Stationery is often a part of life's most important moments. It may be a birthday card for a loved one, a wedding invitation, a birth announcement, or an attractive letterhead for a heartfelt note.
Many artists, illustrators, and designers want to turn their ideas into tangible items for themselves, their loved ones, and others who appreciate their work. A stationery business is an ideal way to showcase your talent while offering attractive products for everyone to enjoy.
Selling your unique designs on greeting cards, brochures, business cards, letterhead, and other paper products is a straightforward and fun way to make a profit. Starting your own stationery business may even be easier than you think.
Choosing your niche and developing a brand identity are two of the first and most important steps toward the success of your stationery business.
The ins and outs of creating a stationery business plan, including market analysis, financing, and more.
Essential tips for selecting your custom stationery products, designing them, and finding the right supplier.
Starting a new business is intimidating, but with the correct guidance and tools, it can be less challenging than many entrepreneurs think. Whether you're looking to start a side hustle or a new full-time job, this guide to starting a stationery business can help you succeed.
A niche will help your stationery business stand out online and in stores. You may already have a niche in mind, or you may decide to research the current stationery market and see what's missing. Perhaps you want to make greeting cards for a lesser-known holiday or postcards for tourists visiting your town.
Your chosen stationery industry niche will be based on various factors, including what is currently trending or in high demand in the stationary market. Look into the competition and see where they're lacking. There may be a gap that your stationery business can fulfill.
The following are a few ideas for stationery business niches:
Stationery specifically for teachers
Unique or funny birthday invitations
Custom stationery made from sustainable materials
Stationery art that features your town or local attractions
Greeting cards consumers can use for multiple occasions
Pop culture-inspired stationery company
Google can be helpful when researching your market and starting a stationery business. Type your idea into Google Trends to see how many people are searching for your topic. The search can reveal worldwide data and data specific to your area.
The ideal niche aligns with your interests or hobbies and the market's desires. Choosing a niche inspired by passion will motivate you to achieve your dream of a successful stationery business, even when challenges arise.
Your brand identity is what defines your company. It is closely tied to your niche, and they must fit together. Your business name, logo, theme, color scheme, and advertising efforts should remain consistent and aligned with the brand identity.
Here are a few must-have tips for creating your brand identity:
Choose a catchy stationery business name that's easy to remember.
Create a sleek yet simple logo that can easily apply to all your stationery products, such as calendars, greeting cards, notebooks, and more.
Choose a branded color scheme of one, two, or three colors. A simple color scheme simplifies transferring your logo or designs across numerous stationery products and marketing materials.
Develop a consistent brand voice across all the brand's advertising efforts, including social media, the company website, possible commercials, and print publications.
Today's buyers want to know your company's history, mission, or purpose. Establish what inspired you to create the brand and use it as part of its voice.
An entire business plan helps you develop your idea and focus on your goal. Refer to your business plan whenever you feel like you're falling off track with your strategy or vision. Potential investors will also want to view your business plan before funding it or offering a loan.
You can use several online resources and templates to help develop your business plan. Generally, the steps to writing this successful business plan are as follows:
Company description: Create a company overview that explains your business history, mission, values, objectives, and general business model. Explain whether it will be a partnership, sole proprietorship, limited liability corporation, or corporation.
Market research: Define the target market for your products, including their age range, locations, and special interests. Include research showing market projections over the next several years. Choosing the right market at the right time is essential to success.
Describe the management and company organization: Explain who runs the company, including you as the owner and any partners or managerial positions. You may need to add positions to your business plan as the company grows. Outline the responsibilities of everyone on your team.
Create a product list: Provide a list of products you will offer immediately and products you predict you'll offer in the future.
Develop a marketing plan: Proper marketing is vital to a business's success. Outline your current marketing strategies and plans for the future. Consider social media marketing if it fits your target market, as most platforms are affordable and provide data to track your marketing strategy's success.
Define company logistics: Logistics keep your company running smoothly day after day. Determine who your manufacturers and suppliers will be and any expensive printing equipment or other products you may need—document who will handle production, fulfillment, and more.
Create a financial plan: The financial plan is what investors want to see most. It will also help you stay on track with your business income goals. Every financial plan should include startup costs, an income statement, a cash-flow statement, a balance sheet, and projections.
Registering your stationery business is a significant step because it's when you receive your business license and become recognized by the government.
This is when you'll decide the type of stationery business entity you'll operate. The following are several of the most common business entities as described by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):
Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business owned by one person.
Partnership: A partnership is a business owned by two or more people who contribute skill, money, or property to the business and share its profits.
Limited liability corporation (LLC): An LLC is a business structure regulated by individual states. The number of owners is unlimited in most states.
