I receive this question occasionally at Websticker (custom sticker design & printing) and I’m happy to try and help in any way I can to offer guidance. A better question might be “should I start a sticker business?” I’m sure a whole book could be written on this subject but for purposes of this blog article I’ll try to summarize some things to consider and questions to ask your self before jumping into a sticker business.
What type of sticker business are you considering?
There are several options. Are you looking to design and create some stock sticker designs that you can sell in stores, specialty shows or online? This is often what people envision when they ask about starting a “bumper sticker business”. They have a great idea for a sticker or a series of stickers and they want to sell them. An offshoot of this is people looking to start a “vinyl sticker business” – which usually implies vinyl cut decal designs cut on a plotter.
The second type of sticker business would be producing or selling custom stickers to other businesses and individuals, this is what we do at Websticker. The ideas and the distribution responsibility aren’t your own, you are just the manufacturer, middleman or perhaps the designer for the product. I’m not going to focus on this type of custom sticker business in this article (perhaps in another).
I have owned Freely Creative, Inc. for over 30 years and though we mainly fall into the custom sticker printing side of the sticker business we have also dabbled a bit in the selling of specific stock sticker products. We have also helped hundreds of companies and individuals create customized sticker sheets and products that that they then sell at a profit.
How much time can you devote to your sticker business?
How serious are you about starting this business? Is it a project you are thinking of doing on the side of other work, or are you looking to make a living and work it full time? Either way businesses are not easy to start, market or grow. And the sticker business, though it may sound fun, shares all the struggles other businesses face with marketing, distribution, competition and profitability. If you want to make a million dollars from your sticker idea, you may want to consider other options.
As with any business passion is a necessity. The brand “Salt Life” was started by two entrepreneurs who loved everything about the ocean lifestyle and had “Salt Life” tattooed on their necks. This led to stickers, then clothing and on to more branded products that are now in over 600 retailers nationwide. So, yes, a sticker idea can take off but it needs a lot of passion, hard work and dedication to grow and succeed.
Should you buy equipment or outsource production?
You can buy special papers and print pre-die-cut labels right out of any basic printer, but, I don’t recommend it. Most people envision a sticker business as producing or selling quality stickers that are outdoor durable. While you could make stickers as a hobby and use special papers and protective sprays, to survive as a legitimate business, higher quality products are essential.
You could probably find used vinyl plotters for a couple hundred dollars and new and better printers and plotters on up into the thousands. For a good digital print-and-cut system you are looking at over $10,000. Commercial printing presses can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. But, I am not an equipment seller and unlike those dealers I would not recommend buying equipment at all.
It is easy to test the viability of your sticker idea and get started without investing in any equipment. So, why risk it? Why not produce your ideas with the best quality stickers possible made by experts on whatever equipment and method is most appropriate? There is still room for good profit margins. And, if things go well it is much easier to scale up to larger quantities with outsourced production. If you are thinking you need prototypes to test and show before ordering larger quantities, there are now many options for vinyl cut or digitally printed small runs. The style and quality may not be the same as stickers created in bulk on proper commercial sticker printing equipment, but quality has improved tremendously over the last 10 years for small-runs.
My current recommendation for smaller run custom stickers and decals you can start selling immediately is Sticky Brand. They make it very easy to test small runs of die-cut sticker products and see which ones can fly.
What is your market and how will you reach them?
Do you already have an inside line on a niche market that you can reach through an existing web site, special trade shows, or certain retail outlets? If so, great. If you are not tapped into an existing market or have only a vague idea of how and to whom your products should be sold, like any business you need to do some research and develop a plan. There are thousands of people selling millions of sticker designs – some quick Google searches will lead you to products and businesses that may relate to your niche. How are you going to compete with these existing businesses and websites? What do you have that they don’t? How are you better suited to connect with the desired customer/market?
Sticker products also can make a nice low cost addition for existing businesses with other retail products. If you already have the website or infrastructure set up to reach a market niche then by all means create a low cost sticker product you can sell to them as well. Back in the 90’s, as a side hobby, I was distributing a CD and tape of Vermont themed music. Because we also made custom stickers we created a “Vermont – Keep It Simple” sticker that we could include as part of the display rack with the CD’s. Well, in the end that simple sticker was more profitable and had a longer run in stores than the music. Stickers are such an easy, low cost impulse purchase that if you can create the right message or graphic and get it in front of the right people, they will sell.
What are the costs of starting in this sticky business
Once you take buying equipment off the table, the only start up costs are really an investment in product, a web site, and general office expenses. The Salt Life guys initially invested in about $50,000 worth of stickers and merchandise. As sales grew they reinvested in more items and reorders.
Our friend Chris Bucci over at HeartSticker.com started his sticker business with about 10,000 (heart in) Oregon stickers. He simply wanted to show and share his love for where he lived. Over the years he has slowly reinvested, tested designs, added state designs, added other products, traveled the country and built retail relationships. Chris’s passion for his state and stickers has resulted in a very successful national sticker business.
We probably made our first batch of “Keep It Simple” stickers for around $200 for 1000 stickers. Probably sold them to stores for 50 cents which they then sold for $1 or $1.50. We then made more stickers as demand grew and they sold in stores. And on it went for several years.
Heck, you can set up a free store at Cafe Press or Zazzle and start selling stickers, totebags, t-shirts, ties, buttons, etc. with your design on it today. Got a great sticker idea? Upload the art, set up a few products and start telling people right away where they can buy it. Cost of entry into this mini bumper sticker, t-shirt and other custom printed item business, just a little of your time. Is the quality of stickers the best, can you do many sizes and shapes, or can you scale up in quantity to increase profitability or distribute elsewhere? No. “Free” always has it’s disadvantages for setting up a legitimate business.
Is it worth it? Is there an easier way?
Of course, “success” in a “sticker business” is relative. Someone (and people often do) could order 500 stickers for a small fundraising effort, sell them, double their money and be done. Other individuals have ordered euro sticker designs and sold them successfully in just one, or a few local stores. Only reordering when necessary. Creating and selling stickers can be done part time on a small scale without visions of world, national or even town domination.
