When artists are just starting out, it can be challenging to know how to value your own time and effort. Traditional artists, like those who sell paintings, have a slightly easier time of it — they have exactly one item to sell, and so they sell by time, effort, and perceived brand. But, how do you price stickers when you're starting your business? Sticker pricing can be tricky, but we're here to help.
For reproductions, like stickers, prints, pins, and magnets, it's important to experiment with prices. It can be harder to nail down exactly what to price your items as, because you’ll be making infinite copies of custom stickers. Here’s a quick guide to pricing your stickers and other small items.
Step 1: Calculate Your Fixed Costs To Price Stickers
The key to any successful business is knowing how much your stickers cost to get out into the world. If you use a printing service, you just need to take into account the average order value divided by quantity received to find out what stickers cost. Don’t forget: you’re not just paying for the items, but also for shipping. It does make a small difference. Your upfront costs will be smaller with small batch orders, but your per-item expense will be larger. And vice-versa for large batch orders: your upfront cost will be high, but your per-item expense will be lower.
Your sticker business depends on accurate sticker prices for you to make a profit. The best value that you'll get from outsourcing stickers is when you can hit the sweet spot of what you know you'll be able to sell. In other words, try to order as many as you know you can sell, so you're not losing value by needing to clearance old designs later. Let's go through a few examples.
Price Stickers: Small Batch Order
You order 5 each of 10 designs in the 3 inch size. This puts your per-item cost at $1.00 per sticker, with a $5 shipping charge, for a total of $55 upfront cost. $55 / 50 = $1.10 per item. This follows pricing over at DaytonStickers.com – you'll need to adjust if you're using a different supplier.
Price Stickers: Large Batch Order
You order 20 each of 10 designs in the 3 inch size. This puts your per-item cost at $0.65 per sticker, with a $5 shipping charge, for a total of $135. Your per-item cost is $0.67 per item, nearly 40% less than a small batch order.
There is, of course, risk in either method. If you order too small, your costs per item will be high and you may need to price higher. Or, you might become suddenly popular and run out of items quickly. On the other hand, if you order too big, you have a lot of upfront costs, or, your design may not sell as well as you think.
Reducing Risk: Early Access And Pre-Orders
One way to get around the price increase when you're doing a small batch order is to consider accepting pre-orders, or offering early access to your most loyal customers. They'll feel exclusive, and you'll be able to more accurately predict how many of an item you need. You can even get it in a size range that suits your most loyal customers. It's a bit strategic, and this strategy will only work if you've got a great audience already. If you're just starting out, then this won't work for your custom stickers.
Step 2: Find Out How Your Competition Prices Stickers
If you were selling unique 3D sculptures or other one-of-a-kind items, it’d be much easier to tell you to price your items at what you felt was right. However, stickers and decals are everywhere. Your art is the defining feature, but there will be competition. With small, replicable items, there’s no way around it: you need to price yourself competitively.
I recommend spending some time thinking about your competition. If you’re selling on a platform like Etsy, you should open an incognito window and do some searches for similar items. Write down the high and low prices, and then shoot for pricing somewhere in the middle. As your business builds, you can adjust up or down as needed.
If you’re selling solo, through social media, a website, or at a physical location, assess the competition where you’re at. Check out the marketplace on Facebook, #stickersales on Instagram, or spend some time browsing the other vendors at a physical location. Note price and perceived quality of the products, then make your choice.
Keep in mind that Etsy Ads might affect your profit margin, too. Check out our guide here.
Step 3: Know Your Profit Margin
With small items like stickers, pins, and magnets, profits are a quantity game. You can expect to make between $0.50-3 per item, depending on your pricing and on any additional fees like shipping materials, payment processing, or packaging. If you’re selling well, you can probably lower your prices or run a sale to encourage larger orders or more frequent purchases.
Your profit margin is important for stickers because it lets you know how many you need to sell for you to make a profit. You guys – we all love stickers, but we also know that it takes a lot of sticker sales for us to live off of sticker money. Your sticker business needs knowledge. Don't be scared away. Calculating the profit margin of what your stickers cost is relatively easy.
Calculating your profit margin is pretty straight forward. You’ll want an estimate of your fixed *production* costs (above), an estimate of your fixed *processing* costs (shipping, payment processing, or packaging), and an estimate of your gross profit from the sale of a single item. Subtract the costs from the profit, and you’ve got your net profit per item. You can then do a quick proportion to find the “profit margin” – the percent profit per item.
Calculating Your Profit Margin: Small Batch Sample
Our per-item fixed production cost is $1.10 (from above). The shipping costs $0.65 – a stamp ($0.55) and an envelope ($0.10). Our packaging is printed cardstock that costs $0.10 per card. Finally, our payment processor takes $0.30 + 2.9%, which is the industry standard. $1.10 + $0.65 + $0.10 + $0.30 = $2.15 per sticker in fixed costs, plus 3% of the purchasing fee, which we’ll estimate to be $0.05 just to be safe. So your total cost of a sticker is $2.20.
If you sell them for $4.00, your profit will be $1.80 per item, shipped. To find the profit margin, just divide: $1.80/$4.00 = 45%. In other words, you’re pocketing 45% of the total amount you’ve sold an item for.
You shouldn’t just run one sample price. Run a few scenarios with different upfront costs, packaging costs, and sales prices so you can get a feel for what your profits will look like. For example, if you sold the same item for $5, your profit would be $2.80 and your profit margin would be 56%.
Holding everything else the same, selling your large batch order ($0.67 per item) at these price points would also yield more profits. Selling for $4 would yield a profit of $2.28 per item, 57% profit margin. Going for $5 would yield $3.28 per item, 67% profit margin.
Step 4: To Price Stickers – Tweak Things, Constantly
Pricing that works for you in the Christmas season might not work during the Christmas burn-out period (looking at you, January). Similarly, pricing that works initially might not work as you scale your business up. You should be revisiting your pricing regularly, especially if you feel like your “take-home pay” isn’t covering your costs or giving you enough money to spend on DoorDash.
Whatever you do, know that your customers will provide the feedback that you need. If you've noticed a drop in sales of your stickers, it might be time to tweak your website, the size or shape of your stickers, or even their quality. You'll be able to get more people interested if you run sales, include free logo stickers, or customize artwork just for them.