Setting up your own sticker business may seem complicated, but with a little bit of procedural knowledge and some convenient online tools, it’s really not that hard.
Stickers are a great product for a first-time business owner as they present very few complications – they’re easy to produce, easy to ship, and it’s easy to create and offer new products frequently. Unless you went to business school, the most difficult part is often following the proper procedures to set up and register your new business legitimately.
It can seem complex, but I went through this whole process when I started my own business, so let me walk you through the 9 steps I used to get my shop up and running!
9 Steps to Start a Sticker Business
Whether you want to produce your own stickers or you're looking to source them and resell, here are my key steps that will help you out on this journey.
1. Choose Your Product
You know you want to sell stickers, but what kind? There are two main things to consider when choosing your stickers: the method of printing and the material you print on. Three popular choices of material are:
- Paper stickers
- Vinyl stickers
- Polyester stickers
Paper is the cheapest of the three, but also the least durable, while vinyl and polyester have shiny finishes that are water and oil-resistant. Offering stickers in a range of materials is a great idea, but I suggest choosing one material to start with and expanding later on once you establish your business.
In terms of printing options, you can use inkjet printing, sublimation printing, other types of digital printing, or traditional screen printing. It’s helpful to research each option so you can decide which best suits the look and durability you want to achieve and which fits into your budget.
2. Consider Production Options
Once you know what you want to sell, the next step is to decide how to produce your stickers. You can either make them yourself or outsource the work to a sticker printing company.
To choose the right method for you, consider the size of the operation you want to set up, and what kind of budget you can spare for equipment.
If you’re aiming to start a small business and you already have some sticker printing equipment, taking care of the production yourself might be a great option. With this option, you need to find a good supplier for the materials you require.
However, if you’re hoping to ship a large amount of product and don’t have any equipment on hand, outsourcing might be a more efficient and sustainable approach than investing in equipment. There are many outsourcing companies you can choose from and plenty of different services offered, so you’re likely to find exactly what you need.
3. Choose a Shipping System
When you send an order to a customer, someone has to pay for the shipping. The four most common strategies are:
- The customer pays for shipping
- You offer free shipping and pay for it yourself
- You offer free shipping by raising product prices
- You split the cost with the customer by offering a flat rate
If you keep packaging to a minimum, stickers can be easily sent through the mail as letter packs rather than packages, which will reduce the cost significantly.
This may make free shipping a viable option even for a new business, but ultimately, you should make the choice based on your budget and preferences.
4. Identify a Target Audience
Before you start designing stickers, it’s useful to pinpoint your target audience. Who do you want to make stickers for?
You may have multiple groups in mind, but it can be good to start small and focused, and then you can expand your audience and product lines as you gain clientele and profit.
If your initial vision for the business idea didn’t include a specific audience, you can research the current market to see if there’s a gap in demand that you can fill. By scoping out the competition, you can get ideas about how to do things yourself, as well as note down types of products you don’t see a lot of.
5. Create a Business Plan
Now that you’ve solidified some of the key components of your future business, it’s a good time to draw up a business plan. This can help you pitch your business in the future if you decide to seek financial backing, partners, or hire talent.
It can also help you consolidate your ideas and get a better view of the big picture. Planning a business involves juggling a lot of different ideas and possibilities, so there’s always a chance you might overlook something important.
A few basic things to include in your business plan are:
- A general summary of your business idea
- An analysis of your target audience
- Your ideas for a potential marketing campaign
- Members of your team (this can be just you)
- Your financial goals and how you plan to reach them
Your business plan doesn't have to be very thorough if you're starting out small. Remember that you can go back and edit it or update it later on when your business begins to grow.
6. Register Your Business
Registration procedures can be tricky, but for a small business such as an online sticker shop, it often isn’t as complex as you might think.
To save stress and problems later down the line, I strongly recommend doing the work and research to register your business as soon as you’re able. For most small businesses, registration can actually be completed in just a few hours and without great expense.
