Business ideas
8 min read

How to Start a Profitable Picture Framing Business [11 Steps]

Learn how to start a successful picture framing business with these 11+ steps. From choosing a location to marketing strategies, we've got you covered.

By Nick Cotter
Updated Feb 02, 2024

image of a picture framing business
This page may feature products from our affiliate partners, which could influence the products we discuss due to potential compensation. Despite this, our evaluations are impartial, based solely on our independent analysis. The content here is intended for informational purposes and should not be seen as legal advice. For professional guidance, consulting with a legal expert is recommended.
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1. Perform market analysis.

To begin establishing a picture framing business, a comprehensive market analysis is essential. This process will help you understand the current demand for framing services, identify potential competitors, and highlight opportunities for differentiation. Here are key points to guide you through the initial market analysis:

  • Research the existing picture framing businesses in your target area to assess the level of competition and the services they offer.
  • Analyze the target customer segments, including professional photographers, art collectors, businesses, and general consumers, to understand their specific needs and preferences.
  • Investigate current trends in home décor and art presentation, as these can influence consumer demand for framing services.
  • Explore pricing strategies of competitors to help set competitive but profitable price points for your services.
  • Look into the supply chain for framing materials to ensure quality and cost-effective sourcing options.
  • Assess the potential for online sales and services, such as virtual framing previews or direct shipping to customers, to expand your market reach beyond the local area.
  • Consider partnering with local artists, galleries, and photographers to create a referral network and increase business visibility.
image of a picture framing business

Are picture framing businesses profitable?

Yes, picture framing businesses can be profitable if operated properly and efficiently. Proper pricing, a wide selection of frames and mats, and quality customer service can all help make a picture framing business successful. Additionally, marketing the business on social media, in local newspapers, or through word-of-mouth is important to help attract customers.

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2. Draft a picture framing business plan.

Starting a picture framing business requires careful planning to ensure you cover all aspects of your enterprise. A well-crafted business plan is essential for defining your business goals, understanding your market, and securing financing. Here are key points to include in your picture framing business plan:

  • Executive Summary: A concise overview of your business including your mission statement, products, and basic financial highlights.
  • Company Description: Information about your business, the services you offer, and what makes your picture framing business unique.
  • Market Analysis: An examination of the picture framing industry, your target market demographics, and competitor analysis.
  • Organization and Management: Your business structure, details about the ownership, and profiles of your management team.
  • Services: Detailed descriptions of your framing services, materials used, and any additional services offered.
  • Marketing Plan: Strategies for attracting and retaining customers, pricing, sales, and advertising.
  • Operational Plan: Day-to-day operations, the production process, suppliers, and facilities.
  • Financial Plan: Revenue projections, profit and loss forecasts, cash flow analysis, and startup costs.

How does a picture framing business make money?

Picture framing businesses make money by selling ready-made frames or providing custom framing services. They also generate revenue from selling art prints, photos, and other items related to the picture framing industry. A target audience for this type of business could be interior designers looking for specific pieces to decorate their clients’ homes, or hobbyists wanting to frame and display their own photography or art. Furthermore, they could also target businesses seeking to hang art in offices and lobbies.

3. Develop a picture framing brand.

Developing a brand for your picture framing business is vital to set yourself apart in the market and attract your target audience. Your brand is not just a logo or name; it's the overall impression and experience you provide to your customers. Here's how to create a compelling brand for your picture framing business:

  • Identify your unique selling proposition (USP): What makes your framing service special? It could be the quality, the materials you use, your design aesthetic, or customer experience.
  • Define your target audience: Understand who your ideal customers are, what they value, and what design styles they prefer.
  • Create a brand personality: Choose a voice and tone for your brand communications that reflect the personality of your business – be it professional, quirky, artistic, or sophisticated.
  • Design a memorable logo and visual elements: Your logo, color scheme, and design elements should be distinctive and reflect your brand's personality and USP.
  • Consistent messaging: Ensure that all your marketing materials, from business cards to your website, convey your brand message consistently.
  • Build an online presence: Use social media and a professional website to showcase your work, share customer testimonials, and engage with your audience.
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How to come up with a name for your picture framing business?

Brainstorming is the best way to come up with a memorable name for your picture framing business. Start by considering words or phrases that relate to either framing or pictures. Think of words that could be combined, or look for alliteration and puns. If you’re stuck, try using a website such as Wordoid, which generates creative business names through combining multiple words. Once you have narrowed down your list of possible names, consider if the name is easy to remember and available to trademark. Finally, take into consideration how the name will look as part of your logo and on signage. With some creativity, you will find the perfect name for your picture framing business!

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4. Formalize your business registration.

Starting a picture framing business requires not only a creative flair but also a formal business structure to operate legally and efficiently. Here's a step-by-step guide to formalizing your business registration, which is crucial for establishing legitimacy and ensuring compliance with tax and legal requirements.

