Today’s online marketplaces are filled with creative stickers covering all genres and styles. Whether you want to customize your water bottle, personalize your phone case, or easily identify your suitcase at baggage claim, stickers provide an affordable way to transform everyday objects.
If you’re an artist, turning your illustrations into stickers is a straightforward process. And for entrepreneurs, starting a sticker shop is an easy, accessible, and affordable business idea.
This post covers the basic steps required to design and print stickers—as well as the most popular ways to sell stickers online.
It also offers inspiration from two entrepreneurs who have found success with their own sticker businesses.
How to design stickers to sell
Here are the steps followed by most sticker makers to turn their artwork into high-quality, sellable products:
1. Use software to create stickers
Most stickers are made using illustration apps or graphic design software. You can also draw stickers by hand, then upload high-resolution scans. Or, you can upload physical art to make stickers from your paintings or illustrations.
The most important thing to keep in mind when uploading images is resolution.
Uploaded assets should be the same size or larger than sticker dimensions, and a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch). Save your image as a CMYK file to ensure your sticker’s colors are faithfully recreated.
If you’d prefer to use a computer to design your stickers, here are some popular sticker-design software:
Procreate is an illustration program designed for iOS tablets. Using the tactile Apple Pencil, you can draw, color, and add texture to digital images.
One of Procreate’s most popular features is the ability to upload custom brushes that mimic the look of specific pens, pencils, and other drawing tools. You can also add grain and blemishes to give your stickers a handmade feel.
Once you’re done, it’s simple to save your art in a high-resolution file format and export it for further editing or printing.
Adobe Illustrator is professional graphic design software. You can create premium stickers and intricate designs using its extensive tools and features.
With Illustrator, you can create vector-based artwork, add text, apply effects, and export your designs in different formats.
For a free, entry-level sticker making tool, try Adobe Express. It has pre-made sticker sheets and templates with editable text, colors, and graphics.
Canva is a good option for beginners looking to make stickers to sell. Users can choose from a range of customizable templates tailored for making stickers, or start from a blank page. There’s an extensive library of fonts, images, and shapes to hone your design.
Canva also offers a sticker printing service, making it easy to get your stickers made.
💡 For unique sticker shapes that don’t fit inside a square or circle, a clear border is essential. This helps printers detect the edges of your design and make complex cuts successfully.
2. Choose a sticker finish
Your choice of sticker material will affect how your creations look and feel. The printing material you use should also match intended use of your stickers. For example, stickers designed for car bumpers need a tough, weather-resistant finish, while notebook stickers are often printed using affordable paper stock.
Your choice of adhesive will play a big role in the perceived quality of your stickers. Negative reviews about stickers quickly peeling off can harm your business’s reputation.
It’s important to find the right balance in stickability to ensure stickers stay in place without causing damage. Use high-tack adhesive when stickers are intended for rough surfaces like wood or plastic, and low-tack adhesive for removable decals.
Read reviews of your chosen printing material from other sticker manufacturers to ensure adhesive quality.
Here are some of the most common types of sticker finishes and their use cases. It’s a good idea to experiment with different finishes before committing.
Vinyl stickers have a smooth, glossy finish. Vinyl is one of the most popular printing materials for stickers thanks to its durability and weather resistance.
Compared to paper stickers, vinyl can withstand increased exposure to moisture, making it suitable for stickers on water bottles, lunchboxes, or outdoor items like phone cases.
Another popular printing option is matte paper. Along with lower costs, matte finishes are known for their ability to showcase fine details, as the lack of reflection allows for better clarity.
If you are printing stickers on matte paper but want a glossy finish, you can apply a sheet of self-adhering laminate to the matte sticker. This creates shine and provides an extra layer of protection.
Holographic and prismatic
Holographic stickers are made from a material that refracts light to create a shifting rainbow-like effect.
Similarly, prismatic stickers have a multifaceted surface that reflects light in various directions to produce sparkles.
Mirrored stickers have a reflective surface, usually made from a metallic or chrome material. They’re attention-grabbing and unique, making them popular for creative and promotional purposes.
Clear stickers are made from a transparent material, such as clear vinyl or polyester, providing a seamless appearance when applied to surfaces. They are commonly used for window decals, as well as items that require washing or exposure to the elements, such as water bottles and outdoor equipment.
3. Print your stickers
There are several sticker printing methods. Some people do everything themselves at home using a regular printer and cutting machine. Others send their sticker filers to a professional sticker printer. A third option is online dropshipping and print-on-demand companies, which will print your stickers before sending them directly to customers.
