How to Start a Strong Sticker Business in 3 Steps
Are you a creative type looking to share your art with the world while making a profit?
If so, then you may have found just what you’re looking for in the sticker business! Stickers seem to be absolutely everywhere these days, featured in both physical and online stores. They can be great for many different purposes, such as brand awareness, creative projects, and even something as simple as labeling items. Best of all? You don’t even need that much capital to get started.
Want to learn more about how to start a sticker business? Read on for our guide!
Step 1: Do Your Research
What Does a Sticker Business Do?
A sticker business or vinyl decal business typically sells stickers for business or personal use. There are a lot of different kinds of stickers out there, so determining exactly what kinds of stickers you want to sell is one of the most important things to consider when starting your sticker business.
If you are unsure of what kind(s) of stickers you want to specialize in, the following are some of the most popular sticker options on the market:
- Logo stickers. Businesses like to hand out logo stickers or custom labels as a cheap and easy way of creating brand awareness. It may not really get your creative juices flowing, but there is certainly a demand for this type of product!
- Minimalist stickers. These use a really simple sticker design to get their point across. While these can appeal to a wide range of customers, businesses tend to like these for their logos, print labels, and business cards.
- Clear stickers. These kinds of stickers can be weatherproof, scratch-resistant, and even UV coated to withstand all types of conditions. This makes them great for store and car windows and any kind of event outside. Since they are waterproof, they are also ideal for water bottles, which you may see are often customized with sticker labels featuring people’s names, gym logos, and perhaps even motivational phrases.
- Bumper stickers. Typically made of weatherproof vinyl, these appeal to those who want to get their message out to lots of people just by driving around in their vehicle.
- Die-cut stickers. These are moisture, sunlight, and scratch-resistant and can be cut in the same shape as the artwork. These really only stick well on smooth surfaces but are still great for both business and personal use.
- Photo stickers. These are usually made with a vinyl sticker material, which means that they stick really well but are also easy to remove when necessary. Customers may enjoy the option of having their favorite photos around without needing them in a picture frame.
Do I Need Any Licenses or Permits to Open a Sticker Business?
To operate your sticker shop legally, nearly every business should have a business license, though the requirements for one may vary depending on where you plan on operating your sticker business. You may also require a permit if you plan on running your business out of your home or if you need to charge sales tax on your stickers, once again depending on your area.
There may be even more licenses and permits that you require depending on the exact nature of your sticker shop business, so check with your county clerk or other local government officials to find out what is necessary in your case.
What Are Some Skills or Experiences That Will Help You Build a Successful Sticker Business?
Whether you are designing stickers yourself from scratch or simply working with designs from businesses and customers, having an eye for design is one of the most useful skills to build a successful sticker business.
You need to be able to think up and/or develop different ideas and products, visualize them, and then articulate your vision to your customers. You should also have the technical skills to pull off your vision by having at least some knowledge of the design software you are planning on using to create your products. You need to know what you can realistically accomplish before making promises to your customers.
Customer service skills are also essential in the sticker business. You will likely be working directly with customers, so having a friendly demeanor and good problem-solving skills are important in establishing and keeping these relationships.
Finally, it is helpful if you have some knowledge of what it takes to run a business or, even better, if you have experience working at a startup. You should have some understanding of your business's financial situation, be able to strategically think about how to run and grow your business, and, perhaps most importantly, have good overall leadership skills.
Step 2: Figure Out Your Costs
What Are the Startup Costs for a Sticker Business?
The startup costs depend on many different factors, such as what types of stickers you want to sell, how much inventory you want to start out with, and where you plan on operating your business. If you plan on starting out small and just working out of your home, you should be able to start your business for under $10,000.
Unless you are planning on outsourcing the sticker production process, the main equipment you will likely need for your sticker business is design software, sticker paper, packaging materials, drawing tools if you plan on creating images yourself (like an iPad and Apple Pencil or drawing tablet), an electronic cutting machine like a Cricut machine, and a laser printer, such as a digital print and cut printer. Depending on the kinds of stickers you want to make, you may also need special protective sprays and colors to keep them looking their best.
While the above equipment can make creating your stickers easier, there are a few ways you can cut costs when you are first starting out. For example, you could do without the drawing tools and just sketch designs out by hand and then scan and upload them to a computer.