Back in 2007, a guy named Elliott Nachwalter created a sticker that simply stated “1.20.09” representing then President Bush’s last day in office. He ended up selling more than $1 million worth of merchandise in 2007. But, alas there was an expiration date on that sticker. At around the same time we sold similarly subtle No W stickers (an oval sticker with a “W” on it with a red line through it). We had a web site and sold to a few distributors and other web sites. We made a few bucks and had some fun with it, but, there was absolutely no way it could be a full time profitable business on it’s own.
It wasn’t always so, but these days with the internet, almost any angle you can think of for stickers and sticker businesses has been covered by someone in some way. New digital printing and vinyl cutting options as well as the ease of setting up websites and selling on-line have lowered the cost of entry and many businesses have jumped on-board. In most scenarios of success in the sticker selling business it has been best; to not quit your day job, test the concept, and bootstrap your way up as you go. Is there an easier way? Like selling your idea to another business and just collecting royalties? I don’t think so. Having a great idea is the easy part – everyone has one. It’s the passion, the dedication, the distribution and the evolution and expansion of the idea and products that perhaps can lead to a successful full-time business.
At the digital one-off sites like Zazzle you can not only create products you can buy other peoples designs. Search in any niche on these sites and get hundreds of printed product options. Just as a test I searched “ticks” on Zazzle (because I thought it was a random and obscure niche) and got back over 1400 product results. How would you plan to compete (on-line) with a corporation with this degree of selection and advertising dollars? Well, better quality and availability in off line locations for one.
Summary: Should You Start A Sticker Business?
Yes, stickers are fun and a great way to make some money. But, don’t expect too much… or dream of getting rich off a sticker idea or two. Like any business it takes creativity, vision, planning, a good work ethic and help from strategic partners. If anyone has gotten rich from a sticker idea they have usually had to diversify into other products and marketed a “brand” (like Salt Life or Life is Good) instead of just stickers that connect with like minded people.
But, the good news is that there are not many up front costs and help is available to help develop and design your sticker products. So, if you have a great sticker idea – why not test it out? Sure, it might just be a little business on the side or only make a few bucks, but it might also catch on. And, if you put in the work and keep the passion burning you might just find yourself quitting your job, hiring staff and working on your national distribution and licensing agreements.
Update – 10/21/21
If you have read this far and have some questions, I highly recommend you peruse the comment and answer section below. There has been a lot covered there over the life of this post. My recommendation of Sticky Brand for small runs of various styles of small run stickers is also new. It makes sense to create and test designs and products before ramping up a larger sticker business.
If you’d like more information and feel the urge at all to pick my brain further, I recommend you grab a copy of my book, Stick This! Using Promotional Stickers To Build Identity, Create Word Of Mouth and Grow Sales. Though not specifically about starting a sticker business, this is an excellent next step to review what is necessary in designing effective stickers that tap into focused markets, and read some interviews/case studies with people that are effectively using stickers as promotional tools and products.
I also recommend looking deeper into general info on how to start a business.
124 responses to “How To Start A Sticker Business?”
Hello! I have a question, is it okay to sell stickers that are originally my drawing but I used some product pictures and changed the name of the label or product name like a funny one or a catchy one? I really need to know what I can and can’t do before starting my sticker business. Thank you
If they are your drawings and the pictures don’t have copyright issues (you took the pictures?) and the overall theme of the sticker is a parody… you should be alright. Remember Wacky Packs? But, in that case it was entirely original artwork. This might also be helpful: How Do I Protect My Great Sticker Idea?
I’m currently making $600-$900 monthly selling stickers on Etsy and looking into possibly expanding to Amazon. My hangup is the shipping. Etsy offers tracked shipping for the cost of a regular mailed letter via USPS. From the research of I’ve done, I can’t find any type of tracked shipping for an 8″x6″ envelope that doesn’t cost over $3.00. Any insight on the best route to handle shipping rates on individual stickers? Any shipping label services really worth looking into? Is it better to fold shipping costs into the price and do free shipping or to charge for shipping? Is it not worth it to try to sell individual stickers on Amazon?
I just don’t know what is going to sell or not. This is the only thing from stopping me really, do you have any tips on knowing if your product will sell or not? I like my ideas but not sure others will love it enough to buy.
Hi Anna – This is of course a very common problem that holds people back. Luckily times have changed and there are now very easy and inexpensive ways to print and test your ideas. I recommend visiting our friends at Sticky Brand and buying as few as 25, full color, die-cut stickers and then showing or handing them out to friends, shops, post on Facebook, ask random people… and see what they like. Would they buy? What would they change? Do they have a better idea? Take the feedback, improve design, and put it out there for sale. No problem! Go for it! Worst case is you have some stickers to use as gifts and a fun handout.
Is it a moneysaver to produce our own stickers for our company in the long run instead of purchasing them from a secondary sticker producer ?
There is no correct answer to that question as it depends on many factors. What type of sticker? Durability? How many do you need on a regular basis? There are inexpensive ways to print out paper roll labels yourself for low runs and there are more quality outdoor durable stickers that would make very little sense to print yourself (especially in high volume). If you’d like to go over details of your specific situation we’d be happy to try and help sort it out and find the most economical situation for the stickers that best meet your needs. – Jeff
I am looking to outsource the Printing of sticker design I am working with. My sticker concept is time sensitive and I would not want to sell in in stores or through a sticker website. I’d want to sell the sticker straight from my domain. Are there sticker printer companies that will also do the distribution/shipping to individual purchasers? It seems a BIG commitment to print 1000’s of stickers and personally doing the shipping. Are their any companies that both print AND distribute?
I am not aware of any printing companies that would also do fulfillment – it usually doesn’t make sense. You may be overestimating the level of demand for a particular sticker. Perhaps you should get a low run initially and fulfill yourself? If it flies you can print at better cost in bulk and hire a separate fulfillment house to ship them out.
Your website has been very helpful as well as your responses to various questions. I would like to help my 20-year-old son start his own business. He is a college student studying visual arts as a cartoonist and he has 100s of characters and other images that he has created. I would like to make some of these images into stickers for kids/teens and sell them on a platform like Etsy or on my son’s website. I am retired and would like some advice from you on how to get started with this idea. I was thinking of having several of his designs made into stickers in small runs and see how well we can market his work. He has already sold many of his designs to friends as screen savers and covers. I would appreciate your suggestions. Thank you
Hi Donna – I think it is a great idea to narrow down the ideas to a couple of “best of” images. And, then use a company that can do smaller runs like Sticker Mule or Sticker You to print those up and begin selling. See what works and sells well and then keep doing it. Good luck! – Jeff
I own a plotter and a Roland print and cut, but I find it too time consuming to make stickers into a business with those machines. I am
Looking into a machine such as a Primera LX500 Inkjet . Do you have any thoughts on those types of printers?
