How to Start a Framing Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a framing business can be a great way to turn your passion for photography, art, and design into something profitable. There is always a high demand for high-quality framing services, since people want their valuable artwork, photos, and documents to be nicely and securely presented. Moreover, framing is a creative process that allows you to experiment with different materials, colors, and styles, making each piece of work unique and memorable. If you are thinking about starting a framing business, the good news is that it can be done with relatively little investment, but it does require some planning, research, and hard work.

First and foremost, you need to decide on your niche and target audience. Will you cater to high-end art collectors, or will you focus on family memories and sentimental keepsakes? What kind of framing techniques and materials will you offer, and how will you price your services? These and other questions will help you define your business model and marketing strategy. For example, you could set up a website or Etsy shop to showcase your portfolio and allow customers to order custom frames online, or you could partner with local galleries, photographers, and event planners to expand your reach. You could also offer additional services such as preservation, restoration, and delivery to create more value for your customers and stand out from the competition.

Lastly, you will need to invest in the right equipment and supplies to perform your framing services. This can range from basic framing tools like a mat cutter, saw, and hammer, to more advanced equipment like a vacuum press, heat gun, and computerized mat cutter. You should also do your research on the best framing materials and suppliers to ensure you are using high-quality products that will showcase your customers’ work in the best possible way. With these key steps in place, starting a framing business can be a fulfilling and profitable venture that combines your creativity with your entrepreneurial spirit.

Research the framing industry

Before starting a framing business, it is crucial to understand the framing industry in general. Framing businesses offer custom framing services to people who want to display their artwork or photographs, ensuring that the finished product looks great and is well protected. To understand the industry better, consider the following:

  • Study the competition: Look at other framing businesses in your area. Study their business model, marketing strategies, and overall service. Understand what they are offering and what sets them apart from their competition.
  • Attend trade shows: Trade shows are an excellent opportunity to meet other framing professionals and learn about new techniques and equipment. Attending a trade show can give you insights into the bigger industry picture.
  • Join industry associations: Industry associations provide networking, education, and marketing opportunities for businesses. Consider joining the Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) or the Fine Art Trade Guild (FATG) to connect with other framing professionals and learn more about the industry.

Write a Business Plan

Starting a framing business can be a complex process that requires careful planning and consideration. A business plan serves as a roadmap for your business, outlining the strategies and steps you need to take to ensure its success.

A well-written business plan should include the following sections:

  • Executive Summary: An overview of your business and the services you offer.
  • Market Analysis: An in-depth analysis of the industry you are entering and your target market.
  • Company Description: A detailed description of your framing business, including your mission statement, goals, and objectives.
  • Services and Products: An overview of your framing services and product offerings, including pricing and delivery methods.
  • Marketing and Sales: A detailed plan on how you plan to market and sell your products and services, including branding, advertising, and sales strategies.
  • Financial Projections: A detailed financial plan that includes projected revenue, expenses, and profits for the first few years of operation.

Your business plan should be well-researched and carefully written, as it will be used to attract potential investors and lenders. It should also be flexible enough to be adjusted as your business grows and evolves.

When writing your business plan, be sure to consider your competitors, industry trends, and the needs of your target market. You may also want to seek the advice of a professional business consultant to ensure your plan is comprehensive and accurate.

Key Components of a Business Plan
Executive Summary
Market Analysis
Company Description
Services and Products
Marketing and Sales
Financial Projections

By taking the time to develop a comprehensive business plan, you can set your framing business up for success and ensure that you are making the right decisions for your business’s future.

Decide on a Business Name

Choosing the right name for your framing business can be a bit overwhelming. You want a name that stands out and effectively communicates what your business is all about. Here are some tips to help you come up with a creative and catchy name for your framing business:

  • Consider your target audience: Think about the type of customers you want to attract and choose a name that will appeal to them. For example, if you want to target young adults, you may want to choose a name that is trendy and modern.
  • Make it memorable: A good business name should be easy to remember and easy to spell. Avoid using words that are difficult to pronounce or spell, as this can make it difficult for customers to find you online.
  • Stay away from generic names: Don’t choose a name that is too generic or common. You want to stand out from the competition, so choose a name that is unique and reflects your brand.

Once you have some ideas for your business name, it’s a good idea to do some research to make sure the name is not already taken by another business. Check with your state’s business registration office to ensure that the name is available. Finally, choose a name that you love and that you feel represents your business in the best way possible.

