A Little Hobby That Can Earn Kids Some Pocket Money

This article is a guest post by mum-of-five Alison, who is actually a neighbour of ours! When Alison told us about this fantastic hobby her children do, we just had to get her to write a blog post for us on it, so we can share with all our readers! So over to you Alison…

Hi everyone, a few years ago, we wanted to create a special, personalised gift for my Husband’d birthday. The children (Alex and Amy) both wanted to make something, and I thought it was a good idea too! However, we were running out of time and ideas. After searching on eBay, we found a great idea, and you have probably seen them too – a personalised mug!

We ordered one, and it was quite simple – just place an order online through eBay, then email them the photo or design you wanted to print on it. There was a choice of many already done, but we chose a family photo of us all from Portugal a few years earlier. Tom (my Husband), has always loved that image as it is one of Alex an Amy burying him in the sand!

Anyway, a few days later it arrived, and looked fantastic. I was actually really surprised at the quality – it looked very glossy and the image was perfect. The children were then asking if we could do it ourselves next time an make many different patterns and images. I thought at the time it would cost too much to produce them, and only big printing companies with huge warehouses would be doing it. In fact, the only reason I looked was to prove to Alex and Amy it wasn’t possible! But surprisingly, I discovered the equipment was fairly cheap, easy to buy, and easy to use.

I thought it was worth the investment if only to have something fun to with the children over the summer, but also had a small business we could all do together from home too! Here’s what I got:

  • Sublimation printer with inks and sublimation paper (starter kit)
  • Mug Press
  • Heat proof tape
  • Mugs (duh!)
  • Mug packaging

mug press

You can shop around for the above, but I used a great website for everything but the mug packaging called http://www.lowcostheatpresses.co.uk which has a good offer on starter packs, but feel free to shop around otherwise.

I found the mug packaging on eBay, a store that sells a mug box in bulk orders for a decent price. Overall everything cost me about £450.

When it all arrived, we got set-up – the children were so excited, and I must admit I was too – we had kept it a surprise from the Tom too! It was simple to do – you set the printer up, which works just like any other printer, but uses a special type of ink and paper specifically for use in mug printing, and then decided on our first project. It was actually quite simple. The mug didn’t come out perfect, but it was still very good for a first attempt. I still remember Amy squealing with delight now! We chose an image of our pet cat, and printed it onto the sublimation printer. We then simply attached it to the mug with the heat tape, and put it in the mug press. A few minutes later and voilà! Our very own cat mug! Tom was absolutely amazed and the children love to show him the latest designs even now.

Since then, we have discovered each mug press has it’s own optimal setting which you only discover after tweaking and trial and error. We now produce perfect mugs every time, and the kids can even do it themselves, (I always keep an eye on them though due to the temperature it can get to when printing).

We now have our own eBay store, and most of our supplies come from bulk eBay stores too, so it is very easy to maintain, including our paper, packaging and inks for the printer. We have designed some of our own logo’s and images on the computer to sell alongside our personalised design service, which is very simple. They order, send us a good quality photo, and we stick it on a mug for them.

It is great fun, and seems though the mugs cost approximately £1.10 each, and we sell them for £8.50, we are making a good return. Tom was very impressed with us all for turning a fun hobby into a little business!

So I would recommend this to anyone – you can sell on eBay (there is enough room for everyone I still think), other websites such as Itsy, or even at local markets and events.

So why not give mug printing a go – especially if you have children. Its a great hobby even if you don’t turn it into a business, but I believe doing that can teach children a lot of valuable ideas too! This video shows just how easy it can be to operate them, and believe me, if I can do it, anyone can!!

Thanks for reading, Alison.