If you’re looking for your next side hustle or a full-time business, learning how to make enamel pins is a great option to consider.
In the past year, pins and brooches have been making a big comeback. From Taylor Swift to Lady Gaga to male celebs like Trevor Noah and Jared Leto, more and more celebrities have been rocking pins as a fashion statement.
And don’t they look dapper?
With this recent spike, now is a good time to jump on the pin train as a business owner.
But before you dive into it, there are some things to keep in mind when figuring out how to make your own enamel pins to sell — and whether it’s a viable and profitable idea for your new brand.
And that’s just what we’ll do. In today’s article, we’ll look at all the bits and bobs to starting an online enamel pin business, from picking your niche to manufacturing to sales and marketing.
Let’s do this.
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How to Make Your Own Enamel Pins
Whether you’re learning how to make enamel pins at home or planning to contract a designer (or outsource completely via dropshipping), here’s what you’ll need to think about as you plan your new business.
1. Find a Niche
You know that old saying, “Build it and they will come?”
Well, that’s not the savviest business approach. You might feel like you have amazing ideas for the kinds of enamel pins you want to make, but it doesn’t really count unless other people agree with your opinion.
That’s why you should start by researching and validating a niche.
The more specific you can get with your niche, the less competition you’ll have in the market — which means the easier it will be to win over potential customers.
For example, Custom Plugs has made a name for itself with its unique brand of indie and horror pins.
So how can you choose a strong niche?
The main goal is to find groups of people who have specific passions and interests — which you can do using your own experiences and networks, or online via research tools, forums, and websites.
Here are some ideas for researching online:
As one of the biggest online marketplaces in the world, Amazon can give some helpful insights into what people are shopping for these days.
Type your ideas into the search bar to see what Amazon’s algorithm serves up first. You can also look through the “trending” sections to see what themes are popping up.
Google Trends lets you see search trends through different filters. For example, you can see how many people Googled the term “donut enamel pins” in the last 6 months in the U.S.
This isn’t a super in-depth tool, but it’s great for a high-level view of what people are talking about.
Reddit List is a “shortcut” to the most active communities on the Reddit platform.
You can use these insights to zero in on the hottest topics right now and see if you can brainstorm any pin ideas that might cater to those audiences.
2. Design Your Pins
Are you planning to design your own pins, or find someone who can do it for you?
If you do want to design them yourself, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are ideal tools. But some might find them to be a bit pricey, so you can use cheaper or free alternatives like Sumo, GIMP, or Pixlr.
But if you don’t have this level of expertise, or it’s not necessarily worth it to invest the time to learn, there are plenty of user-friendly tools that allow you to make beautiful designs without all the experience.
For example, The Pin People has a design editor that lets you choose from pre-made templates, clipart, and images, and you can add your own text and custom design elements.
Then when you’re done, you can order your pins straight from the website. Easy peasy.
Another idea is to purchase pre-designed resources that you can use or manipulate for your final designs. You can find cool options on sites like Creative Market, GraphicRiver, or The Noun Project.
Hiring an Enamel Pin Designer
There’s no shame in the game if you don’t have graphic design or illustration skills, or your idea is too complex and awesome to try yourself.
There are loads of websites and creative marketplaces where you can hire a designer to bring your ideas to life.
Here are a few:
3. Manufacture or Dropship Enamel Pins
Once you’ve nailed down your design, it’s time for the magic. Turn your 2D ideas into 3D pins!
To do this, you’ll need to find a manufacturer. (Or you can avoid design and manufacturing all together by dropshipping, which we’ll cover in this section too.)
You can find a company that specializes in enamel pins, but keep in mind that there are plenty of general manufacturers that can get the job done well.
Here are some companies to start your research for the perfect enamel pin manufacturer:
- The Pin People, as mentioned in the previous section
- True Metal Works
- Your Stuff Made
You’ll find that many companies make the process quick and easy, like WizardPins’s streamlined approach.
It’s important to message your manufacturers before you place an order. You’ll be able to gauge their responsiveness and level of customer service, as well as have all your questions answered.
Here are some questions to ask potential manufacturers:
- What types of custom materials do you offer?
- What are my clasp options?
- What packaging options do you offer?
- Can you send me a sample before I place a large order?
- What’s your standard turnaround time after artwork is approved?
Dropshipping Enamel Pins
Want to skip the custom design and manufacturing process completely? Dropshipping is a great way to have your business without ever needing to learn how to make enamel pins.
You can create a Shopify store, then when a customer orders from you, you can place the order with your manufacturer or supplier. They’ll ship the product directly to your customer so you never have to manage your own inventory.
To find an enamel pin supplier, try AOP+.
How to Sell Enamel Pins Online
Now that you have a stock of pins at hand, the next step is to figure out where and how to sell your enamel pins.
Selling on Marketplaces
Etsy is the first name that comes to most people’s minds when they think of buying vintage or handmade items and craft supplies.
