The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Tattoo Business


Chapter 1: Getting Started

tattoo sign

Tattoo artists change people’s lives on a daily basis; they need a thorough amount of training in order to make that possible. Skill and craftsmanship are of utmost importance in the industry. Beyond these skills, however, are the business knowledge to ensure your new tattoo business stays successful. Running a financially stable business will allow you time to focus on clients, giving them the time they deserve. Even if you are a superb artist, you will still need a strong business ethic in order to succeed in the tattoo industry. This is why we’ve created this guide on how to start a tattoo shop.

Although raw talent goes a long way, you don’t necessarily have to be an artist yourself to run a successful tattoo shop. You just have to have a good tattoo shop business plan. A quality tattoo business is built on the foundation of many factors and although you will want talented and experienced artists, it doesn’t always mean that you need to be one yourself. Those with a passion for business can work behind the scenes, finding talented and passionate employees to provide clients with a quality product and experience. When considering opening your own shop, and learning how to open a tattoo shop, it’s crucial to first familiarize yourself with the latest trends of the art form. For those entrepreneurs lacking formal training as tattoo artists, partnering with talented and well-known local artists can make a huge impact on your fledgling business venture.

Once you have recruited a talented team to drive your business, the next step is to procure the appropriate health and professional licenses to allow your business to function safely and within the law. Laws and regulations governing the tattoo industry tend to differ dramatically across municipalities, counties, and states. Check with the city, state and county departments to ensure you don’t miss crucial details. More than any other source, the AAA Tattoo Directory has been providing information on the tattoo regulations in each state. Start your search there for a listing on the proper agencies in your area to obtain permits and licenses. Ultimately, seeking the advice of an attorney prior to opening up shop can be useful, as there are many legal matters that should be reviewed. This precautionary step can save you time and money in the long run by helping you avoid common new-business pitfalls.

After obtaining the proper permits and documentation to make your endeavor legal, you will need the appropriate tools and materials to run your establishment. Tattooing requires a sizable initial investment to cover the cost of the tattoo guns, needles, ink, gloves and other supplies. Additionally, as with any other business, you will need to invest in computers, telephones, and everything else required for day-to-day operations.

One of the best investments you can make for your new company is to hire a talented illustrator to develop a unique, stylish logo. Your logo will make your company memorable. Your service, quality and price could be fantastic, but without the proper image, it can be difficult for your tattoo shop to remain at the top of its industry. Like successful tattoo artist Sailor Jerry Collings, having a recognizable and visually appealing logo can be crucial to the success of your business.

It is important that you never cut your investment short when it comes to your equipment. The tool does not make the artist, but even a great artist cannot provide excellent service without state-of-the-art equipment. Your tattoo shop equipment list must be taken seriously. Tubes and the actual tattooing machine are crucial elements to a new business, so invest as much as possible into these tools.  An investment in higher-quality equipment enables you to provide the cleanest, safest environment to your customers. Running a shop at the maximum efficiency and safety will help build your reputation, avoiding mistakes that could end in costly, time-consuming litigation.

Tattoo gun with ink tubes on white background
Tattoo gun with ink tubes on white background

Since a tattoo business is heavily focused on art and craftsmanship, the atmosphere of your shop will be very important to its success, as well. Getting a tattoo can often be a life altering experience. Display your shop’s art, as well as popular designs from around the world to set the proper atmosphere. Hiring design consultants can help create a space that is visually and technologically appealing and can also be worth the added investment.

While the initial investment to open a tattoo business can be considerable, if you’ve laid the proper groundwork, your business will reap rewards. Ultimately, allocate as much of your budget toward the initial requirements as possible. The more you can invest at the onset, the more likely your business is to gain immediate recognition.

Chapter 2: The Business Plan

Modern business concept

After crafting the perfect look, logo, and atmosphere, it’s time to build a solid business plan. Without a detailed route to success, it will be difficult to reach your intended destination. From pricing to determining acceptable salaries and benefits, there are many factors to consider before opening your doors for business. When it comes to how to get tattoo clients and have a successful shop, there are many factors at play.

Before considering anything else, you will need to research the target area to pick the ideal location for your shop. This decision has the potential to make or break your business. Several guidelines can come in useful when scoping out potential locations, so it is important to make sure you consider each one before buying or leasing space. Additionally, you should always keep your budget in mind when shopping around, weighing the pros and cons of the area against the financial investment it will require.

