Enamel pins are all the rage in the fashion world, and entrepreneurs everywhere are figuring out how to capitalize on the business opportunity. These tiny metal pins are highly customizable and can come in any design, including alternative illustrations, brand logos, and anything else you can think of.
Enamel pins are an extension of people’s personalities, giving them the opportunity to customize and decorate denim jackets, backpacks, hats, and more. From graphic designers to fashion gurus to major retailers like Urban Outfitters, creatives and pin makers around the world have set out to build successful online businesses by translating their unique designs and creations into enamel lapel pins.
In this article, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to designing, making, and selling enamel pins to help you learn how to make enamel pins and create your own online accessories powerhouse. We’ll also cover how to make our bestselling enamel pin designs. Sell enamel pins with our free starter kit!
1. Why are Enamel Pins Popular?
At some point in their lives, most people have purchased enamel pins. They’re easy-to-use fashion accessories that look great wherever they’re placed. Enamel pins were considered small works of art and were sold and marketed as such. Most enamel pins cost between $8 and $12 but can go for much more.
Although inexpensive, they can be very profitable when designed and produced properly. Memorial pins have been around for decades. Walk into any rest stop or gift shop and you’re likely to find pins of all kinds. Today, people wear pins to express themselves and to advertise the things they love.
A pin can be pinned anywhere: on a back page, a hat, a shirt, or even a pair of pants. On the cover of Entertainment Weekly, celebrities like Taylor Swift wear enamel pins as a fashion statement. Artists and illustrators are attracted to enamel pins for several reasons:
- Clothing and stickers can be enhanced with pins.
- Enamel pins have high-profit margins.
- They are easy to manufacture and transport.
- Creativity has no limits.
Enamel pins are inexpensive. Pin Lord, an online seller of enamel pins, estimates that every 100 pins will cost between $135 and $200. It’s also possible that certain pins can be made overseas at a cheaper price. It’s not often that you pay a few hundred dollars for a well-designed end product.
2. Types of Enamel Pins
Enamel pins can be made in many different ways. The best and most affordable ones are listed below.
1) Soft Enamel
The most popular enamel pin material for beginners is soft enamel. You can choose from a variety of richer, more vibrant colors. The enamel pins can be customized with enamel paint. Your designs will have more textural detail when you use soft enamel, including border and edge details you can feel.
However, soft enamel pins are also far less durable than hard enamel pins and are prone to scratches. From a pin production standpoint, they are easy to manufacture but have a durability drawback. To make soft enamel pins, a coat of paint is applied to the recessed areas on the surface of the pin. The slightly higher metal between these recessed areas gives the pin a solid surface. These enamel pins are usually less expensive to produce.
2) Hard Enamel
Hard enamel is more durable and stronger than soft enamel, but is more expensive and often has more restrictions on coloring. Hard enamel pins may appear subdued and less vivid than soft enamel pins. Additionally, hard enamel pins use a clear resin coating on top for a texture-free, smooth finish.
If your pins need to withstand the elements and long-term durability is important to you, hard enamel is a good choice. For example, if your target audience is to hang enamel pins on outdoor backs, this pin might be a good choice.
3) D mold
A 3D molded pin or die-cast pin is a pin made of metal. They are made by pouring molten metal under high pressure into a mold of your design. Zinc or tin pins made from 3D molded materials are typically more elegant and classic. Use die-cast pins when your intricate designs require cutouts or pins that aren’t perfectly shaped. Imagine an animal, toy, airplane, or symbol designed well.
4) Offset Epoxy Pins
Epoxy pins have a clear plastic coating for soft enamel or offset lapel pins. You can add shine to your designs and protect them from damage with it. Epoxy coatings protect silkscreen paint or offset designs from fading or scratching over time.
Stamping pins are made by pressing a metal such as iron, gold, or copper onto a steel die. Tapping the metal creates a recessed area where you can add color options. Some manufacturers also sandblast the recessed areas for a two-tone metallic look.
3. Build a DIY Enamel Pin Business
Setting up an enamel pin business can be rewarding and profitable when done well. Even if you feel there is some competition in your niche, do it. As with any competitive market, if you focus on making incredible products and getting them in front of the right audience, you will profit. Start your business as a side hustle and slowly turn it into a full-time business. Make money online by learning how to sell pins and how to get them.
4. How to Make Enamel Pins for Sale
- Find a unique niche
- Create your custom enamel pins
- Make your pin
- Sell your pins on the marketplace
Custom pins are a fun and satisfying way to turn your designs into gorgeous physical products, but make them look out of reach if you’re not sure where to start. This tutorial is intended to help ambitious individuals like you. A person who wants to start their own enamel pin business but isn’t sure how.
