Whether you’re already a sticker enthusiast, or you’re looking for a unique niche to start your own small business, starting a sticker business offers a variety of opportunities.
The sticker market is larger than you might think, and just about anyone can learn to create stickers. Not only are they a popular hobby for collectors of all ages, but stickers are a valuable marketing tool used by businesses around the world.
Read on for everything you need to learn how to start a sticker business:
16 Key Steps to Starting a Sticker Business
So, you’ve decided to start a sticker business. Congratulations! But while it might seem like you can just buy some paper, a printer and start selling, starting a successful sticker business is more involved. The following 16 key steps are necessary as part of the startup checklist of your sticker business on the right foot.
1. Choose Your Niche
All stickers are not created equally. Sure, there is value in most stickers, but the market is huge, and you can’t possibly target every type of customer. After all, more than 3 million sticker products are sold on Etsy alone… that’s a lot of competition.
Instead, try to target one or two slices of the sticker market and choose the type of stickers you will sell, or your business niche, whether they be colorful decals marketed to kids or standardized shipping labels created for a manufacturer.
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2. Know Your Target Audience
Just as you want to choose a niche of stickers to sell, you also should determine your target customer. To whom will you primarily market your stickers? Will you sell them to consumers, and if so what demographic? Or, will your sticker business market toward a commercial target audience, creating stickers for other small businesses?
3. Name Your Sticker Shop
Your sticker business is no different from any other small business, and it needs a name to succeed. Your business name is important because it serves as customers’ first introduction to your company, it makes your business stand apart from the competition, and it tells people what your small business is all about.
4. Design a Logo
Branding is important to survive in a competitive market, and the first step to branding your sticker business is designing a logo.
The logo will visually represent your company to the market, so its design should signify your small business’s products, values and vision.
5. Create a Business Plan
Before you can acquire funding for your sticker business, you’ll need to establish a business plan.
Even if you plan to start small without help from a bank or investor, writing a business plan will help you to define your business, identify your target market and create effective business strategies.
Part of a business plan for your sticker business should include an overview of your business, including a general description of your company, products and financial projections, as well as a description of your target market, the products you will sell and your general marketing plan.
6. Buy the Necessary Equipment
Technically, you can start selling stickers with little more than certain paper and a basic printer, but if you want a successful sticker business you probably want to provide higher-quality products, which requires better equipment.
Therefore, some new business owners will opt to outsource their printing until their business becomes profitable, as opposed to risking the initial investment before the business is established.
When you are ready to invest in the type of equipment needed for creating high-quality stickers to sell, you’ll need to buy:
- Printer – While just about any basic printer will print stickers, a small business owner typically will want a higher-quality printer that not only works with multiple types of paper, but also uses high-quality yet affordable ink and includes other advanced features.
- Cutting machine – Without a cutting machine your stickers are nothing more than printed paper. A plethora of electronic cutting devices are available to make stickers, each with its own features, functions and capabilities.
- Sticker paper – There are no stickers without paper, so of course you’ll need an ongoing supply of this basic material. Determine what types of sticker paper you want to offer to your customers, including choices like what material and whether you want a matte or glossy finish.
- Packaging – Even if you outsource the printing of your stickers, you’ll need packaging supplies to deliver them. Most sticker businesses send their products to customers using the mail or a delivery service like FedEx or UPS, so you’ll need packing materials like envelopes and tissue paper for each order. You might also want to include marketing materials in your shipments to promote business growth.
- Other materials – To offer professional-quality stickers to your customers, you’ll want a few other basic materials, including a cutting mat and clear vinyl laminate to protect your products from damage.
7. Create Sticker Designs
Will you create your own sticker designs, or will you purchase designs from another artist or graphic designer? If you choose to create your own designs, a variety of visual design and digital imaging software programs like Circuit and Sillouette are available to assist you.
Other software options include Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator. Artists can choose whatever program they prefer, as long as the software can create a JPG or PNG file.
8. Set Your Prices
No matter where you decide to sell you stickers, you’ll need to establish how much they will cost. Will you charge the same price for all stickers, or will your prices vary based on a sticker’s design or size?
Will you charge customer’s separate shipping charges? If not, be sure to consider this cost when determining your pricing. Look at the market and see what competitors are charging for similar products if you’re unsure what to charge.
9. Choose Your Packaging
How will you ship your stickers to your customers? Will you place the stickers in a plain envelope, or will you have special shipping materials printed for your sticker business? Remember, packaging can be used as a valuable marketing and branding tool.
10. Set Up a Business Bank Account
Before you start sending or receiving money as a business, be sure and open a business bank account. A business bank account offers a level of professionalism to your small business. It separates your business and personal finances, which helps to protect the business and keep it legally compliant.
Likewise, a busienss credit card account can be used to help finance your business during slow periods and purchase inventory before you begin turning a profit.
