From Zero to Profitable Enamel Pin Business in 4 Simple Steps
Roughly 1.92 billion people spent more than $3.5 trillion (that’s with a T) buying things online in 2019. That is a lot of money changing hands on the interwebs.
If you’ve ever dreamed of carving out a slice of that enormous pie for yourself, but you don’t have the resources of a well-funded startup, then building an enamel pin business could be the right play for you.
Why? Because enamel pins are:
- small, so you don’t need a huge warehouse to store them,
- low cost, so you don’t need to take a second mortgage to get started,
- versatile, so you can make them for just about any topic, brand, message, or niche, and
- popular (this article and Chris Hemsworth say so).
Whether you have an existing shop you’d like to grow or you want to start selling online for the first time, enamel pins are the perfect business opportunity to accomplish your goals. Read on and you’ll know exactly how to create a profitable enamel pin business of your own.
Produce enamel pins people want to purchaseFree business pro tip: If you make things people want, they’re more likely to buy them. Start your pin business on solid ground by producing pins that are likely to be popular.
Find fanatical audiences and long-term trendsYou don’t have to guess what people want. A few minutes of searching online and you’ll locate clusters of people gathering around a central topic.
Take cats, for example. Did you know there are conventions (plural) dedicated to cat ownership?
Cuddly kitty pins would be irresistible to that crowd.
Source: WizardPins Instagram
Since we live in an age where people constantly tell computers what they love, you don’t have to work hard to find profitable pinspiration.
For example, a quick glance at the Discover Groups tab on Facebook surfaces the I Belong on a Beach group. There are142,000 members (large audience) posting 290 times a day (active) about a central theme.
How swell would it be to make a series of pins for them?
Source: WizardPins Instagram
Google also makes it easy to learn what people are searching for with Google Trends. Just pop a word or phrase, like “puppies,” into the search bar. Google will tell what search terms are trending.
In this case, it looks like people are interested in “cavapoo puppies.” And after seeing a picture of one, so are we. They look like a tiny Chewbacca, for Pete’s sake! And then imagine how many cavapoo fans would pay for this puppy in pin form.
Source: Golden Valley Puppies on Pinterest
There are 138,000 subreddits on Reddit, and they get pretty specific. Exhibit A: r/BirdsWithArms.
It is exactly what it sounds like.
Source: u/TacoCatIsMyReligion on Reddit
Disturbing? Kinda. But since this armed ornithological group has 359,000 members, it’s also a pinworthy trend.
Last but not least, there’s Pinterest’s monthly trend report—which we assume is all about interesting pins. Did you know, for example, that there was a 55% increase in the search for “bubble waffles” in 2019?
Source: The Pampered Chef
It’s true. And these photogenic concoctions would make an interesting addition to any food-focused pin library.
Use the most popular pin typesEnamel pins offer a lot of versatility in their components. If you’re new to the #pingame, though, it’ll be best to start with the most popular options.
Soft enamel pins are the most popular style of pin. They allow for the widest range of colors and are the least expensive. We recommend them to 90% of our customers.
Note the texture difference of the soft enamel pin.
You can read about all the custom pin styles here.
Silver and black are the most popular plating finishes. Silver is the default at WizardPins and fits with most designs. Black provides a strong separation between bright colors.
Here’s an elegant heart-shaped leaf pin that incorporates just a couple of shades of green with a silver backing.
Source: WizardPins Instagram
What to see the entire plethora of plating options? Click right here.
The most popular pin sizes are 1.25" and 1.5". Most designs are too intricate for smaller pins. And larger pins are great for some purposes but can be hard to fit on a jacket, hat, or purse.
Add a custom backer card to promote your pin bizBacker cards are the pieces of card stock that pins are often attached to. They’re optional but highly recommended for adding a finished look to your pin.
Source: WizardPins Instagram
Just like @thecharmedmaker did here, you can also use the backer card to promote your brand and share social handles.
Review the proof like your business depends on it (because it does)The company you pick to make your pins (we’ll talk about that in a minute) will provide you with a proof of your design.
The proof is the digital rendering of your pin, and it’s the most important step in the entire pin production process.
It’s your chance to review and make final changes to your pin design before it goes into production. So take the time to make sure your dream design was translated perfectly to pin form.
Want to know more about designing pins that people will want to buy? Here’s an in-depth guide that’ll walk you through it with plenty of inspirational examples.
Pick the right partner to produce your pinsYour pin manufacturer is the team that turns your pin idea into a real, sellable product. Choosing the right pin partner will make a big difference in both the sellability of your pin and the profitability of your business.
Know the costs upfrontGet the full scoop on these costs or watch your profits disappear like magic.
Upfront per-unit costs
You should not, repeat not, have to wait days for a quote on standard size pins. You should, however, be able to easily find all pricing for standard products without asking.
Minimum order quantities
The lower the MoQ, the better, so you don’t tie up large piles of cash in any one pin design.
Most manufacturers start their custom pricing at 100 pins. At WizardPins, we offer bulk pricing starting at a 50-unit order, so you can get in the #pingame with less initial cash outlay.
Some pin manufacturers will charge a fee to create a mold for a new design. Some, like WizardPins, will absorb that cost.