Initially, you should identify your ideal clients, and then choose a location that will be the most convenient for them. For example, if you cater to a college-aged crowd, you want to find a spot near local college bars. On the other hand, if you were looking to cater to the tourist crowd looking for quaint reminders of their trip, you may want to set up in areas where vacationers frequent. A good rule of thumb is to analyze the businesses and residential areas that would surround your shop. Would this area provide an ideal area for your shop while remaining a convenient location for your clients to visit?

Secondly, you should always locate your business where there is no competition in the immediate area. Keep in mind that no matter how good your tattoo artists are, the population of an area only requires so much from a single type of business. Think about the size of the area you are in and how many tattoo shops already exist in the neighborhood. Finding that perfect untapped market can help turn your business into a quick success.

Your chosen area will also influence the price you charge for your services. Consider the average income of your ideal client, as well as the prices of any competitors that the client might consider as an alternative. When first opening, offering specials and new customer discounts can really help you bring customers into your shop. Building word-of-mouth and a location-specific portfolio will be of the utmost importance to the potential of your business for success. Working with an experienced tattoo artist can be extremely helpful during this step.

Knowing how much you plan to pay your employees before making other financial decisions can help you have a better idea of what your first few year profits might become. Although you may not be able to pay extremely well when first starting up the business, providing an adequate  salary to bring in quality talent is always one of the best investments you can make in the tattoo industry. Additionally, you should have a plan of how salaries, promotions, and increased perks may be handled in the company’s future. While the need for these procedures may seem far away, as business increases, you’ll be happy you prepared in advance.

Always set objectives and goals when building your business plan. Set revenue goals as well as product output goals and business milestones. For example, define annual revenue that would provide a comfortable initial profit margin and aim to reach that goal. Quantifing that number into an amount of transactions needed will make the goal more tangible. Additionally, writing a mission statement can help motivate you and your employees, while also providing a guide for how you want people to view your business.

Ultimately, in the first year of services, you simply want to build as strong of a customer base and local following as possible. Proper tattoo shop marketing, discounts, first-timer tattoo prices and more can help attract clientele to your new location. Additionally, advertising any well-known local artists as being part of your business can help bring in clients that are already comfortable with their work.

Strong business plans are essential to putting your company on the path to success. They will keep employees motivated, help control expenditures and allow the business to grow in an organic fashion. Adjusting yourself to the clients that end up adopting your shop is important, as referrals and frequent patronage help businesses remain successful.

Chapter 3: Getting Insured

Even the most talented and careful professionals run the risk of making a mistake. Perhaps a client does not realize they have an ink allergy, or maybe a machine goes haywire, in either case, you will want to have the proper coverage to keep your shop from financial ruin. Having proper insurance not only protects your business but your clients as well. Making a knowledgeable and informed decision about the insurance company you hire is extremely important. In times of crisis, you want to be confident that you will be fully covered.

Marine Agency has been one of the top providers of tattoo insurance for over 25 years. They have been issuing tattoo and body piercing insurance policies since 1990. The levels of coverage they offer ensure that you can get a plan that will be customized for your particular business, no matter what the size. With clear and concise terms, they offer no-nonsense, straightforward, policies at the right price to keep your business covered and your valuable customers safe. You can get a complete insurance package or simply get the policies that work best for you and your team. Marine Agency’s bodyMod™ tattoo & body piercing insurance policies include:

  • Abusive Acts (physical abuse and sexual molestation) Liability
  • General (trip and fall, products) Liability
  • Professional (malpractice) Liability
  • Property Coverage (burglary, fire, theft, etc.)
  • Temporary guest artists covered automatically
  • Surface piercings covered automatically
  • Genital piercings covered automatically
  • Liability coverage automatically follows you to off-site work including while exhibiting at shows and fairs
  • Independent Contractors included as insureds

No matter where your business is located, Marine Agency has you covered. They offer the only nationally available, comprehensive tattoo and body piercing insurance program available. Convenience, experience, and thoroughness are top priorities of the company, and you will be sure to see that in their customer service. These policies are available across the nation. Marine Agency insurance policies are provided through regulated “admitted” insurance companies throughout the United States, all of which are backed by state “insurance guaranty associations” (the insurance company version of FDIC).

