This article is part of my “How to Make Planner Stickers to Sell on Etsy” guide.
Now that you have all the supplies and basic knowledge necessary to make planner stickers, it’s time to actually begin the design process!
Before we start, I’d like to talk briefly about sticker kits. The term “sticker kit” refers to any set of stickers that are intended for a particular application. The most popular types of sticker kits are designed for decorating the weekly pages of the Erin Condren Life Planner. However, you could make sticker kits for all sorts of things! My Etsy shop specializes in sticker kits designed for bullet journaling. Other kits on Etsy are intended for use on the monthly pages of planners or for personal sized inserts. As always, I encourage you to be creative and explore any new ideas that you may have for sticker kits.
Now, onto the design process.
1. Start with an idea or inspiration
When you sit down to design planner stickers, you should have some sort of initial idea or inspiration in mind. This could be something as simple as a certain color palette, the current season, a set of graphics you recently acquired, or an idea for a new type of sticker. If you do not already have the clipart you will need, you should start gathering your graphics. It would also be a good idea at this point to run a test print on the selection of colors you intend to use. You will find that certain colors will print much differently than displayed on your monitor. Thus, it is always helpful to establish and verify your colors before beginning the design process.
2. Choose the size of your sticker(s)
Once you have an idea of the stickers you’d like to make, the next step is deciding on the size. If you have a particular planner in mind that you intend to use, I highly recommend purchasing a copy so that you can test your stickers and ensure they are the perfect size. However, if you are in a pinch or would like some guidance, my previous article explains some of the most common planners and sticker sizes. The dimensions in that article can be used as a general reference.
3. Add 1/8” to your sizes for full bleed
After you choose the desired final sizes of your stickers, you should add a small amount of extra width and height to your designs; at least for the stickers that are not intended to have white borders. You will find that your cutting machine, although generally very precise, will always be ever-so-slightly off. If you design your stickers to be printed and cut at their exact sizes, they will likely have a small strip of white along one of their edges due to this inaccuracy. When a sticker or any printed material is supposed to be full color from edge to edge, it is referred to as full bleed. In the United States, the rule of thumb is to add 1/8” to a printed document to allow for full bleed. However, you might find this amount is larger or smaller than you personally need, so you should adjust as needed.
4. Design your stickers
You should design your stickers at a minimum of 300 dpi, and ultimately save your final images as PNG files. This file type is lossless, which means it will maintain the integrity of your images down to pixel perfection. I use Adobe Photoshop to design my stickers; however there are many other great options available on the market today, including free software such as GIMP. Personally, I like to create a separate document for each sticker. This makes it easy to go back and edit any designs that need to be tweaked later. Photo editing programs are very powerful and can sometimes take several weeks to overcome the initial learning curve. For this reason, I will not be covering the specifics of how to use Photoshop to design stickers in this guide. If you’re interested in a very detailed tutorial, definitely let me know and I’ll try to make one in the future!
5. Determine your sheet size
Once you have your designs finished, you will need to determine how large you would like a single sheet of stickers to be. It is probably a good idea to consider how many sheets will be able to fit on a single, 8.5”x11” piece of sticker paper. Remember, the registration marks will reduce the total available area, so you may need to open your cutting machine software to determine exactly how much space you have to work with. You may also be limited by the cellophane bags or other packaging supplies that you have access to. Typically, you should try to fit at least 2 sheets on a single piece of paper.
6. Arrange stickers on the sheets
I like to arrange my stickers in Photoshop, ultimately creating one single image to import. However, you could also save each final sticker individually and arrange them in the cutting software itself. You will need to find what process works best for you. Either way, you will want to try and reduce the amount of wasted space on you sticker sheets, while still maintaining a certain amount of aesthetic design. Remember to use the aligning tools to keep everything perfectly spaced!
7. Print and cut your sheets
The specifics of printing and cutting will be covered in more detail in my next article, “How to Print and Cut Planner Stickers”. Essentially, you should follow the instructions in your cutting machine’s user manual.
8. Test your stickers and fine tune the design
Once your sheets are finished, you should always test your stickers to catch any accidental miscalculations or unforeseen issues. Remember, the accuracy of your cutting measurements are important down to the 0.001 mark. A few thousands of an inch larger or smaller could mean the difference between your stickers fitting exactly in the printed box of a planner or exactly covering the lines. There is no right or wrong way to design your stickers, but you should always attempt to be consistent. Make any changes, then print and test your stickers again until they are exactly as desired.
There you have it! This is the basic process required for designing planner stickers and kits!
I’ve tried to include some helpful information that I have learned from my own sticker making endeavors. I hope you are able to learn my mistakes and discover something new!