One thing I get asked often is how to make enamel pins. So, I thought I’d write this post as your one-stop shop for how to get into that pin game.

How to Make Enamel Pins

After I opened my enamel pin shop, I got a lot of questions about the process. And while I’m more than happy to answer any and all of them, I thought it might be easier to outline how it goes down in a blog post.

First thing’s first. I don’t make them. I mean, I come up with the idea, but I don’t have a manufacturing operation running out of my home office. So, if that’s what’s been holding you back, know that I’m about to make this hella easy on you.

(Also, it’s worth noting that you can’t really make them on your own. I mean, there are tons of tutorials on YouTube where people coat Shrinky Dinks in epoxy and call them enamel pins. But the mold making and pouring of actual enamel has to be done in a factory. So the process of making real enamel pins is you creating the design, and sending them to a place to be made.)

If you’re wondering what an enamel pin is, HAVE YOU EVEN BEEN TO MY ETSY SHOP OMG?!

So, if you’d like to sell some enamel pin designs like I do on Etsy, or maybe have some made for your organization, here’s what you need to know.

If you want to make and sell your own enamel pins on Etsy, here's what you need to know. Click To Tweet

How to Make Enamel Pins

001: Brainstorm ideas.

I have a page in the back of my Passion Planner where I list potential pin ideas. Sometimes I’ll just write down ideas when they come to me. Other times, I’ll sit down and make a concerted effort to brainstorm. But regardless of how I do it, I keep them all in the same place.

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I also try to brainstorm how all these pins will fit together. It’s not like I’m trying to build a collection like clothing designers do. I am trying to stay on-brand though. So, my brand is “salty bookish spinster who came here to write words and get paid.” And I think my pins (and this site) really reflect that.

002: Sketch your idea.

Once you have a general idea of what you’d like the pin to look like, you should really sketch it out. I know, I know. You don’t have any drawing abilities. NEITHER DO I. But I can put objects on a piece of paper in a way that shows how I want the shape of the pin to be. I can also use colors to show the vibe I’m going for.

It’s important to remember that the sketching part isn’t how the final enamel pin will look. This is just you creating some sort of visual representation of what you’re going for. The manufacturer doesn’t expect you to be an artist. They do, however, expect that you’ll have an idea about how you want it to look, and they’ll want you to communicate it to them.

I think it’s very important here to note that as long as you have a clear vision for your pin that you can communicate in some way, you’re going to be just fine. I think where people really struggle is with having a vague design idea. A lot of people like to tell the pin maker a general idea, and then get frustrated when the pin maker can’t see the vision inside their head that they didn’t actually communicate. Don’t be that person.

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The closer you get your sketch to a finished idea the better, because if your manufacturer has to do the design work, there’s potentially a design fee for that. The pins will eventually end up as a vector image, so if you can get it to that point, you’re pretty well off. If you can’t, that’s cool.

003: Contact a pin maker.

For all my pin manufacturing needs, I use Eastside Pin Co. Chris, the owner, is a graphic designer who can easily take your idea and turn it into a reality. Seriously, he was able to look at my terrible sketches and turn them into pins. If you need help with the design process, he can help with that too. And if he can do that for me, he can definitely do that for you. (Plus, he’s the father of my dog.)

If you’re curious about how Eastside Pin Co. can help with your enamel pin project, just fill out the contact form on their site with your specifics. Also, you can stalk Eastside’s Instagram to see some of his past work and the types of clients he’s worked with.

004: Finalize your design.

Chris at Eastside Pin Co. will take your idea, and mock it up. Even if you’re a trained graphic designer, he’ll probably make some minor edits to the design, just because he knows what is needed when it comes to creating pin molds. At this stage, it’s time for small edits and adjustments. Here is typically where I tweak the colors or maybe the overall size of the pin.

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Once you finalize it, Chris at Eastside Pin Co. will mock it up, and give you a price quote. He definitely keeps his prices low and quotes prices based on specific projects and the amount of pins that will be ordered.

The more pins you order, the cheaper the cost is per pin. The minimum order is generally 50 enamel pins, but 100 pins is the lowest amount I’d recommend ordering for maximum profit.

005: Sell them pins!

After you paid your quoted price, your pin manufacturer will send your order off. Once they come in, you’re ready to sell! While you wait for them to be made, I highly recommend printing a backing card with someone like Moo. Then, you put your pins on the cards, and list them online. Just take some good product photos and hope Twentieth-Century Fox doesn’t get one of your Etsy listings shut down for intellectual property infringement. Because that really sucks.

(Side note: Anyone know a good lawyer to help me with this one? I can pay for legal advice in some pretty rad enamel pins.)

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Do You Wanna Sell Enamel Pins?

Have you ever thought of opening your own enamel pin shop? Do you need some pins made for your organization? What other enamel pin questions do you have?

11 Responses

  1. I have no desire to make enamel pins and was going to skip reading this entry. Glad I didn’t because I’m now aware of how easy and seemingly pleasant marketing a product can be. Also, I know where I can buy cute gifts for my bookworm friends.

    1. Hahaha! Thank you for reading, and for your order! And if you ever need pins, keychains, medals, or patches for an organization, hit up Eastside Pins!

    1. You can do either! If you know how to create a vector drawing with Illustrator, you can do it that way. Or, you can sketch it on paper and have the company you work with turn it into a vector drawing.

  2. I really want to make enamel pins and I think I have some neat ideas but I fear nobody will want to buy them… or just nobody will find them…. any advice?

    1. Selling on Etsy has been pretty good for that. People go to Etsy and search for pins and then buy from designers they’ve never heard of. So as long as you have a good title for the pin and tag it so that it can be found, I think you’ll be good. With that said, you’re definitely not gonna get rich.

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