February 09, 2021 7 min read
Whether you’re looking for a side hustle to express your creativity or you want to start a full-fledge enamel pin business, there’s a lot you need to know about the process and industry first. Designing, manufacturing, and selling enamel pins isn’t an easy or simple process, but if you do it right it can be a rewarding one.
Here we’re going to break down everything you need to know about making and selling your own enamel pins online or in-store.
If you’re looking for a fun way to be creative and share your art, making enamel pins is a great place to start. The design can be as simple or complex as you want, you can order them in large or small quantities, and they don’t require a big investment up front.
To help make things a little bit easier for you, we put together this guide about everything you need to know about making and selling your custom enamel pins.
Before you get started designing and creating your own enamel pins, you have to step back and do some research first. Starting a new business or creating a new product can be a complicated process, and if you do it wrong you can lose money, time, and even your own artwork. So it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared and informed about the whole process before you even start.
Reading this article definitely counts as working towards that first step! By the time you’re done here, you’ll be a lot more knowledgeable about the design and manufacturing process. But there are some other things to look into, too.
If you want to have a kick-ass pin business, you need to set yourself up for success. And the best way to do that is to create a product that people want. Now, that seems obvious, but it can actually be tricky. The easiest way to do this is to find your niche.
What’s a niche? It’s your own unique style and audience that you cater to. It has to be broad enough that there’s a big enough audience to sell to, but specific enough that your buyer feels like they can’t find it anywhere else.
Your niche might be cat-lovers who are also major Star Wars nerds, so you make pins of cats dressed as Darth Vader and Obi-Wan. Or maybe you cater to fine art fans with a sense of humor, so you make silly art-themed pins of Van Gogh’s ear or Frida’s eyebrows. Here at Badmouthed Bruja, we specialize in witchy, sassy pins.
Once you find your niche, everything about planning your business and creating your pins will be easier. Knowing your niche will help you figure out things like branding, designs, and marketing.
The easiest way to find a niche is to consider what you’re interested in! If you’re passionate about your niche, it’ll be easier and more fun to design and sell your products. So when you’re picking a niche, start with your own obsessions and interests first. It could be related to your favorite music, movies, TV shows, hobbies or even just your aesthetic.
Now that you’ve found your niche, it’s time to study up on your ideal audience. Some things to research about your audience are:
Knowing these things will help you every step of the way, from product pricing to marketing. The more you know about your audience, the better you can cater to them. And running a successful business is all about giving the people what they want!
Now that you’ve found your niche, it’s time to make sure that it’s a good one! Here are some ways to help you judge a niche to see if your enamel pin business will succeed.
Now that you’ve done your research and have a plan for your enamel pin business, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of designing your pins.
For a more in-depth breakdown of how to design and order your own pins, make sure to check out our Step By Step Beginner’s Guide to Making Enamel Pins.
Here’s a sparknotes version of that article.
Step 1: Start Your Sketch
First, sketch out your design on paper, a tablet, or your computer. It’s best to start with a larger design at first so you can nail down the details before you scale it back to life size. When it comes to enamel pins, simple clean designs tend to work best. Opt for a smaller color palette of about 6-8 hues, and always use Pantone colors for your design.
Step 2: Final Touches
Ok, now that you have your design all planned out it’s time to convert it to the right kind of file and make sure all the little details are ironed out in your design. If you sketched the design on paper, scan it into your computer and upload it to your editing software to clean up. Depending on the factory you work with, you might have to send over your file as a PDF or Adobe Illustrator file.
Now that your pin design is perfected and ready to send off, you have to contact a factory to work with. Most factories are overseas and located in Asia, so be prepared for a major time difference.
There are a bunch of factories and companies to choose from, so do a little bit of research. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect manufacturer for your enamel pins.:
As a new business owner, it’s important to get your money matters sorted out. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your costs down as much as possible without sacrificing quality so that you can turn a profit.
Every factory is different, but in the industry there are a few things that can affect pricing. These can include:
The main thing to remember is that the more complicated the pin, the more expensive it will be to create.
When you contact the factory to place your order, they’ll ask for a few other specifications from you. Most importantly, you’ll need to decide whether you want hard or soft enamel pins and what kind of backing to choose.
Hard enamel pins are flat, smooth, and durable. They’re filled all the way up with the colored enamel and then polished to a smooth, shiny finish. On the other hand, soft enamel pins are filled with a little less enamel so the metal ridges and lines are raised a little bit. Choosing hard or soft enamel mostly comes down to personal preference and how you want your design to look. Once you get your business established, try experimenting with different types to see which you prefer!
You also have to choose which kind of pin back you want to use to secure your pin. There’s a few different kinds, but the most common ones are:
You can learn more about the different kinds of pin backings in our Enamel Pins 101 Guide.
Once you have these last details ironed out, it’s time to place your order. Generally, the factory will send you an image of the design mock-up for your approval. Make sure the quality and design is exactly what you want before you approve it. That way you’re thrilled with the final product.
Most manufacturers will have you pay half of the costs up-front, and then the other half after they finish making all of the pins. Now all you have to do is wait for your pins to come in the mail!
Have any questions about how the enamel pin creation process works? Drop a comment down below and I’ll help you out!
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