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So you know how much I love mingling with legends of the POD game and sharing their stories on Storehacks, just like I previously did with the hyper-successful Rush Brothers.
Well, today I have the pleasure of introducing you to an Etsy print on demand seller that crossed 6-figures in less than a year since starting, and now she's a full-time POD seller!
This is why I'm so passionate about this business model.
It is absolutely life-changing for those that commit to it. Building a true freedom lifestyle business is what it's all about, and Christina has done exactly that.
So let's dive into Christina's story and learn exactly how she's achieved this amazing Etsy success in such a short time.
Take it away Christina!
Who Is She? Over to Christina…
My name is Christina and I am, as of February 2022, a full-time Etsy Print on Demand seller.
I have always dreamed of quitting my job to pursue my own company, but until 2022, I had zero clue what type of side hustle would let me achieve that goal. Until I stumbled upon print on demand through youtube in Spring of 2022.
Now, just 10 months after starting, I was able to quit my job because I was making more money working less hours with my print on demand store.
Why Did I Start on Etsy?
During the COVID quarantine, I told myself I finally had zero excuses not to start trying to build up some side income. So I tested dropshipping, fiverr, creating travel jewelry, but I either just didn’t succeed, couldn’t stomach the start-up costs, or my interest fizzled out.
My love for Etsy started when my first profitable side hustle came to light. I started drawing pet portraits through Etsy and had immediate success. I was having such an amazing time working on these at first, but I quickly became overwhelmed trying to work 9-5 and then work the rest of my night trying to fulfill my orders, and they didn’t bring in enough income to allow me to quit corporate life.
New players entered the pet portrait game on Etsy and they were undeniably more skilled than me and charging much less, and I no longer could justify spending my time to draw at the new market rates. So I went back to the drawing board on finding a side hustle that didn’t directly trade my time for money.
That is when I discovered Print on Demand through a youtube video. I found most youtube videos then were selling through Printful and Shopify, but I was a little jaded from Shopify after my multiple failed dropshipping attempts.
But then when I looked into Printful I found that they could integrate with Etsy- and after my last venture I had all the Etsy SEO already locked down and I was a true Etsy fan! I could do this!
My Etsy Print on Demand Journey So Far
I started print on demand back in April 2021. At first, I was just hoping to make a few extra dollars a month to cover some of my basic bills.
I truly wasn’t sure if it would work out for me!
I had spent 2 weeks using all my free time to design shirts, thinking of niches, and starting my listings. When I didn’t get my first stranger sale (not me guilting my family into purchasing to leave my reviews) for 3 weeks, my motivation majorly plummeted and I stopped consistently adding to my store.
Until one day, I heard the ding on my phone. My first sale! And then I sold the same product a day later, and suddenly it was selling every few days. The fire had been reignited and I started designing more similar to my current bestseller.
The first few months were a grind, often I made sales sporadically but it was not consistent. That changed when I found a new niche in September. It was one that I was passionate about and I found that there weren’t too many people doing it on Etsy.
Because I was so passionate about the topic, the ideas came pouring out! I was adding tons of daily designs and I started to see a major uplift in my traffic.
I started making 2 sales consistently, and then 5, and then 8. The peak of my designing then also happened to coincide with the beginning of Christmas sales. What happened in those months left me shocked. Suddenly, I was making 20-40 sales a day! I had some days with over 1k profit. And I had just started this journey a few months ago.
I had heard of the Christmas Etsy rush but I had no clue what actual numbers that meant for my store. Though I was ecstatic, the idea of the looming January and February sale slump post-Christmas made me cautious about getting too excited. While I could have an amazing Christmas season, I could also go back to making 0 dollars in the new year.
This fear drove me to design more than I ever had with the hope that my new listings would counteract the drop in Etsy traffic. While I did see a major decline in traffic and sales following Christmas, as soon as I offered a 10% off sale, I was able to keep an average of 15 daily sales in both January and February with no plans to stop designing.
Every month I plan to grow and hope that next Christmas will blow the past one away.
