How I Got Started in the Wall Sticker Business

How i got Started in the Wall Sticker BusinessI was minding my own business one day looking on eBay to purchase a small peace sign for my pickup.  I paid about $5 and when it arrived, I became interested in how it was made.  It didn’t seem like you needed to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in machinery to make these things.  So, I went on a quest to figure it all out for myself.

How Are Decals Made?

I immediately started to Google to learn all I can about making decals.  Eventually, that led me to watching YouTube videos on how to use vinyl cutters and the assortment of vinyl material and substrates available in the market for an assortment of signs for both commercial and artistic uses.

I learned all I could.  I read online reviews and took into account advice from folks sharing their experiences on forums such as T-ShirtForums.com .




Choosing a Market, a Marketplace and an Audience to Target

I learned that there were many uses for vinyl signs in which I could choose to make a buck.  After some time I narrowed down my options as to what I wanted to do with in the vinyl sign industry.  Initially, I thought I would sell decals for automobiles as well as for wall art.  But I did not have a marketplace in which to sell in.  My idea was to sell online and not directly to locals.  I was not looking to replace my career, only to supplement with something of my own making – a small home-based, online business.

I once sold stuff on eBay a long time ago.  But I had grown to dislike selling on eBay and really wasn’t sure where and how I would make sales. Would I have to create my own shopping cart website?   And, if so, how would I draw in the crowds?   It was all still a little vague to me at the time.

I also knew that I had to narrow down who I wanted to market to.  I did not want to be all over the place.  I wanted a theme and an audience that would appreciate it.  For example, was I going to target folks looking to place business signs on their automobile or was I going to seek out customers looking to dress up the interior of their homes?  This was not clear to me at the time and I did not want to try to take on too much trying to target everybody for everything conceivable in vinyl signs.  I knew the things I liked about the business, but I still needed a clear understanding as to who my potential clients would be.

Ask and You Shall Receive

Here’s where I get a little off into the world of positive thinking:  I really think that when you search for answers to something and you search real good, just the right things seems to show up, providing you with the clues and the directions you need to acquire your goals.  Just thought I throw that at you.

You also tend to start talking more to people who will listen to your ideas and to people who may already be involved in the field.  One of the things I did was to share my ideas with a few people, one being my good neighbor and friend.  A few weeks later he tells me about this market place called Etsy.  At first it sounded like a funny name for an online marketplace which I never heard of.  When I finally took time to visit Etsy, I knew I had found the marketplace that I needed to sell decals online.  I was really trying to avoid having to sell direct to locals.  Etsy was my answer to getting stared in the business.

Etsy Market Place Research

Now, on what to sell and for how much? Actually, I already wrote an article which includes the details on how I did my Market Research on Etsy.  You can read it when you get a chance.  The point being that Online Market Research is a big word, but it really is just looking for clues available that tell you how well a store is fairing on Etsy or elsewhere.  I kept it really simple because it is.  Read it when you get a chance.

Sunshine Decals:
Cool Wall Stickers for Your Home

After careful consideration I finally determined that I wanted to sell wall art for mostly children’s bedrooms and playrooms.  I thought I would create decals that would help to personalize their play area with something they can relate to: football, ballerinas, horses, etc.

I wanted to keep it family oriented and positive.  I think many of my personal creative ideas can help to support that.

Time to Take the Plunge

Okay, it was decision time.  I knew what I wanted to sell and to who I wanted to sell to – I had already figured that much of my future clientele would be women looking to dress up a child’s room, be it their child, their grandchild, their nieces their nephews, and on and on – I had a clear idea as to who my targeted audience was to become.

I knew the equipment that I needed to buy.  I knew the materials that I was going to use.   I knew the name for my decal shop.  I was ready.

I knew that if I were to invest money in all this, it had to be money that I could afford to take a chance with.  I also knew that if things didn’t go as planned, I was going to either sell off my $1600 Roland GX-24 cutter on Craigslist or I was going to acquire a really big piece of equipment that I had very little need for.  I decided to go for it.

A Word of Advice

Every time you start something new, it feels unfamiliar and your comfort level is zero.  That is how I felt when I first got started in wall vinyl stickers.  I made mistakes after mistake during my first few months.  And, although mistakes always cost, it was well worth the learning.  I am glad I got started in this business.  I have met a lot of folks online and on forums and I feel happy to feel I am a part of this vinyl sign industry.  It is fun and it is creative – two ingredients I need to enjoy the things I do, especially while earning a little extra income.

Find your niche and just go for it!

 

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  • Some great information there, sounds like you know what you’re doing when it comes to Wall Stickers! 🙂

    Thanks for the post.

  • What would you like to see on a car or wall decal?My idea is for a wall decal. I already have seavrel throughout my house, but this is a set I’ve been itching to buy / create. I would like to see a set of 7 or 8 different letter Z’s from 28″ tall to 12″ tall, in black, to apply over my guest bedroom headboard. Each one should be in a different font. ADORABLE!

