With a growing acceptance of body art, tattoo shops are popping up all over the country.

More business owners and tattoo enthusiasts are interested in opening up their own business. Not only because they are passionate about tattoos, but also because these shops can be highly profitable.

Still, how can you start your own tattoo shop? To be successful when opening a new parlor, we advise you taking the next steps:

  1. Do extensive research on tattoo parlors
  2. Investigate local laws and get a license.
  3. Find the right equipment & supplies.
  4. Invest in Management Tools.
  5. Scout out locations.
  6. Target Your Customer Base
  7. Create a Marketing Plan (and follow it!).
  8. Make sure you have a strong online presence.
  9. Plan the shop’s layout
  10. Hire the right employees

There are many ways you can start your shop. But, business begins with research. You want to understand the tattoo industry before you dive headfirst into it. You also need the proper supplies, employees, and location to create a successful shop. 

In this post, we’ll be expanding more on this topic. We will explore this question step by step, and help you how to start your own tattoo shop with a business approach.

How to Open a Tattoo Shop: Step by Step Guide

1. Do Extensive Research on Tattoo Parlors 

Again, you want to start by researching tattooing and tattoo shops. This information is vital to your success and will help you plan for your business. If you do not know much about tattoo parlors to begin with, you will need to spend more time researching.  

However, if you are familiar with tattoo shops, and have wanted to open up a shop for a while, target your investigation. Begin looking at how tattoo shops market themselves, what tools are used, and how you can increase your profits.  

Having this knowledge will help you create realistic goals for yourself.

Tattoo shops are not just about creating good art on the skin. You have to run a shop that is profitable, this way you stay in business.

Therefore, it is vital not to skip out on research or planning.

2. Plan to Get a License and Investigate Local Laws 

Tattoo shops require more than a steady hand and killer drawing skills.

To open up your own shop, you need to become licensed as a tattoo artist. Plan to get your license as soon as you can. You cannot open your shop up without this. 

Not all states have the same regulations in regards of getting a license -in some states is required a 3-year apprentice period-.

Because of the different regulations, it is important to look into the local laws regarding tattoo shops. This way you are fully prepared to open your shop without legal issues. You will also need to acquire a business license to open up. So look into this, as well.  

3. Find The Right Tools 

A good tattoo shop will have the right equipment and tools. Without the proper tattooing tools, your shop will suffer in the long term, as quality tattoos come from reliable equipment. 

The cost for high-quality tattooing machines and supplies will be steep. In fact, some estimates put the cost at up to twenty-five thousand dollars. Regardless of the price, this is an investment you need to take seriously as a tattoo shop owner, as it will impact your shop’s budget. 

In addition, if your tattoo machines break down all the time you will lose customers and incur extra costs. Really, just make sure your shop is fully stocked and ready for business on opening day and beyond.

4. Invest in Management Tools

5. Scout Out Locations 

Location is another crucial component to consider, especially when you are starting a tattoo shop. With any type of business, you want to find an ideal place to set up shop. This way you can increase revenue and bring in more clients.

But, how exactly do you choose the best location? 

Research is crucial for this step. I suggest scouting out a few locations, around your area that you like. You can never have too many options really. Also, tattoo shops might not be allowed in certain parts of your town or city. This has to do with city ordinances and laws. So, you definitely want to look up this information beforehand. 

And remember, a good location will put you in a busy area. You want plenty of people to pass by your tattoo shop. The more visible your tattoo parlor is, the more chances you will have to grow your business. 

6.Target Your Customer Base 

First, consider the location you live in. Are there a lot of tattoo shops open and running in your town or city? If there are, you will have to compete for customers.

Next thing to consider is demand. 

Generally speaking, tattoos are more popular in people under the age of sixty.

If you live in an area with an older population, you might want to reconsider your decision, or take a different approach. 

7. Craft a Marketing Plan and Execute it Well 

Marketing is a must for any type of shop.

Once you know that your parlor has a location, and can be opened without legal issues, start planning your strategy. Find your target audience and figure out what they want.