How to print stickers at home
To print stickers at home, you’ll need adhesive sticker paper. You can find this paper at craft stores, office supply stores, or online retailers. Make sure the paper you choose is compatible with your printer, whether it’s inkjet or laser.
After printing, use a cutting machine like a Cricut or Silhouette to cut around the stickers and create the final product.
Printing at home lets you create custom stickers whenever you need them, without keeping a large inventory. This gives you flexibility to offer more designs in your store.
The downside of running your business from home is that it can take some trial and error to get the printing and cutting process right, consuming time and materials.
Professional sticker printing
Another option is to pay a company to print your stickers for you. Online services like StickerApp, Sticker Mule, and Sticker Giant are popular and generally well-reviewed. You also can use local printers that may provide faster service.
After you’ve uploaded your design and selected materials and finish, the company takes care of printing, cutting, and mailing the stickers to you.
This option is especially useful if you have a high volume of orders and don’t have the time or equipment to print them at home. However, keep in mind that you won’t see the final product until it arrives.
Additionally, you’ll need to pay for batches of stickers upfront. The cost per sticker decreases as you order more, so you’ll have to decide whether to order a large quantity at a lower cost per sticker or pay more for a smaller quantity.
If you’re interested in using a printing company, check if they offer a sample pack so you can compare their different sticker types.
A third option for printing stickers is using a dropshipping service. Upload your design to a Shopify app like Printful or Printify and let them take care of the rest, from printing and cutting to sending orders directly to your customer.
Using a dropshipping service saves you a lot of work, but also means you have less control over the production process. If you choose this option, make sure to order a sample so you can review the finished product before offering it to your customers.
4. Cut your stickers
When it comes to cutting stickers, there are two main methods: die cut and kiss cut.
A die-cutting machine uses a blade to cut stickers according to a programmed pathway, set using software. These machines can cut precise shapes out of paper and other materials, cutting both the sticker and its backing.
Die cutting allows stickers to be cut to conform exactly to the shape of your design, whether it’s a simple circle or square, or the delicate leaves of an illustrated plant.
Two of the most popular die-cutting machines for sticker production are the Cricut Maker and the Silhouette Cameo.
Kiss cutting is a technique where the cut is made through the top sticker layer, but not the paper backing. When the sticker is removed, the backing and border remain intact. This method is often used to create sticker sheets containing multiple designs.
How to sell stickers online
Whichever platform you choose, you’ll also need to price your stickers and market them. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Platforms to sell stickers
Sell your stickers online using your own store or by creating an account with an established marketplace.
If you want to create a brand to promote your stickers and have the opportunity to expand your product range later on, the best choice is to start an online store.
You can also link your store to sales and marketing channels. For instance, you can connect your store to Facebook and Instagram, allowing you to run ads in the feeds of potential customers and letting people shop directly from their favorite social media platforms.
💡 If you’re making the switch from Etsy to Shopify, you can migrate your products, sales information, and customer database.
Etsy is a marketplace for crafters and resellers. It’s one of the most popular places to sell stickers online.
Many sticker creators use Shopify and Etsy to sell their stickers across locations and get the benefits of both platforms.
When you sign up for Etsy, you get a basic storefront where you can list your stickers on the platform’s marketplace.
Whether you’re using Etsy or Shopify, you’ll need to optimize your product descriptions and product photography so that people searching for stickers can find you—either through Etsy or Google search results.
Etsy comes with fierce competition and fees. There’s a 20¢ listing fee for each new product listing, and a 6.5% commission fee on sales. When you’re selling stickers that may only cost a few dollars, those fees can cut into your profits.
Etsy also has few customization options, which can make it challenging for your storefront to stand out.
Selling stickers on and off Etsy:
- Etsy and Shopify: How to Use Both To Grow Your Business
- Growing a Handmade Brand: One Family’s Journey from Etsy to Shopify
- Etsy Alternatives: Online Marketplaces and Website Builders for Makers
The downside is that you have limited control over the production process. This may make sense if you’re creating stickers to sell them as a side hustle, but the potential for profit is also lower.
Because the website takes care of production and shipping, you only receive a fraction of the sale price, which means your profit per sticker may be cents rather than dollars.
Dropshipping marketplaces can be a good way to test out your stickers to see if they generate interest. When you’re ready to scale your business, you can build your own website.
💡 Many sticker creators use multiple sales channels to reach as many customers as possible.
2. Pricing stickers
It can be challenging to put a price on your art, but finding a profitable price for your stickers is a necessary step.
Stickers sold online typically range from $2 to $7, but can be sold at higher prices for larger or more complex designs. It’s a good idea to look at other sticker shops to compare their prices with your own and get a general idea of competitor pricing.