Printers and related equipment is not our area of expertise – We focus on using stickers for marketing and promotion and are partnered with large industrial factories for bulk printing to help businesses create saleable sticker and magnet products. Sorry we can’t be of help on the equipment end.
Regarding the “rights” to a phrase. For example, I see people printing decals for something like: “Life is Beautiful” all of the time. Is there a way to protect your phrase?
Well, you can try but a trademark may not be available or worth expense. Here is more info and resources on the subject: https://www.websticker.com/blog/how-do-i-protect-my-great-sticker-idea/
Hey! I’m looking at making vinyl stickers and decals. I’m going to start with a 28″ titan cutter. Do you have any recommendations on intermediate sticker printers, or any recommendations on equipment? Thanks for your time!
Hi Strat – I’m not the best resource for info on cutters and printers – we are more on the design, marketing, production side of things. I’d check in with local sign shops on what are the best options and what dealers or resources you could talk with for best advice. – Jeff
Wonderful post- thanks for the tips! One question and concern I had, as you can imagine is the worry about litigation. What happens if you create a sticker, and then get a nasty-gram from some business or law firm saying you “stole” an existing idea? A case in point- I live in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by those “I love Oregon/Washington with the green heart” stickers on cars everywhere- I have one myself on my car! If I came up with a sticker showing my love of this part of the country, should I worry about being labeled a copycat? Do most sticker businesses need legal advice beforehand, or are you protected if you sell on a site like Cafe Press?
Another question: I work full-time at a 9-5 job (mind-numbing and want to bail it but cannot just yet), but have a passion for politics and where I live. Not sure I have the time and money at this point for a full-fledged sticker business. Would I better off to contact a local printer to get quotes for bumper stickers, and sell them on a site like Cafe Press?
Thanks again- and happy new year!
Hi Russell – There is some info on protecting ideas here. No need for legal advice, just don’t copy others artwork or concept too closely. If you have a new way to get across your love of “home”, you can certainly go with it. Cafe Press digitally makes stickers when they are ordered through their system – there is not much room for creative designs, sales opportunities or profit. I did an interview with Chris at Heart Sticker (creator of the heart in Oregon stickers and many more) in my book Stick This! I recommend you get a copy of the book and check out a lot of great advice. You can check it out and order here. Another good option to sort out whether your idea is a strong one and what it might take to run with it is doing two hours of brainstorming work with me. Much cheaper than legal advice and we could quickly get to the viability, design ideas, protecting and liability issues, and work involved with moving further with it. Maybe it’s something you just want to do a limited run of and hand out and sell to friends or a couple of local shops to test? We could go through that. Hope that helps! Jeff
Hi Jeff. I have just been considering a sticker business of my own after identifying a gap in the market connected with school sports. I have just purchased your book and I am looking forward to getting “stuck into it”.
My idea revolves around some heavy customisation that could include one-offs. This makes it difficult to outsource as most companies are not interested in pricing promises of large quantities of one-offs. Nonetheless, I still believe in my idea but I will need to invest in some of my own equipment.
I know that you are against using specialty papers and personal equipment but is it worth doing the best you can and provide reasonably good quality in order to test the market and establish a database? The product idea will still be very appealing and I think, if priced appropriately, it would be possible to maintain them as regular customers and then produce the high quality merchandise (also reasonably priced) once the concept is proven.
I know it is a little conservative and I should possibly have more faith and commitment in my idea but I only have moderate funds that I am comfortable risking. What are your thoughts? Have you seen anyone succeed with a similar approach to starting? I would be very interested in your feedback (and also a little afraid of it too). 🙂
Hi Ernie – Don’t be afraid to get feedback. I’m not sure what level of quality is needed for your idea, but if it is something that is meant to hold up outside for over a year, I don’t recommend doing anything on personal low cost equipment. Regardless of the specialty paper, you want to present/test your idea in the best possible way or it will probably fail. The good news is you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment, ask around your area (start with “sign shops”) who have digital equipment to print full color outdoor vinyl stickers. Then choose one to partner with (or just pay outright) to do low run testing and production to get everything rolling. Good luck and I hope you enjoy my book. – Jeff
Hi Jeff I live in well I wont say publicly I want to start a t-shirt license plates and sticker business on and off line I probably would use coral draw what do you think. looking forward to hearing from you
Hi Amber – It is hard to know what to think without knowing more about your project. I’d be happy to further review the idea and offer pricing on the custom items you need. Our new sticker development package has proved popular and effective with people starting projects like this. $150 gets you several hours of my time and can easily save you much more than that and propel your project forward.
Thank you for useful article. I started already to this business. But, I’m not a designer and finding any vector file is too much difficult. How can I collect vector files easily? Or can I purchase some vector file collection? Amazon.com, ebay.com – I looked at here, but the discs are not good, which selling here.
Can yoou please advice me?
Thanks in advance!
I’m not sure what type of sticker business you’ve started, but there are certainly collections of vector files that you can purchase.
Hi Jeff, thank you for this article and all the great information. This post has been live for quite some time I see and it’s good you are still with everyone answering questions. So many of the questions and answers I need are asked and answered here. Creating some stickers have been on my mind for quite some time but the fear of someone with much money and stealing the idea has kept me doing nothing.
My question is much like Priscilla from April 2016, as I have a specific niche of stickers in mind as well that is popular these days. You emailed her some additional information and I am hoping you can share that with me as well. I would like the sticker / decals placed on phones and car windows. I’ve seen a few sites that, possibly turn key for phone covers but I think it’s pretty expensive also. So my thought is to try and purchase a decent amount and distribute online and to some local stores but again if it’s popular as I think it would be, someone is going to run with the idea.
Any additional assistance would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
Hi Liz – I’ll reach out via e-mail. I wouldn’t worry about someone running with the idea – just be the one to run with it first! I’ll contact you to discuss a couple options that can get this project rolling in the right direction. Thanks.