Tailor your services to the customer’s potential demands. Then market your services effectively in this direction. 

For instance, if you live in a busy college town, consider adding body piercing services to your shop. Advertise your services through social media, and signs placed directly on your property. Younger people are more likely to get modifications to their bodies.

8. Create an Online Presence For Your Tattoo Shop 

Social media and SEO are extremely important for your tattoo shop. Therefore, you must craft an engaging and unique online presence to gain more customers.

The better your social media pages look, and the higher you rank in search engines, the more customers you will gain. 

Make an account for your shop as soon as you can. And ask for help if you are not familiar with social media. You will also need to make your own site, as well. On your website, you can put up previous work and display your portfolio.  

Tattooing is a visual medium. A website, as well as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook pages will help promote your shop in the best possible way.

9. Plan The Layout of Your Tattoo Shop 

You want to focus on creating amazing tattoo pieces for your clients. At the same time, though, you do not want your shop to look shabby or cheap.

The look of your shop reflects your level of professionalism and skills as a business owner.  

So, furnish your shop well. This will help promote your shop and improve your reputation. You don’t even need the most expensive pieces of furniture to make an impression. However, a nice comfortable environment is more likely to entice future clients.

10. Hire The Right Employees 

Finally, you need to hire the best staff to make your business work. Starting a tattoo shop is not a one-man job. You need artists and other employees to help keep your parlor running. It’s important to have qualified and talented tattoo artists working under you.  

Good artists, that clients enjoy interacting with, will lead to more bookings and profits.

So, choose your staff wisely. And make sure your employees can work well with others.  

It’s possible for a single employee to bring down the effectiveness of your operation. Especially if they don’t know how to treat clients or co-workers well. Be thorough during the interviewing process. Also, figure out what criteria you are looking for in your staff. 

How Much Does it Cost to Open a Tattoo Shop? 

You’ve probably realized this by now, but tattoo shops are just like any other business, and it comes with some costs. In the end, the cost of opening up a shop can range anywhere from 25,000 dollars all the way up to 50,000 dollars. This cost is highly variable, though. If you want to open up a shop in a swanky area the costs can rack up even more.  

As a business owner, you might have to take out a loan or save up money to start your shop. The supplies for tattooing alone can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. You also have to consider the cost of renting out a building, electricity, and employee salaries.  

So, you really want to consider the full price of your investment before you begin your tattoo business.

How Profitable is a Tattoo Shop? 

Tattoo shops can be highly profitable for business owners. This is because interest in body art and body modifications is growing worldwide. Really, there has never been a better time to open up your own tattoo shop. 

Still, you want to take some caution when you begin your business. You can make a lot of money from owning a tattoo shop. But it is easy to lose profits, as well.

Owning a Tattoo Shop But Not Tattooing 

Not all tattoo shop owners know how to tattoo, but the majority of them do. Maybe you have an eye for great artists and know how to market well. If this is the case, you could start a tattoo shop. Just know that it might be an uphill battle. 

If you are really passionate about opening up a shop, and love tattoos, there are several examples of successful tattoo shops owned by not-tattoo artists.

Even if you can’t tattoo, you can try and hire people who really know what they are doing.

However, most tattoo shop owners either have tattoos or know how to tattoo other people. If you have neither of these qualities it will be hard to gain credibility in the tattoo industry. There is no guarantee that other artists will work with you just because you have a good business plan. Tattooing is still a niche industry. And it can be hard to break into it if you don’t know how to ink others. At the end of the day, tattoo artists are most knowledgeable about their craft.  


Tattoo shops can be challenging to open up, but exciting as well. If you are enthusiastic about tattooing, it can be even more exciting to start your own business in this field. Still, there are many things to keep in mind as you start tattooing in your own shop.  

We went over all the necessary steps you need to take to open your tattoo shop up: the cost, time, and legal requirements were discussed in detail. You especially want to plan for the costs and the set up of your shop.  

Because they are not cheap to open up, it’s important to get the information right before taking the step. This way, you can allocate your resources in the most effective way. So, consider each step carefully for the best financial and personal outcomes.