Have you very thought about making a calendar?
Once you get going the process is easy, but all the choices that need to be made can be overwhelming!
Here’s how I navigated all the endless options to designing and printing a calendar. I hope my experience can help jumpstart you to making your own!
How to Design a Calendar
Above is a calendar by Bonnie White a popular folk artist from CT
1st Step: Choosing Images for Your Calendar
You need to decide what images you want to use. This will help determine the size and shape of your calendar. All my images are vertical, however, that’s not a typical calendar format. Most calendars are horizontal, but if you’re making your own it can be any shape you want!
2nd Step: Choosing a Size
What size do you want your calendar to be? You can make a desktop, or a wall hung calendar. My calendar is a wall hung, but it’s on the smaller size at 5.5″ x 11.5″. Most calendars fall in the range of 12″ wide and 10″ to 13″ long. If you decide to print your images on the back of the previous month then when you open it up to hang it could be 26″ in length. I have also seen calendars even larger then this.
Noteworthy: The first time I made a calendar I guessed at a size, and then asked my printer how many he could fit on a sheet to see if I should adjust it to maximize the space. I later discovered most of my customers really liked the size I made them. They were bigger then a desktop calendar but small enough to fit in small spaces on the walls or shelf in their house.
Calendar Above by Gingiber
3rd Step: Choosing Single or Double Sided Print
Do you want your calendar to be printed on the same page as your image or on the back? I intentionally made my calendars with the images and the dates all on one side so that the images could be repurposed once they were done being used as a calendar. This also factored into the size of my calendar. I knew I wasn’t going to make a standard wall hung calendar which lead me to completely design my own.
4th Step: Choosing Software to Design a Calendar
You can completely design your own calendar. You just need to know how to use the software to do so. There’s lots of software out there that can do this! I used photoshop and I drew it up from scratch with no guidelines, however there are many templates out there for you to use if you need them.
If you don’t have access to your own software then I would suggest using Canva. Its a fantastic free service, full of templates, and tutorials.
Designing the first month took me awhile to create. After deciding on the size of my calendar I had to make the grid for the dates. This took me the longest to draw up, but once the first month was made I could just copy and paste. I did have to pay extra attention to where I put the dates to make sure they were correct for each month.
If you decide to make your own calendar I cannot stress enough to proof read, proof read, proof read!
How to Print a Calendar
5th Step: Choosing Cover Stock for Your Calendar
Before printing your calendar you need to decide on the paper you want to use. What kind of finish do you want? You can choose from matte, satin, lust, and glossy cover stock. You also need to decide on the weight of your cover. The larger the weight the thicker the paper will be. You can also print your calendar on different textured paper such as smooth, textured, linen, and more. Lastly, paper can come in different brightness of white.
A typical calendar would be printed on smooth textured, bright white, satin or glossy cover with the weight of 80 lb.
My calendar is printed on a smooth textured, bright white, satin finish, with the weight of 120 lb making the calendar stronger and less flimsy then a regular store bought calendar.
IMPORTANT: Know the size, finish, weight, texture, and brightness of the cover stock you want to print your calendar on before going to any print service.
Note: Cover stock is what paper is called in businesses that make and sell paper products.
6th Step: How Many Calendars Should You Make?
Before choosing a printer it’s important to know how many calendars you want to print. The more you order the less expensive each calendar will be. This is important to keep in mind when deciding on a print service. Typically the price of a calendar will decrease with every 50 prints you order at one time.
It’s also equally important to recognize calendars have a short shelf-life for selling. The window for selling them is only 3-5 month. So if you are looking to sell them you don’t want to have leftovers, but at the same time you want to order as much as you can sell to bring the price of printing them down.
7th Step: Choosing a Print Service
Once you know the design of your calendar, have an idea of the cover stock you want to use, and how many you want to print, then it’s time to shop for a print service!
Local Print Service
I use Bayside Print Services. They are local to my area and it allows me to go directly into their store, and talk to them in person. This was important to me when it came to making all the decisions on the paper weight, finish, texture, and size. I had an idea of what I wanted, but needed to see and feel the cover stock in person. It also made it easy for me to zip in to their store to pick up the mock up for me to review before slapping down a small fortune on printing a bunch of calendars.
If you are local to my area (Portland, Maine) I highly recommend using them. I would even look into what it would cost for them to ship products to you because it’s easy to upload your images and send files to them via email. I ended up emailing each individual month to them in a high res (300 dpi) PDF layered file.
They are also very helpful! I can easily call or email them with any questions I may have and get a prompt response.
If you’re like me and want to see and feel the cover stock to know exactly what you are getting I strongly suggest looking for a local print service in your area that specializes in printing business cards, posters, brochures, and calendars in your area so you can connect face to face with them. If they are good they can help you pick out a calendar size, and cover stock that will fit your needs. You will save money on shipping, and can also get help with any modification that may need to be met such as the print bleed (That’s the boarder that needs to be built into your design for printing and cutting).
Online Print Service
Another way to go with printing your calendar would be to use a print on demand online service such as Smartpress, Vistaprint, or Overnight Prints. These are great options for printing if you just want to print a small amount and know what size calendar and type of cover you want to use.
Wholesale Print Service
If you are looking to print a ton of calendars and want to sell them to stores and boutiques at a wholesale price then I would suggest finding a wholesale print service. I would consider this option if I was planing to print 1000 calendars or more. There are some terrific wholesale printers in the United State, but remember in order to use them, you need to have a federal sales tax identification number.
Overseas Print Service
Another option is to print your calendars overseas. This is the cheapest way to get your calendars printed. There are agents you can contact here in the States that will supervise your print order and you would send your designs to them. You can even find your own print service yourself on Alibaba but this will take more effort on your part to find a contact you like working with. Going this route may be a lot cheaper, but it will take more time. You need to put a very large order in to make it all worth it, and also plan on at least 3 month for shipping the calendars to your address.
I have considered printing calendars overseas, but probably never will. I don’t ever see myself organized enough to have a calendar ready 3-4 month in advance to sell them come Fall. I also just don’t have the time to go back and forth with a new contact to decide on a new mock up, cover stock quality, size, and price.
View of Portland Harbor, ME Above
I really like that I can just zip into my local print shop and work with real people face to face. Last year I ran late with getting my calendar design to them, and they moved mountains to get my order partially made so that I had calendars to sell for my first Fall show.
For me paying extra to support a local business is worth it.
That about covers it!
These were all the major choices I struggled with along with making the overall design of my calendar. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any question in the comment section below. I’m happy to help if I can:)
And…if you want to know more about the 1st calendar I ever made check out my post: I Finally Made A Calendar
My 2019 Bird Tree Calendar is NOW currently available! (For a limited time only)