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How to Start and Run a Successful Tattoo Business [2010-12-31]

Being a great or skilled tattoo artist doesn’t necessarily translate into being a successful tattoo artist. Tattoo shops open and close like restaurants, and rarely for a lack of talent. Rest assured, there are things that can be done to give those who are just starting out a better shot at running a successful tattoo business.

One of the most important things an artist can do when he or she wishes to open a new tattoo shop (or parlor) is find the most suitable location. Like any new business, until you have a steady clientele through word of mouth and other social networks, you may be dependent on walk-ins. It’s important to give yourself the best chance to succeed by renting or purchasing space where your business can get exposure.

Location, however, isn’t everything. You also want to find a place that will suit your needs. The place should either be relatively clean or capable of being cleaned. It should have enough room to showcase your art and the art of others. It should have ample space for tables, equipment and glass cases for body piercing jewelry if you will also offer body piercing as a service.

Remember, in an art based business, appearances are everything. All too often, shop owners will put a crappy sign out front, keep an unorganized mess inside and show a complete lack of professionalism. Getting a tattoo is a serious decision, especially for first timers. If you don’t care enough about your business to advertise it, clean it, organize it and take care of it, why would a potential new customer let you permanently mark their body?

Another novice mistake that many artists make is being under prepared. Not having a wide selection of tattoo needles, tattoo inks and a replacement tattoo gun or two at your disposal is a quick way lose business. You never know who will come through the door and what they might want, so be prepared for anything.

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And finally, there’s the issue of atmosphere. If you display professionalism, most of your clients are going to feel safer doing business with you. Unfortunately, being professional in the tattoo business means you may have to set some hard and fast rules for friends and associates. Many tattoo shops in highly populated areas look like inner city barber shops, with one or two people working and 42 other people watching. Want to limit your clientele in a hurry and reduce your chances for success? Then just let your friends, their friends and whoever else shows up hang around all day. New customers will think you are busy and not approach. Those who do will be turned off by the fact that they can’t talk to the artist in privacy, without an audience. If clients come in with more than one other person, simply tell them they must wait at the front of the shop or outside if you don’t have room.