Make Buttons: Strange Ways to Make Money

Trawling this week, I cam across this shop. This person makes pin-on buttons and sells most of them for $1.00. For fifty cents more, you can have the button made into a magnet. Some of them are cute and the whole thing reminded me of the button covered jean-jackets and purses that were popular in the ’80’s.

All you need to get into this business is a ,a href=”″>button maker. You can get machines that make different sized-buttons, ranging from small one-inch buttons to large, three-inch models. You just put your design between the plastic front and metal back parts of the button and then apply pressure with the handle to mash the parts together and seal the button. Voila: One button.

You also need some creativity. You’ll need to be able to generate some funny sayings, silly jokes, or cute pictures to put on your buttons. It’s best if you generate your own content because using sayings, quotes, logos, or pictures from movies, TV, professional sports, or companies without permission can get you sued. If you have some graphic design or art experience, that’s a plus. You can create your own images to go with your sayings.

What can you put on/in your buttons? Anything you want, including:

  • Quotes/sayings
  • Jokes
  • Photos
  • Political statements
  • Original artwork
  • Fabric swatches
  • Wallpaper
  • Stickers
  • Children’s artwork
  • Short poems
  • Characters that you create
  • Holiday themes
  • Religious statements

In addition to selling buttons online at sites like or eBay, or through your own site, you can sell them at local craft fairs, state fairs, or church bazaars. If you specialize in a certain theme, you can sell at events that cater to that theme. For example, if your buttons are all Civil War related, you could sell at re-enactments. You can even host your own button house party.

To increase your income from this venture, you can sell your skills to local organizations, party planners, and political groups. Buttons are great for local candidates, fundraising groups, businesses/websites, booster clubs, weddings, birthdays, reunions, parties, or school groups. You can use a design or photo that the organization provides or you can, for a little more money, offer to create a custom button just for them.

You probably won’t get rich making buttons unless you create a design, character or saying that catches on. Even if you don’t get rich, this can still be a fun hobby that can net you a little side income. You can set your prices according to the button size, with the larger buttons costing more. You can also sell them in sets, or offer specials such as five for $4. Be sure to charge enough to offset the cost of your supplies. If you’re creating custom buttons for an organization, you’ll charge not only for the button itself but also for the time it takes you to create the artwork or saying that will be used on the button. As you get better at button making, you’ll get faster and you’ll be able to crank out more buttons in less time, increasing your profit margin.

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4 Responses to Make Buttons: Strange Ways to Make Money

  1. Christine says:

    You can also upload designs for sale at ; You do the designs and upload to their site, they do the rest – advertising, printing and mailing, you get anywhere from 10% + on each sale (you set the %). :)

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Making buttons could be a great way to make money but you have forgotten a key part of the equation… you have to sell the buttons. Oftentimes marketing and selling a product takes more time than making it in the first place. Before you go making a bunch of buttons or investing in equipment or supplies make sure your going to have an outlet to sell them and an interested customer base.

  3. Gail says:

    Selling something for a dollar on line isn’t going to earn you any money by the time you take out your costs, the fees for the payment portal like Paypal, etc. Plus all the time involved. I’ve seen way too many people listing things for sale on line that when you break down everything, not only have they not made any money but they basically paid the buyer to take the item off their hands.

    Before investing into any on-line selling endeavor, calculate ALL the costs and then ask yourself what your time is worth. Don’t try to talk yourself into saying this is just a hobby as an excuse not to be making any money. If you are earning anything at all you still have to pay taxes on the income or at least file the Schedule C.

  4. Sally says:

    Gail, you are so right. I’m just thinking about this and am doing the math. Thanks for mentioning site and pay pal processing fees! You also have to add in shipping costs and account for you handling of orders as well as time designing and making the buttons and marketing.what Also what fo the button materials, print ink, or any photo copying cost. If you sell at events, farmers markets, etc are the booth fees? Cost of travel to and from events? Cost of phone, business brochure or flyer, business cards? Are you going to buy a hand press or get a mechanical one or get buttons made bulk? People need to realize they need to take out sales tax and figure what they’ll owe in taxes for sure! know I really need to do an actual business plan budget, market research of some kind, and a cost/profit margin analysis to even get an idea of what to charge for buttons and how many I have to sell to get any idea of what I can make an hour and how much time I have to commit. This may be a low capital outlay business as long as you can make some outlay to get started, can commit to spending time on the business and actually come up with buttons folks will buy for more like $3.00 per button plus S&H. You might do better selling to specially buttons to local groups and giving them a lower price so they can mark up fo fundraising.

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