With the additional coverage for body piercing, you will be prepared to tackle that potential side market when the time comes. Ultimately, adding these types of complementary services to your tattoo shop can have a big impact when it comes to bringing in additional revenue to your business. Trusting in the professionals at Marine Agency in case of an accident during the delicate process of body piercing should help ease your mind.

Getting started with Marine Agency is as easy as it is beneficial. Simply visit their online application in order to get a quote for your new tattoo business. With an easy to navigate website and an online payment process, doing business with the professionals at Marine Agency makes insuring your business a breeze. For the best quality national tattoo insurance coverage available there is simply no better option.


Chapter 1: Market Analysis

Young businessman drawing marketing strategy concept. Isolated on white.
Young businessman drawing marketing strategy concept. Isolated on white.

As previously mentioned, knowing the industry intimately and identifying a potential client base will lead to business success. Performing a detailed analysis of the tattoo market both abroad and in your geographic area will help you determine the optimal pricing and styles that will appeal to the widest range of clients. Thankfully, the Internet allows for easy research into the current financial and stylistic trends of the tattoo industry.

One of the best things you will quickly uncover is that there are virtually no companies that dominate the market within the tattoo industry. Tattooing as an art form and a business has stayed true to its roots as a non-mass-produced product. Remaining personally crafted and distributed, companies and individual artists tend to stay within their territory. This makes tattoo chains very uncommon and largely unsuccessful. Additionally, market projections have the tattoo industry as being almost guaranteed to continue these growths over the next five years.

The tattoo industry has additionally exhibited a steady financial growth in the last five years. In fact, that growth is a whopping 9.8%. Many factors have been shown to influence this growth, but the popular culture surrounding tattoos is credited with being the most important. Tattoos have become much less of a cultural taboo recently, and many popular network television shows focus on the reality of talented artists around the globe. More than ever, tattoos are being actively sought out by the American population.  People pursuing careers as a tattoo artist has also seen an increase due to this pop culture resurgence. Right now is an ideal time to begin recruiting the talent that will become well known in the next few years.

Although there are few visible barriers to entering this booming industry, a few moderate barriers remain and should be considered before opening up shop. Most of these concerns have to do with tattoo artists themselves rather than the day-to-day operations of a shop. Basically, your talent and in-shop portfolio are essential to the success of your business. Always partner with the strongest artists you can in order to ensure that your business will be successful.

Adding complimentary services to your tattoo shops can be useful in increasing your market value. Look into services, such as body piercing, that are high in demand. The more liberal, artsy or populated the city your shop is located in, the more likely these will provide your shop with a good additional income.

Just because an industry has a high chance of success does not mean that you will automatically succeed in it by simply opening up a shop. More than anything else, you should be doing the research needed to ensure your prices fit the income range of the neighborhood.. Poorly considered pricing has the potential to tear down your business before it gains momentum. Always consider what prices you can offer that will both draw a wide audience while still giving you the profit margins necessary to nurture a growing business.

Chapter 2: Online Portfolio

As with most decisions, when someone wants to research an important purchase, they tend to look on the Internet first. Tattoos are no different, and when somebody has an idea for their next tattoo, they are likely to compare it to similar works online.

As with any art form, a solid portfolio will ideally show off both the strength and range of your skills. With tattoo art, this is particularly important, as the content possible is nearly limitless. Despite this, any good tattoo artist should have a style visible within in their work that the connoisseur can identify. Have your employees been vigilant about studying other artist’s styles, both classical and modern, in order to guarantee that they reflect that knowledge in their work? Classy portfolios full of individuality and artistic nuance are often the most impressive, which will be more successful.

Having all the artists at your tattoo shop create detailed portfolios is a great way to show what your business can offer potential clients. By showcasing artist’s work, you can create a sense of prestige that will be associated with your shop, while also allowing the client to choose what artist’s style best suits their needs. When it comes to important life decisions and the purchase of art, the client will want their personal vision to be your guide.

Obviously you will want to include artist portfolios on your company’s website, but don’t stop there. Have your artists post their portfolios on all the popular tattoo websites and insist that they stay as active within those communities as possible. Keeping a strong online presence in these areas will help you reach new customers while building a reputation abroad. This step is not only easy and worthwhile, but also free or low cost for your new tattoo business.

Always make sure that you instruct employees to list links to your company’s actual website within the bios and image captions of their portfolios on tattoo networking sites. Additionally, you should try and coordinate all of your employees’ portfolios in a way that they will promote the widest range of skills possible. If every employee’s style looks the same, you will be restricting your range of potential clients. Ultimately, the time invested in making the portfolios of your employees as public and easily accessible as possible is actually an investment in free advertising for both your company and the artists themselves.

