How to Start a Sticker Business

How to Start a Sticker Business

Laura Laura
7 minute read

If you've ever perused Etsy, you've likely seen that unique and interesting stickers are a major product category.  Maybe you've noticed the volume of sticker sales, and wondered what it takes to set up and run your very own sticker business.  Surprisingly, it's not that difficult to turn a profit selling stickers.  In this article we will talk about what you need to be successful.

But before we dive into the tactics behind starting a sticker business, let's cover some frequently asked questions.

Is starting a sticker business worth it?

Yes, it certainly can be! Stickers are fun, and they can be a great way to make money if you have a creative mind. But keep in mind that starting any business takes time and planning, and you shouldn't expect to become rich off of stickers alone. That said, we have several customers who make six figures selling custom stickers that we print for them, so it can certainly be worth it. 

If you are an artist or designer, stickers can be an excellent way to monetize the artwork you've already created. Even if you aren't an artist, you can still make money by sourcing designs from other people. 

how to start a sticker business

How much does it cost to start a sticker business?

Depending on your approach, you can spend as little as $100 up to thousands. If you want to start a sticker business with minimal investment, you should outsource your sticker production. This will allow you to test out different designs with little risk. On the other hand, you can purchase equipment to make your own stickers at home. The price of the equipment will depend on the quality and performance you need. 

What type of sticker business should you start?

There are two main categories here. 

  1. You can create and sell your own sticker designs
  2. you can print and create other people's designs

Printing custom stickers for other people does require a significant amount of capital.  You need specialized equipment to be able to compete with the various large sticker manufacturers.  It can be quite a bit slower to get the ball rolling once you do have the resources and equipment.  For that reason, we are going to focus on creating a sticker business where you create and sell your own (or licensed) designs.

Selling your own sticker designs

If you are planning to create stickers from your own designs, you have a couple options.  You can print them yourself, or you can have them printed by a company like Custom Stickers.

custom sticker design

Printing stickers yourself is a perfectly legitimate route, especially if Etsy is going to be your main selling channel.  But do keep in mind the quality of stickers that you can produce is a sliding scale based on the quality of equipment you use.  If you use "hobby grade" equipment (think desktop printer, Cricut, Silhouette, etc.), you can produce cool stickers, but the print/cut quality and durability will be far lower than what you would get from the other end of the scale. For example, the printers that we run at CustomStickers cost tens of thousands of dollars each, and the resolution and color gamut greatly exceed any consumer-grade printer.  We also laminate all of our stickers and then cut them on wide format vinyl cutters. 

That said, many folks have a lot of success creating and selling stickers on hobbyist equipment.  To go this route, you just need a few things:

  1. Designs
  2. Materials
  3. A quality printer
  4. A cutting machine

Let's review them one by one.  

1. Designs - Here you have two options.  You can create your own designs if you are an artist or creative type. Or you can license art or designs. Using your very own designs is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd, and put something unique and interesting on your sticker shop.  On the other hand, licensing designs is an easier and quicker way to get started, but you might not stand out as much.  Shutterstock is one option for licensing designs cheaply.  You can also find artists that are willing to license their designs on Deviantart and similar websites.  

2. Materials - The type of material that you use to produce your stickers is pretty important.  If you are selling your stickers on Etsy, you'll want to at least use waterproof materials.  You will also need to be sure that the type of sticker paper or vinyl that you purchase is compatible with your printer.  Most printers are either Ink Jet or Laser, but the technology is different and laser paper won't work well with inkjet printers and vice versa. 

3. Quality Printer -  Your printer may be the biggest determinant of the visual quality of your custom stickers.  As mentioned above, consumer-level printers are typically inkjet or laser.  Inkjet printers generally have better noticeably better color gamut, but they are slower than laser, and the ink costs are generally much higher than toner costs for laser printers.  That said, for colorful stickers, inkjet is a better choice. 

Look for a printer that can print on matte or glossy papers.  Also, do some research on the ink costs.  For example, Epson printers that have bulk ink systems can save a lot of money in the long run.  The ink cost per ml is usually much lower than cartridge-based printers.  

4. Cutting Machine - To start out, you'll want a cutter such as a Cricut, or Silhouette. There are also similar products by eClips and Brother.  There is a lot to think about when choosing a cutter, and in fact, choosing the right vinyl cutter could be its own post.  For now, we recommend doing your own research.  These products have a lot of similarities, but there are notable differences.  Personally, I've owned both the Cricut Maker and the Silhouette Cameo.  I was partial to the Cricut myself.  It's made of more premium materials, and in my experience, it cut more accurately.  That said, it was more expensive.  Additionally, the Silhouette has more robust options within its software.  

Learn more about making stickers with Cricut.

So there you go, it will cost you some money to get yourself started, but you'll have the flexibility to experiment with designs and print and cut stickers on demand.  Now let's talk about the other option - outsourcing production for your sticker business.  

start a sticker business

Outsourcing Custom Sticker Printing

There are some real benefits to using CustomStickers.com or something similar to produce your stickers.  First, you know the quality will be top-notch, the print quality and durability will be above anything that most individuals will reasonably be able to produce.  All of our stickers are laminated, waterproof, and last for 5+ years outdoors. 

Secondly, you can focus your time and energy on other parts of your sticker business.  For example creating new designs, marketing, customer service, and growing your business.

Your time is valuable.  Think about it this way: you can only produce a dozen or so stickers at a time at most on an inkjet printer and cameo.  If you are selling 50 stickers a day on Etsy - setting up the designs in the software, printing them, and cutting them yourself could easily take multiple hours each day.  If you instead dedicated that time to developing new designs, you could grow much faster. 

At CustomStickers we offer free samples and no minimum order quantities so you can experiment with different designs and aren't stuck holding and managing tons of inventory.  

Custom Stickers

Custom Stickers

$5.49

Description Custom Stickers | Waterproof Die Cut Stickers Custom Stickers are our best-selling product. Our Die Cut Vinyl Stickers are a cost-effective, fast and easy way to promote your business, brand, or event. Printed on generously thick, durable vinyl with a weatherproof… read more

If you want to start an Etsy shop, check out our detailed guide here for lots of great information.

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