How to start a successful vinyl business

If you have a passion for vinyl decals, car wraps, and DIY projects you’ve probably thought once or twice about turning it in to a small business.

Wouldn’t it be great to get paid for doing what you love?

Launching a small business selling vinyl decals can be relatively cheap; we shouldn’t discount the initial investment in suitable machinery and materials.

Vinyl cutting machines do not come free, but they do come in stripped down simplified bundles designed for hobbyists and small craft makers. The bestselling Silhouette Cameo and the Cricut Explore Air both have a relatively low price tag, but their technology has launched many small businesses that are now worth considerably more.

What about materials?

Some of the essentials you will need to invest in:

  • Vinyl rolls
  • Application tape
  • Weeding tools and blades
  • A squeegee

If you are a heavy user, then yes, buying vinyl rolls in every color of the rainbow can get expensive. So stick to the most common colors, or those that you will definitely use.

  • White
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Red

Many of the top cutters come with vinyl rolls included in ‘bundle’ deals. Take advantage of these. Even so, there is no more than a $50 investment to have enough vinyl to get started. The tools above will help you in the cutting process, but our view is this:

A great cut starts with a great design. And how do you come up with great designs for your crafts?

The answer is to become proficient at using the software and design tools on the market. You don’t need to master all of them. Just one is enough.

INVESTING IN CUTTING SOFTWARE

When you buy a cutter, it will have its own software.

You’ll be able to design basic vectors, or load in simple templates that your machine will cut. But if you want to build a small business out of your passion, you have to double down on what will soon become one of your competitive advantages:

The ability to come up with great designs. There are a couple of popular tools that will help you here:

These apps work with vectors, which is essentially line art.

Now, you don’t have to invest in either CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator, but if you plan to sell your crafts online, as opposed to serving local clients, then you will be competing with lots of other talented designers. To stand out, you must improve the quality of your designs.

THE SELLING SIDE OF A SMALL CRAFTS BUSINESS

Once you have your machine, your software, and a growing confidence in your ability to make awesome vinyl crafts… it’s time to get selling.

Now, this is the part that strikes fear in to many of us. Our passion is crafts. Not selling.

It’s a perfectly understandable concern that most of us would rather come up with new designs and work with our hands than study the logistics of turning our love in to money. But it’s something we must do if our small business is going to be successful.

ONLINE VS. OFFLINE

What are the advantages to running an online vinyl decals business?

  • The marketplace is huge
  • Your customer base is scalable
  • Your website (or store) can sell while you sleep

That last part is important.

An online presence: like a store, or a blog, means that your work can do the selling as people naturally stumble across it. You don’t have to be present.

It is the concept that Etsy built an empire on.

The disadvantages of running an online business:

  • If you don’t own the store/blog, then you are in debt to the platform that does
  • We miss the human element of selling each piece

None of these factors are a deal breaker, which is why we generally recommend that anybody who wants to start a vinyl decal business should build an online presence, even if they only intend to sell to local clients. It’s worth it for the reputation boost alone. Two of the most popular blogging platforms where you can build your online presence:

Be sure to visit the many small crafts forums around the web like Etsy. These are great places to network and find people who share the same passion, or need your expertise. Build an online presence to showcase your best works. Setup a blog and offer useful, practical advice for the type of people who could potentially become your clients. Create a page that advertises the various services you can offer, with a clear call-to-action so that anybody who is interested can get in touch.

Meanwhile…

Open your eyes and ears to the local community. Spread word to your family and friends that you are launching a small decals business and would appreciate any recommendations. Things may start slow, but with every client comes the opportunity to impress, build your portfolio, and add to your chain of contacts.

If you do this whilst leveraging the Internet to market to a global audience, we have no doubt whatsoever. Your passion will turn in to pennies, which will quickly snowball in to an income that lets you do what you love every day.

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