So now you know a little about my backstory, let's dive into this article and reveal the strategies I use to explode my Etsy success!
In this article, you will learn:
- Why I use Etsy to sell my Print on Demand Products
- How to create t-shirts designs that sell – even if you have 0 design skills
- How to get your Etsy shop started!
What's Great About Etsy Print on Demand & Why I Love It!
The top comments on my TikTok are: “Why do you not sell on Shopify”, “Etsy takes too many fees!” and “What do you do to market your store” and it's funny that these are all related.
I LOVE Etsy because selling on Etsy allows you to tap into their existing marketplace of shoppers.
Just by having a store, Etsy gives you the opportunity to be found in search, both in the Etsy platform and externally like on Google.
The fact that Etsy allows me to be successful without any marketing is the reason I am totally fine with their fees. If I were to spend time on other platforms that required me to drive my own traffic, my costs would be way higher either in paid ads or would require time that I do not have to create social media organic marketing.
The reason I don't sell on Shopify is that I don't want to spend my time and money on marketing. And therefore my answer when people ask me “what do you do to market your store?” is always “nothing.”
Creating your Etsy storefront is also much easier than creating a website in my opinion.
Even with website builders, I lacked the skill to create converting web pages. Etsy needs very little on your storefront to begin selling and your storefront has a lot fewer moving pieces that can make or break your sales.
You don't need much to start your Etsy store. All you need are some simple things like:
- Your logo and store banner
- A brief “about us” paragraph
- Categories to sort your products into sections
- Store policies (Etsy provides templates)
You can easily set up your store in a day and start making sales in a day as well.
What Are The Best Products to Sell on Etsy?
My first designs are laughable. Back when I started, I really didn’t understand what types of t-shirts would sell. I included so many elements, fonts, and colors to try and stick out from the crowd.
I have since learned what designs sell and why. Here’s what I have learned when it comes to creating profitable designs.
Find Niches to Sell in
People often complain about the over-saturation of niches on Etsy, but that’s because they are trying to design in over-saturated niches. You most likely won’t rank high at the start for niches like kindness, teaching, mom, nursing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find new niches or sub-niches that will help you stick out.
For existing over-saturated niches, find ways to make them more specific. Examples: Mom of twins, Grade 5 Teacher, New Teacher, niche down as far as you can, and use long-tail phrases in your titles.
People buy t-shirts based on if they help them identify themselves, or they buy shirts as gifts for friends based on their passions.
Brainstorm what non-mainstream things you or your friends are passionate about that you always talk about. For me, this included things like breathwork, cold showers, van life travel, and I have now found a few other niches within my interests that I rank high for.
When I found out which of my niches were resulting in sales, I continued designing similar designs and designing around that interest. This also helps me stay extra motivated as it is one of my passions, so designing is extra fun! Cast the net to find what works and then hone in.
How to Design T-shirts as Non-Designer
K.I.S.S – Keep it simple, stupid. No, really, keep your designs simple.
My first designs were so overcomplicated. My designs now rarely include more than text and one element, or they’re just text-based! I also now only design in black and change the design to white for my darker t-shirts, that way the whole design shows up well when printed.
People just want to represent their passion, and overcomplicating it doesn't do you any favors. If you go on Etsy to search “graphic t-shirts”, you’ll see the majority of them are large text designs or only include one graphic and text.
You do not need to be a graphic designer to be successful with Etsy Print on Demand.
No Talent What-so-Ever? Buy Designs!
No talent, no problem. You can buy SVG files off of Etsy and use most of them in your designs!
Search up your niche + “SVG” and I guarantee you will get tons of cheap results that you’ll be able to use in your store.
Just make sure that the seller is allowing commercial sale of their product. This should be mentioned in the description of their design and if unclear, just send them a message! Most usually are totally fine with it if you print and sell this on your shirts
My store is about 30% purchased SVG files and some of my bestsellers are now ones that I’ve bought.