Corporation: A corporation is owned by shareholders who trade property, money, or a combination of both for stock in the company. Profits are distributed amongst the shareholders after taxes.
While establishing your stationery business, apply for an EIN and obtain any necessary business licenses/permits. This is also when you'll set up a business bank account and/or a business credit card and consider purchasing business insurance.
A stationery business owner has numerous options for sales channels, including ecommerce platforms and brick-and-mortar stores.
Ecommerce platforms, like Etsy and Shopify, make starting online stores easy for artists and entrepreneurs. Etsy allows you to add the stationery items you created to your Etsy page, where their massive number of daily shoppers can view them. Remember that Etsy charges a fee for each transaction, so you'll want to factor that into pricing.
Shopify is similar to Etsy because you can create your online store. However, the store is customizable, so you can design it to fit your brand image and colors. Shopify manages the back end of your site for you, but it comes with transaction and monthly fees.
Stationery is a product many people continue to buy in brick-and-mortar stores. Start locally to determine which small businesses, gift shops, tourist stores, and office supply stores will stock your stationery. You may even be able to sell popular items to big box stores.
Print on demand (POD) services are ideal for custom stationery businesses because they handle many logistics for you. Print on demand companies allow you to select the exact stationery products you prefer, whether you're looking for a specific material, sustainability, or other options.
They also handle all the printing, order fulfillment, and shipping, taking much of the stress of business ownership off your shoulders. Shipping rates, times, and locations are consistent and reliable, so you give your customers the highest level of customer service.
A print on demand supplier reduces a company's start-up risk because they produce each order once purchased. You can test numerous products for popularity and don't waste money on inventory that doesn't sell.
Choosing the stationery products you'll sell is one of the most exciting parts of starting a stationery business. Select from a long list of paper products, including greeting cards, multi-page brochures, folders, roll-ups, flyers, and more.
With a print on demand supplier, you can put your design on multiple types of stationery to see which options become the most popular.
Designing stationery is the part most illustrators and artists enjoy most. This is when their talents shine, and they prove what sets them apart from the competition.
The Gelato design editor tool and other design software allow you to sketch designs on your computer or tablet and create digital mock-ups.
Refrain from using too many design elements, fonts, or colors in your stationery imagery. Clean designs are easier to transfer to numerous stationery products and appeal to a larger audience. Simple designs sell better, so consider enlisting the help of a professional designer at a local print shop if you need help finding the right image.
Your print on demand supplier can send you samples to ensure you're happy with the end product. Take high-quality photos of the products you plan to keep so that you can display them in your online store, in email newsletters, and across your social media accounts.
While your stationery products may sell in brick-and-mortar stores, creating an online storefront is essential to attract customers, too.
Choose your platform, whether it's Etsy, Shopify, or your own website, then customize it to fit your brand identity, colors, and more. Use high-quality product images and include essential details in each product description. Customers want to know the stationery materials, dimensions, exact colors, and what any written content says.
Specify your refund and return policy, display shipping options, and set up a simple yet secure payment process. A complicated payment process or long shipping times may cause customers to seek products elsewhere.
Pricing your products requires market research and financial understanding. Consider what competitors are charging and the profit margin you want to achieve with the sale of each product. The cost of stationery design and ordering will also determine the profit margin.
Your costs don't need to be set in stone from the beginning. You may need to raise or lower prices as the cost of stationery, office space, and other business expenses rise or fall. Use discounts and promotions to incentivize sales as you desire.
The Gelato Price Navigator is an invaluable tool when setting prices. Learn more about it on Gelato's What's New page.
It's time to start marketing your new stationery business. Social media platforms are among the easiest and most cost-effective ways to market products. Paid ads will help you reach your target customers and audience while providing data on how well your marketing campaigns function.
Place relevant keywords in your product titles and descriptions so they appear quickly in online searches. Influencer marketing, regular email newsletters, and attending local events with your stationery products are other effective and affordable ways to advertise.
Building a profitable stationery business is entirely feasible, especially when you have a plan carefully and use practical online tools. Gelato's premier print on demand service encourages you to turn your art prints and designs into products for customers worldwide to enjoy.
Gelato allows you to create your online store without worrying about managing inventory, fulfilling orders, or storing excess products. Your stationery business can succeed when you remove many of the stresses of owning an online business.
Stationery remains one of the most thoughtful ways to send a note. It also keeps people organized, whether writing events on a calendar, making lists, or leaving notes around the house. Creative and useful stationery products will likely never go out of style.
Pursuing a passion is always fulfilling, but starting a stationery business can also be a viable way for illustrators, designers, and artists to turn art into profit. Creatives with unique ideas but few design skills can also enlist the help of experts to turn their concepts into useful stationery products.