Blog / Ecommerce platform guide / How to Sell Print-on-Demand Products on Etsy
Note: The term ‘Etsy’ and other Etsy graphics are trademarks of Etsy, Inc. This article is not endorsed by Etsy.
Welcome to Etsy—the crafter’s paradise! This marketplace connects artists and creative entrepreneurs with customers around the world. It’s a great place for consumers looking for unique products that aren’t available in big-name retail stores.
Etsy has skyrocketed since it was founded in 2005, and it continues to grow. Statista reports that the number of active buyers on Etsy more than doubled just in two years—from 46.35 million in 2019 to a whopping 96.3 million in 2021.
Etsy positions itself as a unique marketplace where people can buy items they might not be able to find anywhere else—everything sold on Etsy must be handmade, vintage, or a craft supply.
This, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t sell print-on-demand (POD) products there. As long as you create the designs for your products yourself, you can safely use partners like Printful to fulfill your orders.
We’ve already shared a detailed beginner’s guide on how to make money on Etsy, but with this blog post, we want to focus on the basics of how to connect Printful to Etsy and sell print-on-demand dropshipping products on this popular marketplace.
Keep on reading to find tips on:
Let’s get started!
Before we dive into the tips and tricks on how to sell on Etsy, there’s an important question you have to answer—is Etsy the right marketplace for my business?
Selling on Etsy gives you access to a promising audience of people looking for unique, custom products. However, you need to consider whether the effort and investment you put in will pay off.
Here are the possible risks you’ll face if you decide to create your Etsy store. Weight them out carefully before you start.
Would your products stand out on Etsy? Competition is stiff—there are a ton of other sellers that could offer similar items as you.
If your designs stand out and differ from what’s already there, great! If not, think about what makes you different. What’s your value proposition and why should customers choose you over the competition?
Psst! If you’re running low on design ideas, check out our three-step guide to creating eye-catching designs that sell.
Also, look at the average price of products that are similar to yours. How much do they sell for? Can your prices compete? Check out Etsy’s guide to pricing strategy for tips on how to price your products.
Tip: You can sometimes get away with selling at a higher price point on Etsy as customers are willing to pay more for a unique item.
Understanding your target audience and defining a profitable niche to focus on is important and not just on Etsy. With 7.5 million active sellers already on the platform, finding your niche is a make-or-break step.
Think about who your customers are. Who do you want to sell to? And is your target audience likely to shop on Etsy?
Research Etsy itself—check out which shops have the most sales and what products are trending. Discover what items people are already searching for and use your designs to make them covetable and one-of-a-kind.
For more tips on how to identify your niche, check out our blog article on how to find the right niche for your online business.
Setting up your store on Etsy is free—there are no monthly or membership costs. However, some fees still apply, like listing, transaction fees, and more. For example, Etsy charges US-based sellers a 6.5% fee for every transaction on their platform, as well as a 3% + 0.25 USD payment processing fee. Each listing is active for four months, and then you’ll have to pay another 0.20 USD to reactivate them.
All fees combined, selling on Etsy can be costly, but that’s the price you have to pay for a chance to benefit from this creative marketplace. If you’ve successfully identified your niche, found a way to stand out from the crowd, and figured out your pricing, Etsy’s fees won’t seem so bad compared to the profit you’ll be making. Predict your Etsy store fees and profits by using our Etsy fees and profits calculator.
If you’re still with me, that means you’re convinced Etsy is the platform for you. Great! Now, let’s move on to getting started with sales.
First things first: register on Etsy, and if you haven’t already, create your free Printful account. The next steps are as follows:
Learn more: 10 Best Etsy Seller Apps to Help Grow Your Store
For more detailed instructions on how to set up an Etsy store, check out this Etsy guide. And check out the video guide below where we’ll walk you through the Printful + Etsy integration process.
You can put your designs on pretty much anything, but some products are a better fit for Etsy’s creative market than others. Printful has hundreds of products in categories from apparel to home & living and various techniques you can use, from direct-to-garment printing to embroidery.
Here are the products we think are the easiest to design for, the most versatile, and popular among different audiences. We suggest you start out with any of the following six options.
The t-shirt is without a doubt the most popular print-on-demand product out there. It’s easy to design, sells year-round, and everybody wears one.
