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When I decided I wanted to start making enamel pins and keychains, I had no idea where to begin. A lot of folks out there who create pins generally do it for a living, and a lot of the information is sort of (rightfully) gatekept.
Build a design.
First and foremost, you’re going to need some sort of digital medium to create a design with or hire the job out. I personally use and LOVE my 12.9″ iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. The combo is pricey. I get it. It’s a luxury item but it’s invaluable for the design and portability aspect for me. Apple has a software called ProCreate that’s like a slightly-toned-down but very user-friendly version of Adobe Illustrator. It’s constantly being updated to have more comprehensive features, and although you have to have the iPad Pro to gain access to it, the software itself is only $9.99 for a one-time download.
Once I hammer out a few designs, I select the ones I want to turn into a pin (or a keychain) and format them for the size I want them to be. If your design has text on it, you’ll likely need a larger enamel pin size to ensure that it’s readable. Most of my designs have ended up being 1.25″ with no problem. From there, I upload my design to whichever website I’m using to create my stuff.
I would also recommend building a logo with your brand on it. It makes your product look clean and professional.
Find a company to create your product.
Without a personal recommendation from a friend who makes pins, I’m not sure how I would’ve found a reputable company that I could trust. It’s hard, especially with the internet being the way that it is, to find a company that relies on real reviews and not automated bot reviews.
The company I have been using to create both my Spicy Girls Club enamel keychains and my enamel pins is WizardPins, an American company whose production is based out of China. I recommend them wholeheartedly. They are able to create a variety of products, not just pins and keychains.
WizardPins’ website is easy to use, their customer service is incredibly fast and adept, and their free shipping/production times are timely enough for what I’ve needed them for (I would say about three weeks from design approval to landing on my doorstep) but you can pay for upgraded shipping. Plus, their pricing is transparent and they use both a rewards system and a referral system so that you can earn discounts over time and your friends can get discounts on product when you refer them.
Click here for my referral code, it gets you and I both $50 off of any order.
To submit a design to WizardPins, all you need to do is upload the file you wish to put into production. They will email you back with a proof. If applicable, they will offer insight into design alterations (larger pin size, font adjustment, color choice, enamel color). Like I said, their customer service team is very quick. Once you approve the final proof, they send it into production.
A few examples of my products from design to finish, see below:
You can purchase this pin here.
This keychain is out of stock, but coming back soon.
You can purchase this pin here.
The higher quantity of pins/keychains/etc you buy, the less they cost per item. I usually buy about 100 pins, coming out to be about $250-260 total. Like I said before, WizardPins offers a discount when you use their rewards program, so it often gets discounted after checkout. $250 for 100 pins means each pin costs $2.50 to make. Shipping is about $3 to anywhere in the US, and I often make about a 2-3 profit per pin. This is why my pins cost $8-9.
Selling (online vs locally).
I’m lucky to have the option to sell both locally in a friend’s shop (what up Gift Horse?! I love you!) and online via my Etsy shop. Etsy charges $.20 per listing and then a 5% transaction fee on top of the cost of shipping and the cost of the item. I offer free shipping (but obviously this means I cover the ~$3 cost out of pocket).
Like I said before, my pins cost about $5.50 not including Etsy selling fees, and so I sell them at $9 to cover the cost of shipping, selling fees, and the cost of production, plus a $2 profit. I like selling on Etsy because it’s easy and low-key, but there are other online selling platforms that streamline the process as well. Some are integrated into WordPress and Squarespace, and some run independently like Shopify.
I ship my pins using paper backing to give them a more professional look. I also ship them using a kraft paper mailer or bubble mailer and my all-important Rollo shipping label thermal printer. That thing is the GOAT.
I bought a self-inking logo stamp through this Etsy shop. You send in your logo, and they take it from there!
If you sell locally, like I do in Gift Horse, your process will be streamlined and largely out of your hands. The way the shop owner and I have done business is agreeing on a price to sell to her (I generally only profit 1-2 dollars if selling locally — I’m in the business of fun here) and she sells to make a small profit at whatever the going rate is for items in her shop.
This experience will vary from place to place. I only sell a handful of items at a time to my local gift shop, so my knowledge there is limited.
I also like to include a handwritten note with all of my purchases. I buy bulk packs of envelopes and cards to include in the bubble mailers. It’s not necessary, it’s just a fun thing to do to make the experience more personal. I will also occasionally order some of the promo items that Sticker Mule sells and include them with purchases to repeat customers like limited edition buttons, extra stickers, etc.
I hope I was able to answer any questions you had. If you have any more, please let me know. I will answer them if I can!