When you’re starting up a creative business, it can be really hard to A. know what to purchase, and B. justify purchasing almost anything. You want your business to be profitable, and expenses add up quickly! Here I want to share some of the best investments I’ve made for my business. They range in price point (and some have a good deal of price variability), and I’ll explain why I’m glad I spent the money on them. I will add links for what I can so you can shop as well!
Some links are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
iPad Pro + Apple Pencil. This should come as no surprise and deserves the top spot, because this combination is my bread and butter. I should disclaim that my husband actually gave these to me as a gift, and these items weren’t purchased with my business in mind. It was time to upgrade an older iPad that I had, and I was interested in learning digital hand-lettering, so this was a Christmas/birthday gift in the interest of my hobby. That said, this is definitely worthy of this list because they are must-haves for what I do. If I hadn’t been gifted these, I would have purchased them anyway. Or, perhaps I wouldn’t have started down this road at all. So a lot of credit goes to my iPad and Apple Pencil.
Sticker inventory. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve always outsourced sticker manufacturing. Many sticker shops do print and cut their stickers, in addition to designing them, but for a variety of reasons that I dive into elsewhere, I never have. I knew I wanted to outsource manufacturing from the start, so I set out to sell stickers knowing that I would need to make an up-front investment in inventory. Even though I’ve had to take risks and certainly made mistakes along the way (I still have some of the very first stickers I ever ordered, because those designs just didn’t sell well), I’m so glad that I set up my business this way. I’m confident in the quality and durability of my stickers, and I can focus my time on designing, rather than those aspects of production.
Postage scale. Does anyone else get super intimidated at the post office? I never know what to ask for, and it seems like the person at the counter charges whatever they feel like that day. It’s also a PITA to schlep over there with my parcels and wait in line. A postage scale has been my saving grace. The shipping options and costs are largely dependent on how much your parcel weighs, and the difference of an ounce can make a major difference in price. With a postage scale, I know exactly how much each package weighs, so I can do allll the shipping activities, including purchasing shipping labels, at home. Postage scales are pretty affordable, too, and completely worth it in my experience!
Guillotine paper slicer. This is probably one of the first ’upgrade’ purchases I’ve ever made. I originally got this for card making. I started off using one of those small slider paper cutters, and I reached a point where I outgrew it; it just wasn’t cutting it, no pun intended. This guy was a great buy for its original intended purpose. It cuts like a dream and can handle bigger sheets of paper, as well as multiple sheets. Now that I’ve moved on from cardmaking, I use him every day to cut shipping labels. I don’t currently have a thermal label printer, so I use my regular old inkjet printer and paper. Slicing with the guillotine looks more professional and is way more efficient than cutting each label out with scissors. It is also SO nice to have handy when I make price tags, signage, and other paper goods at home.
Thank-you cards. If you’ve purchased from me ( 😉 ), then you know that I include a two-sided 4″x6″ card in each order. One side contains my logo and social/contact info, and the other contains a thank-you message and call-to-action to leave a review. I write the buyer’s name and sign mine for a bit of personalization. This card serves SO many purposes: it has my contact and social information, provides a touch of personalization, encourages reviews, expresses my thanks to the customer, and adds sturdiness and structure to sticker orders that ship in regular envelopes. I get these from VistaPrint, and I spring for the nicer cardstock. Because these serve so many purposes and enhance the purchase experience, it makes sense for me to spend a little more.
Paper + Spark Etsy Sales Tracker. This spreadsheet makes my type-A heart soar. I had grand dreams of creating my own ”plug and chug” Excel spreadsheet to track and categorize all of my sales and expenses but quickly realized that with all the complexities of Etsy’s sales reporting (ugh, a rant for another day), the number of selling channels I have, and the number of tabs I would need, it would just be too much for me to take on. Paper + Spark is owned by an accounting professional – and Excel whiz – and this spreadsheet was built exactly for someone like me, whose primary selling channel is Etsy. I’m normally a DIY-er when it comes to this kind of thing, but I knew I’d be in over my head, so this was a great investment. I even hand this off to my CPA at tax time.
In an upcoming post, I definitely plan to share some purchases I’ve regretted. I’ve certainly gone through plenty of trial and error, so this list is a product of plenty of fails as well. Stay tuned for that, and in the meantime, I hope some of these are useful for you and your business as well!