The only downside to purchasing is that any competitor could buy the same file and sell it and you wouldn’t be able to file a copyright claim against them.
But if you find files that are not already widely used for t-shirt designs and are able to beat the market to the bat, you can have the upper hand as you’ll already have sales for your product and will be ranking the highest.
Getting Your Store Started
First, you’ll need to create an Etsy account along with an Etsy store. Put in a placement listing as it requires, you’ll delete this later so just add in random inputs into the mandatory fields.
Once your Etsy store is set up you need to pick which supplier will be your main supplier and connect them to your Etsy store.
Both platforms offer a lot of the same products, and they both sell the exact t-shirts and sweatshirts that I use in my store. But here are some considerations to think about when you are choosing:
- Has multiple self-owned print shops around the world so they have tons of supply and can route your order to the closest printer to the delivery address- this results in cheaper international shipping and quicker shipping times
- Can charge in multiple currencies so you can avoid foreign transaction credit card fees
- Fewer stock issues
- Can do embroidery on shirts and sweatshirts
- Can include personalized gift messages from customers
- Pricier cost of goods
- Fewer colors available
- Lower prices for the t-shirts/sweatshirts
- More color options
- Can only charge in USD
- Printers are all external printers (not owned by Printify) so they do not have the same quality standards
- More stock issues – I have had to move many orders over to Printful because they were out of stock in Printify. Stock issues in Printful is rarer
- Expensive international shipping – products are not routed to the nearest printer and all their best print shops are from the USA, so they ship from the USA. I have had many international orders get held up at borders.
- Cannot embroider
Why I Personally Use Printify
I use Printify because I am prioritizing larger margins, but it does require more work as I often reroute orders to Printful due to costly shipping and out of stock issues.
I also am able to use Printify because I have a credit card that has zero foreign transaction fees. I also try to sell mostly to the USA by offering only USA free shipping and having a sale for US buyers, as USA is always the cheapest shipping option for Printify.
If you cannot take USD credit card charges, and want to primarily sell outside of the USA then I would recommend going with Printful.
Once you have picked Printify or Printful, you can connect your existing Etsy store within their platform
(Check out Ron's detailed review of Printful too!)
Now it's time to create or buy your first designs to get listed!
I love Canva to design my t-shirts because they offer tons of elements and fonts that you are able to use in your designs. You cannot just select one element and add it to a shirt though – it must be part of a larger design, so add text or more elements so it isn’t a standalone element.
Remember to keep your designs simple!
Save your high-resolution transparent background PNG files and head on back to your print supplier site.
Find the products that you want to upload your designs to – mugs, sweatshirts, shirts, sweatpants etc. and place your design on the product within the platform. Once you’ve picked your colors and laid out your design- hit publish to store!
Now when you open Etsy you should find your product in either live or draft listings.
From here on you have to add your photos, titles, tags and make sure you are following Etsy SEO guidelines to optimize your listings for the best search results!
When you get an order, it will automatically sync with your supplier and your product will be sent into production and shipped to your customers address. Printify/Printful will also update your orders to say “shipped” and will attach tracking information so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
All you have to do is add new listings and take care of any customer messages.
And That's a Wrap!
Etsy Print on demand can be so rewarding- but it isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. It requires a lot of upfront hard work to get your store moving and it does require maintenance as Etsy prioritizes stores that are constantly adding more listings- so staying active will always help you!
Every month compounds as you add new designs and as you get new reviews that propel your store forward.
It’s all about mindset and knowing that if you are persistent you will succeed.
A massive thanks to Ronnie from Storehacks for sharing my story on his blog!
If you want to keep in touch with me, you can check out my TikTok @c.u.online where I talk about everything to do with Etsy Print on Demand.
Make sure you take a look at my TikTok bio to find get free SEO listing checklist and my POD playbook which gives you over 80 pages of the exact step-by-step formula I used to get my store to where it is today. You'll also get you access to my private support group where you can ask any questions when you are stuck that I will be able to help you with! (It’s also filled with amazing people!)