How to Start a Sticker Business in 2021
Written by: Nicole Plyler
Published: 28 October, 2021
Do you have a passion for design and entrepreneurship? Then you may be wondering how to start a sticker business. Such shops are popular on Etsy, RedBubble, Facebook Shops, and more platforms. They can be an easy way to add a new revenue stream in 2021. Creating a sticker business includes many pieces that must come together.
In this post, Stickerbeat provides you with insights, advice, and tips on how to start your sticker business.
Should You Open a Sticker business?
That’s the first and most important question to consider. When launching any type of business venture, you have to consider the pros and cons before you make the decision. There are many questions to pose to come to the answer. Let’s look at some of those.
What Type of Stickers Would You Sell?
There is a wide range of stickers, decals, and labels that you can offer. You might want to be narrow with your products or more diverse.
Here are some sticker categories:
- Barcode labels: Lots of businesses use these, so you’d be looking at a different audience—business owners. That could be fruitful, as they’d order high volume. It will require specialized printing for the barcodes.
- Packaging labels: This category would also involve selling to businesses. Many small businesses need custom labels but don’t have the time or equipment to create them. Some possible buyers in this niche include bakeries, soap artisans, gift basket companies, wineries, and many other gift-related proprietors.
- Bumper stickers: Bumper stickers are an expression of ideology for many. Drivers love to share what they love. If considering this, you could have some standard designs or allow for personalization.
- Personalized stickers: Individuals, companies, and groups often want personalized stickers for events or products. You are most likely to find success as a sticker store when you offer lots of options versus only standard ones. With this route, you’ll also need a way for customers to upload images or graphics to go on these labels.
Designing Stickers to Sell
If you’re going into the sticker business because of your passion for design, then that can be a real differentiator for your store. You can design your own stickers within design platforms completely from scratch. You could also take illustrations and combine them to create something new. It all depends on your skill level and how much time you have to devote to the project.
Buy Designs for Stickers
You may have a great eye for design but don’t have the time or tools to design completely unique stickers. In that case, you can buy designs. There are many artists that offer sticker templates in a wide assortment. Even if you do your own design, it might be a good idea to get some of these, too, so that you have more options for your store.
What Features Should Your Stickers Have?
Regardless of the type of stickers, you offer in your store, you’ll want them to have specific features to ensure they are high-quality.
- Use vinyl as the material. It’s the highest quality to produce any type of sticker. It includes a 3.2-mil. block-out bubble free adhesive. This ensures the adherence is permanent, but you can still remove them with ease without leaving any residue.
- Ensure stickers have lamination. A lamination layer makes your stickers even more resilient. It protects them from fading and scratches.
- Choose waterproof stickers: Water can quickly damage cheap stickers. In most applications, a sticker will come into contact with moisture. The vinyl’s adhesive doesn’t let water seep in to ruin it. Additionally, with durable ink, the colors won’t diminish even in high-exposure areas. A true waterproof stickers can even handle going in the dishwasher.
- Include a backing liner. When customers receive their stickers, you want to make sure they are easy to apply. A backing liner does just this. It removes smoothly every time.
What Do You Need in Place to Open Shop?
To start a sticker business, you’ll need to go through these steps.
Determine what platform you want to sell on.
There are lots of marketplaces, and they all have different rules and costs. Compare at least two before you say yes. Look at how easy it is to set up your e-commerce store, what fees that take, and how many people they have as registered users.
In making this decision, you also should consider where you want to sell. Some platforms are more global, so if you prefer to only sell in the U.S., which might change your decision.
Create a brand.
Every shop needs a brand, so you’ll need to start by naming your business. A naming exercise may seem cumbersome, but it’s absolutely worth it. Your company’s name will impact your success and ability to attract customers.
Having a logo and some design elements will be critical as you build out your store. You’ll want that log to illustrate what your business stands for and what makes it unique.
Another aspect of branding is setting up social media profiles, as these will be necessary to market your business. Decide which ones will benefit you most. Stickers are visual, so they’re a great match for Instagram and Pinterest.
You’ll need to develop a pricing list based on the cost of goods and your margin. You won’t initially be able to figure that out until you decide how you’ll produce goods. You should also research competitors to see what their pricing looks like so you don’t go too high or too low.
Get a business license.
You’ll need to get a business license from your state in most cases. You can easily set up an LLC through a service like LegalZoom.
Formulate the workflows.
Customers will place an order on your website. Then what happens? You’ll need to break down processing the order, sending proofs and notifications to the buyer, going into production, fulfilling the order, and shipping.
