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The best print on demand for Etsy is not the always the cheapest and there are many factors to consider. We will look at the 7 top print on demand (POD) providers for Etsy sellers and what makes them good and/or bad.
When it comes to finding the best print on demand for Etsy there are a lot of factors to consider. Every Etsy business is different. You need to access your own needs, your own goals and ultimately figure out what works best for you.
Fulfilling Etsy orders with print on demand can be (almost) completely hands-off or it can be a full time job.
It all depends on what you choose to sell and how you choose to sell it.
If you offer a lot of personalization, make your own custom mockups and develop relationships with your customers then you will need to put in a lot of hours – even though you fulfill orders with print on demand.
Regardless of your strategy you will need a good partner. To be honest, all the main print on demand services are pretty good.
Those who aren’t simply don’t stick around for long.
It is more about finding the right match for your Etsy shop. The right products, the right prices and the best type of service will ultimately dictate who you go with.
I can tell you from personal experience that shifting your entire product catalog from one print on demand provider to another is a huge task.
Even with just a hundred products, it takes weeks of work to make the move.
This is all the more reason to really choose your print on demand partner for your Etsy store more carefully.
I will start off by briefly discussing the most important things to look for in a print on demand partner and then look at my 7 top picks.
The 7 best print on demand for Etsy are:
I’ve used them all in different shops and in different scenarios – depending on my needs at the time. They are all ‘good’ in their own way but every one has its strengths and weaknesses.
Print on demand is evolving and in the past 5 years it really has established itself as more than a trend.
Its here to stay and since Etsy opened the doors for unique products, it opened the doors for Etsy sellers to take advantage and sell through print on demand on Etsy.
We are spoiled for choice.
Whether you are a complete noob or an established Etsy seller, the search for new or better products is ongoing.
Below I’ve laid out a ‘criteria’ of 7 key aspects to look for when evaluating print on demand partners for your Etsy shop.
One point I did not include is the so-called ‘Etsy approved’ partners. While some claim to be approved by Etsy, there is not formal approval listed by Etsy anywhere.
Any app that wants to integrate with Etsy needs access to their API. They will know exactly who uses the API so it is highly unlikely that anyone would not be ‘approved’.
Print quality is becoming less of an issue with most of the major print facilities now equipped with really advanced printers.
These commercial scale printers are capable of high resolution full colour DTG prints and most of the print on demand process is automated.
The problems come in with quality control. Mistakes happen and unless there is some sort of human check, misprints can happen and get sent out.
In the last year I had virtually no ‘bad prints’ reach any of my customers whereas in the years before it was a persistent issue.
The fact remains that the standard of printing is really high now. Nothing but perfect, vivid and enduring prints is acceptable.
Smaller print on demand outfits may not have the quality of printers to produce this high quality work.
Print quality is something to be mindful of but to be honest I do not see this as a big issue for DTG anymore.
The issues of print quality is far more prominent on sublimation products and embroidery. Sublimation is far more hands-on and embroidery relies a lot on the quality of digitization and print files.
There’s a lot more that can go wrong and I would strongly urge you to always order in samples before you go all in with just one print on demand supplier with any sublimation or embroidery product.
One of the major considerations for the best print on demand for Etsy is speed. How fast can they get your customer’s order to them.
This all boils down to fulfillment times. All of these top 7 providers can get DTG products out of the door in about 3 days.
During peak times it can become a nightmare. Smaller providers simply can not handle huge surges as their print facilities can only handle that much.
What I really love about Printify is that they now offer ‘Order Routing’. What this allows you to do is to automatically route an order to an alternative provider if your preferred provider has production or stock issues.
Speed is a big issue. In many ways it is your biggest disadvantage as a print on demand seller on Etsy.
People are impatient and want their orders fast. If it takes you a week to get the order shipped out then that is not a good user experience.
Faster shipping is an option but rarely makes sense financially. Both Printful and Printify offer express shipping but it comes at an additional $6 to $10 per order.
Customcat has much more reasonable express shipping options but they also tend to be the fastest at fulfillment.
Since DTG products are mostly automated they usually get fulfilled very quickly. You need to be particularly cautious with sublimation products as they usually have much slower fulfilment times.
Also be very cautious with the location of your print on demand partner. Make sure they are in the USA (or UK/EU if that’s your market).
There are a number of print on demand providers that are actually printing in China. These will always be much slower and can put your Etsy business at risk.
Reliability translates to trust. Can you have full confidence in your print on demand partner to take care of the fulfillment.
