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Pin Making Crash Course

For those who interested in dipping their foot into the pin making world, but are short on time/attention span for doing mass amounts of research...this post is a high-level run through of the entire pin making process! Other posts will continue to explore different phases of pin making and we will update this post for you to learn more about the details of that phase. Let's go!

  1. Get an Idea!: All pins start as an idea! Let your mind wander and take some notes!

  2. Sketch it Out: Draw out your idea(s) and pick out the one you like! It's also a good time to start thinking about what kind of pin you want (metal color, additional features such as cut-outs, screen printing etc. ... but for beginners, you should Keep It Simple).

  3. Choose a Manufacturer: Pick a manufacturer as your partner! It's highly recommended to carve some time out to do your research here because all manufacturers are not equal. If you're not sure where to start, we have a few tips on choosing a manufacturer and where to find some.

  4. Clean it Up (optional, but recommended): The cleaner your drawing, the easier/faster it will be for the manufacturer to get your pins going! Vector files are the best format, but if you don't have the program, JPG or PNG will work too and the manufacturer can clean up the artwork for you.

  5. Approve Proof: Once you're happy with your design, your manufacturer will send an artwork 'proof' for you to approve. A proof lists out dimensions of your pins, PMS colors that will be used for the fill, and any other details you may have. You would also typically pay a deposit on the pins once you approve the artwork.

  6. Begin Production: Once approved and deposit is paid, there's no turning back! Your manufacturer will begin production on your pins. Production typically takes about 3-4 weeks if you're working directly with the manufacturer. Since you'll have some downtime, it'd be a great time to set up your shop!

  7. Setting Up Your Shop: You're going to need somewhere to sell your fine work when they're ready. Set up your shop on an online platform (this could be your own website or a marketplace) and get all the legal stuff out of the way before your first pin arrives.

  8. Backing Cards (optional): The downtime is also a great time to get some backing cards done for your pins! Backing cards are the stock cards that you often find pins attached to when you buy them. Totally optional, but highly recommended since they're great for marketing your brand and preventing your pin from bouncing around when shipping.

  9. Receive Goods: Once production finished, manufacturers will typically take pictures of the finished goods and send an invoice for the second half of the payment. Once paid, pins are typically shipped via air (since they're light) and you will receive your brand new shiny pins!

  10. Pin Grading & Assembling: Yay you've received your pins! Now it's really time to grade how good your manufacturer is. Go through the pins and see how the pins turned out. Since pins are handmade, you're bound to come across some flaws. You can learn more about common pin flaws from our shop's pin grading system. Assemble your A Grades with the backing cards you ordered ahead of time and now your pins are ready to go to a new home!

  11. Photos: Can't list your pins without some amazing photos! Take some irresistible pics of your pins so customers will want snag them as soon as they see them!

  12. For Sale: Time to put your babies up for sale in the shop you had built while your pins were baking. Nice detailed descriptions of your product are important not just for your customers, but also the internet search engines. Throw in a little personality and fun to make your listings to stand out from others, but don't make it too complicated or else search engines won't know what you're describing!

  13. Hollah! (Marketing): If your shop is in a marketplace (i.e. Etsy), you'll have a higher chance of traffic coming into your shop to check out your goods (assuming you wrote a great description and used their tag feature). However, if your shop is a website, you're going to need to do a little marketing to get the word out, so blast your social media and facebook groups to let the world know your unique pieces of art are up for grabs!

  14. SALE!: Someone loved your work so much they want to take it home! Congrats on the sale! Commence a happy dance! But it's no time to slack off just yet...There' s one more step before celebrating!

  15. Package & Ship: Pack up your pin nice and pretty (pro tip: throw in a business card with all your shop and social info!), then ship it off in a timely manner! Now pat yourself on the back because you just completed your first sale!

  16. Reflect, Rinse and Repeat: Now that you've completed your fist sale, it's a great time to reflect about the process and think of ways to make it better for yourself and the customer! Maybe add some marketing pieces like a little gift or communicate more with the customer to make sure they had a great experience.

The goal shouldn't be to just sell one pin, but to give your customer a great experience to come back for more! The greatest reward is finding customers who identify with your work and supports your creativity! Happy pin making! :)

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