1) Where to Start
The first step in building a new product or business is to research the right resources. So, if you found this article: congratulations! You’ve just finished step one and you’ve started making your first set of enamel pins. Using this guide and the right tools, you can make your own enamel pins in no time If you’ve never made enamel pins before or started your own business, you may find yourself asking questions like:
- What is the best way to turn my design into an enamel pin?
- Are enamel pins a good business?
- How do I create a product that people actually want to buy?
- How do I know who my customers are?
- How do I even sell something online?
- Where can I find products to sell online?
As we walk you through the entire process of designing, creating, and selling predesigned and custom badges, you’ll find answers to all of these questions and more. So you can get started quickly, we’ve done all the research and hard work for you.
2) Find A Unique Niche Market
Want to know the secret to create great products? Find your audience first. The rest of the process will be much simpler if you can narrow down a unique niche market for your enamel pins. Knowing your audience also means knowing how to design a great product and sell it to that audience.
Making and selling enamel pins online doesn’t feel like work anymore when you first find a niche you’re passionate about. It still takes time and effort, but if it’s something you really care about, you’ll enjoy every part of the process. When it comes to niches, there are two basic ways to find an audience: pick a niche you care about, or find a niche you already know or can easily learn to understand.
It only takes a little market research to find a passionate, engaged audience who will be a great fit for your brand. Take some time to browse your favorite enamel pin websites or social media profiles.
Make a note of what you like and what you think could be improved. Be sure to look outside the enamel pin niche for inspiration. You can always draw inspiration from other industries to help further grow your enamel pin business.
3) Use Your Own Niche Community
Create a business that caters to the values of a niche community if you’re already a member. Any community with a specific, defined interest can be considered a niche. A niche can be any community of specific, definable interests. Not sure which niche you belong to? Take a look at your interests and think about the community around them.
4) Discover New Niche Communities
Targeting your own community can be a beneficial strategy, but sometimes it’s best to find a new niche audience with new opportunities. There are a few different ways to find an active niche:
- Reddit. The most active communities on Reddit can be found using tools like Reddit List. Reddit is the hangout and message board for some of the largest subcultures in the world, which makes researching and validating niche audiences simple.
- KWFinder. Another way to gauge need and interest is to use KWFinder to see how often people are Googling terms related to your target niche.
- Google Trends. You can also use Google Trends to get a more complete picture of global search volume. While Google Trends isn’t as in-depth as the other two options, it can quickly help you determine the viability of your niche.
- Pinterest: Since Pinterest is an incredibly visual platform, this is a great place to start. Watch out for the best forums and influencers who post frequently about enamel pins or craft jewelry.
5) Determine if A Niche Community is Suitable
Once you’ve done some research and found a set of niche communities that fit your business, it’s time to determine if they’re a good fit for creating a successful, sustainable product. A simple framework for evaluating niche potential is as follows:
- Is it a unique niche market? Your niche should have clear characteristics that set it apart from larger, more mainstream audiences. A unique set of characteristics will make targeting your niche easier. Lots of people love enamel pins! Figure out who you want to target.
- Is it a sustainable niche market? If you intend to build a successful business, your target audience should be more than just a passing fad. You’ll want to find a niche that has the potential to be around for a long time. If there are already businesses serving your chosen niche, then change is good and it is a sustainable business model.
- Is it an active niche market? Marketing to a niche can be a major challenge without an active community. If your niche has a lot of engaged members, it will be much easier to build an audience that supports your business.
- Is it a scalable niche? While you may start out targeting a small group of people with your product, if you’re successful, you’ll want to expand. It’s perfect if you think targeting your niche won’t limit your future business potential.
- Are there influencers in your niche? Marketing to your audience will be much easier if the key players in your niche are popular social media influencers. Do any members have large followings on Instagram ( #pingame ) or Pinterest? Even just a few influencers can go a long way.
6) Create Your Custom Enamel Pin
You need to know what your enamel pins look like before you decide who you will sell them to. No design skills are required to make enamel pins. Your original designs can be transformed into physical products through a variety of options. No matter what your skill level is, you can use the following resources and tools to create beautiful enamel pins.
7) Design Your Own Pin
A lapel pin mockup can be created most easily using Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Here are some free alternatives to Photoshop if you don’t have access to it:
- sumo paint
- drawing network
8) Collaborate with A Pin Designer
Maybe you’re not confident in your design skills, or maybe you don’t have the time to create your own designs. Whatever the reason, there are many great options for outsourcing the entire design process to talented designers from all over the world. You can partner with a company like Your Stuff Made that specializes in the design and manufacture of pins.