You could also skip buying the cutting machine and instead cut your stickers out by hand with a pair of scissors. However, you may want to invest in these tools as your business grows bigger, as they can certainly save you a lot of time.
The last thing that you will need is a place where customers can buy your customized stickers. The best place to sell customized stickers these days tends to be online, so you could set up a store on a site like Etsy, sell on Amazon, or purchase a domain name and set up your own website for your sticker printing business. If you really want to try to reach many people, though, you could always sell on all of these platforms!
What Are the Ongoing Expenses for a Sticker Business?
If you are outsourcing your sticker production, then you will, of course, need to pay your manufacturer on a regular basis. But if you are producing your stickers in-house, once you have purchased your equipment, there really aren’t many major ongoing expenses for a sticker business, especially if you are operating your business out of your home.
You will certainly need to purchase sticker paper and packaging as needed and pay all fees related to your website and/or online store. Note that while some online stores are free to open, they may charge you in other ways. For example, Etsy has listing fees, transaction fees, and in some cases, shipping fees. It is important to do your research before choosing where to sell your stickers.
Then there are the potential shipping costs. If you are sending your stickers directly to customers by mail, you will need to decide whether you will be charging them for shipping or paying for it yourself. If you are going to absorb the shipping costs, then you will need to include these in your ongoing expenses.
Finally, once your business begins to grow, you may want to invest in an office space and hire some employees. Rent and wages will add considerable ongoing costs to your business, so make sure you can afford everything before making any decisions regarding expansion.
Step 3: Make a Profit
How Much is the Sticker Industry Worth?
The global self-adhesive label market was worth about 46.5 billion USD in 2020.
What is the Growth Potential for the Sticker Industry?
The self-adhesive label market is projected to grow from 2020-2025 at a CAGR of 4.9%. This means it is projected to be worth about 59.2 billion by 2025.
How Do You Market a Sticker Business?
The first thing you will want to do is determine your target market. If you are doing something like logo stickers, for example, you will want to mostly market toward businesses. On the other hand, if you want to specialize in bumper stickers, your target audience may be a little broader and include everyone who drives a car. Really think about who you can see using your products when determining your target market.
If you are using an online website and/or store to sell your stickers, the best way to advertise is probably via the Internet. You could do keyword research to help optimize search engine results, invest in some Google ads, and create pages for your business on social media.
Once you start getting some customers, encourage them to leave reviews on your pages. Word of mouth can be a powerful way of reaching new customers, so make sure your customer service is especially top-notch in the early days of your business.
How Much Should I Charge for Stickers?
On average, stickers usually sell for about $3.00 – $5.00. That being said, make sure you consider your profit margin when determining sticker price. If it costs you $10.00 to make a custom bumper sticker, for example, then you will want to price your stickers accordingly.
You will want to ensure that you charge enough to cover your production cost, overhead, and the like while making a profit. Be careful not to price too high, though, as you don’t want to put off your customers entirely.
Any Other Tips for Jump Starting a Sticker Business?
Of course! Here are some other tips you can try to start your sticker business off on the right foot:
- Consider selling your stickers on multiple platforms to reach a bigger audience. Some of the most popular ones to sell something like stickers on include Etsy, Shopify, Amazon, Café Press, Zazzle, Big Cartel, Craft is Art, Aftcra, and Storenvy. Of course, these sites have their own rules and regulations for selling, so be sure to do your research.
- Create a blog. Consistently blogging high-quality content can be a great way to create and grow brand awareness. You can share this content on social media, websites like Reddit, and your mailing list (Side note: create a mailing list for your customers too! It will allow you to inform them about new products in addition to your blog posts).
- Try reaching out to social media influencers. While it may be tempting to reach out to any influencer with a large following, make sure you pick someone whose audience may actually be interested in your stickers. Do your research, and then consider sending influencers a sample of your product to review or just simply make a post about it to their followers. This is very much like word-of-mouth advertising, so it can have a powerful effect.
- If you don’t mind spending a little extra money, give out some free, inexpensive stickers typical of your brand. You could hand them out at craft shows or fairs or partner with another business that you think has a similar target audience and bundle them with their products. This will allow you to expand your reach and show off your product while perhaps also adding a little extra incentive for people to buy from the other business. It could be a win-win situation for your both!
- Be sure to check out our other posts for more ways to start your side hustle!