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Blog / Ecommerce platform guide / The Complete Guide to Etsy Dropshipping: What’s Allowed in 2024?

Ecommerce platform guide

The Complete Guide to Etsy Dropshipping: What’s Allowed in 2024?

The Complete Guide to Etsy Dropshipping: What’s Allowed in 2024?
Sandra Ķempele

By Sandra Ķempele

11 min read

Are you curious about Etsy dropshipping but don’t know where to start?

In this blog post, we’ll demystify the process of dropshipping on Etsy, explaining some of the main guidelines for sellers, and providing product selection tips.

By the end, you should have a clear picture of whether Etsy dropshipping is a good fit for you. Let’s dive in!

The rules of dropshipping on Etsy

If you’re planning to sell on Etsy, you should be aware that Etsy has published house rules for sellers that restrict some forms of dropshipping. 

Let’s look at some of the main rules you should consider before launching your own Etsy dropshipping business.

1. You’re only allowed to sell vintage, handmade, or craft supply items

All items in your store must belong to one of three specific categories: craft supplies, vintage, or handmade items. This rule is at the heart of Etsy’s identity as a marketplace that champions unique, artsy creations.

The “handmade” category also includes items that feature original, custom designs.

2. All items should be made and/or designed by the seller

The second rule for Etsy dropshipping is that every item you list must be made or designed by you as the seller. This rule underscores Etsy’s commitment to fostering a marketplace where creators can showcase their personal talents.

Dropshipping on Etsy isn’t about reselling mass-produced items from other suppliers; it’s about offering unique products that buyers can’t find anywhere else. People who shop on Etsy value the individuality of custom designs and look for a personal connection with Etsy sellers.

3. Disclose your relationship with production partners

One of the rules for Etsy sellers is having to disclose information about any production partner in product listings. This Etsy dropshipping rule is rooted in transparency and honesty so that buyers have a clear understanding of how the items are created and fulfilled. 

If you dropship products with third-party manufacturers or print-on-demand (POD) services like Printful, it’s important to provide this information in your Etsy listing descriptions.

4. Some reselling is strictly forbidden

Etsy outlines several specific prohibited reselling activities which include: 

  • Repackaging and rebranding commercial items (for example a gift basket consisting of non-handmade items) 

  • Offering a collection of others’ handmade goods you didn’t design or make

  • Selling items made or designed by another seller who is not part of your shop

  • Selling traditional handicrafts you didn’t design or make

  • Offering personalization as optional, or featured as a separate item, without altering the commercial item

Make sure to follow these rules when starting your Etsy dropshipping business.

The types of dropshipping on Etsy

Understanding the different types of Etsy dropshipping is key to finding your niche and thriving on this bustling marketplace. 

In this section, we’ll look at the various types of Etsy dropshipping, what’s allowed (POD), and what goes against the Etsy dropshipping rules (AliExpress, Amazon).

1. Dropshipping from AliExpress to Etsy (forbidden)

Etsy has a strict policy that all items must be either handmade, individually designed, or vintage. The items on AliExpress are primarily mass-produced, often coming from factory or manufacturing settings, which doesn’t align with Etsy’s emphasis on unique, handcrafted items.

As a result, sellers can’t use AliExpress as a dropshipping source to sell products on their Etsy storefront.

2. Dropshipping from Amazon to Etsy (forbidden)

Similar to AliExpress, sellers are not permitted to dropship from Amazon to Etsy. Amazon products predominantly fall into the mass-produced category, which goes against Etsy’s commitment to offering vintage or handmade items.

Read also: Amazon Dropshipping: The Ultimate Guide To Start and Scale Your Business

3. Dropshipping print-on-demand products (allowed)

In contrast to Amazon and Aliexpress, you’re allowed to dropship print-on-demand products on Etsy. Unlike the mass-produced goods typically found on other platforms, POD products can be tailored to each customer’s preferences. 

This opens up exciting avenues for individuals looking to start dropshipping on Etsy, all while adhering to the platform’s core principles. When using a POD provider like Printful, you can sell products like apparel, home decor, and accessories featuring your special designs or custom artwork.

Keep in mind that your Etsy listings should clearly state that your items are fulfilled with a POD provider. Plus, always make sure that your designs are unique, don’t break any copyright laws, and adhere to Etsy’s policies. 

