The adult coloring book industry has exploded in recent years. In 2015, the Washington Post reports, an estimated 12 million coloring books were sold. For comparison, an estimated 1 million was sold in 2014.
An adult coloring book company helps provide grown-ups with a creative outlet by both designing and marketing coloring books. These coloring books are usually highly detailed.
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Learn how to start your own Adult Coloring Book Company and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start an adult coloring book company by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Adult Coloring Book Company
- Form your Adult Coloring Book Company into a Legal Entity
- Register your Adult Coloring Book Company for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Adult Coloring Book Company
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Adult Coloring Book Company
- Get Adult Coloring Book Company Insurance
- Define your Adult Coloring Book Company Brand
- Create your Adult Coloring Book Company Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your adult coloring book company. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening an adult coloring book company?
The startup costs for an adult coloring book company are extremely low. For someone who already has a computer and software, there may be no additional investment.
Business owners who have money to invest may want to obtain a copy of Adobe Illustrator, which is a powerful vector drawing program, for designing pages and use a third-party publisher. Adobe Illustrator CS6 has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $599. (There are other programs, such as Corel Draw x6 that have capabilities and prices similar to Adobe Illustrator’s.)
A publisher might charge $150 for an initial proof, and then a few hundred to a few thousand for an initial print run. The cost will depend on the size and quality of the books, and the quantity ordered. Business owners who want to start a coloring book company without any significant financial investment have a couple less expensive programs to choose from. Inkscape and Scribus both have free vector drawing programs. Self-publishing isn’t free, but it costs less than hiring a third-party publisher. Additionally, business owners can print on demand, printing copies as they’re ordered.
What are the ongoing expenses for an adult coloring book company?
The ongoing expenses of a coloring book company include publishing fees and shipping costs. These are both usually covered by the revenue generated through sales.
Who is the target market?
A coloring book company’s ideal customer is someone who is creative, and either has free time or needs to pass time (such as at a doctor’s office or airport). A coloring book provides a creative outlet, but it takes time to color.
How does an adult coloring book company make money?
An adult coloring book company makes money by selling coloring books. Books can be sold either directly to customers (retail), or to stores and distributors (wholesale).
How much can you charge customers?
Adult coloring books usually sell for less than $20. Jenean Morrison prices her books at $12 and $7.
How much profit can an adult coloring book company make?
With the recent explosion in the adult coloring book industry, there is excellent growth potential. Morrison has made over $500,00 since 2012 selling books, including $329,000 in 2015.
How can you make your business more profitable?
An adult coloring book company may be able to add a line of children’s coloring books to increase profits. The business model for a children’s coloring book line would be nearly identical to that of an adult line.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Adult Coloring Book Company Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your adult coloring book company is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an adult coloring book business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market an adult coloring book company
An adult coloring book company can reach a broad audience online. Marketing on social media and blogs can help a company reach likely customers.
Many coloring book companies are also able to effectively market themselves in their local area, by selling through independent bookstores and other retailers.
How to keep customers coming back
Finding a specific niche can help an adult coloring book company stand out from other companies. For example, a company might focus on a specific hobby (e.g. drinking tea), area (e.g. New York City) or type of picture (e.g. action shots).
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2022 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start a Adult Coloring Book Company in your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Is this Business Right For You?
People who are highly creative and have a knack for artistic expression may enjoy, and be good at running, an adult coloring book company. Business owners often design coloring books themselves, at least until their business is well established, and creating a coloring book requires a considerable amount of artistic skill.
A coloring book company doesn’t require a business owner to keep specific hours, so it’s possible to start a company while working at a traditional job.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at an adult coloring book company?
The day-to-day activities of running an adult coloring book company include creating coloring pages using drafting programs or other means, taking and fulfilling orders (including both retail and wholesale orders) and marketing coloring books. Business owners must also either self-publish or order runs of coloring books, and design coloring books. These latter activities take a lot of time, but they can be done almost any time of the day (or night).
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful adult coloring book company?
In order to successfully start up and grow an adult coloring book company, a business owner needs a knowledge of vectors and must be able to navigate the coloring book publishing industry.
Most coloring book designs are made with vectors, which is why business owners should know how to use them. Vectips has a good tutorial on using vectors to create coloring books.
When it comes to publishing, coloring book companies can either self-publish or use a third-party publisher. The Creative Penn has a podcast on self-publishing a coloring book.
For business owners who want to use a third-party publisher, successful adult coloring book entrepreneur Morgan Carson recommends hiring a printing agent. The coloring book publishing industry is complex and uses industry jargon, she explains. Because startups usually order small runs, it’s not worth a publisher’s time to explain the process in great detail. A print agent will increase the cost of each book, but they’ll help ensure the books come out well.
What is the growth potential for an adult coloring book company?
Even a small adult coloring book company can reach customers throughout the country and world, thanks to online retailers.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
How and when to build a team
Most adult coloring book companies are run as one-person operations. Very large companies may have multiple designers and salespeople, but this is not common.