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Hello, Hello! Today, I will be going through some advice for people who are looking to start a small business! Now, I’m not expert, these are just some things I wish I had known before the mistakes were already made.
If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning (Thank You!) you know I’ve had my website for a few months now, so I always sort of already a step ahead there, BUT that doesn’t mean setting up a shop on my site was easy. Setting up my website, even for this blog, was one of the most trying things I have done to date. If you are like me and had no website experience, I highly recommend watching a bunch of Youtube videos beforehand. I’ve had to change the theme of my website so many times you wouldn’t believe because of simple issues. Then once I thought I had everything look perfect, I decided to start my shop so I had to change my theme AGAIN to make it something compatible with a shop.
TAKE NOTES – TAKE NOTES – TAKE NOTES
So here we are, this is my site, obviously. And I think it looks pretty good. My site is through Word Press and I cannot say enough about how amazing the customer service I have received has been. I have felt more than once that I was asking stupid questions, but always received *perfect* service. Youtube has also been a life saver, and I REALLY, REALLY recommend making sure you take notes. I can’t even tell you how many times I’d done something for the site after watching a video, and then a few days later I go to do the same things, and I can’t even remember where to begin, and have to rewatch the video. So TAKE NOTES.
When I first started my business I had a really hard time finding the cheapest, but still awesome quality, products for marketing. I watch Allie Rose on Tik Tok and I love her! Super sweet and helpful, so check her out! I found from her videos that you can order business cards from Staples and they’re really good quality, I think I got 250 on premium card stock for ~$15. I also just learned you can order flyers (the cheapest place, with the best quality is from Fed Ex) and they’re great!
Social Media is a really struggle for me. I watch all of these girls make these amazing Tik Toks for their business and mine always come out low quality and I have a hard time remembering to record myself. BUT, I would say Tik Tok is HUGE for marketing your business, especially if you’re an artist, theres an amazing artist movement happening right now so be sure to use the popular sounds! As for Instagram, I’m still awful. Haha. I know what you should do is post 3 stories a day, post 3-5 days a week, and Reels are HUGE right now (another thing I’m awful at).
Another piece of advice from AllieRose is to literally record yourself doing EVERYTHING. Packing an order? Record it. Unboxing new things? Record it. Cleaning your work space? Record it. Because you never know what will go viral. My highest viewed reel on Instagram is literally just me weeding vinyl. I don’t even have makeup on or anything.
Another site I recommend is sticker mule (Click the link for $10 off your first order!), they frequently have amazing sales and discounts, and have awesome service. My very first order ever, my printer died the night before it was supposed to go out, so I ended up just ordering them from sticker mule to be sent to my clients house, and it was the perfect solution in a pinch! I’ve also ordered multiple stickers from them for spicing up my packaging 🙂
Research how to make your product
Okay, this one might sound stupid but really! When I started, I decided suddenly I wanted a Cricut , and the only thing I knew about a Cricut was it makes stickers. And stickers, were my stepping stone to starting my business. I mean, yah it makes stickers (basically), but I didn’t research what paper I needed, how to fix simple things, what blades I can get, what tools are really useful, etc. So I got my Cricut for Christmas and then just kinda was like okay well I have this thing now soooo…..
Cricut Add Ons
So look stuff like that up! I recommend getting the Cricut Tool Kit (I highly recommend getting this one because of this paper cutter. You will need a paper cutter so may as well buy it in the pack!), a 12×24 Cricut Mat, as well as Cricut Pens (all linked below). When I bought the pens I was kinda annoyed with myself afterwards, because I was like okay when am I going to use these pens for stickers. Well, I was wrong, I use them every order and I love getting to switch up the colors! I have awful handwriting and I use my Cricut to address my Envelopes, make my Care Instruction cards, make my Thank You cards, and more! It’s so handy and makes everything look super cute and concise!
And as for the 12×24 Mat, you will need this if you plan on using your Cricut to cut vinyl for apparel. My first go with making a shirt, I used my 12×12 mat, and then design was laughably small compared to the XS shirt I was printing it on. So I wasted all that time cutting and weeding for nothing (not to mention the vinyl I wasted!).
As far as sticker paper, the one I have linked is Glossy, but they have Matte as well. I ordered something that was like $2 cheaper or something my first go around, and in comparison to this, this is SUCH better quality.
Yes Vinyl is a product material, but I wanted to make this have its own section because there is a TON about vinyl that I had absolutely no idea about, that could’ve caused alot of strife for my business. I DO NOT RECOMMEND CRICUIT VINYL. Cricuit machines are great, but the vinyl, not so much.
APPAREL (HTV VINYL) –
So If you’re on the very early steps I recommend just something like what I have linked below, that is what I started out with and it gets the job done and is a better, cheaper option than some others on Amazon. There are minimal colors as well. Now that I am at a point in my shop where I’m using a much larger amount of vinyl, I recommend buying it in bulk for your business. I order from Expressions Vinyl and I get a 12″x5 yard roll for about $35. The reason I don’t recommend starting with this, is that you want to be sure you’re going to sell in the first place before making bulk purchases. The one thing about the Vinyl Expressions that I like more than the Amazon one linked is it is easier to weed (remove negative space). The Amazon one, like I said is GREAT for starting out, but the Vinyl Expressions Easy Weed is definitely a step up as far as the weeding goes.
DECALS (PERMANENT VINYL) –
For Decals, say on a car or a mirror. You want to look for PERMANENT VINYL, such as this one I have linked below. You will also need Transfer Tape for decals, this helps remove the vinyl from its backing. Again, I do not recommend Cricut brand, but I will also, once again, recommend Expressions Vinyl, but only if you’re at a good point, not beginner wise. The only real difference is the weeding ability, but it makes a big difference when you have back to back orders.
Heat Press v. Screen Printing
As far as a heatpress, or screen printing, my mom actually worked at a shirt shop for years, and although I see alot of other small business owners using screen printing, my mom explained to me there is very little room for error with screen printing, where as with a heat press, there are a few easy removal methods. Below, I have linked my heat press. This is another instance where I do not recommend the little Cricuit hand held thing. For small craft projects sure, but not for things like T-shirt printing. The heat press I have is small, but it gets the job done for now. I can fit apparel on it, there is just alot of adjustments that have to be made when actually pressing anything, but it works! The one I own is $135 (a good deal), you can get larger ones like the one I listed below for $200-$250 that will make the job easier, but if you’re like me and this was your splurge for your shop, then the smaller one works for now 🙂
- Always make sure your design is going to cut properly on the Cricut. I have wasted rolls of vinyl because I was not checking and had to trash multiple designs and start over.
- Always check your printer is running properly before accepting an order.
- Always make sure you have ink! Sounds silly, but it’s important.
- Wear heat gloves when handling your heat press( I just use two gloves that came with my flat iron!) Trust me, you want your hand protected from the 315 degree panels.
- Get a stand like I have linked for filming Tik Toks and Instagram Reels! It makes a world of difference!
- I use cardstock and print my own Thank You’s! This will save alot of money for your business.
- I highly recommend getting the HTV Remover I have linked because you WILL mess up printing a shirt. I guarantee it. And this is what my mom used when she worked at a professional shop!
Questions? Maybe I’ll make a part 2!
If you have any questions or other things you would like to learn about starting a small business, comment below and maybe I can make an additional part to this post!