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This article is part of my “How to Make Planner Stickers to Sell on Etsy” guide.
(Last updated: July 22nd, 2019)
If you are serious about starting an Etsy shop to sell planner stickers, there are a few must have items you will need in order to get off the ground. While the startup costs are relatively small compared to other entrepreneurial ventures, you will still most likely end up spending several hundred dollars.
It is up to you to decide how serious you want to take your Etsy sticker business. If you are just looking to run your shop as a way of experimenting with your creativity, being more involved in the community, and generally treating the shop as a hobby, you might decide to buy lower quality products to save money. However, if are looking to maximize your profits and create a livable income off your Etsy shop, it may be better to see these items as investments; opting for higher quality products that are more cost effective in the long run.
I’ve included both the critical “must have” items, as well as some extras that are nice to have, but not necessary required to get your shop up and running. I’ve also included an estimated minimum cost associated with each item to provide a ball park figure towards what you can expect to spend.
* Cutting Machine - approx. $120 - $400+ – The most important item you will need to make planner stickers is a cutting machine. This type of machine will allow you to “kiss cut” your sticker sheets, allowing each sticker to peel off the page individually. Both Silhouette and Cricut are excellent companies that offer a variety of machines to fit your needs and budget. I personally use a Silhouette Cameo, and my mom uses a Cricut Explore; we both love our machines. There are many opinionated articles available online that discuss the pros and cons of both companies, so I highly recommend doing a little bit of research before making a decision. The prices of these machines can vary greatly based on model.
These machines also require a few essential items to function properly. These items will need to be replaced every so often due to normal wear and tear. Obviously, the rate of replacement will depend entirely on how much you use them. The estimates below are based on my own experiences and what I consider to be typical usage for a recently opened Etsy shop:
* Cutting Mat - approx. $5 - $15 per mat – This is an adhesive mat which prevents your paper from slipping around while the machine cuts the design. Over time, the adhesive material will lose its tackiness. When the mat is no longer sticky, you will start to have issues getting accurate cut lines. Estimated replacement frequency: 2-4 months of light/moderate use.
* Blade - approx. $8 - $12 per blade – The blade is obviously a critical component of your cutting machine. Just like any kitchen knife or pair of scissors, the blades will become dull over time. Estimated replacement frequency: 2-4 months of light/moderate use.
* Printer - approx. $100 - $300+ – Another critical item you will need is a printer. It is important to remember that the quality of your finished product is directly related to the quality that your printer can produce. Thus, if you are looking to take your Etsy business seriously, you may want to consider upgrading your printer to something that can create more professional looking results and higher cost efficiency.
Because there are so many factors to consider when buying a printer, I will be writing a separate article on choosing an inkjet vs laser printer for making planner stickers.
You will also need to consider the cost of ink or toner, which will need to be replaced every so often.
* Ink/Toner - approx $10 - $300 per cartridge – The cost and frequency of replacement can vary greatly between types of printers. Ink cartridges are typically cheaper, but do not last long. Toner cartridges are very expensive, but are often good for up to 1000 pages or more.
* Computer - $400+ (excluded from final start-up cost calculation) –This is an obvious must-have item, as you will need a computer to do everything from maintaining your Etsy shop online, to designing your stickers, to interfacing with your printer and cutting machine. I am excluding this from the total estimated startup cost, because I am assuming that most people who are considering opening an Etsy shop probably already have access to a computer.
* Graphic Design Software (Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, GIMP, PhotoPea) – approx. $0 - $300+ – Regardless of whether you draw your own graphics, or purchase clipart from 3rd parties, you will need some sort of graphic design software to produce your sticker sheets. Expensive design software such as Adobe Photoshop can cost several hundred dollars to buy in full, or an additional cost every month as a subscription fee. However, there are also free and open source alternatives available online, such as GIMP or PhotoPea.
As a side note, if you will be purchasing graphics, you should consider this extra cost in your own startup calculations. I will be writing a separate article on where to get graphic and clipart for your stickers.
* Sticker Paper - approx. $50 – The other factor that will determine the final quality of your product is the sticker paper on which it they are printed. There are many different materials of sticker paper available; however the two most popular options for planner stickers are standard matte and glossy paper. These papers also have different adhesives available, such as repositionable (removable), and permanent. The startup cost of sticker paper is variable, as it will depend on how much paper you initially purchase.
