If you’ve looked on Etsy for wedding invitations or any other kinds of stationery or announcements, I’m sure you’ve come upon an endless amount of printable and instant downloads, whether you are looking for them or not. Printable templates have basically taken over, but going this route definitely have its pros and cons. In the end, its going to come down to this… How much you know about printables and instant downloads?
I have personally struggled with the decision of whether I should sell printable or instant download templates after seeing more and more of those options in the shops of my competitors. It wasn’t until I started getting daily inquiries asking if my designs are available as printable files that I decided to give it a try.
I started out offering a small selection of my designs as printables. I still do the designing and customizing but instead of printing and mailing physical invitations with envelopes, I send just a printable jpg or pdf to the customer to have printed by themselves. These printable files are not editable by the customer, they simply receive the file to print.
This past fall, I took a step further with printable options when I launched my first ever line of instant downloads! These downloads are available in a range of products from save the dates, wedding invitation sets, signs and more. Unlike printables, these instant downloads are actual templates that are available for immediate download after the purchase is made. The customer can actually do the editing of all personal information on their own! From a business standpoint, this is a great way to create an outlet for passive income because once the templates are created, the design can be sold again and again with no additional work to do on my end.
With printables and instant downloads becoming top-sellers in the Etsy shop, I thought it might be helpful to weigh the pros and cons of going with one of these options versus fully printed and assembled invitations sent to your door. Whether it is for your wedding, baby shower, or any other special events.
Pros of Using Printables or Instant Downloads
Fast Turn-Around Time
The number one most common problem couples have with their wedding stationery is not knowing when they need to order, and then ultimately waiting too long. With most custom stationers, you will see on average a suggested order date of 4-6 months before the wedding. For parties and smaller events it will be 1-3 months depending on the complexity, quantity, and pieces required for the project. With printables and templates, you can have your edited file done and ready to print the same day or up to just a couple of days. Printing time will vary depending on whether a customer is using an online printer or a local copy shop or print shop. But in most instances, a couple could have their invitations designed, printed, and in their hands in a week or less.
Can Be a Huge Cost Savings
I believe most couples that choose printables or templates do it because they are looking to save money. While this option can be a great way to save money on your wedding or other event, it isn’t a guarantee. If you don’t do some planning and preparation up front mistakes can cost both a lot of time and a lot of money.
In the six months RC has been selling printable options, I’ve seen a couple common issues arise. The first is not knowing what is needed for printing before ordering, and the second is simply not knowing what to do with the printable after it’s purchased. Before you order your printables or templates, have an idea of how you plan to print your invitations or stationery. Also make sure you understand what kind of file your printer needs to print. Many online printers can accept a single jpg file in the finish size plus the bleed. If a 5 x 7 invitation is needed, the file size you would send the printer would be 5.25 x 7.25 which includes the 1/8″ bleed that goes the whole way around the invitation. Other printers like your local print shop, will likely prefer an invitation with cut lines that they can set up (usually an additional fee) or one already set up for letter size paper at least. If you plan to print at home, make sure you are aware of what paper sizes and paper weights your printer can handle printing on.
Finally, make sure you understand the cost of any additional add-ons or embellishments you plan to use. Buying pocket-folds at retail prices are most likely going to be more expensive per piece than if you would have ordered them as part of a package from a stationer. The key is… Always do your homework before making a decision!
Experiment with Materials
For creative couples on a budget, ordering a custom wedding invitation package from a professional stationer can be extremely expensive. Seriously, we are talking $25,000 and higher for a package from some high-end stationery companies. Here at Raspberry Creative, that’s not our target but custom projects can still be expensive, especially if a couple wants to really go outside the box, be unique, and use special materials or printing processes. Buying a well designed invitation and then dressing it up yourself may allow you to use those more non-traditional materials like feathers, velvet, acrylic, or wood without the custom cost, but you have to be willing to put in the time.
More Control over the Entire Process
From the timing and printing, to paper type and embellishing, ordering templates or printables to print yourself allows the customer to maintain control of the entire project. Customers are able to have a way more hands-on experience that they wouldn’t get if they ordered pre-printed and pre-assembled wedding invitations from a stationer.
