We wrote about paper￼-crafts in a recent blog post and explored the crafts for a popular choice to make and sell. If you missed that article and are interested, read it here.
While researching that subject we came across a coupe of other crafts, that although were not altogether paper-crafts, were closely related, very popular with people and, conversely, best selling items.
Two crafts that stood out with very impressive sales figures. One was all kinds of stamps like rubber stamps, cling stamps and clear stamps. The other one was paper embosser.
You have most probably come across some form of rubber stamps somewhere. They used be common household items. People had in-expensive stamps with their name and home address because they used to write letters and send mail more than they do now. Children had their very own stamps with their names for some printing fun.
Paper stamping is actually quite a popular craft, even today. In fact stamping is not just limited to being done on paper. All kinds of objects and material can be stamped.
Fabric stamping was a big thing commercially, and still is in certain sections, because it is considered handicraft.
3 Main Markets For Stamps
There are three major ways that stamps are used today – for business, for craft and for children's activities.
Stamps for business
Business usage of rubber stamps generally includes a stamp with a company name, logo, executives name, business address and even an adjustable date. Business stamps are also used by professionals because certain papers, in order to be in legal compliance, require a stamp along with a signature as well.
Business stamps can be less formal also. Stamps allow businesses to personalise and customise their packaging. Its what branding it all about. Stamps play a very important role in branding any item in this manner.
Stamps for art and craft
For art and craft stamps are used in a wide variety of ways.
- They are used on stationary, notebook covers, letters, greeting cards, wedding invitations et cetera to decorate and personalise these items.
- Scrapbook makers use them enthusiastically.
- A rubber-stamp with a beautifully written family name and address is always very welcome and useful addition in and household.
- They can be used on a variety of household items for fun and convenience.
- Stamping is a lot of fun and a very popular hobby. The usages of a stamp are only limited by your imagination.
Stamps for children activities
- Paper stamping for children is a favourite recreational activity as it is fun, engaging and boosts creativity.
- Children are encouraged to create little works of art using stamps for things like houses, animals, nature et cetera.
- A very manageable of introducing even very young children to creating art.
- Stamps can also be educational and encourage the child to learn.
How are stamps made – Self Inking, Rubber, Cling, Clear / Polymer Stamps.
A stamp is made out of rubber, metal, wood or polymer. Rubber stamps are probably the most common although polymer ones are fast catching on. The way the stamp is created depends upon the material being used and also upon the kind of stamp that has been made. The two most common designs for a stamp are a self inking stamp and a regular one that needs to be inked a separate ink before use.
Making Self-Inking Stamps
Self inking stamps come as a blank stamp and ink pad kit. You can use a special machine to customise this stamp as you wish.
Self inking stamps are mostly used by businesses and professionals that need a plain stamp to use on documents. The design consists of mainly letters, numbers and sometimes a logo.
There is also a kind of self inking stamp where the some of the letters and number can be changed using a dial. This is useful for any purposes like changing the date on the stamp each day.
Here is a video of how self-inking stamps are made. This is the machine that can do this job for you.
Here's another one using the Stamp CreatorPro : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77AZc_k4FJU
Making Rubber Stamps
Rubber stamps are created by engraving or moulding a design onto the rubber. The rubber is then mounted on a block which is most commonly made out of wood. A handle me or may not be attached to the block to make the job of stamping a little more comfortable and easier.
The engraving can be done either by hand, or using a machine. I don’t think anyone does it by hand anymore. The two machine that can be used to engrave a rubber stamp are: Laser engraving machine & CNC router.
We will talk about both these machines in detail later in this post, see how they differ from each other and which one you should choose.
Rubber stamps can be made in the conventional style and mounted on a block. Or there is a newer kind know as the cling stamp. To make a cling stamp, the rubber engraving part remains that same. However, they are not permanently attached to a block.
The other side of the cling stamp has an adhesive. Whenever someone wants to use them, they are stuck on to an acrylic block and removed when the use is done. In this manner various stamp ’strips’ can be used with the same block.
The acrylic block used is see through and therefore some people also call these ‘clear stamps’. However, ‘clear stamps’ are another variety of stamps and we will come to them next.
Making Clear Stamps
Unlike rubber stamps, clear stamps are made from a polymer material that is colourless and transparent. The process of making clear stamps differs complete from the rubber counterparts. There is no engraving invloved and no complicated machinery like CNC and laser.