The brand is artist-run and owned, so you know you’re getting high-quality custom pin designs at an affordable price. It also manufactures the pins at its ethically sourced and certified factory in China. For a minimum order of 100 pins ranging in size from 1-2 inches, you’ll pay $130-$180.
There are also good marketplaces for hiring graphic designers and buying design resources:
- creative market
- noun item
Here are a few guidelines for designing enamel pins:
- Your design will only need to use solid colors, usually from the Pantone color matching system, which means your enamel colors cannot contain gradients or transparent colors.
- The size of enamel pins makes small text and fine details unsuitable.
- Typically your manufacturer will only require a JPG, PNG, or vector file of your design, but be sure to ask them for details like dimensions and bleed areas to ensure you follow their specific guidelines.
9) Factors Affecting Pricing
As a rule of thumb, it is important to keep costs as low as possible when ordering pins. The following factors increase the final price of order:
- the number of colors used in the design
- complexity of design
- pin size
- order quantity
In terms of order quantity, the manufacturer’s main cost is to make the initial mold for your product. Once they’ve built the molds to cast your pins, the cost of adding more pins to your order won’t impact your bottom line as much as the cost of creating the molds. When you’re thinking about how big an order you should make, there are a few things to keep in mind.
10) Find a Manufacturer for Your Enamel Pins
There are many companies offering enamel pin manufacturing services in North America, Europe, and Asia. A quick Google search for enamel pin manufacturers yields a lot of different results. Here’s a quick tour of a few options:
- wizard pin
- cooper Manufacturing
- real metalwork
Alternatively, you can use Alibaba to find reliable manufacturers overseas. Networking with overseas manufacturers can be a daunting process. If this is your first time dealing with a manufacturer, you may not know where to start – but that’s totally okay. Our guide “How to Find a Manufacturer or Supplier for Your Product Idea” contains everything you need to know about finding the perfect manufacturer for your product.
11) Specifications for the Manufacture of Enamel Pins
For enamel pins, there are a few details to keep in mind when contacting the manufacturer. Most enamel badge pin manufacturers allow you to customize the material the pin is made of, not just hard or soft enamel.
Make sure you ask to see all the enamel pin base options before adding dye. Likewise, you should inquire about the type of needle on the back of the needle, including whether it has a steel or rubber buckle.
Also, find out if your chosen manufacturer also allows you to customize how your pins are shipped. Enamel pins usually come in small plastic bags, but some manufacturers allow you to add a custom back card to each bag for a unique, professional touch. If backing cards are available, make sure you have obtained their exact design specifications, including color limits and bleed areas.
12) Validate Your Idea
Any reputable manufacturer will send you proof sheets or sample pins for you to check before ordering a complete product. Be sure to check this sample thoroughly to make sure the product is what you envisioned. After completing the product design, the next step is to verify the requirements. Order the smallest possible run first, then see how it goes. Once you’ve established that there is a high demand for your product, you can consider increasing the order size.
5. Tips for Selling Enamel Pins Online
You now know what market you want to target, what enamel pins you want to sell, and your supply chain. Your Pins can be listed on marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, but you’ll need an online store. You can connect with shoppers and sell your products through an online store.
SCIpin, a leading seller of enamel pins, showcases hundreds of pins on its e-commerce site. It has also expanded its product line to include keychains, pins, and hats. You can create your own DIY custom pins directly on the website.
When marketing your own enamel pin business, there are some recommended channels you can try:
- Search Engine Marketing (SEO). SEO helps you reach people who are looking for a specific enamel pin or design. The buying intent behind those searches means you’ll get relevant traffic to your product pages, which can lead to more sales. By optimizing your website or by promoting through Google Ads, you can achieve this organically.
- Instagram marketing. Instagram is a highly visual platform perfect for creators to showcase their products. You can publish a combination of Stories, Posts, or Reels to promote your products and connect with followers. The more they like your content, the more likely they are to buy.
- Facebook ads. Say you want to target a specific group with your pin. Facebook ads can help you market to people who fit that profile.
- Influencer marketing. Partner with micro-celebrities, YouTubers, Instagrammers, and TikTokers to leverage their influence and promote your pins. Influencers can help you appear in front of the right people. With returns of up to $18 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, it’s certainly a great way to grow your business.
One last note: make sure to take a good product photo for your pin. Shoppers will want to see the details, and you took the time to design them, so show them off.