Optimize Your Trading Card Printing Costs With Affordable Solutions

If you’re a newcomer to the world of trading card printing, exploring a print-on-demand (POD) publishing service could be a great starting point. However, as you cultivate a dedicated community of avid readers and nurture a robust, engaged email list, you may find it advantageous to transition into the ranks of savvy self-publishing “authorpreneurs.”

Many in this group are leveraging cost efficiencies and enhanced quality offered by traditional commercial printing. In the following, we’ll delve into ways you can optimize printing expenses for your self-published TCG.

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The prevailing belief that traditional printing is costlier and more burdensome than Print-on-Demand (POD) has become deeply rooted in the culture, leading to the unfortunate failure of many intelligent TCG self-publishers due to misinformation and lack of awareness.

Fortunately, a positive change is underway as an increasing number of accomplished authors are realizing that traditional printing not only allows for exceptional product quality but also offers superior profit margins.

However, let’s be frank – opting for traditional digital or offset printing might not be the optimal decision for every writer. It’s crucial to thoroughly examine all your options, scrutinize your business plan, assess your budget, conduct market research, and then arrive at an informed decision.

Please don’t dismiss traditional printing based on outdated notions of higher costs and the need to store thousands of trading card decks in your spare room. While this may have been true 30 years ago, the printing industry and times have evolved.

Self-Publish Using An Offset Press
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The payment framework for TCG is uncomplicated and clear. While it may exhibit slight variations among manufacturers and issuers in various countries, the typical payment structure in the trading card printing industry involves three or four payment mechanisms.

1. Sample payment

Many customers prefer to create game prototypes to assess the quality of selected materials and the cohesion of game components before committing to mass production. Upon reviewing the prototype, adjustments to the game, artwork, and production may be considered.

Presently, WJPC factory’s cost for a single TCG sample order exceeds $500, contingent on factors such as the number of cards, card finish, sorting method, packaging method, etc.

This cost can be a significant barrier, particularly for first-time creators. Fortunately, we offer favorable policies to alleviate this burden during mass production:

WJPC offers:

1) Get Free Sample Packs of various materials and finishes (no quantity limit, just pay the basic express shipping fee of $35).

2) Card projects that follow the KS Support Policy can get up to 6% Off the factory price (excluding shipping costs).

Promote Your Kickstarter with WJPC

2. Advance payment for mass production

After obtaining authorization for the final version of the card, a formal invoice (PI) will be dispatched to the customer. This invoice serves as a comprehensive agreement encompassing all production specifics, such as game specifications, production timetable, payment arrangement, and delivery status.

Considered a legally binding document akin to a contract, the invoice may also incorporate an estimated shipping cost, especially when a publisher necessitates shipment from WJPC.

Typically, the initial payment required is 30% of the total invoice value. Once this down payment is received, the manufacturer initiates the mass production of the Trading Card Game (TCG).

During this phase, the manufacturer meticulously reviews all documents and dimensions, procures necessary raw materials, and commences the TCG manufacturing process. The timeline for mass production varies, contingent on order particulars and factory scheduling, typically falling within the range of 60 to 180 days.

3. Balance payment for mass production

Upon the completion of production but prior to the delivery stage, it is imperative for the game creator or publisher to settle the outstanding balance of the order. Only after this payment is made will the shipment be authorized.

4. Shipping payment (optional)

In the event that the publisher has availed WJPC’s shipping service, the shipping fee will be computed and settled before the actual shipment. Alternatively, if the publisher opts for a distinct shipping provider, and the agreed shipping terms with the manufacturer are FOB or EXW, the shipping charges are to be remitted to the chosen freight forwarder.

The timeframe for shipping delivery is significantly influenced by the destination country and the selected shipping method. The payment for shipping costs is typically made after the conclusion of mass production. In cases where a different carrier is employed, the publisher is required to prepay this amount prior to collecting the item.

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When it comes to trading card printing costs factors, there are multiple variables to consider. For example:

1. Design Documents

Ensure that all your files are set to “printable.” In contrast to numerous other trading card printers, we conduct a thorough manual check before proceeding with the printing process because we prioritize accuracy. However, incorporating changes at this stage may extend the timeline as our designers may need to undertake additional work, potentially resulting in increased costs.