Either way, make sure you’ve confirmed if you’ll pay it and accounted for it. Oh, and never pay a second mold fee for the same design.
Look for a manufacturer that offers free domestic shipping (we do!...we do!). And if they’re shipping from overseas, don’t budge until they tell you the shipping cost.
Get unlimited proofsCheck to see if your potential pin manufacturer caps the number of proofs you get. There are pin manufacturers, like WizardPins, that offer unlimited proofs.
Ideally, you want to find a pin manufacturer that offers unlimited proofs. That way, you’re never stuck with a pin you’re not proud to sell.
Check their street credLook on multiple sites to see what others say about your prospective pin manufacturer.
Start with their website because if they can’t find someone to say something nice, well...
Also, check their social media pages. That’s where people go to share their joy, or grief, after working with a company.
Finally, sift through third-party review sites like Product Hunt and Amazon. It’s hard to hide bad reviews there.
Finding the perfect enamel pin manufacturer is critical to the growth and profit of your new business. Dig in here and learn more things to look for.
Set your priceLet’s make this easy. No calculus needed. Sell your 1.25" or 1.5" soft enamel pins for $9.99.
Why that number? For two reasons.
First, you can make a decent profit. Here’s how that breaks down:
Sale price = $9.99
- Your cost per 1.25" pin (100 MoQ) = $2.66 (all in, no mold or shipping fees)
- 5% payment processing fee = $0.50 (rounded up a bit)
- 10% marketing costs (estimated)= $1.00
Second, that price won’t stand out as terribly expensive or “cheap.”
Check out this quick sample of popular pins on Etsy. Your price of $9.99 sits right in the sweet spot. Later on, when you’ve got some sales under your belt, you can experiment with discounts and premium product pricing.
Set up shop onlineGone are the days of paying a developer thousands of dollars to build an online store. There are now plenty of places you can put your pins up for purchase online, and most of them are free or very low cost.
Instagram and FacebookFacebook recently rolled out a new feature called Facebook Shops.
Source: The Electric Pin Company
With Shops, you can run a fully functioning online store—with checkout—all on Facebook. Plus, once you set it up on Facebook, your shop can automatically be created on Instagram.
It’s super easy, too. Just create a Facebook business account, upload pics and the prices of your pins, and you’re ready to sell.
There’s no charge to start your store, just a small fee per order if you use Facebook to process payment. If you don’t have an existing online business, this is the easiest place to set up your first shop.
EtsyAbout 2.5 million people sold at least one item—including enamel pins—on Etsy last year. So, you know people are buying on Etsy, too.
Etsy was created for small, local sellers, so it’s easy to use and even free to set up. There are some fees associated with listing and selling products, which are detailed here.
The downside of Etsy is that it could take a little time to get your products surfacing on searches. So, while it’s definitely a good place to sell pins, it might be best to start with Facebook and Instagram.
Ecommerce storeAs your business, fan base, and inventory grow, it’ll be very helpful to have a central ecommerce store.
It will take a little more work and money to create an online store than an Etsy or Facebook shop, but platforms like Shopify make it pretty straightforward.
One benefit of a Shopify store is that it can sync with Etsy and Facebook. So, when you change inventory or pricing in one, you change them all.
Shopify’s basic plan is $29 per month, which will take up some of your profits. So, it’s better to grow on Etsy and Facebook first, then jump into a full ecommerce store later.
Market your pin business on social mediaAs soon as you’ve set up a shop, you need to invite people to the party. Marketing your business can get complicated, but start with these four strategies and you’ll be on your way to slinging lots of pins.
Start with amazing photosYour product is visual, and the only way you can represent it properly online is with fantastic photography. You don’t need to be a pro; just follow a few general rules.
First, position your pin with an interesting backdrop or on a lapel/jacket/bag.
Like this little guy. He’s jacked to be hanging out on candy corn.
Source: pinsbysven LinkedIn
Next, reduce the glare by repositioning the pin. You can also use a piece of white card stock to bounce less harsh light on the subject.
And finally, try different compositions (locations, backdrops, etc.) for your images to keep your Instagram wall visually interesting.
Use giveaways to grow on InstagramYou can generate a lot of interest, engagement, and new fans by holding regular pin giveaways on Instagram.
A few enamel pins are much less expensive than paying for Instagram ads. It’s actually what we did when we were starting out. Giveaways helped us gain our first 30,000 followers. Get the step-by-step strategy here.
Get reposted for fast exposurePin reposters are online communities, mostly on Instagram, that share interesting pin designs.
Source: bbllowwnn on Instagram
It’ll take a little outreach on your part, but some of these pin reposters have large audiences of people highly interested in enamel pins.
Join Facebook GroupsAs we mentioned earlier, by nature, Facebook Groups are filled with people who have a common interest (read: they’re your target audience).
A word of caution. Be a constructive member of the community, not just a pin salesperson. Comment on conversations and write relevant posts before mentioning your pin business. Otherwise, you’re likely to get booted by the administrator.
When it’s time, show the group your most relevant pinsterpiece and consider offering a discount or a package deal to the group to get them motivated.