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How To Sell Print-on-Demand On Etsy in 10 Easy Steps [POD Expert Secrets]


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 shoppers to find unique products not available in big-name retail stores.

Etsy’s user base has skyrocketed since its beginning in 2005 and continues to grow. The number of active buyers on Etsy doubled in just three years—from 45.7 in 2020 to a whopping 92 million in 2023.

Etsy prides itself as an unparalleled marketplace where people can buy items they won’t find elsewhere—everything sold on Etsy must be handmade, vintage, or a craft supply.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t sell print-on-demand (POD) products there. As long as you create the designs 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. In this post, we want to focus on the basics of how to connect Printful to Etsy and sell print-on-demand products.

Keep reading to find:

  • A simple 10-step guide to set up a print-on-demand business model on Etsy

  • Tips for personalizing your Esty listings and storefront

  • Ways to get noticed by more Etsy customers

  • Main Etsy challenges and how to overcome them

Let’s get started!

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How to sell print-on-demand on Etsy in 10 steps:

1. Create an Etsy account

First things first: register on Etsy, and if you haven’t already, create your free Printful account.

Once you’ve registered on Etsy, create your seller account: click Sell on Etsy in your Etsy profile to open your store. Then, set up your Etsy store preferences like language, country, and currency.

After the basic configurations, name your store. Don’t worry if you’re not set on your store name yet, you can change it later. For now, use a placeholder, but, once you’ve got the time, check out our post about coming up with a catchy brand name.

Setting up your billing is the last step you need to take to connect Etsy with a print-on-demand supplier. Enter your credit card information and billing address.

2. Connect Etsy to Printful

Up next, add Printful as your production partner. In your Etsy dashboard, click on the Settings tab > Partners you work with and hit Add production partner. Fill in all the information and click Save.

a screenshot of a screen

Source: Etsy

To finish adding Printful as your print-on-demand partner, authorize the Printful Etsy application. First, log into your Printful Dashboard, go to Stores, click Choose platform, and select Etsy. After that, click Connect to Etsy at the bottom.

From there, you’ll be directed to an Etsy confirmation page. To finish the process, click Allow access.

3. Create a product listing

Even if you don’t have a product idea yet, this is still a mandatory step to finish your Etsy Seller account setup.

If you already have all the product details down, go ahead and create your first listing. However, if you don’t, that’s fine—just create a makeshift listing and keep it as a draft.

4. Define your audience

Now that the initial setup is done, you can start personalizing your Etsy store. Begin that by understanding your target audience.

Defining your audience is not just beneficial; it’s essential for thriving on Etsy. Given Etsy’s broad marketplace, harboring millions of buyers and sellers, the competition is intense. But this also means there’s a vast audience ready to be tapped into. Finding your niche within this expansive market is crucial for several reasons:

  • Targeted marketing: Knowing your niche allows you to effectively tailor your marketing efforts. You can create specific, compelling messages that resonate with your audience, rather than broad, generic ones that fail to capture interest.

  • Reduced competition: By carving out a niche, you significantly shrink your competition. Instead of competing with thousands of stores, you’ll only be up against a select few, making it easier to stand out.

  • Higher customer loyalty: Niches often come with dedicated communities. For example, if you specialize in eco-friendly home decor, you’ll attract customers passionate about sustainability. Given your shared values, these customers will likely become repeat buyers and advocates for your brand.

  • Improved product development: When you know the needs and preferences of a niche, you can identify gaps in the market or underserved areas and tailor your products accordingly.

  • Better use of resources: Instead of spreading yourself thin over a wide range of products and marketing channels, you can concentrate on those that deliver the best return on investment for your specific audience.

Read more: 15 Print-on-Demand Niches to Watch in 2024

5. Pick your products

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. Popular options include t-shirts, framed posters, custom printed fabric, mugs, flags, and tote bags—each offering a unique canvas for your designs.

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Customer with received custom jacket
Printful logo

Sell print-on-demand products on Etsy

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Use your niche findings from the previous step to choose the products your audience will appreciate the most. Or, you can use online tools like Etsy Hunt to see current best-selling stores, their categories, and sellers gaining popularity right now. Just remember—though these product categories are hot among shoppers, they’ll also have the most competition.

screenshot of top etsy sellers

Source: Etsy Hunt

6. Create designs

Once you’ve picked the canvas, it’s time to put your art on it. On the Stores page of your Printful Dashboard, go to your Etsy store and click Add product. Choose a product, upload your file or create a design using our Design Maker, and place it on the product. Select the sizes and colors you want to sell. 

7. Publish products on Etsy

Once your product is ready, choose a product mockup. Then, edit the description texts, choose your retail prices, set your shipping rates, and click Submit to the store to publish your product on your Etsy storefront.

Each product pushed from the Printful product generator will appear as a draft listing on your Etsy account. On Etsy, go to Shop Manager > Listings and select the new product to make the edits.

The main thing you have to do here is to add Printful as your production partner for the product. Select your product listing, go to Details > Core details, click Change, and add Printful as your production partner.

etsy print on demand partner configuration

Source: Etsy

8. Perfect your listings

The groundwork to start your Etsy business is done. But, as you can probably imagine, that won’t be enough to compete with millions of entrepreneurs. Here are the top things you can tweak in your listings:

  • Product visuals (photos and videos)

  • Titles and descriptions

  • Etsy tags

  • Pricing

Use high-quality photos and videos

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 to take 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. You can also upload your own background photos.

a collage of images of t-shirts and hats

Etsy t-shirt listings with different mockups. Source: Etsy

Additionally, videos are proven to significantly boost your listing visibility. The Etsy Seller Handbook states that adding a video to your listing “can provide increased transparency that boosts buyer confidence and conveys valuable information that they can’t get from photos alone.”

gif of an etsy listing with a video

Source: Etsy

Write searchable titles and descriptions

Accurate product descriptions can help your products be easily 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.