Clear stamps are made using a printout on a transparency sheet, some liquid polymer and a UV light box. We have spoken about the process in more detail later on in this post.
Clear stamps are much like cling stamps except that the latter are opaque. But like cling stamps they can be stuck and removed from an acrylic block. They are so popular now because the crafters can see exactly where the stamp is going, making the process much easier and accurate.
Machines And Equipment Required To Make Stamps
Stamps can be made in various ways using different materials which calls for different amounts of investment. At any rate, you can start the business of making and selling stamps for under $1000.
Rubber stamps are the oldest and the most commonly used. Stamp makers have stamping machines in the workshop that to imprint the rubber. There are different kinds of techniques and machines that can do this. The one that is most commonly used in today's date is a laser engraving machine. Another one is a CNC router.
These computer controlled machines use a software that guides the laser or the router bit to imprint the rubber with any design. Depending on which model you buy, the laser and the CNC router are capable of engraving other materials as well such as wood, metal, glass and ceramic. If it is powerful enough it can even cut in addition to engraving.
Let’s talk about these machines a little more in detail.
The CNC Router For Engraving Rubber Stamps
One of the machines that does automatic engraving on many kinds of materials is called a CNC router. You might have heard of a CNC router in relation to woodworking. But by changing the drillbit a CNC router can cut and engrave all kinds of mediums like rubber, ceramic, glass and metals as well.
I like a CNC router because of the fact that it used a drill-bit and not a laser. The main advantage of a laser engraver is that it can imprint more details with a very fine laser beam. A laser also has more functionality like imprining letters with a butteress.
But it also comes with extra burdens like attaching it to a running water supply, wearing protective glasses and making sure that you are not exposed to the laser light. More about that later when we speak about the laser engraver.
A CNC machine is computer controlled and uses a special software To function. Once you feed in a design in the CNC software, the machine is capable of engraving and cutting with full automation, without any manual intervention. You can create the most intricate pattern using a CNC machine and a fine drill bit.
The work that you have to do before is creating or prepping the artwork. That means you need to know image editing as well as creating simple line graphics on your computer.
You will also need to learn to operate the software that controls the machine.
Investing In A Laser Engraving Machine To Engrave Rubber Stamps
If you want to make rubber stamps you can invest in a laser engraving machine. It is a very versatile machine, capable of doing a lot of things, depending on the model you purchase.
The cost will vary a lot between smaller models and larger industrial use models. If you are getting into a business of selling stamps you ideally need a machine that can handle bulk jobs and work reasonably fast. The smaller engravers meant for personal use are not built for heavy usage. Fully functional laser engraver can cost you anything from $500-$5000.
Here is a listing online for laser engraving machines. Laser Engravers for under $200.
As you will notice, there are many small models available at a very affordable cost. Many of them have great review from buyers. But they are best for personal use and for learning. The complete newbie will have a steep learning curve to operate these machines. Have some practise material at hand and I can pretty much assure you that you are going to have fun learning to operate an engraver.
The price difference is mainly for how robust, professional and powerful the machine is. The power of the laser is one of the factors determining the cost of the machine. High powered versions are capable of cutting as well as engraving. Higher power of the laser also means that it can do the work faster.
For commercial purposes you need something powerful enough to complete both jobs reasonably quickly.
The build quality also comes with a cost. Ideally you want a closed unit that completely contains the impact of the the laser inside the unit while running. The laser is specially harmful to the eyes.
The cheaper models are either completely open units or if they are enclosed they are far from perfectly built. The body allows the light to leak from joints and the efficacy of the viewing glass for filtering the laser rays is also suspect. You are always advised to buy high quality eye glasses when working with laser.
Match the frequency of the glasses with the frequent of the laser. Even after wearing glasses it’s best to set up the project and then not look at the laser light while it's working.
Depending on where you live you will have access to some well-known manufacturers of CNC machines and laser engravers. You can find this information online as well. Several companies have websites and demonstrations with does videos on YouTube. You can contact them over the phone and many of them participate in local trade shows to demonstrate the machines.
Laser engravers are capable of making both standard rubber and cling stamps. Clear stamps are made differently.
Here is a video of laser and a CNC doing engraving to make a rubber stamp.
Here's one for a CNC router: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVVOS0_pvRY
Equipment For Making Clear Polymer Stamps
The reason why clear stamps are popular is two fold. First, multiple stamps can be easily stored in a box and can be used interchangeably with just one block. Easy storage and saves space. This is true for the cling stamps too.