  • Laura Brown

    Firstly, thank you so much for all the information you’ve provided on this website. I have decided to start a wall decal business and finding this website has been an incredible help for me. Before I take the plunge and buy the GX-24 cutter I would be really grateful if you can help me with something. I cannot work out how I would put together a multicoloured image. e.g a monkey with a beige body and dark brown ears, tummy etc. I’ve seen these decals all over Etsy and I am hoping I will be able to produce a similar thing. A response would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your help so far…

    • Jerry

      Hi Laura. Awesome question! That is why I e-mailed you to make sure I did not misunderstand the question.

      There are a couple of ways i know how to go multi-color with wall decals. You can go with a printer/cutter in which you print-out the design on vinyl and cutout around the perimeter and there you have a nice printed decal to install. It is an option and many people like the colored designs ready to install on their walls. The only problem is print-cutters can be rather expensive. For example: http://www.uscutter.com/Roland-20-Desktop-Inkjet-Printer-Cutter-VersaStudio-BN-20

      Now, let’s talk about the type of designs you were specifying. Based on the sample you provided me via e-mail, I believe the multicolored animal designs you referred to are made up of individual colored vinyl. In other words, it all comes in pieces and the buyer/installer has to piece it together on their walls. The vinyl leaves that have patterens are patterned vinyl. Those can be easily cut by making a bunch of leaves and cut with that pattern already on the vinyl.

      All this can be easily created on a Roland GX-24. But you will be limited by size. For exmaple, the tree in your sample design is rather big. Based on those dimensions, you would probably need to have those pieces of tree branches cut into at least 3 seperate pieces or buy a bigger cutter. Remember, the bigger the cutter, the bigger your table needs to be to provide space to work with. Here is a sample of a vinyl tree which had to be cut in 2 peices to create it. I believe the tree in this sample can be easily made with the GX24… check it out:
      http://youtu.be/AZvBiV5Tr_A

      Referring back to your sample, I would probably have to guess that when that large animal habitat tree house is sent out to customers, the pieces for each animal, although seperate, will have its corresponding pieces sorted together with the corresponding animal in seperate baggies, maybe. (not sure if I said that right). It is a little more work when preparing your packages for shipping, but they sell for a reall nice price… seems worth the trouble.

      You dont have to go with the more expensive option to be competetive. People like to piece their animals together on their walls as well, especailly if you market it in a fun way. Belive me, same as you, i have looked into making those multi-colored animal designs with tree habitat. … just haven’t had the time to sit down and find my characters. But based on the prices that store sells them for, seems like pretty good money to me!

      As an exagerated example, here is a video of a dragon being pieced together on the wall. Of course the monkeys you referenced were not even near this complicated. Check it out:
      http://youtu.be/u3MPJZ0_7yw

      Hope all this helps. If I left out anything, let me know.

    • Jerry

      Hi Laura. I must reply to you again. I was wrong about these decals. These decals are printed and cut on vinyl. I contacted the vendor again and asked if they printed their design or if it came in parts. They replied “printed”.

      I’ll tell you why I thought they came in pieces. While I was looking for answers myself to the whole vinyl decal business, I found a Youtube video in which someone demonsrtated how to pu togehter a giraffe wall decal. The giraffe’s spots came seperate and were shown how they installed each.

      I thought this was also the case for these decals. But, no. I was wrong about that.

      Needless to say, it would be a lot bigger investment to go with the print/cutter. If I had the “extra” money, I would consider looking into that genre of decals. But for now, I am good with old fashion wall vinyl.

    • Jerry

      Roopad,

      I had the same experience and I am using Teflon taped to the flat area of my Roland, just as you described. I have been using it like that for over a year now without a problem. I also opted not to use the anti-static spray on my machine…

      Thanks for sharing!

  • dawn

    What would you say the yearly income is/could be on selling window decals?

  • I’m still having trouble figuring out my target audience. At first, I wanted to target car enthusiasts. Now I pretty much want to target anyone who wants something unique and custom. That’s still really broad though.

  • Carin vd Merwe

    Hi, I’ve started my own business, but make mistake after mistake! I bought a vinylcutter from Advanced Machinery with the software Flexisign. After I bougt it I come to realise that the software could’nt convert a bitmap to a vector. After so much research I download other software to help me convert the bitmap and import it into Flexisign. I would’nt have buy flexisign but either Coral Draw. where can I find finished vectors example for a tree, or templates of finished wall decals? Thank you so much for all the info you share with us. I’m from South-Africa

  • Shirley Hughes

    Hi Jerry,

    I live in Scotland and looking to start up my own business due to having six back operations over the last 6 months I have had to stop working the job I used to be able to do. I have always loved arty crafty things and would like to do this from my home and be able to wonder about my house. I’m looking at opening an online business with wall decals but wondered if you can also but the decal on glass? I have an idea about wedding sector and pet sector can you please help me. Would I need to buy such a big machine? Can i buy a machine in the UK?