runs, it tends to be the more affordable option for larger print runs starting at about 500 decks.
Depending on the printing company you choose, you’ll also have more options if you’d like to include a booklet with your deck (with print-on-demand companies there’s usually a limit of 8–20 pages), adorn your cards with gilded edges, or be extra creative with your packaging.
To Sum Things Up …
Here’s the process I recommend:
Start by designing a prototype of your deck, print just one or two decks for a start, and make any necessary edits.
Once you’re 100% happy with what you’ve created, start sharing your deck with your audience. You may want to run a Kickstarter campaign to fund your first larger print run, get your cards printed on demand for a start, or begin with a small print run of around 50–200 decks if you prefer to do your own shipping.
Once you’re ready to expand (or if you have a budget for a larger initial print run), switch to a company that specializes in offset printing. At this point, you may also want to consider looking into advanced storage and distribution options for your product. Amazon FBA is a popular solution for this—and there are some printing companies that offer warehousing and order fulfillment as an add-on service, too.
The Game Crafter (print playing + oracle cards on demand)
Make Playing Cards (print playing + oracle cards on demand)
Create Your Own Oracle Deck in Photoshop (DIY course)