If I wanted to produce a bumper sticker that was, in a way, promoting another company, would I need rights from the company to use their name? Such as, if I wanted to say something like, ” Being Goofy is part of my day” with a picture of the Disney character Goofy.. What type of rights would I need to use the Disney character and or the Disney name on my stickers? This is just an example of my thought, as I would be using another company to promote a saying for a bumper sticker… I would really like to do this and any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Hi Barbara – The quick answer is “yes, you need permission” as they have a trademark on their characters. But, there may be other factors to consider. Is the sticker a spoof? Are you selling the sticker? Are you redrawing the character (original art)? How many do you want to make? I’m not a lawyer and can’t really advise you but, if you are trying to create a business and sell as many stickers as you can you need to license character from the company. If there is no trademarked character involved and you just want to use name, you could ask or not use logo and go ahead. If you are doing a small project, redrawing character, spoofing company, don’t have plans for long term sales, etc. perhaps you could do something. Contact us directly if you want to further review idea or talk options. – Jeff
Hello. I’m a designer and commission artist, and have been selling my work for the last 6 years. Last year I started full time, and wanted to do stickers and buttons as well. I don’t have that fancy equipment that you spoke of, and have sold on redbubble designs aplenty of my own making. But as that other fellow at the top said, I want to make more of a profit, without them taking such a large chunk out of it. I have a regular printer/scanner and several design programs I use for my work, and was planning on just buying/using sticker paper, but are there better ways, since I can’t actually make rolls or specific cut shapes with that unless I cut ALL the stickers myself. (which is fine for a while but after a bit my hands start to stop working you know what I mean XD) My sister is also going to be helping, so it will be like a double team design effort. In short, we want to sell many designs and market them ourselves and eventually print them ourselves on the fancy things.
There is always another way. Much depends on the quantities you want to print and how durable you want them to be. Here’s another blog with some suggestions if you need to do test runs or print small quantities.
Hi, I am interesting in just producing stickers for candy bags and jars. It would be key to be able to use some images with copyright e.g Disneys Frozen for instance. Are these templates readily available? Can I use my Epson inkjet 4550 for the job?
This sounds like something you could try printing yourself on pre-cut label sheets that can run through your printer. If you want a more professional and durable label there are many options if you need as many as 500 labels. Or search for “short run labels”. You can not use copyright images such as Disney without licensing (unless this isn’t a commercial endeavor and your just doing something for fun for a party or something).
Hi, Mr. N…
Found this article through a search and have read several comments here.
I have a quick question.
I have a specific niche of stickers in mind. I am good at designing for my ideas but I think that spending all the $, like you said, would be too much for my own equipment.
So I read that you recommending outsourcing the actual print job.
I currently have a zazzle account that has sold a couple hundred things. The profit on that site is quite thin.
Which would be the best way to order multiple stickers in smaller lots that I could sell myself, without forking over 91% of sales to someone like Zazzle?
Hi Priscilla – I’d be happy to discuss running some sticker print jobs in a way that can work for you. There are a number of factors such as shape, size, colors, quantity needed, etc. that can lead to different ways to group stickers effectively in one run. It will definitely be more cost effective and profitable to move away from the digital one-off set-up. I’ll e-mail you to get some further information and see what ideas we can work out. Thanks, Jeff
I am also looking at having stickers made. I started a book publishing business last year, and need promotional items that coincide with the material I am selling. I need thousands of stickers and magnets, but most places I research come as single prints produced in rolls, rather than a multitude of prints. Any ideas?
Hi Janeen – We can take care of any promotional items you might need, especially stickers, magnets and items that stick. There are several alternatives to single prints on rolls – label sheets, vinyl sticker sheets, magnet sheets, individual stickers with back slits, etc. Contact us with details of what you ideally need and we can recommend best (and most affordable) way to make it happen.
Great insights and honest feedbacks!
Great post! Currently running a very small scale vinyl sticker company for my business class so I found this to be very informative.
I was wondering if you knew where i could get plastic sleeves (to package the stickers)?
or if a sticker producer does that as part of the sale?
i mean i want individual sticker in an individual plastic sleeve.
Hope that makes sense.
Hi Lorry – Yes, many sticker manufacturers can do special packaging – banding, shrink wrapping, or what I believe you are referring to, polybagging. Depending on quantities it can sometimes be better to do your own bagging (if reasonable quantities) or get better pricing from fulfillment houses (high quantities). Are you trying to bag them because you need to add a header card or a mix of items in the bag? There are several directions you can go depending on what you are trying to accomplish and why. Feel free to e-mail or call us directly at Websticker to help you sort out what you might need.
I was thinking a header card.
Although I did think perhaps the packaging wouldn’t ‘stand up’ for display purposes on a table etc… so am having a think about it.
I will be in touch.
Enjoyed reading your article and decided you might know the answer
to this question…
I have an idea for a decal for bumpers / windows / etc…
How do I Protect the Design from being copied and produced by other
companies – at the moment I do not have a business license…
Any advice will be greatly appreciated…
Hi Scott – Here is a link to a blog post I wrote on this a while back: https://websticker.com/blog/how-do-i-protect-my-great-sticker-idea/ Hope that helps. Let me know if you want to discuss your idea further.
Jeff, I have an idea to print personalized bumper stickers on demand at different events (ie. festivals, flea markets, etc.) I already have a fairly large established market. I’m retired and do not need this to make a living. It would be for fun and supplemental income. As long as I break even in the beginning it would be okay. Is there quality, portable equipment available to print on demand bumper stickers? Another product would be custom vinyl lettered license plate frames also personalized and on demand.I could have some stock items available for instant sales but my main focus would be personalized on demand items.
Hi James – As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really not the one to ask about equipment. I’m more focused on the marketing end of the sticker business. So, there is not a print system I would recommend, but I would just make sure the printer is able to print vinyl and that the inks will hold up outside for at least a year. There are a lot of small label printing systems available but most of the finished product would not hold up well (or at all) on cars. It’s an awesome idea to print personalized merchandise but you do want to make sure it is of a high enough quality. Most of the print and cut systems I’ve mentioned before (like Roland or Mimaki) would not transport well and make for easy on-demand printing. Perhaps find someone already doing a business like this (at an event mall, or other) and pick their brain as to what works and what the latest technology is.