Cons of Using Printables or Instant Downloads
Fewer Design Options
There are a lot of beautifully designed printables and instant downloads out there. I’m personally very proud of the designs we have launched in the past six months here at Raspberry Creative. I have even seen some shops selling templates editable in Word that in fully editable from the artwork to wording and beyond! The downside to this is that while there are many amazing designs out there, there are way fewer options for customizing the designs. Printables and templates come primarily the way they are shown with little ability to make major changes to them. That means if you can’t find just the right design, you may find that you have to settle for something that’s just OK.
Don’t Have Professional Guidance
Why do you go to a Salon to get your hair cut or highlighted? Why do you hire a contractor to renovate your kitchen? Because they are professionals in their field and know what they are doing! That’s the same exact reason why you’d hire an experienced stationer or designer to work with you on your wedding stationery. When buying templates or printables, you just don’t have that same type of guidance. Sure the internet if full of helpful information on wording and other invitation etiquette, but if you’ve spent any time researching, I’m sure you’ve realized that there is lots of contradicting information. How are you supposed to know what’s right? Professional stationers can help you with paper choices, envelopes, wording, quantities, and all the etiquette and information you could possibly need for your stationary. If you are using printables or templates, you may not know exactly the right way to handle something, which could cause confusion for your guests.
May Have Lower Quality
Okay, I’ll admit that I’m a total paper snob, but that’s because I love paper and it’s what I do! I can easily tell when I get a wedding invitation in the mail that was a template, printable, or bought online at a quick print site . Sure, there are great online printers like Vista Print and Zazzle that offer wedding invitation printing, but do you really want your wedding invitations printed on the same paper that the guy down the street has his business cards printed on? I understand that maybe the average person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a copy shop print and print from a quality stationery designer, but your wedding invitations are the one tangible item you’ll have long after your wedding is over. They should be treated as a treasured memory to represent your wedding day.
Can Add More Work & Stress Than You Need to Take On
This past week I was talking with a potential new client and she was looking at a very ornate wedding invitation that we recently added to the shop. When she recieved her quote, I think it was more than she was expecting to spend. She asked if I’d be willing to customize the package to just sell her all the pieces and she’d put everything together. I knew she really loved the design, so I worked out the labor costs and gave her a pretty significant discount along with detailed steps that would be involved in her doing the assembly. When it was all spelled out, she suddenly realized just how much work was involved and the original price I gave her seemed more than worth it. The same goes for printables and templates. Unless you are looking for something super simple with no embellishments, think long and hard about the work involved in adding bakers, pocket-folds, belly bands, envelope liners, and more. Then think about if it’s worth the time to do all those tedious tasks on your own.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting with a newly engaged couple that I know about wedding invitations. The bride interned for me for a couple summers while she was in college and her primary job while here was helping with production. Having done it for so long, she knew the work involved, and as a graphic designer herself, she knew she was more than capable of doing her own wedding stationery but felt she just didn’t need to pile extra work on herself with so many other things to do, along with working full time.
One of my personal pet peeves with customers buying my instant downloads is buying them without having any idea how to download a file from the internet, edit a pdf and then print on their printer. If you have banked on the fact that you’d be using a template and then find that your computer crashes, your printer died, or you lost the file… in many cases, you are out of luck. RC’s policy with printables and templates is they are non-refundable and we offer very limited support to help customers work out technical problems because there are so many printers on the market and it is impossible for us to have any idea how each and every one works. We’ve also have customers buy their printable without knowing what their printer of choice required and then couldn’t use the file they bought. Once you have your files, you often cannot get your money refunded due to the nature of digital products.
Access to Papers
Professional stationers aren’t buying the paper for their invitations and other products and Staples or Michael’s. Professional stationers have accounts with wholesale suppliers that carry huge varieties of papers and related products. Not only is buying paper from Michael’s or other retail stores much more expensive, but if you plan on printing your printables or templates at home, you will likely not be able to find many of the papers you see used on some of the beautiful invitations you find online. You’ll also find that not all papers can be printed on inkjet and/or laser. Specialty papers found at Michael’s may not be labeled to tell you how they can be printed if at all.
Whether you are convinced by the pros or scared away by the cons, there is definitely a place for printables and instant downloads. While I personally struggle with these options downplaying the importance and value of professional designed and produced stationery, I do understand that not everyone wants and needs the same things. My goal as a designer is to offer the best designs no matter what they end up being; printed or templates.