Remember to factor in the cost of materials, labor, and packaging to ensure a strong profit margin.
Also, consider your experience and artistic talent. If you’re new to selling stickers, you might want to sell them at a discount while your reputation grows.
3. Marketing stickers
To get your stickers noticed by your target audience, you’ll need to market them effectively.
Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok likely will be your first port of call for showcasing your sticker designs.
Here are some simple social media marketing strategies to consider:
- Post eye-catching content that references your products.
- Engage with your followers through likes and replies.
- Use paid ads to increase your account’s visibility.
- Partner with popular influencers who have an audience that aligns with your target market.
- Organize giveaways and encourage participants to tag their friends for a chance to win.
- Team up with other artists and businesses to create joint sticker packs and promote each other’s products.
4. Shipping stickers
One of the best things about selling stickers is the ease of shipping. For an average order, all you’ll need is a stamp—which also keeps costs low for customers.
To ensure your stickers arrive in good condition, use rigid mailers or envelopes with sturdy cardstock inside. Some sellers add a “Do Not Bend” sticker on the envelope for extra protection.
Sticker shops are known for creating fun packaging that makes receiving your order feel like getting a heartfelt gift. It’s common to include a short, handwritten thank you card or a branded sticker with each order.
Some sellers also get creative with packaging, using materials like branded tissue paper. But remember to keep your overhead costs in check. There’s no point in beautiful packaging that eats up your profits.
Finding sticker inspiration
Figuring out what your stickers should look like can be a challenge. With countless possibilities, your first task is to narrow down a brand and style, so that your designs have a recognizable identity and personality.
Find your sticker style by diving into:
- Hobbies and interests. Use your knowledge of sports, animals, or music to create detailed designs that will satisfy fans.
- Artistic styles. Explore minimalistic, hand-drawn, or retro stickers to find inspiration for your own designs.
- Niches. Identify niche markets that are passionate about their cause, such as gamers, gardeners, or dog owners.
Learn from successful sticker sellers
With so many sticker creators out there, finding a unique idea is a must. Here’s how two entrepreneurs made a success from selling stickers.
Ilona Lin found inspiration for her sticker and stationery brand, Milkteanco, in her cat, Milkie. Initially, she created a cute cartoon version of him to apply to stickers and other small items. Later, she remixed her design into a range of decals and branded products.
Created by Christine
Christine Lee is the owner of Created by Christine. She chose to create stickers full of positive vibes and inspirational quotes. Christine found inspiration from her day job as a first grade teacher, and counts many educators among her customers.
“Positivity is a big thing about me, and it’s like my center of gravity in my classroom. So I’m always pulling out positive quotes,” she says.
How do they sell their stickers?
Both Christine and Ilona started out with Etsy before growing their sales by opening additional Shopify stores.
“Etsy would be an option to start for beginners who are maybe having a small amount of listings, or are just kind of feeling it out,” says Christine.
The two creators take different approaches to manufacturing their custom vinyl stickers. Ilona tried outsourcing production to a printer and supplier, but didn’t like having less control over quality.
Christine, on the other hand, started her business by printing at home, but now uses a variety of third-party printers to print large quantities of stickers.
“In the beginning, when I received an order, I could just make it,” she says. “The business grew over time, and it was getting a little bit hard to manage all that, so I slowly made the transition.”
Ilona packages all of her orders with custom wrapping and extra stickers. This makes her deliveries memorable and special, but she also orders supplies in bulk to keep costs down. She keeps a budget sheet to make sure she’s not overspending.
💡 To find inspiration and understand your competitors, be sure to browse as many competitor websites as possible. But be careful to never copy someone else’s work.
Make your brand sticky
Stickers can help you celebrate a passion, tell your story, or promote your business. Whatever your stickers look like, try to develop a distinctive style. Creating products with a strong visual identity will make your brand recognizable and help it stick in people’s minds.
Making and selling stickers FAQ
What are common sticker design challenges?
How do I make stickers with a Cricut?
- Print your sticker designs on sticker paper using a regular printer.
- Use the Cricut design software to import your designs and define the cut lines for your stickers.
- Load the sticker paper onto the Cricut cutting mat and insert it into the machine.
- Follow the instructions on the Cricut software to cut out the individual sticker shapes.
- Once the cutting is complete, carefully remove the stickers from the cutting mat.
How do I make vinyl stickers?
How do I make stickers at home?
To make stickers at home:
- Design your stickers using graphic design software, or find printable sticker designs online.
- Print your designs on sticker paper using a color printer. Make sure to use sticker paper suitable for your printer.
- Cut out the individual sticker shapes using scissors, a craft knife, or a cutting machine like a Cricut or Silhouette.