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How to dropship print-on-demand products on Etsy

Think Etsy dropshipping is for you? Whether you’re an Etsy newbie or a seasoned seller, take a look at our step-by-step guide on how to make money on Etsy with dropshipping.

1. Sign up to Printful

First things first, you’ll need to create your free Printful account if you don’t have one already.

Go to the Printful homepage, click Sign up, and fill in your info.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be able to see the Printful dashboard. Here, you can follow all the onboarding steps and start selling with Printful.

a screenshot of a computer

Source: Printful

2. Connect your Etsy account to Printful

  1. To connect Etsy to Printful, make sure you have your Etsy seller’s account all set up. This includes adding your Etsy store preferences, billing information, and at least one listing.

  2. Then, add Printful as your production partner. In your Etsy dashboard, click on the Settings tab > Production partners and hit Add new production partner. Fill in all the information and click Save. Alternatively, you can add Printful as a production partner when adding a new listing.

a screenshot of a computer

Source: Etsy

  1. Next, you need to authorize the Printful Etsy application. Log into your Printful Dashboard, go to Stores, click on Choose platform, and select Etsy. You’ll be directed to a page where you have to click the Connect to Etsy button. Log in with your Etsy account, and grant permission to the Printful app.

a screenshot of a platform

Source: Printful

  1. Once you’ve allowed access, you’ll be redirected back to your Printful Dashboard. Click Connect store to synchronize your Etsy shop with Printful, allowing you to add products and fulfill orders seamlessly.

  2. Finally, configure shipping settings, pricing, and profit margins for your Etsy products within Printful.

Your Etsy store is now linked to your Printful account and you’re ready to start selling products!

3. Select products

Below, you’ll find a selection of trending products that are easy to design for and popular among different audiences on Etsy. If you’re still wondering what to sell on Etsy, we suggest you start with any of the following Etsy products ranging from apparel to home & living items.

Custom t-shirts

Selling custom t-shirts on Etsy gives you the creative freedom to design and showcase your artwork, illustrations, or messages. From fandom-related designs to text slogans, custom t-shirts can be tailored to suit niche audiences, making them highly appealing as dropshipping products.

Etsy provides a platform for niche markets, so it’s a good idea to cater to specific interests, hobbies, and communities. You can also update your designs to align with seasons, holidays, and emerging trends to keep your Etsy shop fresh and appealing to customers year-round. 

If you’re looking to sell premium items, custom t-shirts with embroidered designs often command higher prices than other garments. Plus, Etsy buyers are often willing to invest in unique, personalized items, which can result in healthy profit margins for Etsy merchants like yourself.

Custom hoodies

Custom hoodies are an excellent product to sell on your Etsy store. Hoodies are known for their comfort and warmth, making them particularly appealing during colder seasons. As the demand for hoodies goes up in the fall and winter months, they make for a great addition to a seasonal product lineup.

Sweatshirts and hoodies are also popular choices for activewear. If you’re targeting fitness enthusiasts, athletes, or sports fans, think about designing hoodies for workouts or showcasing sports-related designs.

Finally, hoodies lend themselves well to embroidery, allowing you to offer intricate, textured designs that may not be as feasible on other garments. Plus, embroidered hoodies are often perceived as premium and upscale apparel, which can lead to higher price points.


If you’re skilled at graphic design, selling posters on your Etsy store might be the perfect product fit for you. They can cater to a wide range of styles, from retro to minimalist.

Posters are generally more budget-friendly than many other art forms and home decor items. This makes them an attractive choice for gifts, especially for occasions like birthdays, weddings, or housewarming events.

Just like with apparel, you can customize posters to meet the personal preferences of individual buyers. For example, you could sell custom name prints, birth announcements, or maps of different cities, catering to Etsy’s audience looking for unique items.

Tote bags

Tote bags have everyday utility and versatility. They’re used for grocery shopping, carrying books, going to the beach, or as general-purpose bags. While some products like hoodies may have slight seasonal variations, tote bags are in demand year-round.

When it comes to design, the large surface area allows for eye-catching and detailed prints that can showcase your creativity. This makes tote bags an ideal medium for artistic expression. Plus, there are many ways you could offer custom tote bag designs with personalized names, quotes, or special messages.