Accuracy in this phase is of paramount importance. To assist you in this endeavor, we have provided a comprehensive Design Guide to help you prepare everything adequately before the printing stage.

2. Cardstock

Perhaps you haven’t given it much thought, but the choice of paper not only influences the performance of your Trading Card Game (TCG) but can also have a notable impact on the overall cost of your printing order.

Typically, we suggest opting for a cost-effective option like 300g art paper to ensure both quality and suitability for the intended purpose.

The durability and strength of the TCG’s paper are crucial considerations, as thin and flimsy materials are unsuitable. Given that TCG cards are often reused multiple times, ensuring a certain level of durability is essential.

thickness 0.35mm art paper

3. Ink

You might hear about the expression “ink is more costly than blood” due to the high expense of ink. Although this statement is greatly exaggerated, the type of ink used significantly influences trading card printing costs.

Opting for specific spot colors or five- or six-color printing can substantially increase costs. Consequently, we advise utilizing four-color processing (CMYK) printing whenever feasible.

4. Quantity

It’s quite straightforward – the higher the quantity needed, the higher the expense. Interestingly, the cost per card for the initial batch of TCGs might be elevated due to fixed design costs, among other factors.

However, as larger quantities are acquired, the price per card decreases. For instance, ordering 1,000 copies is cheaper per unit compared to ordering just 200 copies. It’s a classic case of benefiting from economies of scale. We recommend that you make at least 500 decks.

5. Size

Similar to the impact of page count, the dimensions of the TCG also play a role in determining the cost. It’s no surprise that larger sizes generally come with higher expenses.

If cost-saving is a priority, adhering to standard print sizes like 63 x 88 mm is advisable. While custom sizes are an option, opting for standard dimensions is not only more economical but also ensures a faster turnaround, helping to minimize capital expenditure.

6. Finish

Numerous special finishes can raise the overall cost of your TCG order. TCGs come in various finishes, each with its own associated cost.

If you’re working within a budget, consider using holographic film paper with diverse patterns to achieve distinctive card surface effects, rather than incorporating more elaborate features like foil stamping, UV stamping, Scodix Sense™, and the like.

Holographic paper GM6
Holographic paper GM21
Holographic paper GM91

7. Package

Several packaging options are available to safeguard the integrity of your TCG project, and each type influences the overall cost. Common TCG packaging includes aluminum booster packs, white paper boxes, and plastic sleeves, which are relatively straightforward to produce and cost-effective.

However, if you require more intricate structures or materials like unconventional sealing packs, trays, lid boxes, tin boxes, etc., the cost will increase significantly.

Card Sleeves
printing trading cards
Printing Trading Cards Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf

8. Production

This encompasses the entire process from inception to completion – encompassing design, printing, cutting, and the final touches on the print job before it’s prepared for pickup or shipment. Turnaround times differ for each project, and if brands are willing to be more patient with their orders, costs can be reduced.

This flexibility provides the printing company the chance to collaborate on other projects with you, leading to savings in time, paper, and other resources. In essence, for cost savings, it’s beneficial to consider being adaptable with your turnaround times.

9. Shipment

We endorse various transportation methods such as shipping, land, air, and express services. Opting for a combined printing and mailing approach can enhance cost-effectiveness, allowing you to oversee project progress with a single provider rather than multiple ones.

While there is an extra postage charge, shipping by sea is typically the most economical choice. If you don’t require all copies immediately, we also provide warehouse storage. Feel free to inquire about our available space at the moment.

Some Questions You May Be Interested In:

  • Is the prototype TCG the same as the final product?

We use a digital printer for the speedy and cost-effective production of samples, whereas mass production orders are executed using an offset press. Digital prints may appear slightly darker, exhibit a less polished finish, and may begin to fade after approximately two months. However, aside from these nuances, the samples will closely resemble the final production game.

  • How can I be sure that TCG will do what I want?

The sales team at WJPC will meticulously document the progress of your TCG production, providing continuous updates on your project. While the digital content may not be an exact replica of the physical game in your possession, any errors can be identified, giving you the assurance to proceed with the printing process confidently.

  • If I start printing and then decide to change the design, can WJPC change it?

Once the factory initiates the printing process, you will bear the cost of any reprints required. The fee is specific to the sheets you wish to replace and does not encompass the entire order.