Top 5 Tips to Maximize Profits as a Tattoo Artist | Painful Pleasures Community

Top 5 Tips to Maximize Profits as a Tattoo Artist

Make more money and bring in more clients this summer. Here are our top 5 tips for maximizing your profits as a tattoo artist.
by Danny Tress Last Updated: May 15, 2023

Ready your flash sheets and workstations: summer is almost here and it’s time to maximize your profits as a tattoo artist. Even if you’re feeling 100% prepared to tattoo your way through busy season, you can still find new ways to make the most of the chaos. We’re here to help you bring in more business with our top 5 tips for making more cash and reeling in more clients!


Girl with tattoo pinching her fingers together to indicate something small


Sure, we love a big, bold tattoo. Bold will hold after all, and larger tattoos leave much more space for you to pack in detail and show off your creative flair. That being said, plenty of clients love small tattoos. And even those who come in with a large tattoo in mind can easily be sold on an additional, affordable tiny tattoo if you’re offering them.

So, we highly recommend adding small “impulse designs” to your flash sheets. Not only will this increase your chances of a client tacking an additional tiny tattoo onto their appointment… you might be able to bait people who didn’t originally plan to be tattooed. They might have come just to support their friend… up until they see a really dope, super-small design on one of your flash sheets. Every little tattoo adds up when it comes to the final price tag!



Recovery Derm Shield

Another sure-fire way to increase direct revenue this season is by pushing high-quality aftercare. This may require a bulk purchase of your favorite aftercare supplies, so you can sell it off to every client who comes through your door. Stock up on high-quality tattoo aftercare by brands like Recovery, Saniderm, Redemption, or Hustle Butter. Then offer it to your clients after each appointment by guaranteeing them it’ll yield the best-possible healed results. We especially recommend upselling Recovery Derm Shield, which is a client- and artist-favorite aftercare bandage around the globe. Derm Shield also has a black option, which is 100% opaque, protecting new, summertime tattoos from the sun.

When you upsell high-quality aftercare options, you reap two benefits:

  1. You won’t be sending money out the door, because clients won’t have to swing by CVS or Walgreens for aftercare supplies after their appointment.
  2. You’ll be giving every client a holistic experience and encouraging professional, trusted brands, which encourages clients to come back for another tattoo in the future.

Derm Shield is, of course, an excellent choice. But in the spirit of “different strokes for different folks,” you’ll find plenty of reputable lotions, balms, and ointments on our Web store as well. Stocking up on a wide variety ultimately gives your clients more choices, which makes them more likely to purchase from you rather than another source.


Tattooed man wearing merch

If a client is booking an appointment with you, you already know they’re a big fan of your work. So, offer them more than just a tattoo. Put your designs on T-shirts, hoodies, vinyl stickers, prints and more. Be sure your merch is on display in your lobby or at your workstation, so your client knows it’s there and up for sale. At the end of their appointment, the final fee may include so much more than just the tattoo and your client’s tip: if you upsell your aftercare and offer merch, you can make bank off one client alone.

Bear in mind that merch is also an excellent way to get your name out there. So, if you’re just starting out and growing your client list, you don’t necessarily need to sell your merch to benefit from it. Offer vinyl stickers for free, and make sure they include your Instagram or other social media handles. That way, new clients can find you and book appointments for the future. Summer is an opportune time to spread your name (and your merch) far and wide.



Bartender with tattoos

Being a good neighbor pays off. Becoming friends with local bartenders, wait staff, concierge, and other business owners only increases the likelihood of people sending clients your way. This is especially true if you work in a tourist town, where plenty of vacationers are in and out of restaurants, bars, hotels, and tourist attractions. If the staff at any of those places knows and likes you, they’ll likely be more than happy to direct their patronage right to your shop. (And we highly recommend jumping on this friendly neighbor business before a competitive tattoo shop in your area does the same).

So, how can you get to know your neighbors? Small, friendly gestures work… as well as some good old grass roots marketing. Show up to restaurants, bars, and hotels with some business cards, brochures, and other promo material along with a “thank you” and perhaps a cup of coffee for the manager, staff, or concierge. You can also offer local discounts to your neighbors if any of them are in the market for a tattoo. Small acts of kindness do wonders for your network and help your referral business flourish. Sometimes, these relationships take time to build up, but it’s never too late to start making friendly, local gestures if you haven’t already.



Open package with tattoo supplies


We’ve saved one of the most obvious money-saving tips for last: when it comes to stocking up, less isn’t more. Ordering your tattoo, medical, and aftercare supplies in bulk saves you money in the long run. How? Well, for one thing, your cost per unit reduces whenever you purchase tools or jewelry in bulk. For instance, a bag of ink caps priced at $10.49 per bag can reduce by nearly 20% (down to $8.49 per bag) when you order 50 of them.

So, while the final price tag of a bulk order might seem intimidating, you’re saving money overall because you’re not paying full price per individual product. Plus, you’ll be set on essentials for a while. This is especially important to bear in mind if you work at a shop where you have to bring your own supplies; or if you’re a shop owner who’s supplying your entire staff. Make sure no one is scrambling for ink caps, wipes, tongue depressors, or gloves when there’s a line out the door.


Use any of these tips above to increase your success, profits, and excitement this summer. In fact, you’ll probably increase your client list as well.

And don’t forget to stock up on tattoo essentials and aftercare as well if your supplies are low.

In the meantime, here’s to warmer weather, busier days, and maximized profits!

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