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How to Start a Sticker Business Online

10 min read

Mrs. Grossman launched an industry-changing sticker business from her kitchen table with one heart-shaped sticker. If she could do all that in 1979, imagine what you can do today! At one point, stickers were predominately made for children. Eventually, someone got smart and started making them for adults, too. Kids can’t have all the fun to themselves. Rude or funny statements, brand loyalty, fandom art, and more all appear on stickers nowadays.

Starting a sticker business can require low upfront investment and can be done from home. A sticker business has the potential to grow, but it can also just stay as a side gig if you want. The flexibility allows you to decide the trajectory of your efforts. But you, if you are on this page, probably want to know how to start a sticker-making business.

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The Basic Part

Before jumping into details like selling, shipping, or protecting your brand, first you have to start with basics. You need to answer a few questions that will determine the direction your business takes. While you don’t have to know all the details right away, every business needs a basic plan.

What kind of stickers are you selling?

You can’t start a sticker business without knowing what you plan to offer. There are a lot of types to choose from. Bumper stickers, address labels, scrapbook stickers, decorative stickers, and far more types of stickers are on the market. You don’t have to sell just one type, but you do need to know what you plan to sell.

Who are you selling to?

What is your target audience? If you plan to grow a sustainable business, you need to print for your audience, not yourself. What demographics are you producing for? Design what they will buy.

The Creative Part

Once the basics are covered, the fun part of creating and making the stickers begins. Most creatives want to skip right to this part. But it is extremely important to answer the above questions first. Use the answers as your guideline for what you are going to start creating. Part of starting any business includes doing the boring stuff first.

How do you create the designs?

Any way you want. Sounds too good to be true right? Artists come with all types of talents. Some are amazing skechers, others painters, and many excel at digital art. You can use pen and paper, marker, paint, or whatever medium you desire and then scan it into your phone. If you prefer digital art, then you are already a step ahead. Create your design on the computer and you are good to go.

How do you turn it into a sticker?

Option 1: Outsource. There are ways to create a design and then ship it to a third party to make the stickers for you. Sticker Mule and other similar websites will work with you to print the sticker in bulk. If you want to print a business sticker label for packaging or handing out, this is the cost-effective way to do it. Companies like Sticky Brand are great for small-batch printing if you aren’t ready for bulk.

Option 2: Dropshipping. Like outsourcing, a dropshipper will print your design. They will also package and send your sticker straight to the customer. This cuts into your profit margin, but it is a low-risk chance for beginners to start a business. It also means you don’t have to keep inventory with you. Companies like Printful and Gooten interface with your website to handle printing and shipping orders.

Option 3: Do it yourself. Order quality sticker paper that will fit in an at-home printer. Make sure your printer produces clear, high-quality pictures. You can use a cutting machine like the Cricut, or just cut them all out by hand. It depends on how much time, money, and effort you want to put into the process. You can purchase a sticker printing machine for small businesses, but it might be prudent to wait. They can cost several thousand dollars so should be invested in later down the road. Don’t spend the money until you are sure your business is going to stick.

The Selling Part

Once you have your stickers, it’s time to sell them.

Selling

Choosing how to sell your stickers all depends on the effort you want to put in. If all you ever want is a small side income, consider a place like Redbubble. This website allows you to upload your designs, and they sell them for you. The profits aren’t huge but it is a place to start. You aren’t tied to just one method if you decide to expand later.

Etsy is a great starter platform for small business owners and their handmade goods. They do take a cut of the profits, but they also handle the tax paperwork and have the sites formatted. Your store is only one of many on their site, so standing out from the crowd is a little harder. There are pros and cons, so make sure you think and research carefully before deciding.

You can start your own website, though that is far more involved. You need your own domain and have to turn it into an ecommerce site. The profits are entirely yours, so there is that benefit as well. Some sellers have more than one selling platform, such as both a domain and an Etsy, to cover all bases.

Shipping

Unless you use dropshipping, it’s your responsibility to get your product to your customer. Stickers are flat, light, and easy to ship, so the cheapest option is USPS. If you decide to start shipping bulk, you can research other carriers, but start out with the postal service. Stay flat mailers will keep stickers from getting bent during shipping, but they aren’t a must. Plenty of sticker makers use regular envelopes. Let your packaging be part of your branding and customer experience. Consider closely how you want to ship.

There are lots of platforms for making shipping labels. Etsy has its own shipping platform and there are many others available online like Pitney Bowes and Pirate Ship. Do your research and find the one that works best for you.

With Ecwid, you can buy and print pre-filled shipping labels from the admin panel with a huge discount.

The Sticky Business Part

Nobody wants to think about this part, but it is important to take care of legal business matters. Avoid getting in a sticky situation with the law by registering your business and dealing with tax paperwork right away. Name your business and register under that name.

State Level. The state level is for business licenses. A lot of small businesses start as sole proprietors, though this leaves you with all the liability and extra taxes. Registering as an LLC limits liability and protects your private assets from any business issues. Taxes are only on take home pay instead of all the profits.

Federal Level. The federal level is for tax purposes. The federal government does not recognize LLCs, so you will register a little differently with them. Claiming status as an S-corporation has all the protection of an LLC and helps avoid double taxation. There are other formats to register as, but this is the best bet for small businesses.

Note: If you aren’t sure about all the taxes and paperwork, never hesitate to hire some help. Better to pay a fee and get your paperwork right than lose your business or pay fines because you misfiled.

Stick To It

Unlike Mrs. Grossman in the 1970s, you have a world of help at your fingertips. There is a wide variety of resources available online to help get your business out there, including Ecwid.

Ecwid makes online selling less daunting for everyone, no matter how experienced they are. With all of these resources available, you will have all the help you need to stick your business out there. Stick around, you never know what will happen.

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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