It’s got a massive customer base, and it works well for sellers looking to engage with potential customers directly.
People can ask questions on Etsy about your products and leave reviews on your listings. It’s a great way to eliminate any confusion and gather social proof for your pins.
Amazon Handmade is an artisan-only community within Amazon.com where creatives can sell their unique, custom-made products.
You’ll need an Amazon seller account before you can apply to join the community. Create one or log into your existing account, then fill out the Handmade application form to demonstrate that your product is a great fit for the platform.
Amazon Handmade has waived its monthly account fee, but there’s a 15% referral fee you must pay on each item sold.
Not On The High Street
As its name suggests, Not On The High Street's mission is to build a network of creative sellers producing products that can’t be bought anywhere else.
It brings together small businesses, known as "partners," and gives them the freedom to make and sell whatever they want.
Baked goods, apparel, and enamel pins are just a tiny segment of the treasure trove to be found there.
Creating Your Own Enamel Pin Store
Want more control over your business? Then creating your own online store is the way to go.
Although it will take a little more work than an Amazon Handmade or Etsy shop, ecommerce platforms like Shopify make it pretty damn easy.
One benefit of using Shopify is that you can create the shopping experience that you want for your customers. You get full control over what your store looks like, how it works, and what it says.
For instance, renowned enamel pin brand The Enamel Pin Factory uses Shopify to brand its online store.
The Enamel Pin Factory relies on its brand image to attract and retain customers. Like them, your brand doesn’t have to be generic or boring.
Because The Enamel Pin Factory doesn’t sell on third-party marketplaces, it avoids listing fees and can upload as many products as it desires.
Attracting Customers to Your Enamel Pin Store
Once you’ve created a store, follow these tips to get noticed:
Take Great Pin Photos
Taking great photos of your pins is not as simple as sticking a camera in front of them and clicking.
If you want to stand out, you will need to give your pics some thought. Using interesting backgrounds that better highlight your pins will help make them look more appealing to buyers.
If you are selling bundles, get photographs of all the pins in that bundle together to help give buyers an idea of what having the whole set will look like.
Don’t stick to boring blank backgrounds. Give your pics an edge of your personality.
Offer bundle deals
"Buy one, get one free" offers can help inspire more purchases from customers. So why not group your pins into thematic bundles.
If you sell pins with words or phrases, bundle them with others with similar sentiments.
This is a great way to ensure that little extra boost of income per sale while also moving more of your stock, giving you the chance to get more in.
Not only that, but more pins per package means you will be saving on shipping fees.
Leverage Custom Backer Cards
Backer cards are pieces of card that you attach your pins to when you send them out. While they aren’t vital to the shipping process, they can serve a very important purpose: further advertising.
By customizing your backer cards, you can help make your pins even more memorable. You can start by keeping them themed with your online shop, using a matching color scheme and any logos you may have.
But how about taking a step further by including QR codes on your site? You can quickly create on with Shopify's free QR code generator. Consider offering exclusive discount codes for second purchases only on the card to attract more customers.
Marketing Your Enamel Pin Business
When it comes to promoting your enamel pin range, you’ll want to adopt the following strategies because of their effectiveness:
When it comes to showing off your unique enamel pins, Instagram marketing should be your first stop.
An almost entirely visual social media platform, you can advertise your pins through pictures by setting up an account tied to your store.
Easily update all your customers, both returning and potential, with photographs of your current and upcoming stock. Get your previous customers to join in and help by requesting pictures of them wearing your creations. Let your pins sell themselves!
Facebook offers even more ways for promoting your pins online.
Get your customers in on the conversation by starting dialogues in posts and comments. Use posts for advertising your new pin designs, shout out to fans, or create competitions and offers that can get your followers invested in your company.
Facebook marketing can help you build a community out of your buyers and help spread the word through likes, reposts, and mentions.
Influencers are powerful voices in the online sphere whose support can skyrocket your sales.
Reach out to creators on different social networks – YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok – to find potential ambassadors for your business.
With a return of up to $18 for every dollar spent, influencer marketing is undoubtedly an excellent way to promote your enamel pin brand.
Frequently Asked Questions About Making Enamel Pins
What is an enamel pin made of?
Typically, manufacturers use iron and zinc alloy to make enamel pins. But you can also request them to use other metals like copper, brass, and gold when making your pins.
How much does it cost to make enamel pins?
Enamel pins can cost you between $1.3 to $3.5 a unit based on the materials, colors, and type of enamel pin you use, among other things. The average cost ties heavily to the number of pins you order. The larger the order, the less you pay per pin.
Why are enamel pins so expensive?
Enamel pins can be expensive because their production requires the use of a mold. The mold is the most expensive part of making custom pins, and its cost doesn’t vary based on the number of pins you make. Therefore, it makes sense to produce more pins as making fewer units in multiple batches can raise your cost of production (you’ll need to buy a separate mold for every batch you make).
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