Pros Cons
Memorable and easy to remember May limit expansion possibilities if name is too specific to a certain product or location
Can reflect your brand and communicate what your business is all about Choosing a name that is too generic may make it difficult to stand out from the competition
Can help attract the right target audience Choosing a name that is difficult to pronounce or spell may make it difficult for customers to find you online

Overall, choosing a business name is an important step in starting your framing business. Ensure that the name you choose effectively reflects your brand, appeals to your target audience, and resonates with you as a business owner.

Register your framing business

Before starting your framing business, it is important to register it properly to make it legal.

  • Choose a business name: Choose a unique and catchy name for your framing business. Make sure it is not already taken by checking with your state’s business registration agency.
  • Register your business: Register your business with your state’s business registration agency. This will give your business a legal identity and protect your personal assets from any liabilities.
  • Get a tax ID: Apply for a tax ID number from the IRS for your framing business. This will help you file taxes and also open a business bank account.

Once you have registered your framing business, it is important to obtain the necessary licenses and permits as required by your state and local laws. These may include zoning permits, building permits, and a sales tax permit.

Tip: It is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer or an accountant when starting a business to ensure you comply with all legal requirements.

State Agency
California Secretary of State
Texas Texas Secretary of State
Florida Division of Corporations

Each state has its own business registration agency, and the above table provides the names of the agencies for three of the most populous states in the US.

Choose a location for your framing business

Choosing the right location for your framing business is crucial to its success. You want to choose a location that is easily accessible to your target market and has good visibility so that potential customers can easily find you. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a location:

  • Demographics: Consider the demographics of the area you are considering. Are there enough potential customers who are willing to pay for your framing services? For example, if you specialize in high-end custom framing, you may want to choose a location in an affluent area with a high concentration of art collectors.
  • Competition: Are there already a lot of framing businesses in the area? While a little competition can be healthy, too much can hurt your chances of success. Consider the number and quality of your competitors and try to choose a location where you can stand out.
  • Accessibility: Make sure your location is easily accessible by car, foot, or public transportation. If your business is hard to find or inconvenient to get to, customers may choose to go elsewhere.

It’s also important to consider the layout of the space you will be occupying. You want to choose a space that is the right size for your business and can accommodate your inventory, equipment, and staff. Here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Size: Make sure the space is the right size for your business. You want enough room to display your merchandise and to work on framing projects, but you don’t want to pay for space you don’t need.
  • Layout: Consider the layout of the space and how it will work for your business. Will your inventory be easily accessible? Will your workstations be in a convenient location? Will your customers have enough room to browse without feeling crowded?
  • Lease terms: Make sure you understand the lease terms before signing a lease. Consider the length of the lease, the rent amount and how it will be calculated, and any other fees or charges associated with renting the space.

Zoning and Permits

Before you sign a lease or purchase a property, make sure you understand the zoning laws and other regulations that apply to your business. You may need to obtain permits or licenses to operate your framing business, depending on the location and the type of work you will be doing. Contact your local zoning board or Small Business Administration office to find out what permits and licenses are required in your area.


Choosing the right location for your framing business can be a complex process, but by considering the factors outlined above, you can maximize your chances for success. Don’t rush into a decision, take the time to research and evaluate your options so that you can choose a location that will set your business up for long-term success.

Pros Cons
Good visibility Higher rent in prime locations
High concentration of potential customers More competition in popular areas
Easily accessible Parking and traffic congestion
New or up-and-coming area Less established foot traffic

Note: This table shows some of the pros and cons of different types of locations. Your specific situation may differ based on factors such as your niche, budget, and personal preferences.

Determine your startup costs

Starting a framing business requires a significant investment of both time and money. To ensure that you have a clear understanding of the financial commitment needed, it’s important to determine your startup costs before you launch your business. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Tools and equipment: You’ll need a range of tools and equipment to begin your framing business. This can include saws, mat cutters, framing guns, and other supplies. The cost of these tools and equipment can vary depending on the quality and quantity you need. Expect to spend at least $5,000 for basic items.
  • Inventory: You’ll need to purchase your initial inventory of moulding and matting materials to get started. The cost of inventory can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the variety and quality of the materials you choose.
  • Shop rental: You will need a dedicated space to operate your framing business. The cost of the shop rental will depend on the location, size, and amenities included. Expect to pay at least $1,200 per month for a small retail space.