There are a wide range of tattoo portfolio and networking websites available online. Some of today’s best are Tattoo, CheckOutMyInk, RateMyInk, and TattooCloud. There is also online tattoo and art content at sites such as Tattoo Road Trip.  Becoming an influencer on these sites is a great investment you can make as the owner and operator of your tattoo shop. Let your employees focus on customers while you take the time to upload the contents of their portfolios onto these websites. This will also ensure that the layout, links, and bios included will represent the strongest image of your tattoo business.

Chapter 3: Social Media: the Power of Hashtags

Kiev, Ukraine - October 17, 2012 - A logotype collection of well-known social media brand's printed on paper. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Myspace, Tumblr, Livejournal, Foursquare and more other logos.
Kiev, Ukraine – October 17, 2012 – A logotype collection of well-known social media brand’s printed on paper. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Myspace, Tumblr, Livejournal, Foursquare and more other logos.


Networking online is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to make the public aware of your services. While posting online portfolios on tattoo-centric websites is a great start, there are many other platforms available to increase your influence over your local tattoo community. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media sites, having a consistent, informative and helpful online presence will do wonders for the success of your new tattoo business.

While traditional advertising and marketing certainly have their own advantages, social media promotion is something you can do all by yourself as owner and operator. Invite customers, both actual and potential, to “”like” you on various social media platforms. Offering discounts or inexpensive products at no charge in exchange for likes and follows is a cost-effective way to get the word about your shop out there. For every new follower, your professional network gains not only awareness, but also the potential awareness of a new network of friends. Every time someone shares content from your page or “checks-in” to your stores, their friends and followers will be reminded of your business. Offering discounts or other benefits for these interactions is also highly recommended.

One good way to get people to follow you on social media is by providing excellent, engaging and informative content related to the tattoo industry on your profiles. Did you come across an awesome post listing the coolest new tattoo trends? By sharing that you can increase your sphere of influence while potentially making people realize that they would indeed like one of the tattoos on that list. Take a guess about what tattoo shop will first pop into their mind after reading that post, shared by your company.

Posting successful, company-defining works on your pages can be a great way of getting your product out there for free. When sharing your content, you must be aware of the power that hashtags hold over your ability to reach the widest audience possible. Using hashtags with the biggest popularity on social media platforms will help ensure that your target audience will stumble across them. Currently some of the most popular hashtags related to #tattoo are #sexy, #inked, #ink and #art.

Staying aware of the words that are trending around tattoos helps keep you informed of your audience’s taste. Always study up on both the broad trends and the more niche ones associated with certain tattoo styles. Doing this can help you understand the audiences of both of these schools of tattoo enthusiasts. The massively common hashtags and words will often reflect the more casual tattoo shop customer, while the more nuanced, but still popular ones will cater more to the tattoo connoisseur.

Finally, you can advertise in a more traditional manner on these social networks. Advertising on social media platforms may cost a bit more than simply posting your content, but it will likely reach a much wider audience. Overall, Facebook provides the best option by far, thanks to their “Boost Post” option that helps the post reach a wider and more relevant audience.

Chapter 4: Traditional Marketing

While not as cost-effective as the Internet, traditional marketing has the advantage of both professional oversight and local targeting. It is foolish to assume just because you have great content that you know the most effective way of reaching out to a wide audience with its benefits in an effective manner. Professional marketers and advertisers have the experience and skill set necessary to make your product look as attractive as possible.

Simply making clients aware of your product is not enough; you want them to be so intrigued by your company’s skillset that they reach out to you. Professional marketing and advertising approaches every campaign with this exact goal in mind. There are many routes to consider when looking to invest in traditional advertising, including TV and Radio spots, newspaper ads, billboard spaces, and personal advertising. While the Internet might reach a wider broad audience, well-targeted traditional advertising has the advantage of reaching a larger local audience.

However, not all traditional marketing has to do with hiring marketers. There are many ways your tattoo business can go out into the community yourself to advertise. Many of these can be done in a way that benefits your community, as well as your business, such as community outreach efforts. Hold a luncheon/fundraiser in benefit of an important local issue and you will not only increase your reputation as someone who cares, but you will also make people more aware of your product. Local news channels and papers love reporting on these types of community outreach, so you are very likely to receive positive free advertising out of the effort as well.