  • Choose a business structure that suits your needs, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation, each with different implications for liability and taxes.
  • Register your business name with the appropriate state authority, ensuring it is unique and meets all the naming requirements of your jurisdiction.
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for tax purposes, especially if you plan on hiring employees or opening a business bank account.
  • Apply for any necessary business licenses or permits required to operate a picture framing business in your city or county, which may include a general business license, a seller's permit, or a zoning permit.
  • Review and adhere to any additional regulations specific to your region or the picture framing industry, such as environmental regulations concerning materials disposal or small business regulations.

Resources to help get you started:

Explore foundational resources designed for picture framing entrepreneurs, featuring insights on market trends, operational best practices, and strategies for business expansion:

  • Picture Framing Magazine: This publication offers monthly updates on framing techniques, new product releases, and business strategies for frame shop owners.Visit Website
  • Tru Vue® Retail Boot Camp: An educational program providing insights on improving sales, marketing tactics, and custom framing techniques.Learn More
  • PPFA (Professional Picture Framers Association): Access to webinars, certification programs, and an extensive network of professionals for support and advice.Discover More
  • Art & Framing Today: An international publication featuring the latest news, artist interviews, and technological advancements within the framing and art industry.Read Here
  • The West Coast Art & Frame Expo/National Conference: The largest trade show and educational event in the industry, offering workshops, new product showcases, and networking opportunities.Check It Out

5. Acquire necessary licenses and permits for picture framing.

Starting a picture framing business requires compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. To ensure your business operates legally, acquiring the necessary licenses and permits is a crucial step. Here is a list of common licenses and permits you might need:

  • Business License: Check with your city or county government to obtain a general business license, which is typically required to operate legally.
  • Sales Tax Permit: If you're selling goods, most states require you to register for a sales tax permit. This allows you to collect sales tax from customers.
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): If you have employees, the IRS will require you to get an EIN for tax purposes.
  • Occupational License: Some localities require a special license for certain types of businesses, including those that offer framing services.
  • Sign Permit: If you plan to put up signage for your business, many cities require a permit to ensure it complies with local regulations.
  • Building Permit: Should you need to renovate your space for your framing shop, you'll likely need a building permit from your local government.

Always double-check with your local government and a legal professional to ensure you have all the necessary documentation before you start operating your picture framing business.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a picture framing business?

Depending on the location, you may need to obtain certain licenses and permits in order to run a picture framing business. For example, you may need a business license and/or permit from your local government. You may also be required to have a sales tax license and/or permit if you are selling items directly to consumers. Additionally, depending on the location, you may need to obtain a zoning permit if the business will require making modifications to the property. Finally, if you plan on opening a store front or conducting business in a particular area, you may need to acquire an appropriate occupational or building license.

6. Open a business bank account and secure funding as needed.

Establishing a business bank account and securing funding are crucial steps in laying the financial foundation for your picture framing business. These actions not only help in managing your finances but also demonstrate professionalism to your clients and suppliers. Here's a guide to help you navigate this process:

  • Choose a bank: Research banks and credit unions to find one that offers favorable terms for small businesses, such as low fees, easy access to online banking, and additional support services.
  • Prepare documentation: Gather necessary documents such as your business license, EIN, ownership agreements, and personal identification to open your business bank account.
  • Understand your needs: Consider what banking services you'll need, like a checking account, savings account, credit card, or merchant services for customer transactions.
  • Explore funding options: Assess different funding sources such as personal savings, small business loans, lines of credit, or investors if you require additional capital to start or expand your business.
  • Develop a business plan: A solid business plan can increase your chances of securing a loan by demonstrating the viability and financial projections of your picture framing business.

7. Set pricing for picture framing services.

Setting the right price for your picture framing services is critical to the success of your business. It's important to find a balance that reflects the quality of your work, covers your costs, and remains competitive in the market. Here are some guidelines to help you establish your pricing:

  • Costs: Calculate the cost of materials and labor for each framing job. Include the cost of the frame, glass, matting, backing, and any other materials, plus the time you spend on each piece.
  • Market Research: Research prices charged by competitors in your area to ensure your rates are in line with the market while still allowing for a reasonable profit margin.
  • Value-Based Pricing: Consider the value your services add to the artwork, such as preservation and presentation, and price accordingly.
  • Tiered Pricing: Offer different pricing tiers based on the complexity and customization of the framing job.
  • Promotions: Introduce promotions or discounts for large orders, repeat customers, or referrals to attract more business.
  • Transparent Pricing: Be upfront about your pricing. Provide clear quotations to your customers, so they understand what they are paying for.

What does it cost to start a picture framing business?

Initiating a picture framing business can involve substantial financial commitment, the scale of which is significantly influenced by factors such as geographical location, market dynamics, and operational expenses, among others. Nonetheless, our extensive research and hands-on experience have revealed an estimated starting cost of approximately $20000 for launching such an business. Please note, not all of these costs may be necessary to start up your picture framing business.