In addition to the factors listed above, you’ll also need to consider the cost of marketing, insurance, and business licenses. Make sure to budget for these additional expenses to ensure that you have a full understanding of your startup costs.

Here’s a summary of the potential startup costs you could incur when starting a framing business:

Startup Cost Estimated Cost
Tools and equipment $5,000+
Inventory $5,000 – $50,000
Shop rental $1,200+
Marketing $500 – $2,000
Insurance $1,500 – $3,500
Business licenses $500 – $1,000
Total Estimated Costs $14,200 – $57,500+

While the startup costs of a framing business may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that it’s an investment in your future. By carefully planning and budgeting, you can set yourself on a path toward success.

Secure financing for your framing business

One of the biggest obstacles when starting a framing business is securing financing. Here are some tips to help you get the funding you need:

  • Define your business plan: Before you seek funding, establish a clear business plan that outlines your goals and objectives, projected revenues and expenses, and details about your target market and competitors. This will give potential lenders a better understanding of your business and its potential for success.
  • Consider your financing options: There are several options for financing your framing business, including traditional bank loans, crowdfunding, private investors, and grants. Each option has its pros and cons, so weigh them carefully before making a decision.
  • Prepare your documents: Lenders will require extensive financial documentation, including your business plan, tax returns, financial statements, and other relevant documents. Be sure to have everything organized and ready to go to speed up the process.

Here’s a breakdown of some popular financing options:

Option Pros Cons
Bank loans Lower interest rates, established reputation High requirements, longer approval process
Crowdfunding Quick funding, minimal paperwork Variable success rates, public exposure
Private investors Flexible terms, potential for mentorship and networking opportunities Higher interest rates, loss of ownership stake or control
Grants Free money, no repayment required High competition, stringent requirements

Remember, securing financing for your framing business requires patience, perseverance, and solid preparation. Keep these tips in mind as you navigate the funding process, and don’t be afraid to seek guidance from experts in your industry or local business organizations.

Purchase Necessary Equipment and Supplies

Starting a framing business can be an exciting venture with the potential for high profits. However, to ensure your success in the industry, it is important to have the necessary equipment and supplies in place before getting started. Here are some key components to consider:

  • Frame Joiner: This is one of the primary tools used in the framing process to join frame pieces together. It is important to select a high-quality and durable frame joiner that will provide long-term performance.
  • Mat Cutter: A mat cutter is used to cut mats to fit the artwork and frame. A high quality mat cutter will ensure a clean, professional look to the final product.
  • Glass Cutter: Depending on your client’s preference, you may need to cut glass to fit the frame. A glass cutter is necessary for this task.

It is also necessary to purchase the appropriate supplies for a framing business. These include:

  • Matboard: This is the material used to create the mat that surrounds the artwork in the frame. There are a variety of colors to choose from, and it is important to use acid-free matboard to protect the artwork from deterioration over time.
  • Backing Board: This is used to support the artwork and keep it in place within the frame. Like matboard, it is also important to choose acid-free materials.
  • Glue and Tape: Various types of adhesive are necessary for both matting and framing, including hinging tape and acid-free glue.

Finally, before making any purchases, it is important to research your options, compare prices, and choose the equipment and supplies that best fit the needs of your business and your clients. Consider factors such as product quality, cost, and durability in making your selections.

Equipment and Supplies Key Considerations
Frame Joiner High-quality, durable, reliable performance
Mat Cutter Sharp blade, ease of use, precise cuts
Glass Cutter Sharp blade, ease of use, precision cutting
Matboard Acid-free, color variety, quality
Backing Board Acid-free, thickness, stability
Glue and Tape Acid-free, quality, durability

With the appropriate equipment and supplies in place, you can ensure high-quality and professional services to your clients, establishing a reputation for excellence in the framing industry.

