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How to Start Selling Print on Demand Products on Etsy

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If you’re interested in starting Print on Demand e-commerce business, selling custom products through print on demand (POD) on Etsy might just be the ticket. Whether you’re a pro artist or a budding entrepreneur, this method could be a game-changer for you, especially with Etsy with over 90 million active buyers last year – that’s like tapping into the combined populations of California and Texas.

Understanding Print on Demand (POD) on Etsy

So, what is print on demand, and why is it so popular on Etsy? Print on demand is a process where you work with a supplier to customize white-label products (like t-shirts, mugs, and tote bags) with your own designs as orders come in. This means you don’t have to pay for the product until after you’ve sold it. Pretty neat, right? Plus, you won’t need to hold any inventory or deal with bulk orders upfront. This reduces risk and makes it easier to start up without hefty investments.

Print on demand (POD) on Etsy brings several enticing benefits, especially if you’re just dipping your toes into e-commerce. One of the biggest perks is that there’s no need for inventory. You won’t have to stress about finding space for loads of products or worry about what happens if they don’t sell. It’s low risk too; you only pay for a product after you’ve sold it, which really keeps your initial costs down. Plus, it’s incredibly flexible, you can experiment with different designs and products without hefty financial risks. And as your business starts to grow, you’ll find it’s pretty easy to scale up your operations smoothly and effectively. This model gives you the room to grow at your own pace, which can be a real game changer for newcomers to the online selling scene.

Is Print-on-Demand Profitable on Etsy?

Absolutely! With over 90 million active buyers last year, Etsy is bustling and diverse – ripe for selling unique and customized products. While POD isn’t a guarantee of instant wealth, the low startup costs and ongoing scalability make it a viable way to build a steady income stream. One of the most inspiring print-on-demand success stories on Etsy comes from Cassiy Johnson. Originally from Howell, Michigan, Cassiy didn’t start out planning to conquer Etsy. She first dabbled in making and selling concrete candles and coffee mugs decorated with nail polish. However, these products proved to be too time-consuming to make and too heavy to ship efficiently. It was clear she needed a lighter, more scalable option.

In April 2020, amidst the uncertainties brought by a global slowdown, Cassiy was furloughed from her day job as a daycare salesperson, where she earned an annual salary of $70,000. With more time on her hands and less income, she decided to pivot her business strategy. That’s when she began designing T-shirts. This move to a print-on-demand model was pivotal. She launched her Etsy shop the following month, and by fall, she was amazed by the results—her new venture brought in $30,000 in revenue in just two months!

What’s truly remarkable about Cassiy’s story is the efficiency with which she managed her Etsy shop. She spent less than 30 minutes per day running it entirely from her phone. This minimal daily commitment allowed her to focus on her new sales job, which paid $17 per hour. Despite the modest hourly wage, her Etsy store’s success quickly overshadowed her day job. By the following year, Cassiy’s earnings from Etsy skyrocketed to $90,000, compelling her to run her online store full-time.

Cassiy’s Etsy store has since amassed more than $766,400 in lifetime revenue, as noted by CNBC Make It. About a third of this impressive total is pure profit. In her best month, she generated $100,900 in revenue and was able to keep $26,100 of it. These numbers aren’t just digits; they represent a life-changing venture for Cassiy, proving that with the right approach, print on demand can indeed be a lucrative business model on platforms like Etsy.

Cassiy’s journey from a furloughed employee to a successful entrepreneur underscores the potential of print on demand as a business strategy. It’s a vivid reminder that even in challenging times, creativity paired with strategic thinking can lead to astonishing success. Her story is not just inspiring but also serves as a practical blueprint for anyone looking to make a significant impact with their online business.

Top Print-on-Demand Companies for Etsy Sellers

Choosing the right POD service is crucial. Each company has its strengths, and selecting one that aligns with your needs can make a big difference. Here’s a rundown of some top choices:

  • Printful: Known for high-quality products. If you’re all about creating premium goods, Printful might be your go-to.
  • Printify: Great for those who run multiple shops and need efficient integration.
  • Gelato: Ideal if you’re aiming to reach customers around the globe.
  • Gooten: Focuses on automated order fulfillment, which can really simplify things for you.
  • Art of Where: Perfect for custom-made products that stand out.

Each of these companies offers unique benefits, so check them out and see which one fits your business model the best.

Getting Started with POD on Etsy

Setting up your POD shop on Etsy is straightforward. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Create Your Etsy Seller Account: If you haven’t already, sign up as a seller on Etsy and set up your shop.
  2. Select a POD Company: Choose a print-on-demand provider from the ones listed above. Connect their service to your Etsy shop.
  3. Create Your Designs: This is where your creativity shines. Design your graphics for the products you want to sell. Make sure they are high quality and resonate with your target audience.
  4. Set Up Products: Upload your designs to the POD site, choose which products you want to sell them on, and sync these listings back to your Etsy shop.
  5. Market Your Shop: Use Etsy’s marketing tools to promote your products. Social media, SEO, and Etsy ads can be quite effective in driving traffic to your listings.

Strategies for Success

While setting up is one thing, succeeding is another. Here are some strategies to help you thrive:

  • Be Original: In a marketplace as vast as Etsy, originality sells. Ensure your designs are fresh and appealing.
  • Price Smartly: Find the right balance between being competitive and making a profit. Don’t undersell yourself.
  • SEO is Crucial: Optimize your listings with keywords that potential buyers might use to find products like yours.
  • Engage with Your Customers: Excellent customer service goes a long way. Be responsive and helpful, and your customers will likely return.

Common Challenges

It’s important to understand that while print on demand can be lucrative, it isn’t a shortcut to overnight success. Market saturation is often cited as a barrier, but the truth is, with unique designs and a clear brand, you can stand out. Always aim to offer something unique that can’t easily be found elsewhere. Here’s how to stay ahead:

  • Stand out by offering designs that can’t be found elsewhere.
  • Make sure that every product shipped is of great quality so it increases customer satisfaction & encourages  repeat business.
  • Keep an eye on what’s working and what isn’t. Use Etsy’s analytics tools to track your performance and use data to make decisions.

Wrapping Up

Starting a print-on-demand business on Etsy can be an exciting venture. It’s a platform that not only allows you to flex your creative muscles but also offers a practical, low-risk way to sell your art. Remember, success comes to those who are patient, persistent, and willing to learn from each step they take. So why not give it a go? Maybe it’s time to turn your passion into a thriving online business!

And there you have it! I hope this guide helps you get started on your print-on-demand journey on Etsy. If you need more detailed guidance or inspiration, don’t forget to check out the resources provided above. Good luck, and here’s to your success!


  • Malik Bilal

    Malik Bilal is an e-commerce professional with several years of business experience. He is also a co-founder Austin-based company Tekzo Tech, offering marketing services to Etsy sellers.

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About Tekzo Tech

Tekzo Tech, founded by Malik Bilal, is an Austin, Texas-based Etsy Marketing Services Agency that provides Etsy services including SEO, shop and order management, and product sourcing. With a team of e-commerce professionals, Tekzo Tech serves to Etsy sellers seeking to launch new stores or strengthen the performance of their existing stores.

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