Leverage Etsy tags for SEO

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.

etsy product tags

Source: Etsy

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. 

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. 

Pick a pricing strategy

Setting the right price for your Etsy products involves balancing costs and competitiveness. Research prices of similar items to ensure yours are competitive yet profitable after accounting for:

  • Production

  • Shipping

  • Etsy fees

Use strategic pricing to make room for promotions or bulk discounts. High-quality, unique products can command higher prices, adding value to your brand.

9. Customize your storefront

etsy shop example

Source: Etsy

While it’s easy to get lost in the sea of Etsy listings, your Etsy shop is your place to shine. Etsy, like most marketplaces, has minimal storefront customization, but these are things you can control and make your own:

  • Store logo/icon: Choose a clear, memorable logo that scales well since it won’t always be displayed in its full size across Etsy.

  • Store banner: Use your banner to showcase your brand’s identity; consider a carousel option to showcase multiple products or aspects of your brand.

  • About section: Here’s where you tell your brand’s story. Keep it engaging and personal to connect with your customers.

  • Store policies: Clearly outline your shop policies to build trust. This includes shipping, returns, and any guarantees.

  • Shop announcement: Use this space for important updates, promotions, or to highlight what makes your Etsy shop unique. Keep it concise and to the point.

  • Product categories: Improve navigation and help customers quickly find what they want. Think like a buyer when categorizing your products.

  • Shop owner photo: Use a personal photo to build trust and make a connection with your customers.

  • Featuring items: Feature your best-selling or newest items to grab attention. This is a great way to showcase what’s special about your shop upfront.

screenshot of etsy category tags

Etsy product category configuration. Source: Etsy

Once you’ve personalized your Etsy storefront to reflect your brand’s individuality, the next step is to attract Etsy shoppers. With a marketing strategy, you can transform your store from a hidden gem to a bustling shopping hub.

10. Market your print-on-demand Etsy store

A successful marketing strategy will increase Etsy sales and grow your audience. First, focus on SEO. Integrating relevant keywords into your product titles, descriptions, and tags enhances your items’ visibility on Etsy. This strategy makes them easily discoverable to interested shoppers, simplifying their search.

Next, get on social media. Sharing your creations on Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, or Facebook can gain you exposure to your target audience. It’s about creating content that resonates, from showcasing your products in lifestyle shots to sharing customer testimonials.

an instagram post screenshot of a t-shirt in a store

Source: Instagram

Don’t forget about Etsy’s built-in tools and promotion opportunities. Use Etsy Ads for targeted visibility within the platform. Aside from paid ads, you can also target people who favorite your items by offering special deals. To set up these and other individual deals, go to your Etsy Shop Manager > Marketing > Sales & Discounts.

Lastly, engagement doesn’t end with a sale. Promptly answering questions, soliciting feedback, and encouraging reviews will build your reputation and foster customer loyalty. Small gestures, such as including personalized thank-you notes or offering return customer discounts, can make a significant difference in customer satisfaction and retention.

On top of retention, engaging with your customers can also earn you an Etsy Star Seller badge. This badge is Etsy’s recognition for sellers who provide exceptional customer service and create a great shopping experience. The badge highlights your store in search results, potentially increasing visibility and sales. To qualify, sellers must meet specific criteria:

  • Timely shipping

  • Quick response rates

  • High review scores

  • Clear return and exchange policies

Read more:

  • 23 Tips for How to Get More Sales On Etsy

  • Etsy SEO: 5 Must-Do Steps to Help You Get Found on Etsy

Is Etsy right for you?

You might be wondering—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.

a computer screen with the Etsy website on it

Source: Unsplash

To start off, here are the possible risks you’ll face if you decide to create your Etsy store. Weight them out carefully before you start.

Stiff competition

Would your products stand out on Etsy? Competition is stiff—there are a ton of other sellers that could offer items similar to yours.

If your designs stand out 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? 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.

Lots of niches

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.

a woman lying in a pile of clothes

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 identifying your niche, check out our blog article on how to find the right niche for your online business.

Fees for every order

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 Etsy sellers a 6.5% fee for every transaction on their platform, as well as a 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee. Each listing is active for four months, and then you’ll have to pay another $0.20 to reactivate it.

All fees combined, selling on Etsy can be costly, but that’s the price you must pay to benefit from this creative marketplace. If you’ve successfully identified your niche, unique selling points, and the best pricing, Etsy fees won’t seem so bad compared to the profit you’ll be making.

To ensure you’re not shooting in the dark, predict your Etsy store fees and profits using our Etsy fees and profits calculator.

The Etsy verdict

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Opening up a shop on Etsy can be a game-changer for artists and creators. It can turn hobbies and crafts you love into a profitable source of income.

Don’t be discouraged if your sales start out low, with the most successful sellers on Etsy starting small and growing with time. And you don’t need a big team to start—79% of all the shops on Etsy are micro-businesses owned by a single person. Finally, if you partner up with a print-on-demand dropshipper like Printful, you don’t need a big starting capital. 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!

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