First of all, you need a business structure. If you’re embarking on a solo venture, then the best option is to choose a sole proprietorship. This structure is the most common among online merchants, but you can’t use this if you’re planning to start a business with another person.
As a sole proprietorship, registering your business can be pretty simple, but the exact requirements will vary based on your state.
To find out what kinds of permits and licenses you might need, the best place to go is your local Small Business Association (SBA), or your local city hall. In most cases, you’ll be able to apply for what you need online for a small fee.
7. Design and Choose Your Stickers
Now that you’ve chosen your materials, decided on a shipping method, and registered your business, it’s time to start putting together your products. There are many different options when it comes to collecting designs for your stickers, the first of which is creating the designs yourself.
To do this, you’ll need certain kinds of software and equipment. If you want to create digital art for your stickers, you could use equipment like an iPad or a Wacom tablet to draw with, and you’ll need editing software like Adobe Creative Suite to create your stickers. You can also create text-based stickers yourself without the ability to draw.
Another option is outsourcing your artwork to an independent artist, whose work you can then edit into a sticker yourself. You might do this because you want to commission certain types of work, or you might work with an artist to make merchandise from their existing work.
If you plan to use existing intellectual property in your designs, I recommend researching copyright laws and discerning exactly what kind of usage is legal and safe.
8. Decide Where to Sell Your Stickers
While figuring out where to sell your stickers might seem like one of the more complicated steps in this process, it can actually be very simple.
Here are some of the most popular ways to sell stickers:
- Set up your own online store
- Attend relevant pop-up events and fairs
- Collaborate with independent stationery stores
- Use a digital marketplace like Redbubble, Etsy, or eBay
- Advertise your stickers on social media and sell directly to customers
Of these options, using a digital marketplace is the quickest and easiest, but it also comes with fees and costs that you might want to avoid.
It may surprise you to know, however, that the second easiest option is setting up your own online shop. Services like GoDaddy make it possible to create professional websites without any technical know-how, and they are also highly customizable.
Setting up your own website, while it may be a little more time-consuming to begin with, will give you complete freedom over many important aspects of your business. This includes payment options, design, and product range. With Pay.com, you can even set up your own customized checkout page.
9. Set Up a Payment System
When I started my business, I knew I wanted to devote as much of my time as possible to designing and creating my merchandise, so I researched how I could start accepting card payments as easily and quickly as possible.
After a lot of research, my ultimate recommendation for any small business is to work with Pay.com.
With Pay.com, you can handle payments online, in person, and even over the phone, which provides all the flexibility a small business needs to be able to take advantage of any opportunity for a sale. With online payments, you can set up a personalized checkout page on your site and choose exactly what payment methods you want to offer.
When you make a sale in person, Pay.com can generate a secure payment link that you can send to a customer via email or text message, allowing them to checkout and pay on the spot.
Whichever method you use, you can see all of your transactions and the fees you need to pay on the Pay Dashboard, so you always know how much you’re earning and how much you’re spending.
The Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Sticker Business
Starting a sticker business is simple compared to a lot of other business ventures, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t difficulties.
Here are some pros and cons to consider before you make a decision:
- Stickers are easy to design, produce, and ship, making them one of the simplest types of merchandise to deal with
- Online stores allow you to have full control over the hours you put in, and you can work wherever you like
- A solo business can be easy to manage and inexpensive to set up and register
- Production can either be time-consuming or expensive when you don’t have a lot of experience
- It can take time for your business to gain customers and start making a profit
- When you're your own boss, it's easy to overdo it and work too much
The Bottom Line: Is Starting a Sticker Business Right for You?
The answer to this question really depends on the amount of effort you’re willing to put into this project. Running a small business might not be very complicated, but it does still require time and effort.
On the other hand, creating a business from scratch and seeing it grow into a successful venture can be very rewarding. A well-managed sticker business can turn out to be profitable, and as long as you follow current trends, it could begin to generate more and more revenue over time.
With useful tools like Pay.com, you can rest easy knowing that your payments are safe and well-managed without you needing to do the hard work. That way, all your focus can shift to managing your business and making sure it's on the right track!