Custom pins have become a popular and trendy way for brands to promote themselves and add some extra revenue by selling them as merchandise. These small, yet powerful items can be used to showcase logos, slogans, and other designs that represent your brand’s identity. They can also be your main product! Many Etsy store owners and creatives have turned custom pins into a profitable niche market.
In this guide, we will explore the marketing benefits of selling custom pins as merch and break down the step-by-step process on how to design and order custom pins for your brand. You might be a small business owner, independent artist, or part of a larger company – whoever you are, this guide will teach you how to sell and order pins.
Is selling pins profitable?
Before we get into the main steps of designing and ordering pins, let’s address the elephant in the room – is it actually profitable to sell them? The answer is a resounding yes!
There are many successful small businesses that have turned selling custom pins into a profitable venture. Take Pintrill for example. They started as three entrepreneurs from Brooklyn who saw the growing demand for pins and turned it into a successful brand. These days they enjoy collaborations with popular artists and the creators of pop culture icons like Peanuts, Hey Arnold!, Pac-man, and Spongebob.
Here are some of the reasons it’s profitable to order custom pins and sell them:
Low production costs
Custom pins are relatively inexpensive to produce compared to other merch items like t-shirts or hats. This means you can sell them at a higher price point and still make a good profit.
Pins have gained popularity in recent years, with people collecting and trading them as a hobby. This creates high demand for unique and well-designed pins, making it the perfect product to add to your merch line.
Custom pins are walking advertisements for your brand. When someone wears your pin, they are essentially promoting your brand to others.You can order pins with logo designs or slogans that represent your brand, allowing you to increase your visibility.
Pins can be attached to clothing, bags, hats, or even displayed as a collectible item. This versatility makes them attractive to a broad range of customers.
Types of custom pins
Before you design and order pins, you need to familiarize yourself with the different types of pins and manufacturing processes. When most people think of pins, they picture enamel pins, which are the most common type. However, there are other options available, which we explain below.
Custom metal pins
Custom metal pins are made from a variety of metals, such as brass, copper, iron, zinc alloy, or stainless steel. They are one of the most durable types of custom pins and can withstand wear and tear. You can create these pins in different shapes, sizes, and finishes depending on your preferences.
Custom enamel pins
Enamel pins are made by filling in the recessed areas of a metal pin with colored enamel paint. This process creates a smooth and glossy finish, making them popular among collectors. If you decide you want to order custom enamel pins, then keep in mind there are two types:
- Soft enamel pins. Soft enamel pins are created by filling in the recessed areas of a metal pin with enamel paint, which is then baked at a high temperature. This process allows the enamel to sink below the raised metal lines, creating a textured feel. They’re the most common type of custom pin.
- Hard enamel pins. Hard enamel pins have a more polished finish and the creation process is different too. Pieces of enamel are melted and baked together on top of the metal pin, creating a smooth and even surface. These pins are slightly more expensive than soft enamel pins.
Custom die struck pins
Die-struck pins are created by stamping a design onto metal and then cutting it into the desired shape – similar to a coin. These pins have no color and rely on different metal finishes, such as polished gold, silver, or copper to create contrast and highlight the design.
Custom epoxy pins
Epoxy pins are made by covering a metal pin with a layer of clear epoxy resin, which gives a three-dimensional effect. This pin type is popular for those who want to create photorealistic designs.
Types of backing attachments
Custom pins come with various backing attachments to keep them securely in place. Some popular options include:
- Butterfly clutch. A metal piece with two small prongs that are squeezed together to secure the pin.
- Rubber clutch. Similar to a butterfly clutch but made of rubber, making it more durable and less likely to fall off or lose its grip.
- Magnetic backing. Strong magnets are used to attach the pin to clothing without causing any holes or damage.
- Safety pin. A classic option that provides a secure hold and is easy to put on and take off.
- Bent legs. This backing allows the pin to be attached to buttons by bending two metal legs on the back of the pin.