If you and your employees are willing to do so, putting your company’s logo and contact info on your personal vehicles can be an easy way to get the word out about your business. If you see someone eyeing the content in public, you can approach him or her in a non-intrusive manner to come into the shop and find out more. Person to person outreach such as this helps a tattoo shop look personal and friendly. With the percieved intimidating atmosphere of tattoo shops, this reputation of being easily approachable and friendly is very valuable.

Offering to advertise other local businesses within your store, through objects such as posters and business cards, is a great way to increase your sphere of influence within your community. These businesses will in turn stock your advertisement as well, solidifying your reputation as a local-centric business. As tattoo shops are traditionally very anti-chain in their mindset, the reputation and image as a true supporter of local business and culture is an important asset for your business to maintain.


Tattoo Conventions

group presentation by modern technology communication
group presentation by modern technology communication

Keeping informed on all the trends, techniques, equipment and industry leaders will be important if you want to be taken seriously within the tattoo shop community. Additionally, keeping your company’s name known within the tattooing community can do a lot for your company’s financial stability. Perhaps no other place can help you do all of these tasks better than tattoo conventions.

With hundreds of festivals happening each year across the US, you have hundreds of reasons to choose one as a networking opportunity, and to see the latest in tattoo technology. If you can afford to send your entire team, it will be worth the investment. While technology does not make the artist, it can definitely help an artist reach their full potential. No other place provides an insight into the future of tattooing technology like conventions. From tattooing machines to sanitary materials for post-session cleanup, technology is constantly making the experience of getting body art safer and more efficient. What you learn about efficiency in the workplace at these conventions will allow your artists to tattoo customers quicker and in a safer manner.

Vendors are not the only people attending these conventions. Thousands of tattoo enthusiasts flock to these festivals to check out emerging talent and noteworthy shops from around the nation. Often, there will be a contest held at larger conventions where shops will go head to head to prove their skills to a massive audience. Gaining notoriety through these activities can boost your company’s reputation ten-fold.

Gaining a reputation in the tattoo community can open up your shop to all kinds of benefits. If you run a particularly successful and popular shop, important brands might consider sponsoring your shop, offering free equipment for advertising opportunities. Even if you are not lucky enough to have the reputation to gain sponsorship, plenty of free samples and trials are available at conventions. Keeping open to trying different brands and techniques can help your company stay ahead of the competitive world of tattooing.

Networking with shops and artists around the world can have all kinds of benefits. Mutual advertising and technique swapping can help expand your company’s sphere of influence. Additionally, conventions provide a great platform for scoping out new artist talent for your shop. Not to mention, the thousands of potential customers wandering around. Handing out discount coupons at these conventions is a good way to attract customers who have an obvious interest in tattooing to your business.

Most conventions will be worth your time, especially local ones. However, visiting the big name ones can provide a value that small conventions simply cannot offer. If you want to participate in the biggest convention out there, make sure to book a booth at The Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth, which happens annually in Las Vegas. Setting aside a budget for making the most of these festivals can help you gain the techniques, equipment, connections and potential new customers to pay for the initial investment. In any art community, reputation is everything, so make sure to keep involved in the community, which is done most efficiently at these awesome tattoo conventions.


Big Names in the Industry

Conventions are not the only thing to keep aware of in order to stay in touch with industry trends and standards. One of the best ways to understand what customers crave is by keeping up to date on the work of the most prominent and successful tattoo artists. Not only will some customers undoubtedly want some tattoos in a similar style to these popular artists, but also having your employees study their techniques can have them understand what is working in popular tattoo design.

Those uninformed on tattoo culture might not quite grasp the idea of “big name” tattoo artists, but even if they don’t realize it, they probably have seen some of their work. This is almost certainly the case in artists whose tattoos have been adapted for clothing lines, such as Ed Hardy.

Although your employees will be studying how this art works on the human body, examining artists whose work transcends the medium can teach a great deal, as well. If an artist can achieve a style that is consistent enough to work in any medium, your business is open to a broad range of marketing and industry possibilities. For those just starting up this is far in the future, but keeping aware of the next steps will be useful.