11. Register for Taxes
To keep your business legally compliant, it’s important to ensure that you and your customers are paying the appropriate taxes. Small businesses can be subject to a variety of local, state and federal taxes, including property taxes, state and federal income taxes, sales tax and employment taxes. Be sure to register for a Federal Tax ID and any applicable state tax IDs.
12. Get Business Insurance
Inerent risks accompany running a business. What if there is a natural disaster that destroys your inventory? What if you hire an employee who gets injured on the job? What if an artist sues your sticker company for selling a design similar to their own?
You’ve likely invested a lot of time and money into the success of your business, so you’ll want to obtain business insurance to protect that investment. You might want to consider insurance types including property insurance, liability insurance and cyber insurance if you are selling stickers in the online marketplace.
13. Apply for Permits and Licenses
Will you need any permits and licenses to operate your sticker business? Because requirements for businesses to obtain various types of permits and licenses varies by state adn locality, there’s no simple answer to that question. Be sure to check on the business requirements in your locality and apply for any applicable permits and licenses.
14. Create a Business Entity
What type of business entity will you create for your sticker busienss? What is the structure of your small business? Do you plan to operate your sticker business as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC or a corporation?
The type of business entity can determine precisely how your company is taxed and the overall structure of the organization. The business entity can also impact what happens if the busienss is sued, how easily you can get a loan or investment to support the business and how the business is insured.
15. Market Your Business
How will you tell your target audience about your new business? You can’t just set up your own sticker shop on Etsy or launch a website to sell stickers online and expect customers to automatically find you. You have to market your stickers for your online business to succeed.
Social media offers a simple platform to advertise stickers, and business owners should be sure they establish profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok and other relevant social networks. Sticker business owners can also use traditional advertising methods to market their sticker sheets, including paid advertisements and even attendance at shows, fairs and conventions.
16. Scale Your Business
How will you scale your business? It doesn’t take much to start your own sticker business, but once you start to turn a profit, you’re going to want to expand and increase your earning.
Perhaps you started off selling physical stickers, but you decide to expand into the digital sticker realm. Or maybe you started off selling stickers on Etsy, and you’ve become so successful you want to open a series of your own sticker shops.
Maybe you started off selling a specific sticker design, and you’ve found so much success you want to start offering custom sticker printing, too. The sky is the limit for your sticker business, so be prepared to scale.
Types of Stickers
You might have a specific vision in mind when you think of a sticker, but they actually come in a variety of forms. Stickers can be made from a variety of materials, take a variety of shapes and be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from standard manufacturing labels to designer custom stickers.
What types of stickers do you plan to sell? Some of the most common types of stickers include:
- Vinyl Stickers – One of the most popular mediums for sticker artists, vinyl material is preferred since it weatherproof and durable. Plus, vinyl will stick to almost anything, making vinyl stickers extremely versatile choices for customers.
- Bumper Stickers – If you have a statement to make or a quick wit to share, you might sell it on a bumper sticker in your sticker shop, which customers can use to decorate their cars or other surfaces, sharing your eloquent words with the world.
- Planner Stickers – An entire community of planning enthusiasts use stickers to decorate their schedules, planners and calendars, mapping memories and expressing emotion through colorful decals.
- Die-Cut Stickers – These colorful cut-outs are popular among sticker hobbyists and can be stuck to practically anything. Die-cut stickers are cut to the shape of the design, and so customization options are endless.
- Logo Stickers – Brands love to buy logo stickers to market their companies. Most logo designs are perfectly suited for printing on stickers, and some sticker businesses specialize in supplying these commercial labels to fellow organizations.
- Photo Stickers – Photo stickers are a popular custom sticker option for customers to paste their favorite memories to notebooks, bottles, laptops, phone cases and practically any solid surface.
|Sticker Type||Description||Preferred Material||Versatility||Customization Options||Popular Use Cases|
|Vinyl Stickers||Popular medium for sticker artists, weatherproof and durable, sticks to almost anything, versatile choice for customers.||Vinyl||High||Limited by design shape||Decorate laptops, water bottles, phone cases, car windows, and more.|
|Bumper Stickers||Statement-making and witty, used to decorate cars and surfaces, share messages with the world.||Vinyl||Medium||Limited by design size||Personal expression, political messages, humor, advocacy, and more.|
|Planner Stickers||Used by planning enthusiasts to decorate schedules, planners, and calendars, express emotions through colorful decals.||Vinyl||Medium||Limited by design size||Organizing, memory mapping, expressing emotions in planners and diaries.|
|Die-Cut Stickers||Colorful cut-outs, popular among hobbyists, can be stuck to almost anything, endless customization options.||Vinyl or Paper||High||Wide range of shapes||Crafting, DIY projects, personalization of belongings.|
|Logo Stickers||Brands use to market their companies, perfect for printing logos, some businesses specialize in supplying commercial labels.||Vinyl||Medium||Limited by logo design||Brand promotion, product packaging, marketing materials.|
|Photo Stickers||Custom option for customers to paste favorite memories on various surfaces like notebooks, bottles, laptops, and phone cases.||Vinyl||Medium||Limited by photo size||Personalizing belongings, capturing memories on everyday items.|
Where to Sell Your Stickers
What happens after you’re done printing stickers? Where will you set up your sticker shop? Gone are the days when you would need a space in a local mini-mall or community marketplace. Truly, gone are the days when sticker sellers had to sell physical stickers at all.