Finally, tote bags are often seen as a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic bags. By offering custom-designed eco tote bags, you can cater to environmentally-conscious Etsy buyers.

4. Create your designs

Your designs have the power to engage, inspire, and ultimately drive sales for your dropshipping business. Whether you’re selling custom apparel, wall art items, or one of 300+ other Printful products, coming up with unique designs is essential to your success.

From audience research to print quality, here’s what you should keep in mind when crafting your designs.

Know your audience

Identifying your niche and target audience is the foundational step in the design process. It will help you steer your creative direction and craft designs that resonate with your customers.

Start by researching current market trends and identifying niches that are thriving on Etsy. Look for areas where demand is strong, but competition isn’t oversaturated. Keyword research tools, social media platforms, and Etsy itself can provide valuable insights into trending items.

Consider your interests and expertise. Designing for a niche that aligns with your passions can be incredibly motivating. If you’re passionate about a particular hobby, interest, or cause, it’s often easier to connect with like-minded customers.

Use keyword research tools to explore popular search terms related to your niche. This can help you discover what potential customers are searching for on Etsy and align your designs with their interests.

Brainstorm ideas

Brainstorming is a creative process that involves generating a wide range of ideas and visual elements that can help you shape your custom product designs.

One way you can approach this is by creating mood boards that visually represent the aesthetic and feel you want to convey with your designs. Collect images, color swatches, and typography samples that align with your chosen niche. Mood boards can be a great source of inspiration during the design process.

Another thing you could try is to refer back to your target audience. Think about their tastes, preferences, and lifestyle. What kind of design ideas would resonate with them? This will help you settle on some concepts that are more likely to sell well within your chosen niche.

Start designing

To start with, find a design tool you’d like to use. There are many free options like Canva or Printful’s own Design Maker. For extra features, you could go for paid tools that are well established in the design community like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.

When designing, seek ways to make your products stand out. This might mean incorporating personal stories, cultural references, or uncommon design elements.

If you plan to create a brand identity, try to maintain visual consistency. Use similar colors, fonts, and visual styles across your products to build a recognizable brand presence on Etsy.

Refine your designs

Once you’ve created your initial designs, take the time to test and refine them. Seek feedback from friends, family, or potential customers to gain valuable insights and make necessary adjustments.

Finally, note the print quality requirements of your chosen POD partner. Make sure that your designs are high-resolution and optimized for printing on various products, maintaining clarity and color vibrancy.

5. Publish listings

Publishing your listings on Etsy is an important final step before selling products and fully launching your dropshipping business. 

First, you’ll need to add product details to your Etsy listing. Start by uploading high-quality images of your product. Customers often rely on visuals when making purchasing decisions, so make sure your images are clear and engaging. Then, write a compelling product title and description that includes relevant keywords and product information.

If you offer customization options for your items (e.g., personalized text, color choices), clearly outline these in your product description. Specify how customers can provide customization details during the ordering process.

Choose relevant tags and categories that best describe your product. These help potential customers find your listings through Etsy’s search algorithm.

Once you’ve filled in all the necessary details, click the Publish button to make your listing live on Etsy. Your product is now available for customers to view and purchase.

It’s a good idea to occasionally revisit your listings to optimize them for search engine optimization (SEO). Update product titles, descriptions, and tags to align with trending keywords and customer search queries.

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Ready to launch your dropshipping business?

Even though starting a dropshipping business on Etsy comes with its challenges, it can also be a rewarding journey.

Once you’ve joined forces with a POD provider, you have the freedom to focus on what you do best—creating exceptional designs—while leaving the production and shipping to a reliable partner like Printful. This means minimal upfront costs and no inventory management hassles. 

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So, are you ready to take the plunge and try Etsy dropshipping? Armed with the knowledge shared in this guide, we hope you have a solid foundation to launch and grow your Etsy dropshipping business. Good luck!


By Sandra Ķempele on Dec 1, 2023

Sandra Ķempele

Guest author

Sandra is a freelance writer and educator with a background in art and communication. She holds an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, and in her free time enjoys reading, museum visits, and outdoor adventures.

Sandra is a freelance writer and educator with a background in art and communication. She holds an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, and in her free time enjoys reading, museum visits, and outdoor adventures.