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A Guide to Starting a Pin Business

Pins have found their way back into fashion, especially among Gen Z and their love for nostalgic alternative trends. These tiny pieces of art are a winning combination of collectable and wearable, which means they’re also a great opportunity for budding entrepreneurs looking to make some money online. If your creative side is itching to get into the pin game, follow our step-by-step guide to starting a pin business.

Why Start a Pin Business?

If you hop on over to Etsy or any similar marketplace, you’ll find an abundance of custom-designed products, from t-shirts to tote bags. It’s clear there are plenty of ways to make money selling custom products online, so why choose to sell custom pins over other items? Here are a few reasons why starting a pin business is a great idea:

  • Pins are compact and lightweight. This means they are cheaper to ship and easier to store. It translates into overhead savings for you and ultimately higher profits.
  • They are a low-risk investment. Creating custom pins doesn’t require a large upfront cost compared to other products like clothing.
  • The market is growing. As mentioned, plenty of people still love to buy custom pins and they’re growing in popularity all the time. It’s the perfect niche to jump into.
  • Pins have a wide appeal. Yes, it’s the younger crowd who particularly likes pins, but niche fandoms and subcultures of all ages are passionate about collecting and wearing pins.

In summary, pins are an excellent starting point for your online business! They’re affordable, in-demand, and easy to manage. And since they’re not that expensive to manufacture, you can offer them at a reasonable price point, making them accessible to a wide range of potential customers.

Custom Pin Business Operation

How to Start a Pin Business Step by Step

So, you want to start selling pins. Where do you begin? Follow these steps if you’re wondering how to start an enamel pin business or any other type of pin venture:

Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience

Before you start designing pins, it’s essential to know who you’re creating them for. Will your target audience be fans of a specific TV show or movie? Gamers? Comic book lovers?

Your audience will guide everything from the designs you choose to how you market your pins and where you sell them. So you need to have a clear understanding of who will buy custom pins from your brand. Generally, it’s better to start with a niche and then expand to broader audiences later on. Why? Because it’s easier to stand out in a smaller market and build a loyal following before competing with larger, more established brands.

Step 2: Create Your Designs

The next and maybe the most important step is designing your pins. If you’re the creative type, you could start sketching out designs yourself. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you want to create popular lapel pins:

  • What would appeal to your audience? You can take a look at what other pin businesses are doing and get inspiration, but make sure to add your unique twist.
  • Keep it simple. Pins are small, so intricate designs may not translate well onto them. Bold, clear designs tend to make the most popular lapel pins.
  • Avoid copyright issues. When you make your own pin design, keep the designs original and make sure they’re not infringing on any existing intellectual property.

If you’re not the artistic type, you can always partner with a designer or an artist to help you create the perfect design. Once you have your design on paper (or digitally), show it to your friends, family, or members of your target audience for feedback.

Different Pin Types For Starting a Pin Business

Step 3: Choose Your Production Method

Now that you have your designs finalized, it’s time to choose how you’ll produce them. The most common methods include:

  • Soft enamel pins. These are the most common type of enamel lapel pins on the market. It’s made by filling recessed metal areas of the pin with colored enamel and then baking it to create a textured, shiny finish.
  • Hard enamel pins. These are similar to soft enamel pins, but the colored enamel is created individually and then baked together. The result is harder and more durable than soft enamel pins, so slightly more expensive. It’s perfect if you want a bold, smooth finish.
  • Die struck pins. These are made by stamping a design onto a metal surface and then polishing and plating it. They don’t have any colored enamel, so they’re visually simple but still elegant. These types of metal lapel pins are similar to a coin in appearance.
  • Printed pins. These are created by printing a design directly onto the metal surface of the pin. This method allows for more intricate and detailed designs. You can finish them off with an epoxy coating – either thin or thick for a more dome-like appearance.

Depending on the look (and feel) that you’re going for, and possibly your budget, you can choose the production method that best suits your designs.

Step 3: Find a Manufacturer

Unless you have an advanced home production setup, including a metal press and enamel oven, you’ll need to order lapel pins from an external company. There are a few options for this:

  • Dropshipping. This involves finding a company that will make and ship the pins directly to your customers. It’s ideal if you want to avoid holding inventory, but keep in mind that you’ll have no control over the creative process. The company will have pre-made designs for you to choose from, and they usually take a cut of the profits.
  • Print on Demand. Many online merchants use print on demand – it’s a popular option for T-shirts, tote bags, and more. When you partner with a POD company, they make and ship the product once your customers click ‘order’. It means you don’t need to hold inventory or handle shipping. However, in the case of custom pins, it’s not really an option. The manufacturing process is too complex for POD companies, with most only providing POD services for simple button pins.
  • Custom manufacturers. This is the best option if you want complete control over the design and production process. You can work directly with a custom manufacturer to turn your designs into pins. This option may require a higher upfront investment compared to dropshipping for example, but it’s really the only viable choice if you want to create your own custom pins.

At The/Studio, we help customers create their own fully customized pins. You can choose the production method, using your own design, size, and shape of your choice. We also offer plenty of other customization options such as the finish, color, backing attachment, and upgrades such as glitter enamel.