If you are not completely familiar with some of the big names in the industry, you should start researching now. You may find some artists surprisingly familiar, which speaks to their status in the industry. Here are a few examples of some of the biggest names working today:

Henk Schiffmacher

Considered one of the experts in the field of body decoration, Henk Schiffmacher is known for much more than just tattooing. Having written books on the subject such as “1,000 Tattoos,” his work can show your artists an example of mixing traditional and modern tattooing techniques. With clients as famous as Kurt Cobain and Lemmy from Motorhead, Henk Schiffmacher’s work is inside of the public’s mind, even if they are not completely aware of it.

Don Ed Hardy

Currently, Don Ed Hardy probably the most well known tattoo artist in the world. His work is almost instantly recognizable and is somewhat reminiscent of his equally famous mentor, Sailor Jerry Collins. Classically trained at the San Francisco Art Institute, your employees can learn a lot about branding yourself through consistent style from Don Ed Hardy. As far as style goes, Hardy is most widely known for incorporating Japanese tattoo esthetics into American style techniques.

George Burchett

One of the granddaddies of the tattoo medium, Burchett worked from 1890 till 1953. For understanding where the modern tattooing style came from, look no further than George Burchett. His distinct style was one of the first to be coveted by both high class and working class society members. Burchett and his brother, Charles Davis dominated the U.S. tattoo industry in their lifetimes and have left a worthwhile legacy that every serious tattoo artist and shop owner should be aware of. A true rebel of his time, Burchett’s style contains the essence of anarchy.

While the biggest and best names are certainly important to keep up with, keeping apprised of up-and-coming artists is equally important. In addition to frequenting conventions, following promising artists on social media and blogs can be useful. If you can develop a relationship with them, you will have an outlet to cross-promote content. Additionally, you open yourself up to bringing that talent into your shop in the future.


Two luminous signboards on building at night. Text with Tattoo in blue colour. Red sign with Piercing written on it. Modern dark building as background. Popular activity for young people.
Two luminous signboards on building at night. Text with Tattoo in blue colour. Red sign with Piercing written on it. Modern dark building as background. Popular activity for young people.

One of the biggest ways you can increase the revenue of your shop is to offer services that complement your specialty tattoo services. With this additional income you will be able to ensure your business is able to expand its client base, technology competence and employee benefits. Additionally, the services listed below are often considered to be a norm for shops to provide. To stay ahead of local competition, it is always a good idea to offer these services at your business. Not all startups will be able to immediately offer these options, but it is a good goal to reach if nothing else.

Variety is key in nearly any business, even specialty ones like tattoo shops. This investment in additional services will show your customers that you are a business that is able to adjust to the needs of the person being serviced. Keeping up a professional image can be done by offering these varying services, which can be useful, since more conservative members of communities can often write off tattoo shops as unprofessional establishments. You will need to fight this potential image of being unprofessional whenever you can, and expanding your clientele is a great way to achieve this.

Chapter 1: Piercings

The female navel with piercing
The female navel with piercing

Many of the top tattooists in the world, including Henk Schiffmacher, also dabble in the other body arts. Piercing and other body modifications meld well with the transformative experience involved in getting a tattoo. Simple piercings may be done in your shop, but having specialty tattoos not typical of regular piercing stores in places like the mall can be a big source of business.

Being properly insured, certified and licensed for piercings is important. So always go through the same processes of legality and certification that you went through for the tattoo section of your business. Additionally, keeping the safest and cleanest equipment available in your shop will help you avoid any complications during the piercing procedure. Marine Agency once again provides quality insurance for these types of procedures.

Both tattooing and body piercing are elegant crafts that require similar skills, so it makes sense to offer both of them in your shop. Thankfully, many tattoo artists are likely to practice body piercing as well, as the communities are very close knit. Many tattoo conventions will also focus heavily on these practices.  Making an investment in including body piercing in your business helps to keep your shop relevant and prestigious within the larger body art community.

Your artist’s portfolios will gain a massive boost by the inclusion of this extra field of body art. Diversity and style will be boosted by the excellent work your talented employees will be able to put out. Just as you should try to expand their tattoo portfolios online, you should put their body piercing portfolios up as well. Although the online presence of social sites regarding this body art form is not quite as popular as tattoos are, they are still definitely worth your time.

Keeping up to date on the biggest piercing trends will be one of the most important things your employees and yourself must do if you decide to offer this service. What is seen as culturally popular changes frequently when it comes to body piercings. One month, septum piercings may be the rage of the town, while massive gauges might become the cool piercing in another community. Speaking of gauges, many piercing styles will warrant multiple and frequent visits to your shop. This will allow you to build valuable customer relationships that will hopefully lead to referrals, as well as a steady guaranteed source of revenue.

