Tattoo Business

Tattoo Business

Building An Empire of Ink, Part 3: 4 Ways a Tattoo Business Is Different From Other Small Businesses 

Tattoo Studio

Tattoo Studio at night.

Building An Empire of Ink, Part 3: 4 Ways a Tattoo Business Is Different From Other Small Businesses 


So, you’re interested in starting a business, and you’ve been looking at tattoo shops. Will this make a great small business? Absolutely! 


However, it’s important to go into this venture with eyes wide open. Tattoo shops make great small businesses, but they are also very different from the small businesses you may have seen your friends start. 


Don’t worry, though: we put together a comprehensive guide to how tattoo shops are unlike any other small businesses! 


High Equipment Cost 


Tattoo artist at work

Tattoo artist at work

Every great tattoo has a bit of pain behind it. So, in the spirit of working through the pain, we figured we’d rip the band-aid off right away: this is going to be expensive. 


Many small businesses owners can cut costs by starting a business at home. Tattoo shop on the other hand need a sterile and regulated place to work from, you’re going to end up buying an average of $25,000 in equipment for a fully outfitted shop. 


And before you ask, you can’t really cut corners with this stuff.

“Your success is your reputation, and low-quality equipment leads to low-quality work. “


The Marketing Is Different 


Unlike other small businesses, tattoo shops market their business very differently. This is mostly because of the complicated feelings America has about tattoos. 


On one hand, tattoos are becoming more and more popular, especially with Millennials. That’s why tattoo shops are so attractive to people who are starting a business. With the popularity of “tattoo TV” leading the trend, tattoos are even becoming more acceptable in the workplace. 


Tattoo TV

Tattoo TV

However, tattoos still seem like a cultural taboo to many people in many places. Your marketing should lean into this, emphasizing tattoos as a way to rebel and assert someone’s independence from others. 


Additionally, social media marketing is an absolute must for tattoo shops. If you’re not rocking Instagram and Pinterest as a tattoo artist, you’re missing out on a lot of potential traffic! 


The Atmosphere Is Different 


This next point is an offshoot of the previous one: customers have a certain set of expectations when it comes to tattoo shops and their atmosphere. 


A more “traditional” small business is all about a minimal atmosphere. That means clear walls, vibrant colors, and bright lights. Fortunately, tattoo shops get to stand out from the crowd. 


It’s fine to have walls covered with cool art, and it’s especially good to cover walls with your own designs and flash sheets. The atmosphere should have muted colors as well: think black furniture, dark blue walls, and so on. A good shop looks like the town’s coolest bar, minus the alcohol. 


Inside a successful tattoo shop

Inside a successful tattoo shop

And while your actual work area needs good lighting, your shop lights shouldn’t be too bright. Dim lights make the atmosphere more mysterious—and when it comes to tattoos, that makes them more inviting! 


Easy Expansion 


We’ll end on a high note with one more way your tattoo shop is different from other small businesses: it’s very easy to expand. 


Most small businesses focus on doing one thing very well. However, diversifying your business is the key to growing both customers and profits. 


It’s very easy for tattoo shops to also start offering piercing services, for instance. Since customers will need special products to help clean and maintain tattoos and piercing, you should be selling those products as well. Some of the more common products we’re asked for are shirt, pins, and stickers. Anything that lets the customer “wear” more of your work without a permanent commitment, and at a lower price point that a full on tattoo.


Finally, tattoo shops can offer tattoo removal and repair services. It’s really that simple: add three times the service and watch your customers grow!  


Final Thoughts 


Now you know why tattoo shops are unlike any other small businesses. But do you know how else to succeed? 


Stay tuned to Tattooing 101 for the latest tips on starting and marketing your shop! 


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Tattoo Business

Psychology of Tattoos: What Your Customers Really Want From a Tattoo Experience 

Psychology of Tattoos: What Your Customers Really Want From a Tattoo Experience 



 Ultimately, the success of tattoo shops comes down to how well they can give customers what they want. If you’re an aspiring artist, ask yourself: do you know what your customers really want? 