Printful has a wide variety of t-shirts suitable for both adults and youth. Choose which technique works better for your design—it can be a simple print, embroidery, or an all-over-print design.
If you already have your niche identified and know who you’re targeting, consider working a message into your designs that’ll resonate with your customers. Put on a t-shirt an inspirational quote, a self-love affirmation, an homage to your favorite band, or a proud rainbow, or anything else that will give your customers a channel for self-expression (just be careful and check that you’re not breaking any copyright laws).
Source: The Splinter Workshop
We all want to make our living spaces feel like home. And wall art is one of the easiest ways to add personality and warmth to our homes. It’s also easy to design since you don’t have to make any significant adjustments to your art as it’ll be printed on a smooth surface.
Printful has many poster options to choose from, but we suggest you look into our Enhanced Matte Paper Framed Poster. It comes in eleven different sizes and is already framed, which will make any of your designs look like a work of art.
Source: Lisl Tulunay Art
Customers turn to Etsy in search of not just handmade goods but also craft supplies. In fact, craft supplies are one of the best-selling items on Etsy. So they’re definitely worth to expand your product catalog with. Craft supplies will inspire shoppers and help them make their projects come to life.
Offer fellow crafters a starting point for their ideas with our Custom Printed Recycled Polyester Fabric. It’s great for items like activewear and swimwear, but in all honesty, the opportunities for creativity are endless.
Another homeware product popular on Etsy is the mug. Mugs have earned the fame of being a great gift and with the holiday season coming, they’re about to hit a seasonal high in sales. But what’s so great about mugs?
When you gift someone a mug, you’re gifting something more than a practical tool. Drinking from a customized mug is an experience that can brighten up anyone’s day. Their mug will be the first thing to greet them on a gloomy morning, and the perfect companion on dark winter nights, filling the air with the smell of hot chocolate and marshmallows.
Source: Aquarryl Studio
We’re back to home decor, a product category that’s always in demand. After all, home is the space where we come to relax, recharge, and be 100% ourselves. That just might be why people are so particular about whom to invite over.
A great way to add a bit more meaning and personality to your living space is with All-Over Print Flags. Flags are practical and they serve as reminders about where your customers come from and what they identify with. A country, a club, or a music band—they all can be displayed on a flag. And when they’re tired of looking at the flag, they can repurpose it as a bed throw or a beach blanket.
Tote bags have become a must-have item for everyone. They’ve grown from being eco-friendly alternatives and plastic bags and have become a trendy fashion accessory.
Totes aren’t just practical. These days they can even serve as a subtle display of one’s values. Help your customers find the right mini-billboard for them by designing stylish and sturdy Eco Tote Bags.
Source: Adrián Manzano
Learn More: Top 10 Trending Products to Sell Online
Now, when you’ve learned what to sell on Etsy, let’s look into how you can grow your sales and build your brand on this marketplace.
Regardless of your platform, you need professional-looking photos that clearly and creatively show what your customers need to know.
When people search for products on Etsy, the product photos are what they notice first. So it’s key to use photos that stand out. Use a photo that’s visually striking.
If you don’t have the time and resources for taking such photos, don’t worry. Printful’s Design Maker has many useful features, and one of them can help you to create beautiful mockups. In the Design Maker, you can fully customize your mockups using a couple of hundreds of backgrounds, layouts, and design elements.
Quality product photos are important, but that’s only half of it. The other half that’ll help people fall in love with your products is a good product description.
Correct product descriptions can help your products be easier found on Etsy, and they can also help manage customers’ expectations providing a better shopping experience.
Write product descriptions with keywords in mind. Think of words your customers are most likely going to use when searching for products like yours and come up with a list of keywords you want to be associated with.
To make your products easily searchable on Etsy, using keywords in your description is a good place to start. But there’s more you can do for Etsy SEO to get your products in front of potential buyers.
Tags help people discover your products in search. You have 13 tags to use per product. Since each tag is an opportunity to be discovered by the potential buyer, plan carefully and use all of them.
Use tags to describe your design and what the product can be used for rather than describing what it is—for that you’ll have Etsy’s product categories. You have another 13 tags just for the material of your products so you can go into even more detail and help your customers find you even quicker.
Think about the main aspects of your products that customers should know about. What words are they most likely going to use to search for you?