The second and perhaps the more important reason is that because both the block and the stamp are transparent they can be applied with a great deal of accuracy. You can see where you are putting the stamps something that doesn't happen with rubber stamps.
In order to make clear stamps you need different equipment compared to making rubber stamps. The process is actually simpler and requires less specialised equipment.
You need an inkjet printer, transparency paper, ultraviolet light box and liquid polymer that the stamp is made from. This liquid polymer can be purchased in ready-made packs already prepared for imprinting, or in a bottle.
The process is simple enough.
- Choose the image/graphic you want to use to make the stamps.
- Convert the picture into a line graphic or negative using a photo editing software. You can use photo shop, CorelDRAW et cetera.
- Print out the image on the transparency with an inkjet printer. You can use a laser printer as well but you will have to use a special transparency paper. The regular transparency paper will melt with the heat of the laser.
You might have noticed if you use laser printers that the paper comes out warm after printing. This is because of the heat that is generated inside by the laser to fuse the toner with the paper. That's how a laser printer works.
The second reason in favour of using an inkjet printer is that they print better on transparencies. Ink Jets also print better photographs but you are mostly going to be printing graphics which a laser printer can handle pretty well.
- The next step involves using the liquid polymer and the image transparency together. There are two ways to go about this. Either you use the liquid polymer from a bottle or you use a pre-made clear stamp kit. The latter is easier and cleaner way to do things.
Watch this YouTube video to see how that happens.
While you are at it, watch a couple of videos on using a laser cutting machine to engrave a stamp. You can get a good idea about the difference in the two processes.
Making stamps is a good business idea provided a few processes are put into place:
- You should know your market and have a plan for marketing the stamps.
- Plan where and how you are going to sell from before.
- Have the manufacturing process and the order handling process figured out.
- Know or be willing to learn about basic image editing.
- You should be comfortable handling a technical and powerful tool like a laser engraver. It is an advanced tool and involves a learning curve. The more professional the machine, the more will be it’s capability and correspondingly the complexity of operating it. It usually has to be connected to a computer and controlled through the software that comes with it.
- Using an ultraviolet light box to make clear stems is a simple process but you will still need to have familiarity with image editing on computer.
Getting Into The Stamp Making Business
If you are getting into the business there are two ways to go about manufacturing the stamps. You can outsource the entire work or do it the awesome way, and do the engraving yourself.
The problem with outsourcing the work is that you stand to compromise your original digital content if you are making your own custom stamps. You also add an uncertainty, as well as dependability on a third-party which might hinder your workflow.
The overall order processing might take longer because whoever you are outsourcing to is not doing just your work. Your order will be just one of the many in the queue.
There might also be delays due to factors out of your control which will not be very good for business.
However, even if you do the rubber engraving yourself you might still want to outsource making of the mounting blocks and the handles whether they are made out of wood, plastic or metal. The reason is that this requires a very different skill set.
Using Drop Shipping or Re-Selling
We have outlined the ways you can manufacture the stamps yourself. But there might be a much simpler way to do things. Why not use a manufacturer to supply to you, or even better, a drop-shipper who will ship your orders for you as well. Read this article we wrote on how to get into the drop shipping business, if you want to learn more about what that is.
3rd party manufacturing can get complicated if you are doing custom jobs. But if you buy pre-made items from them and then re-selling them, it simplifies the entire process. There are wholesale websites out there like Aliexpress and Alibaba who have thousands of manufacturers selling and shipping their wares internationally. I had just a look at them while writing this. Yes, they are selling rubber stamps wholesale as well.
The limitation here is that you might not get very many new designs to sell. Or you might. You can always communicate to the manufacture with your requirements. Another caveat here is that if you are importing stuff from other countries, you will need an import license. Getting the license is not difficult but it will add on to the accounting complexities and thereof.
There is a solution for that as well and its called Drop Shipping. You sell the things that the Drop Shipper has in stock. You don’t actually have the item on your personal self. You post pictures of the product online and when an order comes through you send the order details to the drop-shipper. They process and ship the order from that point onwards. So as you can see, there is no need to import the items you are selling first.
Of course, do check with an accountant to confirm legal compliance.
Look at Salehoo to find drop shippers from all over the word selling millions of products. In fact, if you want to get into this line of work, the options to sell products are endless.
Selling All Kinds Of Stamps Online
One of the factors that makes all kinds of stamps a great business idea is the portability of the craft. The profit margin is also good, even while being priced at a reasonable cost. All these factors make stamps very well suited to be sold online.