Develop a business plan.
It’s important to document how you’ll start and grow your business. Define all the expectations, costs, and requirements. Some key things this should include are marketing plans, budget, the throughput you can handle, how you’ll take payment, and more.
Should You Buy Equipment or Outsource Production?
This is one of the most crucial decisions in starting a sticker business. If you go the route of fulfilling production in-house, it will require some capital start-up funding. You’ll need to purchase these items.
Special, high-quality printers designed for commercial sticker production are not the same as an everyday printer!
You need a printer to create your sticker products. Keep in mind, however, that buying a printer isn't the same quality or as affordable as going through a reputable sticker provider. You can browse a wide selection online, but it may be worth viewing this in-store to get a feel for how they work and what size they are. Here are questions to ask when buying a sticker printer:
- Does it have the capability to print on vinyl? Some printers cannot feed thicker materials, and some will make indents in it as it’s feeding it through. That is a huge problem because you don’t want holes in your stickers.
- Is there special ink? The answer is likely yes, and it won’t be cheap. Make sure you understand what ink works best for the printer and vinyl before you buy.
- Can the printer print to the border of the vinyl? This might be a big issue if it can’t since you’ll have problems with registration marks on certain label shapes or with some art.
- Is the software that comes with the printer easy to use and customize for your stickers? If it’s not user-friendly, you’ll frustrate easily.
- Does it have a scanner? If you design your own stickers, you’ll need this functionality. Most printers come with a scanner, so why not look into whether you’re going to need one in your business for any reason.
Vinyl and ink
While you could just use sticker paper, we’ve already advised of why vinyl is superior. If you use sticker paper, quality will be an issue. So, you’ll need to invest in vinyl and the correct link to print on it. You’ll need to research pricing and sourcing for both these materials. You should have more than one source on each, so you don’t fall short on inventory.
Cutting machines or vinyl plotters
First you need a machine or plotter to cut your stickers. Many options exist on the market, with more coming out every year. Some are more popular than others and have various features. That also means they have different price points.
These machines require software for precision cutting, so consider that as part of the expense and learning curve. If you want to cut out intricate silhouettes, you’ll need equipment to do this accurately.
Those costs can easily shoot up into the thousands, or even hundreds of thousands very quickly. Also, you’ll have to wait for the equipment to arrive. Then you’ll need to set it up and run a bunch of tests. While not hard to navigate, you will have a learning curve if you’ve never run a printing operation.
With all this in mind, the better solution is likely to outsource. Here’s why:
- You don’t have to make any capital investments.
- Professional sticker companies have advanced technology and the ability to produce high volume that you may be unable to replicate.
- They use the best materials but get much better pricing than you do because they purchase in higher quantities.
- The more you order from them, the less per-piece cost, so you can take advantage of economies of scale.
- They have first turnaround times, so you shouldn’t have delays in order fulfillment.
Comparing Vendors: What to Look for in a Sticker Company
If this seems like a better avenue for your business, then you certainly compare sticker vendors. Here’s what to look for when doing this.
- Check the material to ensure its high-quality vinyl. 3M is the top tier, so anything less than that may not have all the attributes you want, like being waterproof and being easy to remove.
- Estimate costs of stickers orders by looking at shape, size, and quantity. All these things will contribute to the price. For example, custom sizes are more expensive than standard ones.
- Analyze the assortment. Not all vendors will have a large portfolio of options. At a minimum, they should offer die cut stickers, circle stickers, rectangle stickers, oval stickers, bumper stickers, reflective stickers, transfer stickers, clear stickers, holographic stickers, kiss cut stickers, square stickers, and rounded corner stickers.
- See what their shipping rates are and fast they can get them to you. Many vendors offer free shipping that arrives within a few days. If you can reduce shipping costs, that will be important for your business to make more profits.
- Explore their customer support options: You want to make sure the business is responsive to customers in case you need immediate help with an order.
- Read reviews of each sticker company. You’ll know quickly based on what customers say regarding quality and reliability.
Partnering with Stickerbeat
If opening a new sticker store is your dream, Stickerbeat can help you reach it. We make it easy and convenient to purchase stickers at high volume from our store. With a wide variety of styles and sizes that can all include custom art, there’s no order we can complete.
We only use 3M vinyl for sticker printing, so you’ll have the highest quality stickers for your customers. They are durable and won’t peel off because of moisture or heat.
We ship fast, so you can have your product fast. A great and affordable rates, you’ll be able to turn a profit.
Start your sticker business today with Stickerbeat!