Always worrying and having to check on orders can be both time consuming and stressful.
When you have full confidence in your POD partner then you can focus on what really matters in your Etsy business.
I’ve recently had an issue where Gooten lost its connection with my Etsy store. I only realized this after about a week and what it meant was a lot of orders that did not sync.
This means a lot of manual work – taking away time from designing and marketing.
There are a lot of aspects to reliability.
Unfortunately it usually comes from working with a partner over a period of time. You can avoid the biggest traps by listening to other people’s experiences but don’t let that always sway you.
If you are unsure about any print on demand provider, place a test order. See how they do. It is usually the best way to get a taste of what your customers will experience.
I consider the 7 provider below to be the best print on demand for Etsy because I have used them all and have complete trust in them.
Do they sometimes make mistakes? Yes! Some more than others but I know from experience that even when it all goes wrong they always come good.
There is nothing worse for an Etsy shop than having a best seller where your print on demand provider suddenly can’t fulfill your orders anymore.
With common products like DTG shirts and mugs it’s not an issue. Simply find someone else.
The problem comes in with more unique products. If you start doing more serious volume they might not be able to keep up.
Once orders start piling up and they are having issues to keep up with fulfillment you are running some serious risks.
The Xmas period is always one that is riddled with pitfalls when it comes to capacity. It happens every year and 2020 in particular was challenging.
Many POD providers simply ran out of stock well before the Xmas rush was over. Many were flooded with orders and on some products the production times dropped to 10+ days.
While there is no way to fully predict their capacity, you should know that smaller providers will always struggle when there is a surge in orders.
This is where the big names and the established providers shine through. You are far less likely to experience any significant issues
Communication is critical. If you have issues with orders or with any technicalities then you need someone who can help you quickly.
After all, your print on demand provider is your partner. I like having a chat service available as it usually gets you help quite quickly.
For the most part, all these 7 partners listed below respond within 24 hours. Anything longer than that is not acceptable.
Before I ever even start testing a new print on demand provider for my Etsy stores I always reach out to them first. This is mostly just to test their response and their level of communication.
If it takes 3 days to get some basic answers then that is a warning sign.
Communication is also not just about customer support.
How well do they communicate their own issues with you?
Do they let you know well in advance if there are stock issues?
Do they warn you well in advance of price increases?
Do they warn you well in advance if they are discontinuing a product?
These are really important issues because it impacts your Etsy business directly.
Price is a really interesting variable with POD. It often takes some careful analysis to truly determine the prices of certain products.
Some providers like Printify and Customcat will charge you a monthly subscription fee to get better base prices.
Some will load their shipping costs to give you cheaper base costs on the products.
It is important that you always look at all the hidden costs and make sure you know exactly what the overall cost of any particular product will be.
The best print on demand for Etsy is not necessarily the cheapest one. Yes, the cheaper you go the most profit you can make but at what cost?
You should always consider all the other factors as well.
Esty shoppers are willing to spend and an extra $2 or $5 rarely scare off a potential buyer. Never try and compete on price as it is usually just a race to the bottom.
Prices vary wildly from one provider to the next.
Identify what is most important to you for your Etsy shop. If its quality, then ‘the cheapest’ is not the main consideration. If its speed then ‘the cheapest’ is not the main consideration.
I always like to maintain a balance between prices, quality and speed.
Most of all, try and stay in touch with the majority of the competition on Etsy. You don’t want to be the one who sells $50 t-shirts of the going rate is about $30.
I like to minimize the number of print on demand partners I use for any particular Etsy shop. I do not like having an Etsy shop that sells products from more than 2 print on demand partners.
The reason is simple: it gets too complicated and it limits the options for combined shopping (which save you a ton of money).
If there is a particular new line of products I am interested in selling I would start a new Etsy shop.
This brings up the issue of innovation. You want to be with a POD partner that regularly introduces new products and new offerings.
This allows you to expand your own product line up without continuously having to add new print partners.
Printful (for instance) now allows you to collect personal messages (for gifts) from your Etsy store and they will automatically include it in your products when they fulfill it.
This level of innovation is small, but significant.
Let’s look at each store, why they’re successful, and how you can apply their techniques to your store.
Revenue (approximate): $100,000
WimlyMugs is an Etsy store that sells mugs.
But not any ordinary type of mug. They focus on mugs that feature a horoscope along with the option to include your name.
There were many reasons why this store is successful. But what stood out to us was their ability to personalize their products.
Everyone admires something a little bit more when it’s customized just for them. That’s why people get obsessed with horoscope readings, and why it’s a billion dollar industry.