First of all brilliant post. Covered most aspects of sticker business.I have a query that is..i want to get nail vinyl /decals manufactured but unable yo find the technology used for it.I guess its graphtek plotter but not sure.Do you know the technology used to make nail decals
Sorry, don’t know much about nail decals.
I’ve been doing research about turning my original art into stickers but the more time I spend online the more confused I get in regard to direction to take. I have the product and I believe in it but the business end of it isn’t typically my strong point. I have a niche market figured out but do I first take samples to potential stores/shops to get a feel for demand? Do I jump right in and create a website? I see that most professional printers charge a minimum run for the best prices but do I wait for the orders to come in before ordering?…..HELP!!!!! I may be overthinking this but I want to make sure my water wings are on before I jump in the pool. If you could email back personally I would greatly appreciate it!
Hi John – I’ll e-mail you shortly.
I would like to set up an online etsy shop selling custom made small detailed stickers… can you recommend the software and printers and any additional equipment I will need to purchase?
Hi Alisha – I’ve talked about researching Roland and Mimaki print-and-cut printers if you want to be manufacturing quality, full color, vinyl, die cut, stickers yourself. But, at around $10,000 a pop this can be a bit too much of a commitment and learning curve than you (or people in a similar circumstance) may want to invest. Here’s another option – Use someone that already has the necessary print technology and has a convenient platform for small runs. In this way you can test designs, order just as many as you think you might need and test different designs without needing a huge investment. Here are some resources for small runs.
I am interested in starting a label making business and would like to know what is required. The labels would be for food and pharmaceutical companies.
I am at a very starting stage of the research. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
hi Jeff, i’m using adobe Photoshop to make a design that i want to transform it to a wall sticker, kindly inform me about what kind of paper and printer should i use? and is it enough to use Photoshop software for making a wall sticker? thanks in advance
Hi Sabine – Photoshop is fine for any large format design work. As long as you are in a program that maintains high resolution as artwork is super sized. There are many options for getting your work printed and cut by people that produce these on digital printers all the time. Are you looking to make multiple copies of the artwork? Or, just one or two?
Hello, I have a tattoo that I designed. I would like to make it into a sticker that I can sell to stores/tattoo parlors/online. I currently have a small wholesale business and this would just be another product I can sell to my customers.Should I print it myself or have a professional sticker manufacturer or printer do them. If I have someone else do them how do I protect the design that I am selling. Any help would be appreciated.
Hi Andrew – I definitely recommend outsourcing production in this case. As far as protecting idea, you can read my thoughts on that here I’ll contact you via e-mail to discuss production methods and pricing. I hope we can be of help.
I am planning to design and cut my own stickers to earn extra income besides my job. Please advise if it is fine to buy the Cameo Silhouette for a start?
Or if you have suggestions, I would really appreciate it. Kindly note that I can only afford a low cost start off.
I’m not sure about the Cameo Silhouette – looks good for scrap booking type stuff but if you are looking to cut outdoor vinyl for car sticker type uses I’d check that that is possible and that you can buy material that fits the printer. Perhaps ask on a scrap booking or sign making forum somewhere?
Hi Jeff, great post. I have an idea for a sticker business and have already played with a couple of prototypes but now I need a professional designer for the artwork. Also what software would you recommend I use? I’m also trying to sell the stickers by sheets and not rolls. How would you recommend I manufacture and distribute that? I’ve never started a business and have been searching the internet for helpful tips. Thanks!
Hi Germell – Where are you located? We do all our designing in Illustrator(ai). Depending on where you are located you should be able to work with a manufacturer on all the artwork and set-up necessary. Sheets can be printed in a number of ways, are these for outdoor or indoor use? Best methods will depend on designs and quantities needed. Feel free to e-mail me directly with further questions or to go over options. Thanks, Jeff
Thanks for all the great info! I am not looking for a sticker business but instead looking for stickers to enhance a business I already have. I need a way to create vinyl die cut letters in a time efficient matter. I have tried the cricut cutter and it is too time consuming for me to break apart each letter. Is there an option out there that cuts vinyl letters?
Hi Caroline – I’m not sure the quantity of lettering needed or how fast turnaround needs to be, but it would seem like it would make more sense for you to wok with a local sign shop (or someone with a plotter) when needed. I like to use SpeedGraphics.net or DecalJunky.com whenever I need (low quantities) of vinyl cut lettering or numbering.
Hi Jeff, Thanks for posting this article. I’m interested in creating stickers for stationery and day planner lovers. Just wondering, how to start? I would like to start off inexpensively-but open to options…I guess to learn to make them, manufacture them, equipment needed, etc. Preferably something I can use at home…home business? But professional looking. Thanks, Kim
Hi Kim – This is something you could definitely do from home. With indoor paper labels there isn’t really a need for special equipment, you could start out on your own desktop printer. Check out OnLine Labels for lot’s of material and custom cut label sheet options that you could design at home and run out on your own printer. This would be a good way to start things out and do some testing. Good Luck.
Hi Jeff, i was reading your blog and its really interesting, i have my own plotter and i do my designs on illustrator, i have no issues with the production or the quality, however my main issue is marketing, not sure if this is something under your domain that you can shed some light on. My Instagram account is as my name and you may have a look at what I do with a plotter.
Hope I will get some guidance on the marking and how do we do the research and what is required.
Thanks and wish you all – the best.
Hi Pixanart – I can definitely help with marketing, but without getting into any consulting type stuff at this point I highly recommend you take a look at my Book. It’s about marketing and it’s about stickers, so sure to give you some good ideas and also some great examples of what some other businesses are doing. If you e-mail me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) I can set you up with a free e-book or get you the soft cover for half price. This would be the easiest next step and perhaps lead to more specific resources for you, or a focus on how I could perhaps help further with boosting your business. There are definitely a lot of people out there with plotters you are competing against. Let’s find out what your unique angle and niche can be and how to let people know about it. Thanks, Jeff
Hi Jeff – Thanks for the read. There were a lot of interesting points you brought up that I hadn’t considered. I was wondering if you knew of any market research on the custom label/sticker market. For instance, how big is the market? Who are the biggest players? Thanks in advance for your response.