It’s a pretty tall order. If we’re being honest, most people don’t know what they really want on any given day. We’ve put together an easy guide to what your customers really want from a tattoo experience. 


A Real Relationship 

Barber chairs.

Great looking barbershop.


Barber shops and tattoo shops don’t seem like they have much in common. However, they share one big quality:

“customers want to feel like they have an actual relationship with employees. “

 That means you shouldn’t focus all of your attention on your sweet tattoo designs. Take the time to talk to the customer. Let the conversation flow naturally, like you just met a cool new person at a party. 


If the customer believes you care, they’ll love the experience. This builds the kind of loyalty that is the foundation for a highly successful shop. 


Meaning Behind the Ink 

Artist as work.

Tattoo artist hard at work.


To your customers, tattoo designs are more than just ink. They are a story: every tattoo has a special meaning to the person wearing it. 


What your customers really want, then, is a tattoo artist that knows the meaning behind the ink. A basic knowledge of everything from Japanese characters to religious symbols will impress the customers as to how much you know about your craft. 


They will come to see you as more than the artist behind some awesome tattoo designs. They will see you as a storyteller who can help bring their story to life more vividly than any other tattoo shops. 


Assurances of Quality 


Have you ever thought about how much commitment a tattoo really is? The customer is trusting you to change their skin in a way that will last their entire lives. 


Before they take the plunge, then, what your customers really want is an assurance of your quality. Make sure that you have pictures of your previous tattoos and artwork prominently displayed in your shop. Also, make sure you have a thorough portfolio of tattoos from satisfied customers, as well as reviews on Yelp and Google. 


When they know you’re the real deal, then customers will choose you over other tattoo shops. 


Clean Shop and Good Vibes 


The last thing that customers really want is also the hardest for you to pull off. Specifically, they want an environment that is simultaneously clean and cool. 


Tattoo Studio

Tattoo Studio at night.

These customers want your shop to look clean so that they don’t have to worry about things like dirty needles. However, your shop shouldn’t look like a sterile downtown office—it should use dark colors and plenty of accessories (from posters to games and toys) that help show off your personality. 


After all, half the fun of getting a tattoo is the mystique of the tattoo shops. And you can easily be clean without losing your “cool”! 


The Bottom Line 


Now you know what your customers really want. But do you know what your next step should be? 


Stay tuned to Tattooing 101 for all the tips you need to take your tattoo designs and tattoo shop to the next level! 


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Tattoo Artist Tips, Tattoo Business

Building An Empire of Ink, Part 1: How to Make Your Tattoo Business Stand Out

Chances are that when you started your tattoo business, you thought the hard part was over. After all, you just survived nearly drowning in an ocean of paperwork and regulations! However, the real hard part of owning tattoo shops is marketing them. There are more tattoo artists emerging each and every day, leaving you with a clear question: how can you make your tattoo business stand out?

The Art of Online

First off,  it’s vitally important that tattoo shops have an online presence. And not just any presence: you need to be highly active on Pinterest and Instagram.

Each of these forms of social media was designed to help people share art and other awesome visual images. And each platform serves a valuable purpose for your business.

Pinterest helps you show off your cool tattoos in an organic way. Users will discover your art when they are looking for inspiration, and if you’re lucky, your art might just “go viral”.

Instagram also makes it easy for others to share your artwork. On top of that, it provides an easy way for users to get in touch with you. By making your business easy to reach online, you’ll generate more leads for your tattoo business.

Seasonal Specials

The average man on the street has no idea how much tattoos cost. And if you ask, they’re likely to give you one answer: “too much!”

You can help dispel this myth by offering seasonal specials on certain tattoos. For instance, offering deals on small romantic tattoos on Valentine’s Day, or a selection of spooky tattoos on Friday the 13th or halloween.

This helps you generate buzz while also showing how affordable your services can be compared to other tattoo shops.

Diversify Your Services

Not all tattoo shops can take this next step. But if you can, it’s a real game-changer. What are we talking about? Adding services to your tattoo shop.

In addition to slinging ink and crafting cool tattoos, your shop could attract even more customers if you hire a piercer. This draws in new clientele while offering your original customers another service they may be interested in.