8. Acquire picture framing equipment and supplies.

Starting a picture framing business requires not only skill and creativity but also the proper equipment and supplies. Ensuring you have the right tools will help you deliver high-quality frames that meet your clients' expectations. Below is a list of essential equipment and supplies you should consider acquiring:

  • Frame Cutting Tools: Invest in a high-quality mat cutter for precision cuts, a glass cutter, and a hand-operated or pneumatic frame cutter for creating custom frame sizes.
  • Frame Assembly Equipment: A V-nail joiner or underpinner is crucial for assembling frames securely. You may also need clamps and a framing vise.
  • Mounting Tools: Acquire a dry mount press and mounting tapes or adhesives to properly mount artwork and photographs.
  • Mat Board and Frame Stock: Stock various sizes and styles of mat boards and moulding to offer a range of options to your customers.
  • Glazing Materials: Provide different glazing options like acrylic, regular glass, and UV-protective glass.
  • Fitting and Finishing Supplies: Make sure to have backing materials, dust covers, hanging hardware, and bumper pads for the finishing touches.
  • Workshop Essentials: Don't forget about worktables, storage units for supplies, and safety equipment such as gloves and goggles.

List of software, tools and supplies needed to start a picture framing business:

  • Picture Framing Supplies: $50 - $500
  • Computer: $400 - $2000
  • Printer: $200 - $600
  • Inventory Management System Software: $100 - $1000
  • Scanner: $100 - $300
  • Office Suite Software: $50 - 150
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: 200 - 600
  • Mat Cutting Tools and Supplies: $40 - 200
  • Moulding Cutter and Supplies: $150 - 1000
  • Packaging Materials (bubble wrap, cardboard, etc): $50 - 250

9. Obtain business insurance for picture framing, if required.

Starting a picture framing business involves protecting your investment, your customers' artwork, and your livelihood. Business insurance can shield you from various risks, including property damage, theft, and liability. Here's how to approach obtaining the right coverage:

  • Assess your risks: Consider all potential scenarios that could impact your business, such as fire, flood, or customer injury. This will help you determine the type and extent of coverage needed.
  • Research insurance providers: Look for companies that specialize in small business insurance and compare their offerings. Check for providers with experience in insuring art-related businesses, as they may offer more tailored coverage.
  • Choose the right policy: Common insurance types for a picture framing business include General Liability, Property Insurance, and Professional Liability. If you hire employees, you might also need Workers' Compensation Insurance.
  • Understand policy details: Carefully read the terms, coverage limits, deductibles, and exclusions. Ensure you understand what is and isn't covered before making a decision.
  • Consult with a professional: An insurance agent or broker can provide personalized advice and help you navigate the complexities of business insurance.
  • Review and update regularly: As your business grows and changes, so do your insurance needs. Review your policy annually or after significant changes to your operations.

10. Begin marketing your picture framing services.

As you embark on the journey of marketing your picture framing services, it's crucial to harness various strategies to reach your target audience effectively. A well-crafted marketing plan will not only create awareness but also drive sales and help establish your brand in the market. Here are several approaches you should consider:

  • Develop a strong online presence by creating a professional website showcasing your work, services, and customer testimonials.
  • Utilize social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook to display your framing projects and engage with potential customers.
  • Partner with local artists, galleries, and photographers to offer your framing services, leveraging their customer base for referrals.
  • Attend local art shows, fairs, and community events to network and display your work.
  • Offer promotions and discounts to first-time customers to encourage them to try your services.
  • Implement a referral program where existing customers receive a discount or a free service for referring new clients.
  • Invest in local advertising through newspapers, magazines, or community bulletins to reach a broader audience within your area.
  • Provide exceptional customer service to generate positive word-of-mouth and repeat business.
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What licenses and permits are needed to run a picture framing business?

  • Picture Framing Supplies: $50 - $500
  • Computer: $400 - $2000
  • Printer: $200 - $600
  • Inventory Management System Software: $100 - $1000
  • Scanner: $100 - $300
  • Office Suite Software: $50 - 150
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: 200 - 600
  • Mat Cutting Tools and Supplies: $40 - 200
  • Moulding Cutter and Supplies: $150 - 1000
  • Packaging Materials (bubble wrap, cardboard, etc): $50 - 250

11. Expand your picture framing business.

Once your picture framing business is up and running, it's time to think about expansion to meet increasing demand and maximize profits. Careful planning and strategic actions can help you scale your business effectively. Consider the following steps to broaden your market reach and enhance your services:

  • Diversify your offerings: Introduce new frame styles, custom matting options, or related products like art prints and mirrors to attract a wider customer base.
  • Invest in technology: Upgrade to high-quality, efficient framing equipment and software for design and inventory management to improve productivity.
  • Enhance online presence: Develop a professional website with e-commerce capabilities and utilize social media to showcase your work and attract online customers.
  • Partner with local artists and galleries: Establish relationships with art professionals to become their preferred framer, which can lead to steady business and referrals.
  • Explore B2B opportunities: Offer your services to businesses, such as hotels or corporate offices, which often require large quantities of framed artwork.
  • Consider franchising or opening new locations: If your business model is successful, replicate it in other areas to tap into new markets.