Pins for different occasions
People buy pins for different reasons. They might just be looking for a fashion accessory or a way to express their interests. Custom pins can also be made for specific occasions, events or organizations. It helps to consider the target audience when designing your pins or starting a new pin business. Here are a few examples:
Military pins are a popular way for current and former service members to show their pride and affiliation with a particular branch, unit, or mission. These pins can be used as part of a uniform, given as gifts, or sold to raise funds for veteran organizations.
Sports teams often create custom pins to commemorate special games, tournaments or achievements. Fans can purchase these pins as souvenirs or to show their support for the team. Sports pins can also be sold as part of a fundraiser for schools or youth sports organizations.
If you own a business or work for a company, custom enamel pins can be a great way to promote your brand and create a sense of unity among employees. These company pins can also be used as part of employee recognition programs or given out at networking events.
You can use pins as a unique keepsake for special events such as conferences, concerts, or festivals. Attendees can collect these pins as a way to remember the event and show off their participation.
Suit lapel pins
The great thing about custom pins is they can be both formal and funky, meaning you can wear them on a suit lapel as well! Custom suit lapel pins can be a great conversation starter at business events or add some personality to a formal outfit.
How to order custom pins
So let’s say you’ve chosen your design and you have some idea of the type of pins you want to create – what’s next? It’s time to order custom pins! Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:
Set your budget
This is perhaps one of the most important steps in the process. Custom pins can vary in cost depending on factors such as size, material, and quantity. It’s important to understand these cost factors and set a budget that works for you.
Some common cost factors to think about:
- Pin size. Larger pins often cost more than smaller ones due to the amount of material and labor required.
- Materials. The type of material used can impact the cost. For example, hard enamel pins tend to be more expensive than soft enamel pins.
- Quantity. Most manufacturers offer bulk discounts, so the more you order, the lower the cost per pin will be. However, keep in mind that ordering pins in large quantities may result in a bigger upfront cost or you could end up with excess stock. You might want to look for a manufacturer with low minimum order quantity requirements (like us at The/Studio!).
It’s also worth considering any additional costs that may arise, such as shipping fees, marketing expenses, or the cost of packaging your pins. It may also be helpful to add in a buffer for unexpected costs!
Choose the right manufacturer
There are many manufacturers out there that allow you to order custom pins of all kinds, but not every manufacturer is the same. It’s important to do some research and find a reputable company that can produce high-quality pins at a reasonable cost.
Some things to keep in mind when choosing a manufacturer include:
- Quality. Look for manufacturers with good reviews and a strong portfolio of previous work. You want to make sure the pins you receive will be of high quality and accurately represent your design.
- Cost. As we’ve mentioned, pins can vary quite a bit in cost, depending on what you’re looking for. Make sure to compare prices from different manufacturers to get the best deal.
- Production time. If you need your pins by a certain date, make sure to check the production time of each manufacturer. Some may take longer than others to produce and ship your order.
- Minimum order quantities. Some manufacturers require minimum orders for custom pins. Decide how many pins you need and find a manufacturer that can accommodate your order size.
Once you’ve done your research and found the right manufacturer for your custom pins, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Order custom pins
So you have a design prepared, you’ve chosen your manufacturer, and now it’s time to place your order. Most manufacturers have a simple online order form that will guide you through the process of ordering pins step by step. Here at The/Studio, you can easily order custom pins with a simple 4-step process:
1. Select your size and quantity
You start by choosing how many pins you want to order. We offer discounts for higher order quantities.
2. Specify dimensions and pin type
Next, you’ll need to specify the dimensions of your pins and choose what type of material, backing, colors, and finish you want.
3. Upload your design
Now it’s time to upload your design file. Our team will review it and make sure it’s ready for production.
4. Choose your production speed
Finally, you can choose how quickly you need your pins. We offer standard production time as well as rush options for an additional fee. You can opt to skip the sample production phase if you’re in a hurry (but we do recommend getting a sample first).
5. Pay for your order
After completing all the steps and reviewing your order summary, it’s time to pay for your order. We accept various payment methods such as credit card, PayPal, and bank transfer.
Once you’ve placed your order, sit back and relax while our team gets to work on creating your custom pins.
