5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy

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Figuring out how to set up your own print on demand on Etsy? This business model is definitely growing. Much like dropshipping, print on demand does not require you to keep inventories or handle physical shipments of orders. When a customer purchases from your Etsy store, your supplier will get the information and do all the work. Sounds easy right? However, it is still less known though! 

So how do you start this business?

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1. Open an Etsy account

Open at Etsy account - 5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy
Open at Etsy account – 5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy

Your very first step is to open an Etsy account. Super easy and you’re able to sign up with your Google or even Facebook account. Opening an account does not mean that you have a store established, that will be your next step after figuring out your niche.

If you hadn’t known, Etsy is the marketplace for crafted items that are unique and not manufactured in bulk. A lot of business models in the market like dropshipping wouldn’t work on Etsy as products are being manufactured on a large scale in China AND print on demand isn’t one of them!

Essentially, print on demand allows users to sell merchandise with prints of their unique designs (please don’t copy others’ and stay authentic!). Designs are only printed with each purchase and not large scale manufacturing – perfect business model for Etsy!

2. Pick a niche for your shop

Pick a niche for your shop - 5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy
Pick a niche for your shop – 5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy

Competition can be really high in Etsy for popular niches like ‘funny puns’, ‘flowers’, ‘travel’ etc. No doubt that if you have a rare design for a popular niche, you will get sales *fingers crossed*. However, as a newbie, you’re definitely better off doing some research on what is high in demand but has less competition. You will have greater chances of being seen!

A great tip is to choose a popular niche or a niche of your interest and do some keyword research for what’s currently in demand for that niche e.g. “pumpkin spiced latte” might have less competition than just “latte”. The type of product also plays an important role – tumblers may have greater demand than cushion covers. It’s always great to stick to a niche you have an interest in because it’s you who will be doing the work (unless for expansion later on).

3. Choose a Print On Demand fulfilment

Choose a Print On Demand fulfilment - 5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy
Choose a Print On Demand fulfilment – 5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy

There’s a bunch of print on demand fulfilment able to fulfil your Etsy orders either manually or automatically. This includes Printify and Printful where both can be integrated to your Etsy shop. New designs made on your supplier dashboard are uploaded automatically to your store with just a click! Order details will be retrieved by their system without you needing to fill in your customer details line by line.

Printify offers free sign ups and has over 300 products you’re free to choose from to suit any of your unique designs. It is basically a platform outsourcing orders to manufacturers located in a few different countries including China. Each manufacturer has its own ratings, shipping times and products they are able to make with different costs (to your favour). You will get to choose which manufacturer you would like to work with and if for whatever reason, your chosen manufacturer is unable to deliver, you are able to choose another manufacturer within the system.

On the other hand, Printful does most of the printing in house by their own teams. It’s a one stop centre and you can skip the process of choosing suppliers. It’s also sweet that your customers will be able to personalize their items when ordering e.g. including their names or initials, which is what unique crafts are all about. If you’re looking to get serious in the future and want to produce your own white label and personalize product packaging to your customers, Printful should be your top choice. 

Both fulfilments have different products to choose from with some differences in quality and pricing. Starting out, it’s best to choose one to focus on, maximize profits and grow your expertise. Printify seems to be an easier choice for beginners to get their hands dirty and later on expand to Printful.

Quick tip: Most print on demand business owners use both Printify and Printful. It’s good to diversify and have Plan B!

4. Find inspiration for your designs!

Find inspiration for your designs! - 5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy
Find inspiration for your designs! – 5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy

To be able to have a product in your shop, you’ll have to upload your designs! This is the tricky part for most of us, we assure you’re not alone. If you’re a graphic designer, you will be good on your own. However, if you are not, do not fret. You can learn how to make simple designs using Canva – consider getting the Pro account so you can download designs with transparent backgrounds.

Alternatively, you can hire designers to make designs for you off Fiverr. Filter for designers with good ratings and punctuality so you won’t be left clueless for too long. It’s best to give some guidelines on what you’re looking for and ensure the final work is unique. Charges depend greatly on design complexity but expect to pay a minimum of $5-10 per design. Whether you’re designing on your own or getting help, budget your finances well early on to achieve at least 100 designs to work with for the first 2-3 months.

5. List your designs on Etsy

List your designs on Etsy - 5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy
List your designs on Etsy – 5 Steps to Set Up Print On Demand on Etsy

Once you choose your supplier on Printify, you will need to upload a design straightaway! Choose the type of product you want to sell, final product colors and arrange the design according to its dimensions. Designs should be optimized for printing sizes so it looks crystal clear and not blurry as final product. An unsatisfied customer may leave a bad review on your Etsy shop. Most providers allow you to get a copy of the final product at cost price (plus shipping charges), and deliver it to your home so you have a good look and feel of what you’re selling.

You’re also able to alter the profit margins for each product. Here it’s best to consider Etsy’s fees so you make enough for each sale.

  1. Listing fee – $0.20 per listing
  2. Selling fee – 5% per sale
  3. Payments fee
    1. Etsy Payments – 3% + $0.25 per transaction OR
    2. PayPal or Square –  2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

You don’t have to know all the fees available on Etsy but it’s good to always calculate your Etsy margins before listing a product.

Bottom Line

If you have a knack for crafty items but unsure of what or how to produce and feel like it’s a mess to handle your own supply, print on demand is the business for you. You’ll be able to reach millions of customers on marketplaces like Etsy and ship to all parts of the world!

All from the comfort of your own home just by focusing on making the best designs for your niche. Then choose the most suitable products to put them on. Easy peasy! Pretty straightforward right? Don’t forget to do your homework with this free keyword research tool

Ready to start print on demand? Check out my product guides down below, packed with tips you’ve not thought of!

Photo by Mediamodifier on Unsplash

Abby B.

Hey there! Abby here - the founder of Passive Marketeer and also the main writer on the site. My love for ecommerce and online marketing was something I found through my 9-5 sales job. It was mind boggling at first that we're able to make an income online passively in today's world! If you're still feeling that way, know that you're not alone.

That's why, I decided to help others by sharing findings through my own research on today's ecommerce world. When I'm not writing, I'm either running my online biz, traveling, cooking or gardening.

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