You’ve seen them in your neighbor’s yards: the bright, colorful and beautiful displays celebrating birthdays or new babies. Those are yard cards and they are a booming business in the 2020 gig worker economy. How do you start a yard card business? Here are the ABCs of Yard Card 101 that you need to know! Affiliate links are included in this post.
How To Start A Yard Card Business
If March of 2020 found your income incredibly impacted (hello, I’m a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations over here!) you might be looking for a new way to bring money into your home.
Or you might think it’s time to pivot for other reasons and bringing joy to others sounds right up your alley.
Yard Cards became that source of joy and income for me and I know when I started I had #allthequestions.
Luckily for me, I also had a good resource for those answers: my sister has been in the yard card business for 4 years now and she guided me through all those questions.
Like you, I needed to know answers to yard card questions like:
- Do I need a website?
- How do I start a business?
- Should I join a franchise?
- How much and what kinds of inventory do I need?
Welcome to this Yard Card 101 or as I call it, the ABCs of Yard Carding (get it?).
ABCs of Yard Carding | A 101 To Starting a Yard Card Business
1. How To Start Your Yard Card Business
Before you get in too deep, you need to decide if this is going to be a business or a hobby and make your choices on how to proceed based on that factor.
I’m going to assume you are in this as a business and therefore you may need guidance on what to do next.
While I cannot give business creation advice for YOUR personal situation (locations and circumstances vary widely), I would advise you to seek out a small business council in your area.
It may be called a Small Business Development Center or something along those lines.
These organizations are experts in the matter of creating a small business and can help you decide if you should be a sole proprietor or an LLC. They may also be able to advise you if one of the yard card franchises is more appropriate for you.
I already had an established LLC so I chose to work under that company and did not explore the franchise options.
I prefer to be my own business owner and not be beholden to other entities, but I know plenty who do work in that arena as franchisees who are perfectly happy with it!
But talk to someone in the small business council in your area first.
They can talk you through the future plans of creating a company that might have employees or if it will be something you handle on your own.
You can also check out this new site JustBusiness that was recently launched.
If you are looking for legal representation for setting up your business, I personally used HashTag Legal and can recommend them.
Some places to start when it comes to getting your business set up:
- Obtaining an EIN for tax purposes
- Checking your local and state requirements for business licenses. I was able to apply for mine online and found it with an easy Google search.
- You may need a home business occupation permit. Check with your city on the rules regarding running a business from your home.
- Get liability insurance. You need this. It’s non-negotiable. State Farm has the best rates I’ve seen so far and they are familiar with Yard Cards as a business. You’ll want to be covered in case you damage property while staking a yard.
- Set up a separate bank account for your business for tax and accounting purposes.
How Much Does Starting a Yard Card Business Cost?
This will vary based on the decisions you ultimately make for your business set up.
But you are looking at a minimum investment of $3000 to start, with a more likely number landing in the $4000-$10,000 range.
2. Do You Need A Website For Your Yard Card Business?
You could possibly be successful without a website, but when people are looking for something they naturally turn to Google.
In fact, that’s probably how you found this post.
Referrals and word of mouth are not to be downplayed- they are the lifeblood of this industry! But a professional website will help your yard card business be found and stand out.
You can create your own fairly easily, but hiring someone to create a gorgeous site can be money well spent. And you’ll need a reliable host for your new site.
- Website hosting recommendation: New Blog Hosting is a great company that I’ve used for years as a blogger. They are affordable and responsive with packages starting at $50 a year.
- Website creation: chat with Kayla at Kayla B Designs. She is also affordable and works quickly to get you up and running online.
On your website, be sure to include a rental contract or your policies and procedures.
Make this something clear and concise so there are no questions when it comes to how your experience will run.
3. How Do You Want To Get Paid?
There are many ways to collect payment with a yard card business.
Cash works, naturally, but for accounting and credit card payments, you’ll likely want to look at other options.
Some suggested apps:
- Website direct options
Talk to your web designer if you want to integrate payment via order forms on the website if that’s what you choose to do.
By taking payment through an app many people have access to, you’ll be able to quickly receive payment for the bookings.
That is: you’ll be making it easier for people to give you money.
It’s not hard: they have the money, they want you to have the money, so make it easy on them to give it to you.