Step 4: Create a Brand Identity

It’s time to think about branding your lapel pin business. This is important because it will help differentiate your custom pins from others in the market and make your brand more memorable. You want your customers to think of your brand whenever they think of pins! Here’s what you can do to create a strong brand identity:

  • Choose a brand name. This should be something unique and memorable that reflects your brand’s personality. Avoid generic names and opt for something creative and catchy.
  • Design a logo. Your logo will be the visual representation of your brand, so it’s important to get it right. Make sure it’s simple, versatile, and reflects your brand’s style and values.
  • Establish a color scheme. Choose a set of colors that represent your brand and use them consistently across all branding materials. This will help create a more recognizable brand image.
  • Think of a brand story. People connect with stories, so if you have a fun or interesting story behind your brand, share it with your customers.
  • Create a brand voice. How will you communicate with your customers? Will you be friendly, informal, and quirky? Or more smooth and punchy? Defining a clear communication style can help you connect better with your audience.
  • Packaging and Presentation. Don’t overlook the importance of packaging and presentation for your pins. This is another opportunity to showcase your brand’s identity and make a good impression on customers.

Custom Pin Ecommerce Store

Step 5: Set Up Your Online Store

Your online store is your gateway to your customers. You might not have the budget or technical know-how to create a fully custom website but don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to sell custom pins online that don’t involve massive upfront investment. Some options include:

  • Online marketplace platforms. You could sell your products on established marketplaces such as eBay or Etsy. This allows you to benefit from their large audience and established customer base without needing to build your own site from scratch.
  • E-commerce website builders. Platforms like Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace offer easy-to-use templates that allow you to create a professional-looking online store without any coding experience. You might have to pay to use these platforms, but it’s much cheaper than hiring a web developer.
  • Social media selling. You can also use social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook to reach people who want to buy custom pins directly. Plenty of small businesses start by selling through their social media pages before moving on to a dedicated website.

Step 6: Decide How You’ll Fulfill Orders

How you fulfill orders will affect how efficiently and effectively your pin business runs. It can be a headache if you don’t plan ahead, so think about the following:

  • Inventory management. How will you keep track of your stock levels and ensure that you have enough products to fulfill orders? You might want to use basic inventory management software or spreadsheets to stay organized.
  • Shipping options. Will you offer free shipping, flat rate shipping, or real-time carrier rates? Make sure to research shipping carriers and their costs to offer the best option for your business and customers.
  • Fulfillment methods. Will you fulfill orders yourself or use a third-party fulfillment service? Fulfilling orders yourself can save money and most small businesses have to start this way. But as you grow, you may want to use a third-party service to free up time for other aspects of your custom pin business.

Marketing Your Custom Pin Business

Step 7: Start Marketing Your Pins

Marketing is a huge aspect of driving sales and growing your business. Unfortunately, “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply to making and selling custom pins (or nearly any type of product). You need to actively make your brand known and target the people who are likely to be interested in your pins.

Advertising can be pricey, but you don’t have to splash out in the beginning. There are lots of affordable ways to market your pins, such as:

  • Organic social media marketing. You can advertise on social media platforms (which will cost you money) but if you’re able to create fun and attention-grabbing content, this can also generate interest organically. It takes some work and some creativity, but it’s an excellent opportunity to build a loyal following.
  • Collaborations. Reach out to other small businesses or influencers in your niche and see if they would be open to collaborating on a lapel pin design or promoting each other’s products. This can expose your brand to new audiences without coming across as too promotional.
  • In-Person Markets and Events. Are there any maker markets or craft events happening in your area? Consider renting a booth and showcasing your pins. This can be a great way to get feedback, interact with potential customers, and make sales. Make sure you clearly advertise your online store and social media accounts at the event.
  • SEO Strategies. If you have a website for your business, SEO (search engine optimization) is crucial for making it discoverable on search engines. Research keywords and consistently use them in your website’s content to improve its ranking. And if you’re selling your custom pins on an online marketplace like Etsy or eBay, keep in mind that they also have their own search algorithms that you can optimize for!
  • Paid Advertising. If you have the budget, paid advertising can be a powerful tool to reach a larger audience of lapel pin fans. You can invest in targeted ads on Google, Facebook, and Instagram to reach potential customers who are already interested in pins or related products.

Step 8: Start Selling Your Pins!

If you’ve followed the previous steps, then you’re ready to start selling your pins. Hopefully, your lapel pin business will grow over time and you can continue to experiment and improve your strategies. It’s usually a good idea to invest some of your profits back into the business for things like advertising, new lapel pin designs, packaging, or anything else that can help your brand stand out and attract more customers. Ultimately, with hard work, dedication, and some great lapel pin designs, you can turn your love for pins into a successful business venture.

Business Partnership

Partner with The/Studio for High-Quality Pins

At The/Studio, we can help you turn your pin design into a real-life high-quality pin. With low minimums and fast turnaround times, we make it easy to create customizable lapel pins that you can start selling in no time.

Ordering from us is simple – just make an account and follow the easy step-by-step process to upload your design, select your options, and place your order. Once you’ve placed your order, we can send out a sample so you can make sure everything is perfect before we proceed with production. And if you need any help, our pin experts are always on hand to guide you through the process and answer any questions. So, start selling your pins today with The/Studio!

FAQs

How do I set up a pin business?

  1.   Determine your target audience and niche within the pin market.
  2.   Create a brand image and design unique pins for that market.
  3.   Partner with a custom manufacturer like The/Studio
  4.   Build an online platform to sell your pins. This could be a website or social media pages.
  5.   Use advertising and marketing strategies to reach potential customers.
  6.   Continuously improve and expand your business!

How do you make money selling pins?

You can sell pins at a markup price, meaning you charge more than what it costs to produce them. This markup can vary based on factors like design complexity, popularity, and demand.

How much does it cost to create a pin?

The cost of creating a pin will vary depending on factors like the type of pin, any upgrades you choose, and how many you want to order. You can use The/Studio’s easy ordering process to get an instant quote for your specific pin design and quantity.

Do enamel pins sell well on Etsy?

There are thousands of enamel pin sellers on Etsy, with many of them making thousands of orders for each pin design. So yes, enamel pins can sell very well on Etsy!

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