Most companies that sell bulk sticker paper offer free samples to potential customers. I highly recommend requesting free samples for any type of paper that you are interested in buying, and using the samples to do a test-run through your printer and cutting machine to see how they can handle the product. Sometimes, your printer may not behave as expected, producing curled papers, blotchy ink/toner, or paper jams for a given material.
* Clear Cellophane Bags or other packaging - approx. $10 per bundle of 200 – If customers will be buying physical products from your Etsy shop, you will need to make sure that their stickers arrive to them safely. Clear cellophane bags are a cheap, readily available solution that many shops use to package their product. These bags make it easy to package multiple sticker sheets together neatly and professionally. There are many companies that offer cellophane bags, so be sure to shop around for the best deal.
* Mailing supplies (Envelopes, Rigid Mailers, etc...) - approx. $5 - $40 per pack of 100 – Once your products are packaged, you will need to mail them to the customer. The absolute cheapest option would be to mail your stickers in a standard envelope. However, a standard envelope offers very little protection towards the stickers getting bent or damaged. A more durable option would be rigid mailers, which are essentially self sealing cardboard envelopes. Many companies offer rigid mailers and other shipping supplies at variable prices, so be sure to shop around to find a good deal.
Extras: While not required, these items might be worth considering as part of your startup costs.
* Business Cards - approx. $10+ – One of the easiest and cheapest ways to promote your business is by handing out business cards. Adding a business card to each package can also create a sense of brand unity and professionalism. With costs as low as $10-$15 for 500 cards, I would recommend the investment. The cost is variable depending on how many cards are ordered and from which retailer.
* Camera - approx. $50+ – If you would like to use photographs of your final printed products on your Etsy listings, you will need a camera. This item is optional because simply using a picture of the digital file will be sufficient in most instances. However, well photographed images of your stickers in-use in a planner can create a higher sense of confidence in buyers and can more accurately portray your final product. Camera prices can vary greatly based on model.
* PO Box - approx. $30 - $100+ – An important thing to consider when shipping physical products to customers is that your packages will require a return address. If you would like to keep your home address private, you may want to invest in a PO Box for your Etsy business. You can research PO Box prices online at the USPS website. Smaller post offices usually sell PO Boxes for cheaper than ones located in busy or popular areas.
* Official Business registration expenses
This information will be determined by your country and/or state, but it is worth mentioning in this list.
If you intend on creating a formal business from your etsy shop, you may need to fill out various legal paperwork, some of which have application fees. Examples include formally registering your business name, applying for a permit to collect sales tax, and obtaining an EIN.
I am not providing any sort of legal advice on my blog, but I do recommend you thoroughly investigate what is required to start a business in your place of residence and determine how much it would cost in total.
* Separate Credit Card and Bank Account - $0+ – Having a separate credit card and bank account dedicated to your Etsy shop can be very helpful. By restricting all your business transactions to a single account, I have found it much easier to maintain a budget and calculate profits and taxes. Although it does create more financial documents to balance, I have found keeping my calculations simple and organized is worth the extra effort. Opening a new credit card or bank account is usually free. In fact, banks often run specials where you can actually earn money for opening one at the right time.
That's the end of the list! So, what is the grand total? Let's find out...
Each item above is marked with an approximate minimum cost; You may end up spending much more than what I listed above, so please do not consider these prices to be exact in your own start up venture! The prices above are simply to provide standard information about each item and a ball park number towards how much you can expect to spend at a minimum.
Excluding the cost of the computer, the total minimum startup cost for all critical items is approximately $600+.
More than likely, your startup cost will be higher.
While this number may seem high, it is worth considering that you will only need to sell $50 - $100 worth of stickers each month over the course of a year to regain your investment, which I believe is an obtainable goal for any aspiring Etsy owner! I’ll be providing some tips and tricks to running a successful Etsy business in a future post as part of my “How to Make Planner Stickers to Sell on Etsy” guide, so be sure to follow along if you’re interested!
Let me know if I’ve missed anything on my lists, and what products you use in the comments box below!