You can sell stickers your own stickers online through a variety of platforms, including your own website, social media pages and online marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon. While these platforms typically charge sellers a fee for listing or selling their products, they are highly cost effective compared to designing, establishing and marketing an individual website.
Etsy is a global online marketplace where people can sell their arts and crafts, although the community has expanded far beyond cross-stitch and paper mache to include unique products of all types. Etsy features an entire section of its platform devoted to sticker shops, where sticker businesses can set up an Etsy shop to sell stickers online.
Amazon Handmade is an online marketplace where artists can sell their products to a world audience. Everything sold on Amazon Handmade must be made by hand or altered by hand, no mass-produced products allowed. Therefore, it’s the perfect place to set up an online shop for your sticker business.
Sticker You is a sticker-dedicated platform where people can buy and sell their favorite decals. It offers a great place for sticker businesses to sell their wares at the Sticker You Store, a free marketplace that is connected to the Sticker You website and the Sticker You physical retail store.
Redbubble is an online print-on-demand marketplace where artists can list their designs and customers can order them printed on all sorts of products. The artist is then paid a royalty on the use of their artwork. A sticker designer can spending their time designing stickers and list their works on Redbubble without the need to manufacture their own stickers.
eBay might have started off as an online auction website, but it now is a global online marketplace where people can buy and sell almost anything under the sun… including stickers. Sticker businesses can list their products on eBay, knowing the brand recognition of the platform will attract buyers.
If you don’t want to rely on online marketplaces for your sticker shop location, you can set up your own online store using a platform such as Shopify, which offers a variety of web-based tools to help small businesses run their online stores. By establishing your own online sticker store, you gain even more control over business aspects like operations, branding and marketing.
Understanding Copyright and Licensing for Sticker Designs
As you venture into the world of sticker business and start creating designs, it’s crucial to understand the complexities of copyright and licensing. While designing stickers can be a creative and enjoyable process, it’s essential to respect the intellectual property rights of others and protect your own designs. Here’s what you need to know about copyright and licensing for sticker designs:
Copyright law protects original creative works, including art, designs, and graphics, as soon as they are created and fixed in a tangible medium (e.g., paper, digital file). As the creator of a sticker design, you automatically own the copyright to that design. This means you have exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, display, and create derivative works based on your design.
Licensing Your Sticker Designs
When you want to sell or distribute your sticker designs to others, you have the option to license your work. Licensing allows you to grant specific permissions to others while retaining your copyright. There are various licensing models you can choose from, each with its own terms and conditions. Some common types of licenses include:
- Personal Use License: This allows customers to use your stickers for personal purposes only and prohibits commercial use or redistribution.
- Commercial Use License: This permits customers to use your stickers for commercial purposes, such as on products they sell, as long as they adhere to the terms of the license.
- Royalty-Free License: Under this type of license, customers pay a one-time fee to use your sticker design without ongoing royalty payments. This is common in stock image and design marketplaces.
- Exclusive License: With an exclusive license, you grant a customer sole rights to use your sticker design, and you cannot sell or license it to anyone else during the specified term of the agreement.
Using Others’ Artwork and Designs
As you build your sticker business, you may come across artwork or designs created by others that you’d like to use in your stickers. It’s essential to remember that using someone else’s copyrighted work without permission is illegal and can lead to legal consequences. Always seek permission from the copyright owner before using any artwork that you did not create yourself.
Protecting Your Own Designs
To protect your sticker designs, consider taking the following steps:
- Register Copyright: Although copyright protection is automatic, registering your designs with the copyright office provides additional legal benefits and remedies if your work is ever infringed upon.
- Use Watermarks or Copyright Notices: Adding watermarks or copyright notices to your digital images can deter unauthorized use and remind people that your designs are protected.
- Monitor for Copyright Infringement: Regularly monitor online marketplaces and social media platforms to ensure that your designs are not being used without permission.
By understanding and respecting copyright and licensing principles, you can build a successful sticker business while protecting your intellectual property and respecting the rights of others. Remember to consult with a legal professional for advice specific to your situation and jurisdiction.
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