When you pair a horoscope reading with a cute, personalized mug, it’s clear to see why this store has generated over $100,000 in sales.
How can you apply this to your store?
Where possible, give customers the option to personalize their own products in your store. Many people buy this as a cute gift for themselves, or for their horoscope-obsessed friends.
Revenue (approximate): $300,000
A lot of print-on-demand stores focus on selling t-shirts.
There’s no doubt that t-shirts are profitable, However, if you focus on one type of product, you limit the number of potential customers you attract. And how much money can potentially make.
HexAppealClothing were aware of this. Besides the common t-shirt, they also include other clothing, such as leggings and sports bras. Which have proven to be equally as profitable.
As a small clothing brand, being unique is key.
If you sell products that customers can easily find at the local mall, this might hinder your chances of making any sales.
Why? Take a plain white t-shirt as an example. This is one of the most accessible t-shirts anyone could find.
A tiny store on Etsy would likely be the last place to find a white t-shirt. There’s just way too many stores out there for you to compete on price (or quality).
It’s when you sell something completely unique—something hard to find at the mall—that you give customers a reason to buy from you.
You want them to think: “If I don’t buy it from this store, where else will I be able to find it?”
Another benefit of selling products that are unique is that it gives you power to set your own price. If you’re one of the rare few selling it, you don’t need to worry about a customer price-checking your product on Amazon.
With this in mind, see if you can feature products in your online store that can’t be easily found at the mall.
For this brand, they chose to sell products like custom sports bras and leggings. But there’s other merch like sweatpants or tote bags you could look into. The opportunity is enormous.
Revenue (approximate): $100,000
Similar to store number one, SheMugs sells custom mugs for women.
Many of their top-selling designs, like this mug, are nothing but simple text. In the industry, we call these ‘text-based’ designs.
Not only can text-based designs be very profitable, but they’re also incredibly easy to create.
You don’t need to be a graphic designer to write a piece of text on a t-shirt. All you really need is a tool that allows you to place text on top of a white or transparent background.
We recommend that you use a tool called Canva. It’s free, and they have a wide range of amazing fonts you can try out.
But, of course, not every text-based design will be profitable. So, how do you create one that sells? Here’s a few tips:
Usually, finding a good design isn’t about re-inventing the wheel. It’s more to do with looking at what other people are buying. Then, re-create the design in a way that’s unique to your niche.
Revenue (approximate): $500,000
This store sells a range of arty designs that are printed onto household items.
And, looking at the number of sales they’ve achieved, it’s clear these types of products are in huge demand.
Most designers typically choose to sell their art on a canvas. Again, this may be profitable, but it’s not a unique way to market art work. And remember, being unique gets rewarded.
That’s why Sharpshirter has taken a completely different route.
Instead, they’ve applied their artwork onto household accessories that people use every day. For example, bath mats and shower curtains.
This is another example of going against the grain, but it’s not just bath mats and shower curtains you can do this with. You can place artwork onto pillows, aprons, towels, even bean bags!
There are so many different types of products to test.
Revenue (approximate): $200,000
Different to all the stores above, this store sells funny and quirky products that feature famous celebrities.
Now, one thing to keep in mind is that this is completely illegal.
While it may be tempting to profit from a celebrity’s existing fan-base, it can lead you into legal troubles.
The reason why is because celebrities are protected under a law called Personality Rights. This gives them the right to control the use of their name, image, and likeness for commercial products being sold. So you can’t simply slap any celebrity’s face onto a t-shirt and start selling it.
However, like with anything, some are able to get away with it. And that’s usually because, even though it’s illegal, some celebrities just don’t have time to pursue such small sellers like us.
Moreover, some celebrities see it as a means of gaining more publicity!
On the other hand, there are workaround solutions to piggybacking off of a well-known person, or brand. Here’s an article that shows you four legal ways to sell branded products.
Studying other successful stores can be the best way to fast-track your success. Chances are if it’s working for them, then it may work for you.
Whether you’re just starting out, or already have an online store, these stores may offer you a fresh perspective on how to market your next product.
While these 7 print partners represents what I have a personal experience with. They are by no means the only ones.
There are dozens of print on demand partners that you could use. You could even create custom orders and work with ShineOn, Subliminator or even Redbubble.
It really depends on your broader ideas and the amount of time you have to invest.
Some other print on demand partners for Etsy that you could look into includes Prodigi, The Art Of Where and Print Aura. I’ve heard good things from all of them.
Having back-up providers is always a good thing. You never know when you may need it!