I could easily spend all of my time, and perhaps all of my money, on Etsy buying stickers. Admittedly, I don’t use them nearly as much as I purchase them so I always have an overflowing stockpile but that’s a conversation for another day…. and perhaps one we should not share with my husband. 😉
There are ways to make your own stickers with or without expensive tools or a cutting machine, and even without any artistic or design skills (all of which we will cover in this post). That being said, one of the reasons I purchased my Silhouette Portrait this year was because I really wanted to be able to up my DIY planner sticker game (remember my handwriting hack stickers?) and perhaps even open my own Etsy shop.
Whether you just want to make stickers for yourself, or you want to start your own sticker shop, this post will give you some of the basics for getting started.
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Types of Sticker Paper
There are two main types of sticker papers, matte and glossy. Ultimately, it comes down to preference. Since I use my stickers in my planner, I like it to blend into the page as best as possible, so unless I am using a clear sticker, I go with matte. There is also the option for repositionable stickers, which come at more of a premium but then you have the option to peal them and replace them if you don’t like where you set it. This is especially helpful for Erin Condren planner stickers since precision is key there.
Looking to save some money? You can use full-sheet shipping labels (and yes, they come in clear as well) but I would not suggest these for sales purposes because unlike sticker paper, there is a big diagonal slit across the back of the paper to make it easy to peel, which can be odd on the back of a purchased sticker and not professional in my opinion.
Now that you’ve decided on your paper, it’s time to decide on your tool of choice.
Option 1: Hand Cut
If you are making stickers for yourself, you can go with the no-budget option of your trusty scissors that you already have in your desk drawer. It’s as basic as it sounds: you print your stickers onto the full-sheet paper, and then hand cut them. Easy as that.
- Pros: Free
- Cons: Time consuming, less finished/professional, and stickers are individual instead of on one ready to peel sheet
Option 2: Cutting Machine
If you plan to go the professional route, there is no question in my mind that you’ll need a cutting machine. I also think they are good investments for people who are big crafters because there are so many amazing projects you can do with these things and they are a total blast. There are two big brands out there (Cricut and Silhouette), and if you google one versus the other you’ll be lost in a sea of really compelling arguments for either. Trust me.. I’ve been there… and I’ve actually tried both brands.
The most popular machines you’ll see people discuss are the Silhouette Cameo ($216 – $249), the Cricut Explore One ($183 – $239), and the Cricut Explore Air ($249 – $280). There are a million blog posts out there comparing these machines, and I’ll trust you judgement to review those if you decide to move forward with a purchase.
After my own extensive research, and knowing that this was mostly for personal use with the option to dapple in professional, I went with the Silhouette Portrait ($143). It’s smaller and less expensive than the larger machines, but I think it worked just as well as the Cricut Explore One I tested. The only main difference is that you can’t make a single cut wider than 8 inches (but you can still run standard 8.5″+ paper through this machine). Since I don’t plan on making or selling large wall decals, this was not a deal breaker for me.
- Pros: Professional, precision, quick, and limitless options
- Cons: Expensive, and there is a learning curve
Now, on to the design! This is where you can get creative and use various programs to design your stickers. Don’t be discouraged if graphics are not your strong suit — if you don’t plan on selling them, there are plenty of creative ways you can make beautiful stickers for personal use. Some of my favorites are:
- Print out pretty graphics or icons you find online
- Scan an image you have in a book
If you want to try to improve your skills, there is a fantastic course I took a few years ago called Brandgasm that taught me a lot about the photoshop basics, how to pair fonts, colors, etc., that helped improve my skills. I’m sure there are plenty of free tutorials on YouTube as well.
If you decide to sell stickers, I suggest starting out on Etsy. Make sure your shop has lots of information, descriptive keywords, and your logo before you open, and consider having a special discount for your launch that you can use to promote on your social channels to draw people in.
And be sure to consider the legal side of things! Anything you sell should be original and 100% your own. I am not a lawyer, but one of the things that never crossed my mind when thinking about selling stickers was fonts. Be sure that with any font you use in a sticker, you have the commercial right to do so. Often you have to pay a little extra for this, so be sure to read the information that comes with the font or on the download page. When in doubt, contact the author.