You will also share a small percentage of the payment with the app or company you choose to work through, so keep that in mind as you price things out.
4. Determine Your Market and Competition Levels
All marketplaces are going to have competition, and you should go into yours with open eyes.
Do a Google search, check local Facebook groups, and see if you can find other yard card companies running in your location.
If your area is highly saturated with established businesses, then you will want to determine how your business will be different than the others.
I wouldn’t suggest undercutting the established companies (because ultimately, you, too, want to get paid your worth!) but I would suggest knowing what you can offer to make your cards stand out.
- Offer longer rental periods
- Include personalized notes to be left at the address
- Offer solar spot light lighting for night viewing of the yard card
- Add a small thank you or birthday gift for the recipient
Where you can truly stand out will be in customer service and inventory.
5. Build Your Yard Card Inventory- What Should You Start With?
This is a huge undertaking and will eventually come down to the question of what your area is into.
Splatter paint and slime might be huge hits where you live, but rose gold and black might be more popular in other areas.
You’ll want to think about the trends and colors that seem to work in your local area.
A. Black Letters & numbers are the little black dress of yard cards.
Everyone needs black letters, so let’s just put that down as a given.
You’ll use these as your workhorse and go-to’s on almost all signs.
B. Add Some Colors.
I’d suggest pink, blue, and yellow as essentials since they can be used for almost all situations.
New babies, birthdays for boys or girls, women and men can find something to love with these basic colors.
But if those do not appeal, a great place to start is with local school colors.
We have blue, orange, yellow, purple, and gold around here- so that’s where my inventory started.
C. Add Flairs- And Be Smart About It!
Look, I’ll be candid.
This yard card business is addicting- you want to have something for everyone who contacts you.
Speaking from experience, it’s really easy to run up quite a large inventory bill if you aren’t careful!
So what do you need to get started?
The most popular requests for yard cards are going to be for birthdays.
So think presents, balloons, stars, cupcakes, and cakes.
If you have loads of these and enough letters to spell out a message, you should be good to go.
C. Stakes for Yard Cards
Yard cards are made of corrugated plastic which has fluted channels inside the sign.
You’ll need a variety of sizes of H stakes for your sign creations.
Generally, you can find H stakes in the following sizes (some are even on Amazon):
- 30 x 10 inches
- 30 x 6 inches
- 24 x 6 inches
- 15 x 6 inches
- 2 x 30 inches
- 2 x 15 inches
- Easy Stakes (single stakes)
You’ll want to get a minimum of 100 stakes in a variety of sizes to start your business.
D. Additional Tools For The Yard Card Trade
Again, every area will be different.
Some locations have hard, rocky yards; some have yards that stake smooth as butter!
But you’ll be surprised every time you go out because each yard is different.
Here are some helpful tools to make Yard Carding 101 a little easier on you:
- Painters tape or duct tape. Use this on the back of the letters to help keep them straight and together- especially on windy days.
- Rubber mallet. If you can’t push a stake in past some rocks, give it a few whacks with the mallet. Boom! You’re staked.
- Hand drill. Some areas DO indeed require drilling of holes into the ground for signs. Consider this if you run into multiple hard to stake yards.
- Zip ties. I use these to keep my sign groupings together when I have multiple signs in one night to set up. Don’t forget something to cut the zips off, though!
6. Transportation For Yard Cards
To be successful, you’ll want reliable transportation to cover your service areas.
While having an SUV or mini-van or truck is helpful, you can fill a sedan with staked yard cards quite easily.
The priority here is to keep the signs flat and damage-free.
Sometimes I have to use my back seat vs my trunk for larger flash signs, but you can get by with a 4-door sedan.
If you have the luxury to car shop, choose something that gets decent gas mileage and has plenty of storage for your signs in the back.
A, B, C- Go Card Some Yards!
This is a basic rundown of how to start your Yard Card business.
It can be overwhelming to start, but once you figure out the Yard Card 101 basics for your business, you’ll be ready to card some yards, bring some joy to your community, and make some money.
For additional details and yard card resources, a companion e-book is in the works.
This will go even deeper into the yard card experience giving suggestions on card vendors to buy from as well as marketing strategies.
Think glossary of terms, places to buy your stakes and signs, set up tips, and marketing options.
It’s all coming soon to No-Guilt Life.
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)