Plus, your business is your ultimate investment, and offering additional services is your way of diversifying that investment and making it stronger than ever!

Become a Community Leader

Many tattoo artists consider themselves gifted loners. If that’s you, we’ve got some sobering news. For your shop to succeed, you’ll need to become a community leader.

If your town has special community events, try to get yourself a booth or table at those events. Better yet, get in touch with community leaders and see if you can sponsor an event you know people will love.

This is basically a marketing trifecta for your business. For people that have never heard of your shop, this gives them a chance to know you personally. And for others that look down on tattoo shops, this is a chance to prove you are devoted to giving back to your community. Finally, these festivals are a perfect breeding ground for good word of mouth advertisement. And that’s the real-life blood of your success!

To Be Continued…

Now you know how to stand out from the other tattoo shops. But your journey isn’t over yet!

Keep coming back to Tattooing 101 as we continue our Building An Empire of Ink series and provide all that you need to succeed!

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Tattoo Business

The 4 Secrets to a Successful Tattoo Business

Tattoo BusinessFor many tattoo artists, owning a shop is a dream come true.  But, owning a business is about more than simply finding an empty building and moving in.

The successful shop owner has to wear a lot of hats to keep everything running smoothly.

Here are five secrets to use in setting up a successful tattoo shop…

Secret #1 – Location Really Is Everything

You often hear people talk about how the three most important aspects of real estate are location, location, and location.  While that may be a bit simplistic, it is still fairly accurate.  Choosing the location for a tattoo shop can absolutely make or break the business.  There are a few guidelines to keep in mind when choosing your location.  For one, you want to consider your clientele and make yourself available in areas where they frequently are.  High foot traffic, easy parking and access, as well as neighboring complementary businesses such as bars and nightclubs are key things to keep in mind when looking at locations. No matter where you’re setting up though, you want to know that the area can handle another tattoo shop.  Being the best at what you do will certainly help, but if there are just too many shops in a small area, all of the tattoo shops will suffer, with the newer ones potentially going under first. Remember, it isn’t just a matter of “build it and they will come.”

Secret #2 – Write a Business Plan

If you’re looking for outside funding (say, from a bank), then a business plan may be a necessity.  Even if it isn’t required though, any new business owner should consider creating one before opening the doors.  Creating a business plan forces you to consider aspects of the business that may have never occurred to you otherwise, and being prepared for them puts you at an incredible advantage down the road.  While there are fewer surprises for sure, the process also allows you to envision where you want the business to go and to create a sort of road map for how to get there.  Once the business plan is written, you can use it to guide your decision-making process, keeping in mind that it’s not written in stone and you can revise and alter it when appropriate.

Secret #3 – Treat Your Business Like a Business

Face it, one of the best reasons to start a business is so that you can do things the way you want and so you can enjoy the experience.  One way to do this is by surrounding yourself with people you like.  This is great and can create an awesome atmosphere in the shop.  On the other hand, it can be a business owner’s downfall.  Working with your friends is great, but having your friends slack off while you pay the bills is not so cool.  Be sure that everyone is aware of the policies of the shop and that when you bring in artists and other staff members they know that they are not above following the rules.  More than one friendship has been  torn apart by a business relationship, so rather than risking both, it makes sense to have contracts in place and expect everyone to abide by them.

Secret #4 – You Can’t (Shouldn’t) Do It All

A business owner is kind of like a juggler with dozens of balls in the air at a time.  There’s payroll to make and rent to pay and distributors to meet with and health inspections to pass.  Oh, and working with customers and actually doing some art, too.  How can one person do it all?  The answer is that one person probably shouldn’t do it all.  There will be areas in which the business owner really excels.  On the other hand, there are areas that really should have professional attention.  For example, the contracts mentioned above should really be created by a transactional lawyer.  It’s very likely worthwhile to hire a part-time bookkeeper rather than to try and do all the accounting yourself.  You may also want to work with a marketing company to develop a strategy for bringing in customers and keeping your artists busy.  The best approach is to determine which things you’re good at, as well as which things you enjoy, and then bring in the “big guns” for the other tasks.

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