Chapter 2: Tattoo Removal Services

With the massive increase in people getting tattoos, there is also a large amount of people who end up regretting their decision. With the addition of customers who later reconsider this important life decision, you could easily build an entire shop around tattoo removal. In fact, the industry as a whole is growing at the same speed as the tattooing industry itself.

Breaking down the numbers on tattoo removal shows just how much profit is to be gained from offering the service. On average your shop will be spending about $200 per treatment. However, an average appointment lasts a brief 15 minutes and should bring in an average of $800 in profits. Add to this the average of seven visits it is required for a customer to be fully free of their tattoo, and your business stands to gain roughly $1,400 in revenue for each tattoo removal.

Taste changes over time, and occasionally people enter a lifestyle or an occupation that does not allow them to keep visible tattoos. Offering tattoo removal services at your shop lets you offer a valuable and sometimes hard-to-find service to your community. Additionally, you will be able to offer the services at a lower rate to clients than a medical facility would be able to. This mixture of affordability, convenience and safety will make the idea of seeking professional tattoo removal at your shop extremely appealing.

The only disadvantage of this investment in tattoo removal services is the upfront costs. Machinery necessary for the high-tech laser removal process can cost around $275,000, which makes it a difficult investment for start-ups. Additionally, many states require that tattoo removal be performed by a medical professional.  Sometimes additional licensing may also be required.  This is one of those business steps that might be more realistic in the future of your business, but once you can afford the initial investment, the equipment is nearly guaranteed to bring you back the invested money in a short time span.

Chapter 3: Merchandise

Tilt up of young couple standing in front of the shop window and looking at the merchandise
Tilt up of young couple standing in front of the shop window and looking at the merchandise

The example of Don Ed Hardy should showcase to every tattoo shop owner just how useful merchandising your services can be. If you have a talented artist with a unique style, you owe it to both them and yourself to expose that art to a larger audience. Clothing, stickers, and other products can be a great way to do this. Thankfully, since tattoos are designed to shown on human skin, they often are easy to translate into other mediums. A whole market of revenue including t-shirts, magnets, posters and car decals is waiting for you.

Additionally, merchandising the actual logo of your shop can be a big source of income. People like to support businesses that have had a large impact on their life, and tattoos are no small life decision. By getting your company’s logo out there through merchandising you can make a profit while getting people to advertise your product for free. Once your logo has reached a level of recognition in your community that allows it to be intertwined with the sense of the community as a whole, you will know that your company has become successful.

With the amount of popular marketplaces, online it is easy to sell your merchandise outside of your physical location. Etsy, and other similar online shops, provide a simple way to sell your product without hiring unnecessary middlemen. Putting the product on your actual website is also useful, but putting it on outside marketplaces can help attract customers that would not know to look up your shop directly. Putting a link to your site, as well as a bio, is important when opening up shops on sites like Etsy. Consider the same rules and advice that was given in the section on online portfolios when tackling this aspect of your tattoo business.

Of the three supplemental services suggested, merchandising is the most accessible and most necessary. While you could potentially pass up on providing additional body art services or tattoo removal sessions, merchandising is essential to increasing your company’s reputation and presence in the community growing at a consistent rate. Thankfully, budgeting for merchandising around the current success of your store will be much easier than budgeting for additional services such as body piercing and tattoo removal.


With this information at your fingertips, you should now be confident to begin your journey toward opening a successful tattoo shop. The massive boom currently experienced in the industry will allow you to enter the market with a sense of ease and confidence. But as a new enterprise, it’s crucial that you avoid cutting corners when beginning your practice. Quality service, which is both safe and impressive, is what will ultimately keep customers coming back again and again.

tattoo love image

Contact Us


    34 W Main Street #201
    Somerville NJ 08876

    Local: 973-763-4711

    Toll-Free: 84-INSURE-NJ (844-678-7365)

    Toll-Free: 800-35-MARINE (800-356-2746)

    Northern Delaware

    1218 Pulaski Hwy, Ste 490
    Bear DE 19701

    Local: 302-834-9641

    Toll-Free: 800-681-7261

    Mobile Apps (requires active policy)

    Apple App Store Logo
    Google Play Store Logo