Different kinds of stamps are in demand by different segments of people. Depending on Where you are, how are you want to sell and your personal interest you can sell to businesses or for crafting purposes.
There is a good demand for business stamps if you can set up an online shop and sell across the state lines. There are 2 kinds of stamps usually used by a business. One is the usual rubber stamp the is used alongside a stamp pad. The other one is the self-inking kind.
Making a self-inking stamps doesn't call for much creativity as the stamps are mostly letters, numbers, and maybe a small company logo. However, these stamps are the simplest to make. You can buy ready-made blank stamps housings in wholesale along with a stamp machine created and sold specifically for the purpose of making custom self-inking stamps in minutes.
Self inking stamps are also used to make personal stationery, sending out cards, letters, invitations et cetera, although they have limited potential to be of a creative design. Which is why a lot of businesses who are looking to introduce some kind of branding in their packaging, bills, flyers, postal mail etc. use the regular rubber or clear stamps.
These block stamps can be made to depict virtually all kinds of graphics and are therefore the ideal choice for crafting as well as businesses looking to introduce some interesting branding. The demand for craft stamps is huge. I strongly recommend selling online even if you are selling locally. People looking for stamps includes crafters, scrapbookers, children, parents, hobbyists, craft businesses etc.
All these people search online for things. I think most of us do that now.
Etsy is a great place to start selling though actually creating your own online shop is important and should be done alongside, if not before setting up online shop on Etsy and other digital marketplaces.
Setting up your own online shop has several advantages and is almost as easy as opening a shop on Etsy. It's true.
Try Shopify for free and you will see how simple everything really is.
You don't have to pay any charges for listing your items, no commissions for sales, you can design and customise your shop the way you want and you get to have your own www swanky domain name. The payment and order processing is also taken care off.
The rest of the process for setting up an online shop is the same as listing your products online elsewhere. You have to upload some good pictures, write helpful, brief product descriptions and be proactive in answering queries.
The advantage of your own online shop on Spotify…
The biggest reason that people start their shop on Etsy is that they feel it's easier to get discovered and find interesting buyers. This is true. Thousands of people visit Etsy every day. Not only do they buy what they came looking for, they often buying up things that they did not come for in the first place. So with an attractive craft you have the potential to tap into a huge market.
But here's the thing. Etsy is a sea of sellers. The numbers of sellers have increased exponentially over the past few years. A lot of them do not find the success they are looking for because of various reasons.
It's very easy to get lost in that multitude and competition. Unless you are doing something very right. Most of the new sellers suffer because they do not have niche craft, they haven’t worked on a brand image and haven’t done the work promoting their shop on Etsy.
But if you are doing all these things like have an attractive craft with a great brand image and a presentation that works, it will even work for you for your own online shop on Shopify as well.
Like we said, the 2 main reaons for people to start selling on Etsy or Amazon is that they enjoy the ease of setting up and the traffic of potential buyers. But you also pay a price for that in the commissions and listing fees you pay.
Besides, you have a promote yourself on Etsy in the beginning as well. You only start getting traction when you have generated a bit of a track record. That’s when you really start showing up and organic searches and otherwise.
Read about 31 places to sell you crafts online.
Promoting your business online
Face it. If you are going to sell anything online, you are going to have to learn how to promote yourself online as well. So learn a little about social media accounts for businesses as well as paid search advertising on these platforms as well as on Google Ads.
Facebook and Instagram make it very easy to run paid campaigns. You can setup things in minutes. However, if you want the best results, figure out things like which demographics to target and how to create a good ad copy that reads well, catches people’s attention and converts well to sales.
The Learning Curve
The things you need to learn, depends on what kind of stamps you are making and the method used for them.
The most common equipment to use is a laser engraving machine also called a CNC machine, or a UV light box. A laser or CNC is operated using a software either on the machine console or attached to a computer, which it mostly is. It’s a technically advanced machine and you will have to learn how to operate it.
You will need to learn to work on image editing softwares like CorelDraw or Photoshop. Although many stamps will be about just text, the graphic one are also a huge market.
Graphics and image creation are one of the most important skills you can bring to this business. You can use someone else for this work if you want. But coming up with new concepts and shapes for your shapes, as well as catering to custom design requirements from people and businesses will make stamp making business flourish.
If you have any input, questions or queries about the stamp making and selling process, please do not hesitate to add your comments below. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.