Few business ventures have as low start-up costs and high-profit margins as stickers.
Custom sticker businesses are a beginner-friendly way to make money online without a substantial investment. Whether you’re an artist selling your latest designs on Etsy or a local boutique selling extra merch, stickers are a fun, creative way to expand!
Follow our step-by-step guide to getting started!
Why Start a Sticker Business?
If you’ve ever tried online businesses, you know how difficult it can be to get off the ground. It requires upfront capital for hiring a team, manufacturing products, getting a brick-and-mortar space, etc.
A custom sticker business doesn’t have so many upfront costs. It’s one of the many reasons to start a sticker business.
- Low upfront capital and costs: Starting a sticker business generally costs between $100 to $1,000. You won’t need to seek funding from investors or loans from banks.
- High-profit margins: The cost of producing stickers is low, meaning you can get up to 80% profit margins!
- Beginner-friendly: Custom sticker businesses have an easy learning curve. All you need to do is pick your niche and designs, find a supplier, and sell them.
- Make money from your laptop: Businesses with storefronts have a lot of overhead costs. Custom sticker businesses let you take it all online, making money passively. Once you’ve set up your store, customers can purchase anytime. All you’ll need to do is continually restock your stickers and ensure fulfillment.
- Growing demand: Sites like Etsy and RedBubble have dozens of sellers with over 15,000 reviews. Custom stickers are a hot commodity that’s growing in demand. They’re also great impulse buys since they’re priced low.
Starting a Sticker Business Step by Step
You don’t need a degree to get your sticker business up and running. We’ve broken down the process into eight easy-to-follow steps.
1. Choose a Niche
As a beginner, we recommend choosing sub-niches. Casting too wide of a net will make it difficult to attract your ideal audience. A niche lets you hyper-target a group of people by creating designs that resonate with their interests.
For example, pets are a very broad interest. You can niche down by choosing just dog or cat designs. You can add another unique flair by only offering Gothic-themed or cartoon-style pets.
A specific niche helps you stand out since few other sellers can match your offer. When competition is low, you can charge higher prices.
2. Validate Your Designs
A common mistake for new sellers is they fail to validate their design ideas. Many will throw up designs, hoping they’ll stick.
Instead, you’ll want to test your design ideas first to ensure product market fit. Here are a few practical ways you can check to see whether people buy your designs:
- Look at online marketplaces: On Redbubble, you can filter your search by “trending” or “best-selling.” Or, on Etsy, you can filter your search by the number of top customer reviews, which brings up the hottest-selling stickers. If your design resembles the top sellers, there’s a good chance there’s a big market for your stickers.
- Use survey platforms: Many offer advanced research tools for enterprise companies. They allow you to build surveys and receive feedback from their built-in audiences. You can select your desired audience and see how people feel about your designs.
- Post in groups: You can manually get feedback by posting your designs in Facebook groups, Reddit or Quora to see what others think.
- Check for trending designs on eCommerce platforms and social media: If there’s a similar design on a T-shirt or mug, people likely would also buy stickers for it. Look on social media for popular memes or trending stories.
Once your design is validated, you’re ready to move on!
3. Choose a Business Model
A business model determines your manufacturing and distribution process. This model affects your cost and effort to produce, impacting your scalability. We’ll break down each business model you can pursue in your sticker business.
Manufacturing stickers gives you complete control over the design and printing process. You create the artwork, print, cut, and ship the stickers to the customer. This model has the highest upfront costs and is labor-intensive.
Dropshipping is the best way to get started without much start-up capital. Unlike the manufacturing method, you don’t hold inventory or need to pay for stickers upfront. Instead, you sell your supplier’s design online.
When a customer makes a purchase, you order with a supplier, and they ship it directly to your customer’s address. Essentially, you’re the middleman in the process.
The downside to dropshipping products is that you have no input on quality control and shipping, which could lead to a poor customer experience. The key is finding excellent suppliers in a dropshipping model.
Print On Demand
Print-on-demand (POD) gives you slightly more control than dropshipping. You design the stickers and ask the POD service or supplier to print and ship them.
All you have to do is upload the designs and focus on marketing. Your POD service will manage all aspects of manufacturing and fulfillment.
Private labeling is when you have a supplier create stickers under your brand. You do the rest, including branding your stickers, packaging, and marketing materials.
Branding is super essential for the long-term sustainability of an eCommerce business. It helps build a loyal customer base and sets you apart in the marketplace. Unfortunately, private labeling requires a higher upfront capital.
Wholesaling is the process of buying stickers in bulk, where you ship them out directly yourself. It’s similar to dropshipping, except it requires an upfront investment, and you’ll hold the inventory.
However, the advantage is you often receive a steep discount for buying in bulk, which lowers the cost per unit. Additionally, you can control the shipping experience by personalizing the packaging. Many sellers who choose the wholesale method offer customers faster shipping times since dropship suppliers often ship overseas.
4. Choose Your Sticker Types
The quality of your stickers will help separate you from other sellers. Quality stickers provide a higher perceived value when pricing your product. Here are sticker types you may want to choose from:
Vinyl is a highly durable sticker material. It easily sticks to hard surfaces, bubble-free.
Clear stickers look great on transparent surfaces, perfect for your homebrew or anything packaged into a transparent container.
Kraft Paper Stickers
Stickers printed on brown kraft paper provide a more natural, crafty look. This textured appearance gives off a vintage and minimalistic appearance.
Printing your design on a metallic foil backing draws attention to a product with its shiny and bright surface. These materials are thicker and more resilient, more durable than most materials.
