Here’s how I built my local balloon business from the ground up, and how you can, too! I have a balloon tattooed on my right wrist because I’m passionate about what balloons did for me. Those tiny, latex air prisons changed my darned life. My family, quality of life, financials and debt-to-income will never be the same because of the lessons learned and money earned hustling with some ‘loons.
I’ll never forget the confusion in my family’s voices when I told them what I was doing. “You’re making balloons for people… for money?”
Step 1: make the brand basics
Everyone overthinks this part. I actually asked my BFF if I could tag-along with what she was doing in south Texas because I felt like her market was similar and I’m extremely unoriginal. The way I see it, paralysis analysis is real and at the end of the day your logo & colors are nowhere near as important as the service you provide. It’s taken me 6 years of self employment to confidently state things like that.
Learn from my mistakes over the years, and just design something on Canva quickly. You can always rebrand later with a real designer once you know that it’s a worthwhile thing to do.
Step 2: setup socials
For my balloon business I went all out with all of the socials. In reality, I probably could have survived without a real website, an instagram, much of anything other than Facebook (that’s how my small town operates though; every community is different). I basically always had more work than I could really handle but it was the marketer in me to setup as much as I could.
Step 3: host giveaways for social traction
If you’re setting up a balloon business while still realllllly learning how to make balloon garlands you’re going to want to get a bit of free training that can simultaneously work as marketing. Also, hanging party decor can be frustrating so knowing what you’re doing there is important.
The coolest thing about a balloon business is that you’re really not working hard to get marketing content once you start taking clients. I recommend spending about a month in the giveaway and training process with close friends and family. If you’re really smart, you could even practice with friends and family before launching your business. Then you just use a like, share, follow post for a freebie every few weeks or so.
Step 4: get a CRM (customer relations manager)
By far, the hardest part about a balloon business is organizing your client’s details & YOUR calendar. The supplies & training will work themselves out naturally. Keeping life organized, on the other hand, takes a lot of work. I highly recommend Honeybook.
In Honeybook, I set up a form for clients to tell me exactly what they wanted and when. From there, invoices were automated through that same platform. Customers paid a 50% deposit to confirm their details and the remaining 50% payment was processed 48 hours before their install or pickup.
Step 5: build out your processes and pricing
- Determine your market’s rate for balloon garlands. I started at $10 per foot for a pickup garland (no install, client picks up their balloons from my location) and went to upwards of $16 per foot for larger installs. In bigger metropolitan areas you’ll find that garlands are starting at upwards of $30 per foot, and my pricing is pre-inflation.. so be sure to do your research!
- Determine where you’re willing to drive to and service. Make that boundary clear. My BFF in Texas still goes across the nation for balloon installs on a whim. I think it’s really cool, and I’m thrilled that she gets to do that. For a local business, you want to have better boundaries than that. It’s my experience that anyone who can’t find a vendor in their nearby area… probably isn’t someone you want to work with.
- Create an installation fee based on mileage.
- Make flat-rate pricing for specials when you can!
- Create a client-feedback-loop!
- Confirmation that you’ve received an inquiry message
- Response with a link to pay your invoice
- Reminder 48 hours before the event that shares what you need from your client for installation or pickup purposes
- Follow up 24 hours after the event requesting a review
- Follow up 11 months after the event for all anniversary and birthday celebrations!
Step 6: market to the area you’re servicing
In my experience it takes about 30-60 days of marketing to turn your service into a full time income. For some businesses it takes more time, and others it takes a bit less. The beauty of balloons is that they’re so visual it’s a really easy product to market. They’re also a complete & utter pain in the booty to deal with on the day of an event- so I always recommend reaching out to a balloon artist when possible as opposed to DIY’ing your own garlands!
Step 7: optimize, scale, repeat!
Once you have a reliable client base, you’ll want to optimize your processes where you can. Read: learn from your mistakes, create better seasonal specials, etc.
I found myself making policies around install expectations, delivery terms, pickup times, etc.
Both myself and my BFF in Texas ended up creating event venues as well to host parties on our terms. It was a ton of fun and a pretty great success all things considered!
At the end of the day, balloon garlands are an excellent service to build a full time income from home. There are lots of ways to amplify your business and market without paid digital ads using:
- affiliate income via party decor chains
- community partnerships
- local business arrangements
- charitable organizations
- schools & community events