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Articles on designing your own custom merch, growing your brand, and managing manufacturing as a small business.

How to Discover a Niche Market for Your Pin Business

So you’re thinking of starting a business selling pins?

Hey, great idea! Pins can be a very lucrative product to sell. Whether you’re planning on selling online or in your very own in-person boutique, you’re about to see for yourself just how fun and easy it is to create and sell custom pins!

But hold on a second! Deciding to start a business is the easy part. You’ve still got a lot of things to consider, like how to make custom pins, how to find a custom pins manufacturer, how to design a winning pin… and perhaps most importantly, how to differentiate your business and drive loads of sales.

Here’s the thing: if you don’t have a solid strategy for what will set your pins apart from the rest and who exactly you’ll sell your awesome pins to…

Well, you might end up selling them to nobody.

And as fun as it is to design pins as a hobby… you deserve to get paid real money for your hard work and dedication! After all, you’ll be investing a significant amount of time and energy to turn your ideas into reality.

Your marketing strategy can make all the difference between making a good chunk of change… and being left with hundreds of pins that you can’t even give away.

If you’re going to be smart about this, you need to find a niche market for your pin business.

One that’s underserved and searching for the sort of high-quality, well-designed pins you could provide.

Easier said than done, right? Don’t worry – we’ll explain what a niche market is, teach you why your business needs to find one, and walk you through the entire process of discovering a profitable niche market for your pin business. 

In this article:

  • What is a Niche Market?
  • Benefits of a Niche Market
  • How to Identify a Niche for Your Pin Business
    • Identify your interests, passions, and skills
    • Find a problem you can solve
    • Do some market research
    • Define your niche and gauge profitability
    • Test your idea out
    • Market your business to a specific audience


What is a Niche Market?

custom pin business What_is_a_Niche_Market_

So what is a niche market, anyway? A niche market is a segment of a larger market that is different from the market as a whole due to its own specific set of needs, preferences, or identity. A brand that seeks to serve a niche market provides a product or service that can meet a segment of a larger market’s unique needs, rather than providing a broad or general product or service.


Let’s take pins, for instance. The market for pins is rather large, but within it are many different niches or segments. Niche pin markets could include luxury-priced pins made to pair with evening wear, pins for music fanatics, pins for travelers who want to decorate their luggage, pins for kids, etc.


Just about any market you can think of can be divided further by specific needs of the people who make up that market… including the market for custom pins! The different segments or niches you can carve out are practically endless, but here are a few of the most common ways to define a niche:

  • Price
  • Quality level
  • Demographics
  • Values
  • Interests
  • Location

To sum up, a niche market is a subset of a larger market that can be defined by unique needs, preferences, or descriptors.


Advantages of Serving a Niche Market

You might find it tricky to identify a niche market. Is it really that important to get more specific beyond deciding to start a business selling custom pins? Does it matter how different your business seems from the competition? And hey, shouldn’t you be able to make and sell whatever kind of pins you want?!

Choosing to niche down is a strategic business decision that can allow you to serve a specific customer base better than large competitors (who may have way more resources or experience than you!) who target a larger market with more general products. If you’re starting a custom pins business from scratch, you will likely see much more success if you serve a niche market rather than a market of every single person out there who is looking for pins.

Here are a few of the top benefits of focusing on a niche market: 

  • Focusing on a niche market can help your business save money – niche marketing typically requires less of an investment as they offer a smaller and more specialized product selection. This is especially important if you’re just starting out with limited resources.
  • Focusing on a niche market means less competition – serving the specific needs of a small niche can give you a significant competitive advantage since larger companies typically focus on larger markets.
  • Focusing on a niche market differentiates your business – serving a niche market can help your business be more memorable and recognizable, which could lead to repeat business, word-of-mouth growth, or even media attention.
  • Focusing on a niche market yields happier customers – niche marketers use their resources to really get to know the target customers’ needs inside and out, allowing them to meet their needs better, cultivate a genuine relationship with their smaller audience, and attract more loyal customers.
  • Focusing on a niche market gives you a higher return on investment (ROI) – as long as you can target the right group of people in your marketing efforts, chances are they’ll be more likely to buy your product than if you were advertising something more general. 