Hi Greg – I do not know of specific market research on the sticker/label market. There is more information on the promotional products industry overall but when it comes more specifically to stickers, no. Much of what I know about custom stickers and more specifically promotional stickers I have compiled in my new book; Stick This! – Using Promotional Stickers To Build Identity, Create Word Of Mouth and Grow Sales. There is a chapter on research and data which mostly focuses on the promotional/marketing side of things. There is also a chapter on creating stickers as profitable products. If you find any market research data or studies, please let me know.
I want to manufacture Nail Wraps i am not able to figure which type of printer to buy and what type of vinyl is used for the nail wraps. your recommendation is highly appreciated !!!
It’s not something we make or have knowledge about – Sorry
Hi, I’ve been told that I should start a sticker shop BUT I have run into a slight problem. If I wanted to sell ,say, stickers of characters in a certain movie, would that be allowed or would it be illegal?
Yes, that would be a snag. If there are trademarks and copyrights involved you would need to license the characters for use on stickers from the owner.
hi i would like to start sticker cutting business, im be frank, i dont have knowledge about this.for ex.what platform to work(photoshop,coral draw or other).pls wat i do sir?
First step is researching/checking out vinyl plotter cutters (assuming you just want to cut, not print). The cutter you use will lead to software platform, etc.
nice blog i was going to do tee shirts and end up outsourcing some stickers instead. i got 1000 coming in the mail iam not worrying about designs i do my own. i dont want to buy a machine and if i did i would buy. a mimaki but u do need a cutter. and the learning curve is deadly if you get in to lamanting thats other machince. so iam just in to design and marketing how should i market my product i have some off the wall ideas thats out of my price range what sould i do i have a business and talk to advisorys and they said at the end of the day i was kind of dead in the water with no media dollars.
Hi Craig – Have you considered doing a crowd funding campaign to launch your sticker ideas? In that way you could do designs and get effective pricing from a manufacturer but only actually order the stickers (or proper number of stickers or designs) if you reach your fundraising goal. It’s not easy but I’ve seen it work for a few people. Most of the efforts would go into relevant blogs, forums and networking, not media spending. Advertising is a non starter for selling stickers – there’s just no money in it. If your project is going to fly it’s going to take legwork and a lot of networking to get the word out. Good luck. Feel free to e-mail if you want to discuss further.
Hi Jeff Nicholson,
Your blog was very informative and thank you for putting your time in the information you have given us. My question is what printer would you recommend for a beginner? I am a stay at home mom of 2 toddlers and with cancer I can’t really go out and find a good job. I want to start a business but nothing that would cost an arm and a leg. With only my husband working I want to contribute someway to offset our financial situation. I am also trying to start a T-shirt business but thought sticker business would be great as well. I am looking at more of the bumper sticker and wall decal business. I would love to hear your input on the type of printer I should look for. Thank you in advance for your time and response.
So im a young stay at home mum and have a hobby with nails. Im definitely not the best at nail art. Nail art has been quite popular over the last few years. so accessories are a big thing. Living in New Zealand it can be quite pricy to order from over seas and not to mention the long wait For products to arrive. So I thought of looking into producing nail sticker guides. An example would be chevron. If you google search it’ll come up with nice zig-zag nail designs 🙂
So what im really asking is, how do I go about it? I know absolutely nothing about stickers haha. Im fully prepared to do all the hard work and make it myself if thats what it takes. I just need a nudge of what I should be looking into and how to make ready-to-pull-off designs on sticker sheets.
Sorry, I can’t help very much with nail stickers. I would start out over there in NZ by talking to local sign shops or printers with digital print and cut systems (like Mimaki or Roland). If you could hook up with local production you could do all the designs and give to them to print and cut into sheets. Someone with the printer is going to give you better guidance with respect to what material, adhesive, design files, etc. might be best. Good luck with it!
I think you can do it with a craft making printer like Cricuit explorer
I want to start a kids label home business. I’m sure you’ve seen those labels that you stick on clothes, thermos, school supplies with the kids name on it so they don’t get lost. I’ve bought some and have seen they use a laminated vinyl to print the labels.
What kind of small printer/cutter laminator should I look into?
Hi Meg – Sorry, I don’t have any info on this type of equipment. I’d do some on-line searches and try to find a distributor that can be of more help and offer samples. I would think there would be some lower cost options than going with larger print and cut systems. Good luck with the project.
I found your website by looking at “how to market your sticker buisness” I’m currently promoting Bitcoin and other cyrptocoins online and was looking at other methods of online marketing beyond just joining up and spamming/posting and also beyond local word of mouth as I feel my target is sporadic worldwide. Are my price points too high for a magnetic bumper decal? Do you have any other feedback or suggestions? When starting out what was your ideal MOQ for an untested design, how would you gather research on the design without any sort of feedback other than personal preference?
I’m not a big advocate of magnets over removable stickers but in your particular market they might be preferred. Quality magnets are a higher production cost but to certain markets they can also be sold at higher prices. As you point out gathering some feedback and unscientific research would be good. Run design ideas and magnet vs. sticker questions by customers or anyone in your market. Are you on social media? Even if you just ask friends and family it can help give you an idea of best direction. We’re happy to help with pricing, design mock-ups and offering our opinions. As far as MOQ for an untested design, you can print as few as 125 of either stickers or magnets. You can print just a few if you go digital but there will be some issues with comparable quality. I recommend testing designs as much as possible before a production run and then committing to a quantity that gets you at a per piece price that works for you based on final retail price needed. E-mail me if you want to discuss further – Thanks for making contact, Jeff
Hey Jeff! thank you for this amazing blog. Question: Is it important to protect all sticker ideas other than just the company logo? and if so, how do you go about doing that? Also, Is it possible to send me more helpful resources on how to start a sticker company? thanks a million!!!
Hi Adam – Here’s a link to another post I wrote regarding this protection question. https://websticker.com/blog/how-do-i-protect-my-great-sticker-idea/ Is it necessary? I’d say generally it’s not but it’s good to do any necessary searches, put trademark and copyright symbols on art and graphics (don’t necessarily need to register) and then get the idea going so you can be a step ahead of any potential competition. People will always steal or do a tweaked versions if it’s worth their while and most ideas don’t have enough money in them to do any court battling. I’m working on a full book about sticker marketing that will be quite helpful to anyone creating stickers or sticker businesses but that is all in process. Feel free to e-mail me with specific questions or ideas you want to run by me. Cheers, Jeff
I need help! Just got divorced, have kids and need to make money. I am very creative and want to get into this sticker business. What should I do to get started? Please any information will help. Thank you.