Develop a Pricing Strategy for Your Framing Services

One of the most important aspects of starting a framing business is developing a pricing strategy. You want to make sure that your prices are competitive yet still allow you to make a profit. Here are nine factors to consider when developing your pricing strategy:

  • Cost of materials: Calculate the cost of the materials you’ll be using, like the frames, glass, matting, and backing. Determine how much you’ll need for each frame, and then factor that into your pricing.
  • Overhead expenses: This includes rent, utilities, and labor costs. Make sure you add a percentage of your overhead expenses to each job to ensure you’re covering your costs.
  • Profit margin: Decide on the profit you want to make, and then determine the percentage you need to add to your prices to achieve that profit margin.
  • Market demand: Research what your competitors are charging for similar framing services. Aim to be competitive in your pricing without underselling yourself.
  • Experience and expertise: If you have extensive experience and skills in framing, you may be able to charge a premium for your services.
  • Location: The cost of living and market demand for framing services can vary depending on your location. Make sure you take this into account when setting your prices.
  • Variety of services: Consider offering different framing packages for different budgets. For example, you could offer a basic package and a premium package that includes more expensive materials and additional features.
  • Target audience: The customers you’re targeting may have different needs and budgets. Make sure you take this into account when developing your pricing strategy.
  • Value proposition: Emphasize the value you’re providing to customers, such as a high level of craftsmanship, a quick turnaround time, or a unique design aesthetic. Make sure your pricing reflects this value proposition.


Developing a pricing strategy for your framing business can be challenging, but taking these factors into account can help ensure that you’re pricing your services accurately and profitably. Don’t be afraid to adjust your prices as you gain experience and learn more about your customers’ needs and preferences.

Create a Marketing Plan for Your Framing Business

Marketing is an essential element of any successful framing business. A well-planned marketing strategy can help you attract more customers and increase your revenue. Here are some tips on how to create a marketing plan for your framing business:

  • Define Your Target Market: Who do you want to sell your framing services to? Identify your target market and create a marketing plan that caters to their needs and preferences.
  • Create a Brand Identity: Your brand identity is the image you want to project to your customers. Develop a brand that resonates with your target market and sets your framing business apart from the competition.
  • Develop a Website: Your website is your online presence and can be an effective tool for reaching potential customers. Make sure your website is user-friendly, visually appealing, and showcases your framing services.

Additionally, you can consider the following marketing strategies:

  • Social Media Marketing: Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can be an excellent way to promote your framing business and connect with potential customers.
  • Email Marketing: Create an email list of customers and potential customers and send out regular newsletters and promotions to keep them engaged with your framing business.
  • Networking: Attend industry events and networking opportunities to build relationships with potential customers and business partners.

Finally, track the success of your marketing plan by measuring your website traffic, sales, and customer feedback. Use this data to refine your marketing strategy and continue to grow your framing business.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Start a Framing Business

1. How much capital do I need to start a framing business?

To start a framing business, you’ll need to consider the cost of equipment, space rent, framing materials, marketing, and initial wages, if you intend to hire employees. Depending on your location and needs, start with a minimum of $20,000.

2. Do I need any special certification or training to start a framing business?

No special certification is required to start a framing business, but knowledge of artistic techniques, framing design, and business administration is a plus. Consider attending framing workshops and training programs to learn framing techniques and business management skills.

3. How do I find customers for my framing business?

Your best bet is to reach out to artists, photographers, galleries, museums, and visual arts centers in your area. Also, consider hosting framing workshops and exhibitions, creating social media pages, listing your business on local directories, and word-of-mouth advertising.

4. Where can I buy framing materials?

Framing materials are available at local art supply stores, online framing stores, and local wholesalers. Consider finding suppliers that offer high-quality materials at wholesale prices and those who can deliver the materials to your framing business.

5. What kind of space do I need for a framing business?

A framing business requires a dedicated workspace that is adequately ventilated, well-lit, and equipped with framing equipment, such as a cutter, mat cutter, and joiner. The size of the space depends on your business needs and the number of employees you intend to hire.

6. Do I need insurance for my framing business?

Yes, you need insurance for your framing business to protect against unforeseen risks, such as property and liability damages, workplace injuries, and losses due to theft or fire. Consult with your insurance provider to obtain the appropriate insurance coverage for your business.

7. How can I differentiate my framing business from competitors?

Innovation and creativity set your business apart from the competition. Consider offering special framing services, such as shadowboxes, conservation framing, digital printing, and customized matting. You can also create loyalty programs, offer discounts, and provide excellent customer service to build a loyal customer base.

Closing Paragraph

Starting a framing business can be a rewarding venture, but it requires careful planning, strategic marketing, and creativity. We hope our FAQs have provided valuable insights into starting a framing business. Remember to stay innovative, listen to customers, and strive to exceed their expectations. Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to check our website for new and exciting framing tips and blogs!