The art and crafts industry continues to enjoy a boom, as more individuals are becoming interested in making crafts and selling their handiwork. Vinyl cutting is one of the many arts and crafts businesses that you can quickly pick as a side hustle. If you’re a natural DIYer, vinyl cutting might be the right business for you; it is easy to set up, and it doesn’t require much capital since you can easily white label and get it fulfilled.
So, What Is Vinyl Cutting?
To start a vinyl cutting business, you will have to be conversant with a vinyl cutting machine and a home computer system that has a design software if you decide to actually do everything yourself. The vinyl cutting machine is controlled by a computer. It scans the design on your computer and converts it to an outline. From there, the machine cuts the design with a sharp blade from a vinyl sheet. Most vinyl cutters look like regular computer printers. With them, you can make stickers, logos, and several designs for your home, office, and clients.
What Supplies Are Required?
Starting a vinyl business requires little capital, and only 1% of sellers required loans to start their business. However, while this business requires little capital, you need a lot of dedication and hard work to succeed. Some of the supplies or materials you’ll need to set up a vinyl cutting business include:
Personal Laptop or Desktop:
This is probably one of the first things you already own. If you don’t, then you need to get one to set up your vinyl cutting business. The minimum specifications of the computer should be 4GB of RAM, a 2.0 GHz processor and enough space on its hard drive. The monitor should be big enough to project realistic images. So, it’s recommended that you get one with a 16-bit, 1366 X 768 resolution. You’ll also need broadband connectivity.
Getting a vinyl cutter is what will take out most of your capital. You cannot afford to cut cost on this machine, especially if you’re planning to expand your business in the long term. That's why we recommend initial fulfillment be done by a 3rd party company like FoamCorePrint in the beginning stages, You’ll need to get a quality cutter. One of the best desktop machines you can buy are the Silhouette Cameo 3 and the Cricut Explore Air 2. Both machines are inexpensive, and most small businesses today started with one of these machines. For a more sophisticated and pricier machine, you can invest in Klic-N-Kut’s KNK Zing Orbit or KNK Force. Although they are more expensive, they are recommended for successful home business because they cut the most accurate vinyl decals in the fastest time.
Other things you’ll require include;
A Heatpress; used for transferring print
Vinyl Rolls; in different colors like white, black, blue, silver, red, and pink
Packing and shipping supplies
What Software Can I Use?
Vinyl cutters come with their software. It will enable you to design basic vectors or load bought or downloaded templates that will be cut out by the machine. However, to create a competitive advantage for your business, you’ll need to be able to cut out your designs. There are a lot of software available online, but the most professional of them include;
This is an affordable vinyl cutting software used by many designers. It is easy to learn, and it is ideal for both beginners and advanced designers. It also has user-friendly tools that enable you to edit your designs with the professional-grade applications.
Easy Cut Studio
Thousands of users use the Easy Cut Studio vinyl cutting software. It is user-friendly, and it allows you to draw your images on the cutting mat in a quick time. It provides functions for auto-tracing, freehand drawing, Bezier operations, lattice design, rhinestone design, and much more.
Sure Cuts A Lot Pro
The Sure Cuts A Lot Pro is an easy-to-use vinyl cutting software. The software allows you to create images for decals, T-shirts, signs, and others. It has features like Photoshop and other Adobe editing software into the SCAL workflow (easy-to-use guidelines, magnetic snapping, and even masking).
