Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
We have all personalised products in our time. Whether you wrote your name all over your notebooks when you were younger, or put stickers on your backpack, we have all done it.
But even today, personalised items are immensely popular amongst adults and youngsters alike. Coffee mugs and water bottles personalised with names are growing greatly in popularity. Other personalised items, including cushions and jewellery are classic gifts. On Amazon, some of the most shopped items are personalised and handmade items.
Virtually anything can be personalised, and the best part is the gifts are meaningful, making them a popular choice. People also buy personalised items for themselves, adding flare to normal household items.
With an ever-growing number of platforms available for people to sell handmade items, and support for small businesses skyrocketing as a result of the pandemic, now is the perfect time to make money. If you need a side hustle to make some extra cash, selling personalised items is a great way to do so.
Are you debating starting your own business in selling personalised items? It is a good idea to plan out your ideas to ensure you are organised and ready to begin. Planning each step of your business, from start to finish, will also give you peace of mind.
Here are our top tips for starting your own business in personalisation:
Start by looking online for inspiration and ideas. Websites such as Pinterest and Instagram have thousands of products and designs to look at. Work out how you can put your own unique spin on existing designs, and what may give your business an edge over similar ones. Some of the most popular items include cups, pens, t-shirts, water bottles and tote bags.
Once you have decided which items you wish to personalise and sell, do some research on how to bulk buy that particular item for the best price possible. There are many wholesale websites which allow you to buy a job lot of certain items for a much lower price than you would if you bought them individually. Websites such as eBay, DHgate and Bizay are useful and accessible websites for this.
It is also important to research the equipment you will need when choosing a product to personalise. It may be a good idea to decide how much you are willing to pay for the initial set up costs.
If you need to spend money on certain equipment, for example vinyl cutters or laminators, work out what you can realistically afford to spend. It may cost you a few pennies initially, but try to think of it as an investment.
Knowing what you are going to sell and how you are going to make it is the first step in your business. Plus, you will be prepared to get started as soon as the orders begin rolling in!
Take the time to compare and contrast various selling platforms. There are many to choose from, but it’s a good idea to take into account whether they take commission or selling fees, and how much they take. You don’t want to find you make little to no profit on your items due to the selling platform taking all your hard earned cash!
Shop around to begin with.
Some of the most popular selling platforms include
Amazon has different selling plans you can choose from. With the Individual plan, it costs 75p per item sold, and with the Professional plan, it costs £25 a month, no matter how many items you sell. There is, however, additional selling fees added to this.
Finally, it is vital to research and plan the logistics of your business. Knowing how much postage and packaging is likely to cost you will help you work out a price to charge for the product itself. Nowadays, there are many ways to post your items.
We live in an age where there are multiple delivery companies. They all charge differently and offer different benefits.
You can compare different couriers on the website Parcel Compare.
Potential profits depend on which items you choose to personalise and sell. That is why it is particularly important to research every aspect of the business previously mentioned, from bulk buying items to postage.
When you have sorted out these aspects, you can choose a price for the item itself. It is a good idea to choose a price which gives you a profit, but is still fair to the consumer.
For example, if you buy 50 plain white t-shirts to personalise, at approximately £1.51 per unit as they are on the Wordans website, you will easily be able to make a profit. This Etsy store charges £12.99 for t-shirts consisting of personalised text. They offer free delivery too.
Assuming you charged the same price of £12.99, after deducting the cost of the original t-shirt (£1.51) and the cost of standard second class postage (£2.95), you could make £8.50 in profit.
Once you had sold all 50 t-shirts, your profit margin would be a whopping £426.50! Of course, Etsy selling fees and the costs of packaging would need to be taken into account. Either way, a nice sum could be going straight into your bank account.
Similarly, if you bulk bought 50 of these plain white coffee mugs to personalise, at approximately 65 pence per unit, the opportunity for profit is great.
Many Etsy shops charge about £8 for a personalised mug. If you charged £8, plus postage, you’d only lose out on 65 pence from each sale. This would leave you with almost £370 in profit once all 50 mugs were sold. Again, this doesn’t take into account selling fees, but it would still provide you with a nice chunk of money.
Leah Shave is a 21-year-old student paramedic based in London, who started making personalised cups as a side hustle back in May 2021.
She sells Starbucks cups on Etsy marketplace, and sells them both as blank pieces and with vinyl designs printed on them.
Leah does the designs herself. After buying a personalised Starbucks cup online, she assessed the price she paid for it. “That’s when I thought to myself, ‘I could have made that!’, and so I began to research the idea of making my own online store,” she tells us.
She began to research the cost of buying blank cups in bulk, as well as the price of the machinery she would need. Once she factored-in postage and packaging, she realised there was potential profit to be made. “I bit the bullet and ordered 50 Starbucks cups, in order to trial the business,” Leah tells us. Thus, her Etsy store StarbuckiesCo was born.
You can hear her excitement when talking about her side hustle. She goes on; “I use a Cricut Joy machine, which retails anywhere from £179 to £200. It is a vinyl cutting machine, which makes the vinyl designs possible.” This is a crucial piece of equipment needed for Leah to complete her designs and despite the initial cost, she thinks of it as an investment. “It makes designing my cups so easy, and has such a high quality, professional finish,” she adds.
Her strong work ethic and enthusiasm shine through. Refreshingly, it is clear Leah is not only striving for a profit margin, but genuinely wants to provide a beautiful, high quality product to her customers.
“I charge £8.40 for the blank cups, and for those with an added personalisation or design, I charge £13.99,” she informs us. A fair price it seems, for the amount of effort which goes into the design and creation of added personalisation. “I offer free postage, as this tends to drive sales.”
She follows up with some advice. “It’s a good idea to do some research before committing to a particular postal provider. I pay £2.95 for Hermes delivery, and they provide tracking, but as I said, I don’t charge for this.”
Then there’s selling fees. “Etsy fees are slightly complicated, but I found it to be the best platform to sell my cups on,” she comments. “When you sell an item, Etsy takes a 5% commission, plus a 20 pence processing fee.”
“I sell about 6 cups a day on average” she adds, “which is a weekly income of around £210. After I have deducted expenses, including postage and packaging prices, the cost of vinyl and bubble wrap, I look at around £500 a month in profit.”
She advises keeping on top of your finances when starting a small business or side hustle. She uses a budgeting app, which allows her to input her income and expenses into one place. It enables her to see her weekly and monthly profits. “It is so important to keep up to date with your earnings to ensure your business works effectively.”
After this, she tells us what she’s most excited about in her new venture. “Initially, I used Pinterest to find ideas, and I adapted them to my own unique style. I write lists of ideas that pop into my mind, and designs I’d like to try. Plus, I look at current trends.” Leah also makes cups tailored to specific events and the time of year. “I released an England cup during the Euros recently and made a Pride cup during Pride month”.
Leah says she is looking into expanding which items she personalises. “I’m focussing on expanding my cup designs for now, but I am thinking about looking into personalised clothing too, such as t-shirts.”
Finally, Leah gives this advice to anyone looking to do something similar: “Just bite the bullet! If it’s working for other people, why can’t it work for you? Give it a go!”.