Disadvantages of Serving a Niche Market

While identifying a niche market for your pin business is certainly a shrewd business decision, it too comes with its own set of drawbacks. Here are a few cons of niche marketing that you should be aware of so you can avoid making common mistakes:


  • Not all niches are profitable. Let’s go back to the pin example – while creating pins for dogs or edible pins may certainly be unique, chances are there isn’t much of a market for it. You’ll have to find that sweet spot of a market that’s small enough that your company can be competitive, but also big enough that you can make a profit by selling to it.
  • Niche marketing isn’t always very scalable. As your business grows, you may find that the niche market you’ve identified does not – making it difficult to scale as much as you might like to. 
  • You may face unexpected competition. Sure, you could start out being the only company in the world that offers pins specifically designed for nurses… but if a larger company decides to start serving that niche market, you might suddenly find it difficult to compete.
  • Your market will be much smaller. Naturally, you’ll find that you’re limited to the market you’ve carved out for yourself – for better or for worse.


How to Identify a Profitable Niche for Your Pin Business

Now that you’ve weighed a few of the pros and cons of focusing your pin business on a niche market, it’s time to start niching down and figuring out the best customer base for you to focus on. Learn how to identify a profitable niche for your pin business, step by step.

1. Identify your interests, passions, & skills

We’re not going to sugarcoat it – business involves a lot of hard work. If you’re not spending your time creating and selling products you genuinely care about, you might not be able to stick it out when the going gets tough. Your odds of quitting will greatly increase if you’re doing something you don’t feel connected to.

Hopefully, the concept of starting a business selling custom pins already energizes and excites you. But you’ve still got other decisions to make – and they can and should be influenced by your interests, passions, and skills. Are you an avid traveler who loves decorating her carry-on with unique pins from the places you’ve visited? Are you an artist at heart who creates fine art pieces and makes them more accessible through custom pins? Are you a fashionista who’s always looking for ways to DIY fun pieces you found at the thrift store?

Choosing something you’re genuinely interested in and passionate about will also help you better relate to your target audience and serve their needs.

To start, write down at least 10 interests, passions, and skills of yours. (If you’re struggling to come up with that many, ask someone who knows you really well to tell you what they see!) Then, start thinking about how you can niche your pins business to center on one or more of those.

2. Find a problem you can solve

The whole point of identifying a niche market is to define an unmet or underserved need. The best businesses solve a problem their target customers are currently experiencing.

Now, you might think that pins don’t exactly solve any important problems… but they absolutely can! 

Maybe the problem your customers experience is not knowing how to express themselves with generic clothing they find in the average department store…

Or not having the money to shell out for official sports merchandise from their favorite team…

Or having a favorite band and not being sure how to rep their fandom.

To identify problems, talk to people who are in the market you’re considering targeting and listen to their problems. You may also perform some keyword research to find pins that people are already searching for on Google, or sift through online forums.

3. Perform market research

Now, it’s time to shine a light on your competition.

Start looking at other pin businesses out there, and look for holes in the market. What pins seem to be selling well? What pins do you see a lot of, and what pins don’t seem to be sold at all? Consider reading genuine customer reviews to see what people love about your competitors’ pins and what they wish they saw more of.

Note that having a bit of competition isn’t a bad thing – it might even be a sign that the niche you’re considering is indeed a profitable one. Still, as you look at your competition, be sure to look for signs that you’ll still be able to stand out and offer something unique, whether with better products, a friendlier brand, or a more user-friendly buying experience.

4. Define your niche and gauge profitability

Now that you have a decent idea of what the competitor landscape is like, it’s time to make a decision. Considering the market and your own personal interests, what seems like a good niche to target?

Do your best to gauge the profitability of your particular niche as well. Research how large your market might be and how much similar products typically sell for. Then, figure out how much it would cost you to create custom pins for that market. The/Studio’s DIY product Create tool can give you a good idea of exactly how much you’ll pay for your initial pins order.

5. Test your idea out

You don’t have to have everything 100% figured out from day one – in fact, most businesses don’t! The only true way to determine whether the niche you’ve identified will be profitable is to test things out.

Place a small order of pins designed specifically for your niche and target market. (You might even want to sell pre-orders!) Gauge interest on social media and in your personal circles. See people’s reactions to the products and gather feedback and reviews. If things go well, THEN it’s time to invest more and go all-in on a few products. If not, make a few tweaks and try again. 

6. Market your business to your specific audience

It’s not enough to simply design a product that fits your target audience’s specific needs – you also must get it in front of those people so they’re able to make a purchase. Successful niche marketers figure out how to reach their niche market where they are and talk to them about it in their own language, convincing them that this product or service will indeed fill their needs. 

Ready to start creating pins for a niche market? Start the process here.





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