Did you know that the first stickers date back to Ancient Egypt? Archeologists have found remains of pieces of paper stuck to walls indicating prices in ancient digs.
Since these basic beginnings, stickers have evolved into a billion-dollar global industry. Currently, the sticker market is predicted to reach $59.2 billion by 2025.
Are you thinking of joining this industry and starting a sticker business?
Unlike many other types of business, there aren’t a lot of barriers to entry with a sticker business. You can start out small if you want, test the waters without investing too much capital, and scale up as you generate profit.
A sticker business is also something you can begin in your free time on the side. You don’t have to give up everything to get started.
However, just because it’s easier in some ways than other industries doesn’t mean that starting a sticker business doesn’t take planning. If you don’t plan properly, you’ll be laying the ground for failure before you even print your first sticker.
Instead, keep reading and learn the basics of how to start a sticker business in this comprehensive guide.
Think About What Type of Sticker Business You Want to Start
One of the first steps is to decide what type of sticker business you want to launch. Do you want to sell fun stickers? Location-based stickers, promotional stickers for brands and businesses, or even product stickers?
Besides the “genre” of stickers, also consider whether you want to specialize in custom stickers, pre-printed, or print-on-demand stickers.
Custom stickers are basically any type of sticker that is made to order. For instance, if a business wants stickers for their products, this is a custom sticker. So are promotional stickers, any type of sticker where the customer specifies what goes on the sticker.
These types of stickers are ideal to get into if you already have access to printing and/or cutting equipment. If you have strong design skills in your corner, this can be a plus. Especially if some of your clients might be relying on you to create or fine-tune their designs.
On the other hand, if you have zero design strengths, and don’t want to hire for this—custom stickers where clients supply the designs can still be a good avenue.
For example, let’s say you cater to the needs of small businesses and brands. Chances are, they already have their own artwork and branding, they just need to get their artwork onto stickers for their products or promotions.
Pre-printed stickers are things like bumper stickers and humorous stickers. If you have a strong design focus or a wealth of clever sticker ideas, then this type of sticker business can be ideal.
If you achieve success and design stickers that sell well, pre-printed stickers can be a simple business to run. Instead of having to deal with changing clients and designs, you can stick to a set of designs that sell, and test out runs of new ones when you have fresh ideas.
With this business model, you then have the additional choice of running your own sticker shop or selling stickers to other shops.
If you really want to streamline operations and focus mostly on sticker design, you can also think about creating print-on-demand stickers. There are a variety of print-on-demand platforms available these days, many of which have high sales numbers.
These include companies like Zazzle, Red Bubble, Printful, and CafePress.
Designs on these platforms tend to work well when buyers can add personalization.
Utilizing a print-on-demand marketplace for your stickers will eat into your profit share, but it will remove any need for you to fulfill orders. What’s more, some print-on-demand services also facilitate easy integrations into your own website or online sticker shop.
This means you can create and list your designs on your own site, and the integration will take buyers to the print-on-demand platform where they can easily place an order.
This type of sticker business is ideal if you have a very low budget to start, and not a lot of time to invest in figuring out fulfillment methods.
Do Your Market Research
Once you have an idea of what type of stickers you want to produce, it’s time to do some market research.
If you are creating pre-printed stickers, it can be hard to know what will sell, even after researching your market. But there are still some things you can do to gauge whether there will be a demand.
For instance, let’s say you are planning on selling stickers locally in your town or immediate area. If there are a lot of college students in your area, then there might be a larger market for pop-culture-themed stickers.
On the other hand, if the demographics are predominantly older, you might be better off doing stuff like “I’m retired, go around me” bumper stickers.
If you’re planning on launching a sticker business aimed at fulfilling the needs of other businesses, then you should definitely do some digging into potential competitors and try to gauge the demand.
Besides scoping out the competition, you can also carry out a survey on potential customers and interview them.
Pick a Memorable Business Name
Another important step is picking a name for your sticker business. And not just any name. You want to make sure that the name you settle on is memorable, easy for people to spell and search for, and something you won’t get sick of in four months.
Unless you already have a perfect name all picked out, coming up with a business name can be challenging.
If you are feeling stuck for ideas and can’t seem to think of any good sticker business names, you can always use our business name generator to get started.
All you have to do is enter a keyword, and the generator will suggest a variety of names. From here, you can click on any of the names you like, and you’ll instantly be able to check if there is a free domain for it.
Consider Outsourcing Production in the Beginning
Although stickers are relatively easy to produce compared to a lot of other products, they do require some equipment if you’re going to be printing them yourself.
If you already have the right printers and cutting machines, then great. However, if you don’t have any equipment, it can be a good idea to outsource production in the beginning stages of your sticker business.
A good production-style digital print-and-cut system can cost you more than $10,000. Although you can start off with small-scale equipment designed for home use, this will create extra labor requirements and won’t be able to handle the type of capacity you’re going to need to drive your business forward.
Therefore, the most streamlined solution is often to outsource sticker production in the earlier stages of your sticker business. Once you have tested the market, established a customer base, and generated some revenue, you can always look into bringing production in-house and keeping more of the revenue for yourself through this.
According to statistics, only 25% of businesses survive in the long run.
If you find that the market for stickers isn’t strong enough, or you can’t generate a profit, then you’ll be better off having not plunged funds onto a very expensive piece sticker printing machine that you might have to sell off at a loss.
Figure Out Your Distribution Model
If you are going to be producing stickers, then it’s also a good idea to think about your distribution model. Are you planning on selling directly to consumers? If so, then one of the easiest ways might be through setting up an online store and marketing it via things like paid ads, social media, and content marketing.
On the other hand, maybe you want to expand your scope to physical stores or other online stores? If so, it’s worth the time to do some research beforehand and ascertain how many stores will be willing to stock your sticker products.
Outline Your Marketing Plan
Before you start churning out those stickers, you should also hash out your marketing strategies. Not planning out marketing angles is one of the most common mistakes new business owners make.
Avoid this and start thinking about how you’re going to market your sticker business before you even open your doors or hit print on your first run of stickers.
The first step to this is figuring out your target customers, and where you can reach them. Then move on to formulating some preliminary campaigns and zeroing in on which marketing channels you’re going to focus on.
Ready to Start Planning Your Sticker Business?
Starting a sticker business can come with lower barriers to entry than certain other types of businesses. However, it still requires some planning, market research, and business savvy.
Speaking of business savvy, do you want to be able to bounce your ideas off other entrepreneurs and business owners? Do you want to be a part of a startup-focused community?
If so, you are in the right place. Start-up forums offers business owners and entrepreneurs like you a place to communicate, collaborate, and gain access to resources and tools.
Join the community today and sign up for a free account.