Etsy is all about unique items and to be honest, when creating print-on-demand t-shirts it’s a little hard to be unique. The competition is fierce and it’s hard to have an idea that hasn’t already been done.
Sure, you can tweak an idea and give it your flare, but when it comes down to it, your design will most likely be very similar to 20 or 30 other designs on the platform. It feels like you’ll never break through.
Personalization Can Give You Differentiation
I think one way to get a little help with standing out is to offer personalization. That’s where your customer can add something to the design that is their choice, like their name or team number.
There are a lot of people offering personalization on Etsy but there are a ton more that don’t offer it. That means your competition much lower. The problem is how to do it with a POD provider that is integrated with your Etsy account.
I can speak to how it is done on Printify, I’m not yet familiar with any other platform.
How Etsy & Printify Work on a Normal Order (no personalization)
Normally when you set-up a design that will be printed by Printify, and assuming you have already connected your Etsy account to your Printify account, you make the design, upload it to Printify, create your product, set your pricing, and then publish to Etsy. Then you go to Etsy, add your mock-up photos, fill in Etsy’s fields, tweak your description, add tags, and publish.
When Printify publishes to Etsy it sends over the SKU number of each variation to Etsy. There is one variation for each size and color. So, if you have 5 colors and 5 sizes there will be 25 variations, each with a different SKU number.
When an order comes in for one of those variations, Etsy sends the information of the buyer, plus the SKU number of the item purchased to Printify. Printify then takes that info, matches it to your design (because it’s set in your account), prints and ships.
Setting Up an Etsy Listing with Personalization to Print on Printify
With normal orders it’s all automatic, the only thing that stops the process is if you step in before an item goes to production. But, with a personalized product, you MUST step-in, you need to supply a design that has the personalization. So, how do you insure your order won’t go to production before you have time to add the personalized design to the product?
The key is the SKU number.
If an order is sent to Printify without a SKU number, it will go to the ‘Other Orders’ tab in your account and will sit there until you intervene.
Here’s how it works.
When setting up a personalized item, I add the item to Printify and publish it to Etsy as normal. Then, I go into the Etsy variations and delete the SKU.
The key to the process is to eliminate the SKU so when the order is sent to Printify they don’t automatically print the order. Instead, orders without a SKU sit in your ‘Other Orders’ tab until you can replace the design with your personalized design.
Here’s a video to show you how I do it.
Status of Our Print-On-Demand Business
I think it might be a good idea to report where our business stands at the end of each post. That way you can see our progression and get an idea of how long it takes to start making a profit.
We’re still plugging along, but after two months it’s getting hard to find the motivation to add new designs every day, in fact, I haven’t been. Thanksgiving came and I got busy with the shopping and family stuff and our little Etsy shop saw no new designs. I finally started adding again yesterday.
Here are our numbers as of today, December 1, 2022.
Active listings: 162
Sales to date: 3
Total revenue: $96.60
Total Etsy fees: $43.76
Total Etsy ad fees: $23.53
Total Printify Cost of Goods: $65.08
Gross Profit/Loss: <$35.77>
Mock ups: $47.09
Keyword tools: $19.97
Net Profit/Loss: <$102.83>
I know it looks bad but we don’t think so, it takes time and a little money to get a business started. And to have only spent $100ish so far is not bad. Now, we just need to keep going and get more sales.
Until next time ~