Decide where you want to sell your pins
You have your custom pins in hand, now it’s time to decide where you want to sell them. You have several options for distributing and promoting your pins:
- Online marketplaces. Websites such as Etsy, Shopify, and Amazon allow you to easily set up an online store to sell your custom pins.
- Your own website. You can create your own website to sell your pins. This gives you more control over branding and customer experience, but may require more work and investment.
- Physical stores. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you can display and sell your custom pins there.
- Events. Set up a booth at conventions, festivals, or craft shows to showcase and sell your pins in person.
- Retail stores. You can approach local retail stores or boutiques to see if they would be interested in carrying your pins.
- Social media. Use social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to promote and sell your custom pins directly to your followers.
Market your custom pins
Once your new pins made to order arrive, it’s time to start marketing them and getting your brand out there. Here are a few strategy ideas to get you started:
Social media marketing
Social media is your best friend when it comes to marketing your custom pins. Instagram, for example, has the option to create shoppable posts, meaning users can click on your pin design and be directed straight to your online store. You can target specific audiences and use hashtags to reach even more potential customers. Facebook groups and pages, as well as X (formerly Twitter) and Pinterest are also great platforms to showcase your pins.
Collaborating with other brands or influencers can be a great way to get your pins in front of new audiences. Look for brands or individuals that align with your brand’s values and aesthetics, and reach out to them for a potential collaboration.
Building an email list and sending out regular newsletters is a great way to keep your customers updated on new pin designs, promotions, and upcoming events or shows. You can also offer exclusive discounts to your email subscribers.
Pop-up shops and events
Participating in pop-up shops or setting up a booth at events such as craft fairs, comic conventions, or music festivals can be a great way to interact with potential customers face-to-face and showcase your pins. Make sure to have plenty of business cards or flyers available for interested customers.
If you’ve partnered with a retail store to sell your pins, be sure to have eye-catching displays. Additionally, consider offering promotions such as buy one get one free or bundle deals.
Package and ship your pins
Once your pins are designed and ordered, it’s important to package them securely before shipping them out to customers. This not only protects the pins from potential damage during transit, but also adds a professional touch to your brand. Here are some tips for packaging and shipping your custom pins:
- Choose appropriate packaging. Make sure to choose packaging that is durable and protects the pins. This can include bubble mailers, padded envelopes, or boxes depending on the number of pins being shipped and their size. At The/Studio, we offer great custom packaging options for your pins.
- Include extras. Consider adding small extras such as stickers or thank you notes with each pin order. These little touches can make a big difference in customer satisfaction!
- Use tracking numbers. Always opt for shipping methods that provide tracking numbers so you and your customers can easily track their delivery status once they order pins. This also helps protect you from any disputes regarding lost shipments.
- Offer international shipping. Don’t limit your customer base to just your local area. Consider offering international shipping options to reach a wider audience and increase sales potential.
- Consider packaging inserts. Packaging inserts such as discount codes or referral cards can encourage customers to make repeat purchases or refer their friends to your business. This is a great way to build customer loyalty and expand your customer base.
That covers the basics of designing, ordering, marketing, and shipping your pins!
Order Custom Pins from The/Studio
Ready to order custom pins? Great! We’re ready to help you every step of the way. We have a broad range of pin options, from hard enamel pins and soft enamel pins to die-struck and epoxy. We even offer custom shapes and backing options.
Once you have your design finalized, simply place your order through our user-friendly ordering system. Looking forward to working with you!
Is it expensive to make pins?
It depends on the type and design of the pin. Our prices are competitive, and we offer bulk discounts for larger orders.
Where can I sell pins?
You can sell pins in various places such as online marketplaces, merchandise stores, events, and conventions, or even directly to your customers through your own website or social media platforms.
Is it worth promoting pins on Pinterest?
Absolutely! Pinterest is a highly visual platform and it offers a business account option that allows you to showcase your products and drive traffic to your online store. According to Pinterest’s own data, people who shop through their platform are willing to pay 40% more for the products they buy!
Can you sell pins on Etsy?
Yes, you can sell pins on Etsy. As a popular platform for custom and unique items, it’s a great place to start selling custom pin designs. It has over 81 million active shoppers, so that’s a lot of potential customers for your pins.