Commercial Licensing and Copycats
Most of the designs you’ll be using might be downloaded designs, except if you’re planning on creating all your designs. Downloading designs is typical, although you will need to buy a commercial license if you intend to sell online. Unlike a personal license, buying a commercial license is not a cheap investment. If you sell downloaded designs online without a commercial license, it is tantamount to theft, and you can get sued. If you do enough research, you might find a discounted commercial license. On the other hand, if you’re skilled at creating your own designs, you can create your own commercial license. This allows you to send a cease-and-desist letter through your lawyer to anyone using your designs without your permission. You'll also want it explicit in your contract. Make sure to not just use one generic contract for each client. Paperwork can be annoying, but it can really come back to you later if things mess up and you have to deal with long, painful legal issues. You can have a base contract template for each client, but by the time you actually present it to the potential client make sure it's appropriately customized beyond just length of time and $ amount. Have a service level agreement (SLA) and have anything the client puts in reviewed by a lawyer. Managing these yourself can be a pain so I suggest using a contract lifestyle management platform to make sure everything is organized and documented.
Starting Your Vinyl Cutting Business Locally
Before opening an online or offline business, you’ll need to check the U.S. patent and trademark office to ensure that you’re not using another company’s name. Choose a name that is descriptive and which is not on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram. You can start selling your crafts to family and friends. From there, branch out to your local community. You can ask them to spread the word to other acquaintances and friends who might need vinyl decals, stickers, labels, signs, cards, or party accessories. You can also participate in events/craft fairs at schools or convention centers. Other places and people you can sell locally include:
Sports teams for schools
Wedding planners for invitations cards, menus, and stickers for décor
Party planners for baby shower cards and decors.
Interior designers for vinyl wall decals
Local businesses for signs and stickers for their clients
During crafts shows, you can also display beautifully-finished products so that potential clients can pick and handle your craft. You can display mugs, T-shirts, tumblers, and much more.
Pros of Selling Locally
Building close-knit clients and organizations in your community
Clients and potential clients get to see your craft first hand
Cons of Selling Locally
To sell locally, you must be socially adept. Simply put, you should be a people person
It is limited; your business might not expand exponentially
You will have to work with the clients’ deadlines.
Starting Your Vinyl Cutting Business Online
For most new businesses, starting an online business is usually the first step to getting recognized and selling. For some others, selling online is often the next step after setting up their local store. You can set up your website if you don’t want the additional fees that come with sites like Etsy. You can also open a social media page for your business Facebook and Instagram. Sites like Esty offer crafters a platform to sell to people in need of their craft, at an affordable fee. If you want to start on Etsy, here are a few helpful tips:
Use gorgeous pictures
Have people you know to buy your products and get them to leave feedback
Pack and ship on time
Start with low prices
Optimize your keywords to get noticed quicker
Have a good customer service
Pros of Selling Online
You get to reach a broader audience, which isn’t possible with local stores
If you’re not a people person, don’t fret! You don’t need to have face-to-face interactions
You can make sales while sleeping or cooking
You get to have your own schedule
Cons of Selling Online
Huge competition, and it is quite slow to get noticed
You must be responsive to online messages
Packing and shipping is a hassle
Most of your work will need to be photographed, and this means clients won’t be able to touch your craft physically.
A useful tip for driving sales on your website or Etsy site is to do giveaways or offer discounts on your products. Finally, make sure your image is consistent on all your social media profiles. You can also use apps like Stickify, uSticker, and Sticker Maker Pro to make custom stickers.
White labeling and Print on Delivery (POD)
White labeling is when companies remove their logos and brand from their product and services which can be rebranded by your company for sales and distribution. For example, you can buy a generic set of cups that have no labels and use your vinyl cutting machine to create labels for your clients. We talked about this before and recommend taking this approach if you're just starting out to cut down on initial costs. POD occurs when you sell your own custom designs on products like t-shirts and mugs. With POD, you can pay for the product and services after it has been sold. This reduces the need to buy in bulk or perform inventory.
Pros of POD
Mass Production: Since the products and services are available, you won’t have to go through the hassle of producing your own.
Depending on the supplier you use, the shipping and fulfillment is usually their responsibility. All you have to do after-sales is customer service.
You can test ideas, and since you’re not doing any inventory, it reduces investment and risk.
Cons of POD
The cost per item is usually higher than buying in bulk, and it might yield meager profits
Shipping might get complicated since you’re not in control.