Hi Jan – Do you want to sell custom sticker printing? Or, come up with a sticker idea/product that you can sell in retail stores or on-line. Do you have any ideas? E-mail me if you want to brainstorm ideas or have a better focus on what you might want to do. Thanks, Jeff
I am looking to make a logo/decal for my business that I can sell locally in southwest Florida. The name is “The Moo Moo Manatee” It needs to be something really cute, use the golden ratio, and be very appealing to look at. I want to do exactly what “Salt life” did and make a name for my business with decals. Can you help me design?
We’d love to help. I’ll have Kristen contact you to get started on some ideas and clarify the style/type of sticker(s) you are thinking. Thanks, Jeff
I’ve been contemplating a logo-based business that I hope to sell to a niche market. I’m planning to start off small with bumper stickers and possibly window decals, and if the demand develops, to move into other products. I had attended an entrepreneurship seminar, and spoken to the presenter about my plan in general. His suggestion was to speak with a TM lawyer. Before going to any expense, I researched it online, and am under the impression that I should TM my company name first (as it and the logo are one in the same), and then my logo. I’ve read your posts about the possibilities of stickers turning into a truly profitable business, and don’t want to spend where I don’t need to, but at the same time want to protect my concept/intellectual property. What would you advise?
Hi Nate – Definitely Trademark and protect your name and logo if it is essential to your idea. You don’t necessarily need to get a lawyer involved if you are trying to save money – You can research availability on your name for trademarking and register it yourself. Start Here: http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/ Lot’s of great information there as well as doing the searches and filing for the trademark when it is time. Feel free to ask us more questions or have us help with mock-ups or layout ideas for stickers. We can also sign a non-disclosure document if you prefer (though it’s not necessary). I hope your idea comes to fruition and is a great success – and I hope we can help on the sticker end of things. – Jeff
Thanks a lot for your feedback and direction. I’d love to save capital in any way that I can, and will definitely be looking into the website that you had provided. If all goes well, you may very well be hearing from me… a lot!
hows it going jeff love the blog and have a couple of questions. i want to get into the sticker business but as a producer of stickers. i want to make stickers for people on a smaller scale such as paper stickers with uv gloss and digitall printed die cut vinyl stickers and bumper sticker. i have about 15 to invest and really would like to know what type of printer is best and what paper or materials are needed to get the ball rolling. thanks in advance jeff and keep up the great work.
Hi Sebastian – I’m more of the marketing guy and not an expert at all on equipment. Though we did test out a Roland print and cut system for a while – I wouldn’t necessarily recommend what we used. After our testing we found it much more efficient and cost effective to have other manufacturers with optimal equipment for specific jobs handle all the production (while we stuck to what we knew best, design, marketing, sales, service…). Shopping for the right printer for you I’d research Roland and/or Mimaki dealers in your area and work with them on what might be best. There also may be different equipment needs (less costly) for paper roll labels but I’m not familiar with production equipment in that space. Good luck to you and let us know if you want to start things off with someone else handling the production side – I can recommend various options for various products. Jeff
Hey Jack – I’ve talked about researching Roland and Mimaki print-and-cut printers if you want to be manufacturing quality, full color, vinyl, die cut, removable stickers yourself. But, at around $10,000 a pop this can be a bit too much of a commitment and learning curve than you (or people in a similar circumstance) may want to invest. Here’s another option – Use someone that already has the necessary print technology and has a convenient platform for small runs. In this way you can test designs, order just as many as you think you might need and even set up a store on their platform. Check out Sticker You,
In regard to using existing designs by other people, there certainly are copyright issues. You can’t “copy” others but can perhaps create something new based on their designs and concepts.
Hi Jeff ,Thank you for the article,
I am looking to purchase a cutter ,but am really confused.I am printing wall stickers on my large format printer and cutting them out by hand.I would like a printer that will do that for me, but cannot understand which one is best for preprinted designs and how would the software work with the already existing images I am using.Is there anything you would recommend for that purpose,
Please let me know,
Thank you very much,
Hi Miryana – I’m not the best one to ask about this type of issue. Perhaps contact the the dealer or company you bought the large format printer from. I’m sure they can recommend a cutter that can tie in with your existing system. Talking with a Dealer is going to get you much closer to solutions than I can. Good luck!
hi Jeff, I enjoyed reading this article and it gave me a rough idea about sticker business. I’m going to setup custom decal business for cars with my friend and perhaps you could give me some opinion on the the equipments required and sticker materials. Thank you so much
Hi Faisal – A few different people have asked this question, so instead of e-mailing I’ll answer here and perhaps it will be a helpful start to direct people’s research moving forward.
As far as equipment for cutting and printing stickers there are many options. You can research Vinyl Plotters that can start at under $300. These are cutting only (no printing). You can do a search on Amazon to see a bunch of stuff. Of course other supplies are needed (vinyl, masking paper, tools, etc.). When you get into printing and cutting technology prices jump to the $5000-$12,000 range. You could research brands like Roland or Mimaki. Once you have an idea about budget and what you want it to do you might want to deal with a dealer that can back you up with the assistance you need to learn and service the equipment.
You may have gathered from my Post that I’m not a big believer in going out and buying equipment before you really have built up demand and understand the complexities and issues with running and profiting from your own equipment. There are so many people and businesses that are experts at the printing/production side that I highly recommend starting out as a reseller or distributor (for a manufacturer) until you fully understand your market niche and costs involved. Why not focus on design, sales, and building a company as opposed to being caught up in a production job all day?
Hope that helps get you started…
Hello Jeff, I was wondering if it would be possible to print company logos like nike, or sports logos with minor variations in them and sell them.
Hey Mark – You can’t copy logo’s even with minor variations without licensing or permission. Some people do, of course, and may stay under the radar, but in general it’s not a good (or legal) idea. But, if the sticker is a “spoof” and obviously poking fun at a brand it is possible to sell and distribute. The key is that there is no confusion or infringement of the trademark. The old Wacky Pack stickers from the 70’s were spoofs of brands. Stickers of Calvin peeing on various logos and things is definitely not kosher but has obviously been done many times. Email me directly if you have any other questions or would like me to review any of your ideas. Disclaimer: I’m no lawyer.