You can also use multi-word phrases as tags or use less popular but more specific phrases that aren’t necessarily the most trending ones but describe your products in the most accurate way.
Add keywords to your product titles as well as the descriptions—this way customers will be able to faster understand what you offer. Keep the most important words near the beginning of your title as longer titles get cut off.
Categories work the same way as tags and they’re used to explain to customers what your product is.
Choosing categories (and subcategories) for your products will help them pop up on broader searches, so study the categories that Etsy offers and choose the ones that fit your product the best.
The bottom line is to always keep your customers in mind. Which keywords would they most likely use? What information is most helpful for them? Be creative—use different keywords for different products. The stronger, more accurate keywords you use for each product, the higher your chances of being discovered on Etsy.
Apart from using keywords, there’s one more thing that can help you be discovered by more people.
Personalization is getting ever more popular, with “personalized gift” being the top-searched term on Etsy in 2020. With Printful, offering your customers an opportunity to customize your product directly on Etsy is easy.
In your Etsy store, make sure the switch in the personalization section of your listing is “on”. Then, go to your Printful Dashboard and watch the personalized orders appear, ready for editing.
Learn more about product personalization with Printful on Etsy here.
Tip: Offer personalization for as many of your products as you possibly can—potential customers will search for customizable products and they’ll love you for offering so many.
Learn More: How to Get More Sales On Etsy
When you’re done with investing in your Etsy SEO and all your listings are keyword-optimized, it’s time to see if it’s all working and what you can improve.
The Etsy Stats Tool is an excellent resource to see where your traffic is coming from and the top keywords you’re being searched for across different platforms. You can use this tool before creating your product descriptions for research purposes, but you can also use it to analyze your sales results.
In your Etsy Shop Manager, check out the Stats section to see which listings are getting less traffic and refresh their tags, titles, and categories to diversify the keywords you’re using.
For more detailed information on how to use product tags, titles and categories read this Etsy’s keywords guide.
Another way to boost your sales and find new customers is by offering free shipping. It’s a strategy worth implementing since customers are four to five times more likely to make a purchase if you offer free shipping.
There are multiple free shipping strategies that you could apply. One way to go is to use a free shipping guarantee that Etsy offers to US buyers. This feature automatically applies free shipping to US buyers for any individual items $35 and up and any order totaling $35 or more from your shop.
Free shipping will also make your products easier to find since Etsy’s algorithm prioritizes shops that offer free shipping in the search results (this applies only to retailers and shoppers based in the US).
But you don’t have to be based in the US to offer free shipping for your Etsy customers—there’s another way.
In your Printful Dashboard, head to Stores, choose your Etsy store and edit your products. Change prices of your products so that they include Printful’s shipping rates, then check the Display my products with free shipping box. Submit these edited products to the Etsy storefront and now potential buyers will see that you offer free shipping.
But remember that free shipping is just a marketing tool you can use, and in both strategies mention that Printful will still charge you for shipping even if you offer it “for free” to your customers. To even things out and make sure you’re not paying for shipping out of your pocket, include the average shipping costs in your product prices.
The great thing about Etsy is the opportunity to connect and interact with your customers. Be personal, reply to messages, and show your personality.
Whenever possible, ask your fans to leave reviews of your store. This goes a long way to build your store’s credibility and show other potential customers that you already have fans that like what you do.
Opening up a shop on Etsy can be a game-changer for artists and creators. It can turn hobbies and crafts that you love into a profitable source of income.
Don’t be discouraged if your sales start out low—the most successful sellers on Etsy start small and grow with time. And you don’t need to have a big team to start—79% of all the shops on Etsy are micro-businesses owned by a single person. You don’t need any start-up capital either—if you partner up with a print-on-demand dropshipper like Printful, you only have to pay for production once a customer has actually ordered something from your store.
The only real obstacle to selling on Etsy is the fear of starting. Dare to try, then show determination and keep experimenting to boost your sales. Once you follow the tips you just read and put your work into it, you’re more than likely to succeed!
Ksenija is a Content Marketing Specialist at Printful with a background in public relations. When she was little she decided to become a famous writer. Now she continues to practice creative writing, but with more realistic goals.
Printful is a printing and dropshipping service with fulfillment centers located all over the world. We help people follow their passion and turn ideas into brands and products.
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