If you have a creative mind or love design then you may want to consider starting a sign making business. A sign making business can be started with a relatively modest initial investment and provide you with financial independence or a secondary income stream. Sign making can also be a very fulfilling business as you are helping other company’s to grow their own sales. Below you can learn some of the basics of starting your own sign making business.
Selecting A Vinyl Cutter / Plotter
A plotter is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you will need for your sign making business. A plotter allows you to use computer vector software to design graphics and text and cut them out of pressure sensitive vinyl. The vinyl cutter uses an very sharp blade and uses it to cut into the sheet to form letters, shapes and other design elements. After the sign writer is finished using the cutter they can remove what they don’t want in a process that is called weeding. When choosing the width of the cutter you need to consider the size signs that you will be producing. For more basic signs and banners you may be able to purchase a more narrow cutter.
You also need to consider what types of materials that you will be working with. Some cutters are able to exert greater pressure than others. You want a cutter that is going to be able to produce nice clean cuts for your signs. Finally you should consider how complex a cutter you want to purchase. Some cutters are easy to operate and others require more technical skills.
Sign Supplies And Substrates
In addition to your plotter / vinyl cutter you will also need a number of other sign supplies and substrates to get started with your sign making business. You will require a pre mask and a squeegee in order to ready the vinyl sheets for application. Substrates are used for finishing your signs. They can be any solid and non-porous board.
Choosing Your Business Structure
One of the most important decisions you will need to make for your sign making business is the business structures that you will choose. There are three main choices: Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, and Partnership. Sole Proprietorship is the most common form of business structure. With this business structure you are sole owner of your sign writing business and solely liable for the debts it occurs. With a partnership you have joint ownership of the sign writing business with your partner and you are jointly responsible for any debts. With a partnership you share joint ownership and responsibility for liabilities of the sign writing business with one or more partners. Finally with a limited liability company you have a shareholding in the business and your are not personally responsible for any liabilities.
How To Market Your Sign Making Business
Without customers you don’t have a sign making business. Unfortunately marketing is something that many new sign business entrepreneurs struggle with. Here are some ideas about how you can find new customers for your sign business:
Establish A Website
If you are running a sign making business in the 21st century then you need to have a website. This website is place that you can direct potential leads so that they can learn more about your business. Having a website will also allow you to use online marketing methods to bring in even more customers. One long term strategy is to create a blog and integrate it into the website. On the blog you should answer the main questions that your customer is having. For example common questions might be “How much does a sign making service cost?” or “What sort of signs should I use?”. These blog articles will naturally attract visitors to your site and help brand you as an expert in the sign writing industry.
Once you have set up a website you will be able to use paid online advertising to bring in leads. Most sign writing businesses start with Google Adwords. This can be a very effective way to get new clients. Unfortunately, it is also very popular and has become increasingly expensive. Some less expensive alternatives include Microsoft Adcentre, Yahoo Advertising and Facebook Ads. When you create an online advertising campaign for your sign writing business it is important to set-up a dedicated page where you direct traffic, and not just send it to your home page. This will help you maximize your return on investment from your online advertising.
Direct mail can be a very effective way to generate new business leads for your sign writing business. The key to a good direct mail piece is to make sure that it is distinctive enough that it doesn’t get thrown into the trash straight away. One of the most important aspects of writing a good direct mail piece is the headline that you use. Luckily the same principles of writing good sales copy for your signs apply to writing your headline.
If you are going to use any social network to promote your sign business then it should be LinkedIn. Why LinkedIn? Because it is the only social network designed solely for business networking. LinkedIn currently has 259 million users and 45% of those check their LinkedIn account daily. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, they are checking LinkedIn for business reasons. Marketing on LinkedIn isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. The first step should be to set up a well optimized company page for your sign making business. Ask anybody in your professional network to follow your company page. These followers will then receive any updates that you post to the page. Next you want to join LinkedIn groups that your potential customers might belong to. If your primary customer is in the home cleaning or maintenance industry, then you want to join a group that caters to these members. Post useful and relevant content that helps those customers with their business. For example you might post a set of tips on how cleaning businesses can improve the quality of their signs so that they win more customers. LinkedIn also has an excellent self serve advertising platform which you can use to get in front of your prospective customers.
Form Strategic Partnerships
Forming strategic partnerships might seem a little high level if you are just starting out with your sign writing business but it is actually not as complicated as it might seem. Essentially you are looking for other complimentary service providers who would be able to recommend your sign writing services, and in exchange you recommend theirs. For example a website design firm who creates sites for new businesses may be able to recommend your sign writing services to their new clients. New businesses will often require signs to advertise their business. You may want to offer a commission to your strategic partners for any new business they send your way.
A sign making business can be a very good business to get start even if you are on a limited budget. Even if you are not formally trained in sign writing, if you have a flair for design and you are willing to learn, then you can begin your own sign making company. It is recommended that if you are interested in starting a sign making business that you work for another sign making company first and see if it is the right business for you, before you start to invest your own money.