Stand out among the crowd with hologram stickers. They provide a metallic spectrum of colors, creating a futuristic look.
5. Create Your Stickers
When creating your stickers, you can make them yourself or outsource the printing to a reputable custom sticker company.
DIY Sticker Manufacturing
DIY manufacturing is more labor-intensive and has a higher upfront cost. It requires choosing a paper type like vinyl or kraft paper. Then you’ll want a vinyl laminate sheet to cover the paper, which helps extend the life of the stickers.
Printing stickers require a high-quality inkjet printer that can cost $100 to $400. Once you’ve printed the design on your paper and laminate, you’ll need a cutting machine to make precise cuts. Cutting machines cost $250 to $400.
Outsource to a Custom Sticker Company
When starting a sticker business, making the stickers yourself can be expensive and time-consuming. Finding an outsourcing partner who can convert your design ideas into ready-made stickers is best.
Companies like The/Studio allow you to wholesale custom stickers. Simply choose your sticker type, shape, material, and design, upload your artwork, then place your order.
6. Choose Where To Sell Your Stickers
Once you’ve decided on the sticker types and how to make them, you can decide on the distribution process. Selling online is the best way to reach more people. However, if you already have a brick-and-mortar store, stickers can make a great addition to your product line.
You can create a site using a dedicated eCommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce.
eCommerce platforms make starting an online store easy. They come with website template designs and offer plug-and-play features. Just upload your product listings and design your store.
Shopify even offers apps that make life easier, such as adding bulk order discounts, email sign-up buttons, and more. Additionally, when you receive a sale, Shopify alerts you to ship the order to the customer.
Your Brick-and-Mortar Store
Custom stickers can be a great impulse buy for your customers. Keeping them around the register is an eye-catcher for customers looking to check out. They can increase the order value, which boosts your store’s profits.
Many clothing retail stores, toy and entertainment shops, and even art boutiques can add custom stickers to generate additional revenue. We recommend choosing designs that fit the overall theme of your brick-and-mortar store.
Online marketplaces are the easiest way for beginners to get started on a shoestring budget. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on advertising. Etsy alone has 81.9 million active buyers, meaning you can tap into their loyal audience.
All you need to do is optimize your listings with keywords, persuasive product descriptions and titles, and eye-catching designs.
Print On Demand Companies
Companies like Redbubble allow you to upload your design to their list of ready-made products. This method is passive since Redbubble handles your manufacturing and fulfillment. Choose the type of stickers you’d like and begin selling!
There are other POD companies, like Printful, where you must acquire customers through advertising or social media. However, they will print and ship out your stickers.
7. Price Your Stickers
Pricing your products is a science and art form. You need to price your stickers to ensure a healthy margin while remaining competitive in the marketplace.
Ideally, you’ll price your stickers three to four times the cost. Let’s do the math.
For example, stickers cost $0.58 a pop at The/Studio. Shipping a sticker domestically in the US costs $0.55, provided it’s a standard size under one ounce. Remember that if you’re selling internationally, it’ll cost $1.10 with a Global Forever Stamp.
So assuming your costs to produce and ship is $1.13 to $1.68, you’ll want to charge at least $3.39 for a single sticker ($1.10 x 3).
However, selling in packs can make your pricing much more lucrative. For example, a multi-pack that includes a variety of designs is attractive to customers and profitable to sellers.
Let’s say you list a five-pack of stickers for $10 and sell it to US-based customers. Depending on the weight and size, it can cost you about $3.45 ($0.58 x 5 + 0.55).
As a result, you’re netting $6.55 in profit per order, minus other fees such as Etsy listing fees, Shopify fees, website hosting, etc. However, a 50 or 60% profit margin is still considerably high. If you’re selling larger packs, the profit margin only increases since the cost to ship stickers is so low.
8. Create a Marketing Plan
Marketing is the key to scaling your business. Your marketing plan depends on your budget and where you’re selling it.
Online marketplaces like Redbubble and Etsy don’t require any promotion unless you run ads. You simply optimize your listings and wait for the sale. If you sell on your website through Shopify, you’ll need to send traffic to your site.
SEO and ad campaigns are great ways to market your stickers. You can create free guides that help people learn about stickers to rank higher on Google searches. However, ad campaigns are the quickest way to drive traffic.
You can pay influencers to promote your stickers to their audience or run Facebook carousel ads that show off your designs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Sticker Making Business Profitable?
Selling stickers is a profitable business model with low start-up costs and a considerable upside. The stickers market was worth $151.8 million in 2021 and is projected to grow to 191.1 million by 2028. Since the production costs are low, you can achieve up to 80% profit margins.
How Much Does It Cost To Start a Small Sticker Business?
Starting a small sticker business costs $100 to $1,000. If you’re producing the stickers yourself, you’d need to purchase the equipment and supplies. The start-up costs are very low if you outsource the design and printing. It’ll also save time and ensure professional-looking stickers!
What Supplies Are Needed To Start a Sticker Business?
You’ll need a specialized inkjet or laser sticker printer, ink, a cutting machine, vinyl sticker paper, and packing and postage supplies. Additionally, you’ll need a dedicated eCommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce. Fortunately, if you dropship your stickers, you won’t need to invest in tons of supplies.
Custom sticker businesses are something that just about anyone can start. Even if you’ve got no design skills, you can easily have a designer and printing company bring your ideas to life.
If you want to fast-track your success, work with The/Studio! With tons of material and support for each step of the design, you’ll have a bulk order completed in minutes.
Don’t be sticker-shy! Choose The/Studio for wholesale custom stickers and launch your new business today!