I Would like to start a sticker businesss and print from my home ..can you start me off?
I don’t think I can start you off but perhaps I can help. I’ll e-mail with some thoughts
i was looking for some insight on the kind of equipment that would be good for a start up business. Out door decals and custom decals to place on store fronts, and vehicles. To place on glass, plastic and metal. thank you for all your help!!
I’ll e-mail you… Thanks AJ
Hey Jeff, I am interested in starting up a little sticker business catering to the Volkswagen seen over here in the NW. I have always owned VW’s and love the people and the seen. It’s like a big family. Just wanted to see if you could give me any advice on how you went about marketing. I have a few ideas and there is a local sign shop that I could use. Your blog was very helpful and gave me some good insight on the business.
Happy New Year!!!
Hey Ryan – Would love to talk. Have you seen our StickerMobile? It’s a 72 VW Bug. I’m currently in Spain but will be back next week and perhaps we can connect after that. Happy New Year! Jeff
That would be perfect, have fun!!!
Love the Bug!!!
I’m wondering what equipment i will need. I have been looking around the web but cant really find an answer. I want to be able to cut custom shapes so i can stick them to lets say, an ipod, computer keyboard, or the custom shapes that bands want. any help would be awesome! please e-mail me email@example.com.
thanks for the help
Hey DJ – I’ll send an e-mail with some links and ideas.
I’m curious what you think of starting a sticker business, as in a sticker store or kiosk in a mall to sell all kinds of stickers for kids? I remember there being sticker stores that sold nothing but thousands of stickers, which I put in a sticker book and traded with friends. I know technology has taken away of a lot of great childhood activities from my youth, but kids will always love stickers, and this is why I’m looking into this. I just did a couple of Google searches and came across your post here.
Hi Tati – I have a lot of thoughts on this… perhaps we can talk further. I think it’s an idea that can definitely work. I lean more towards the kiosk in a mall than an actual store. One of the many beauties of stickers is how little space you need to inventory them and how easy they are to display (just cover a wall or panel or car or whatever). I think the key to success in something like this would be keeping it small and focused on a certain niche (like kids, or your state, or action sports, etc.) and having a great name… along with some unique stickers of your own. Another benefit is how easy it is (with todays technology) to order up inventory and get started. Drop me an e-mail if you want to further brainstorm – I’ve also got some stickers I think would sell well in a kiosk type environment.
i want to start my own sticker business can you let me know more about you, thank you
What would you like to know? About our business, Websticker.com, or my personal background? Let me know what type of business you are considering and what makes it unique, and perhaps I can offer some advice or direction.
Hi Jeff, great article. I came across it while searching for the best place to make bumper stickers for a fundraiser we are doing next month. We are a local pet services company and we have booth in this years BARCStoberfest. It’s a run with our dog in the morning and then a festival all afternoon with vendors. There are about 5,000 people that come out and we would love to have bumper stickers to sell this year. I am not a designer and would like some advise on the easiest but most cost efficient way to produce about 100-200 bumper stickers. We really don’t want to charge more than $2 for the stickers so if we can make them for a $1 or less then that would be ideal so we can adjust the price. Any suggestions on where we can pick out a template and upload our text? Thanks so much! Katie
Hi Katie – Glad you stumbled upon us! We can definitely create a sticker that will look great and raise awareness and funds. We are not big believers in “templates” preferring to do professional design in house while working with you to get exactly what you need to succeed at the event. Design is free. If you can send us over any ideas you might have and any copy or logos you want on the sticker we can work on some mock-ups and make recommendations in regard to size, shape and how to get the best value. I’ll have Kristen drop you an e-mail and get in touch.
Here’s another good article about a Vermont company that started with a basic sticker concept (802) and when on to success with a whole line of gear. http://www.7dvt.com/2013how-802-went-viral-and-became-vermont-shorthand-cool
I get what you’re saying as far as don’t expect overnight wealth. But do you think someone that someone with a really hot idea for a series of stickers can make a lot of dough or a sustained income in a short period of time? And of course I mean a person who keeps after all the details to make it happen.
I know you sort of allude towards it above, but I mean have you seen or heard of it happening where someone really strikes a nerve with an assortment of stickers, and things took off pretty quick? Thanks for any insight.
Hi Ken – Anything is possible but I haven’t really seen or heard of it happening. Of course, “a lot of dough”, “sustained income”, “short period of time” and “pretty quick” are all relative and open to different interpretations for different people. A lot of dough for one person may not be worth the effort for another, and to some people a short period of time might be months… and to others years. I think a sticker business that is “sustainable” and profitable over a number of years is certainly doable. Beyond the “hot idea” distribution is really the key – getting them into stores (through hustle and special shows) and awareness on line. Just like a truly viral video is unlikely, but happens, so too could a great sticker idea go viral – you just need to be ready to ramp up inventory if lightning strikes. It is also key to protect the idea as much as possible and take advantage early when there is little competition. There isn’t enough money usually involved to make it worth it to fight any copycats so it is pretty key to be able to hit the market running, especially if there are no plans for other branded or new items. But, if there aren’t plans for further items it would be quite a waste of the distribution network that is needed for success. I’m happy to review or discuss any ideas or specific projects you may have to help determine viability.
I just wanted to point out, although you might advise against buying a printer, there are a lot of people that use basic low price printers who have sold lots of stickers. Why not tell your fellow sticker businesses, that if their machine, cheap or not, should consider you guys as a back up plan in case their printers were to break down. After all, I’m considering you guys as a backup. Just a little advice that might bring in more customers. 😉
Hi Sage – Thanks for the comment. I didn’t mean to advise against buying a printer, just maybe not buying before testing a concept or knowing the market is there. There certainly are a lot of printers out there making money for people; sign shops, niche providers, etc. We work with many of them. Not just when machinery break but when we can produce/print something they can’t or when the quantity makes it much more affordable to use more industrial presses. Hopefully, our reseller and referral programs make it a win win for everyone to work with us when needed. We too send a lot of business the other way to smaller outfits with digital printers where it makes sense for small runs.