Unveiling the Secrets of Etsy Print-on-Demand

Unveiling the Secrets of Etsy Print-on-Demand

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is Etsy?
  3. The Reality of Selling Print-on-Demand Products on Etsy
    • Limited Success on Etsy
    • Time Investment for Success
    • Understanding and Managing Fees
    • Dealing with Sales Tax
    • Calculating Profitability
  4. Is Etsy a Good Side Hustle Opportunity?
  5. Conclusion


Have you ever wondered how to make some extra income on the side, without getting another job? If so, you might be interested in selling print-on-demand products on Etsy. In this article, I will share my experience and insights on Etsy as a side hustle opportunity. I will discuss why Etsy is compelling, the reality of selling on Etsy, and whether or not it is a viable option for generating income.

What is Etsy?

Etsy is an e-commerce marketplace that allows sellers to open online stores and list their products for sale. It is one of the largest e-commerce platforms, with over 460 million visits in February 2023. Known for its focus on handmade, customized, personalized, vintage, and craft supply products, Etsy attracts a large audience of buyers worldwide. With 89.4 million buyers and 5.4 million active sellers as of the end of 2022, it offers immense potential for reaching customers and generating sales.

The Reality of Selling Print-on-Demand Products on Etsy

While Etsy may seem like an attractive platform for selling print-on-demand products, there are several important considerations to understand before getting started. Here are five key aspects of selling on Etsy that I wish I knew before embarking on this journey.

Limited Success on Etsy

Despite the success stories highlighted by some YouTubers, the reality is that not every seller on Etsy achieves significant sales. While Etsy reports having 5.4 million active sellers, they define "active sellers" as those who have either sold an item or incurred a bill charge in the last 12 months. This definition effectively masks the number of sellers who do not make any sales at all. Additionally, Etsy discloses that the gross merchandise sales per active seller in 2022 was only $2,169. Therefore, it is essential to recognize that while some sellers may thrive on Etsy, many others barely make any sales.

Time Investment for Success

While it is relatively easy to set up a shop on Etsy, achieving regular sales requires a significant time investment. The platform attracts immense competition, with millions of sellers and hundreds of millions of items listed for sale. To increase the chances of making sales, sellers are advised to list a substantial number of items, often in the hundreds. Each listing must be of high quality, featuring appealing pictures, compelling descriptions, and optimized for search engine optimization (SEO). Consequently, sellers end up spending a considerable amount of time creating and optimizing listings, plus additional time engaging in marketing activities and managing customer inquiries.

Understanding and Managing Fees

Fees can eat into the profits earned from selling on Etsy. Sellers must be aware of the various fees charged by the platform and factor them into their pricing model. Etsy charges a listing fee of 20 cents per item, lasting for four months. This means that even if an item doesn't sell, sellers need to cover the listing fees for each listed product. Moreover, Etsy charges a transaction fee of 6.5% plus a payment processing fee of 3% for sold items. Sellers should also be aware of potential advertising fees that can be charged if a customer arrives at the shop through an advertising link. Lastly, sellers engaging in international sales may be liable for VAT fees depending on the customer's location. Properly incorporating these fees into pricing is crucial to ensure profitability.

Dealing with Sales Tax

Etsy collects and remits sales tax for most states. However, if sellers use suppliers to source products for resale, they may face additional sales tax obligations on their purchases. Sellers will need to obtain a resale certificate and register as a sales tax vendor in their respective states to qualify for sales tax exemptions. Registering as a sales tax vendor necessitates filing regular sales tax returns, even if Etsy already collects and pays the sales tax owed on sales to customers. Managing sales tax obligations can add administrative complexity to the selling process.

Calculating Profitability

Ultimately, success on Etsy boils down to profitability. Sellers should focus on calculating their profit margins rather than relying solely on sales figures. Profit margins take into account the cost of the product, shipping fees, Etsy's transaction fees, advertising fees, and any other expenses incurred. One must consider the amount of time spent on all aspects of selling on Etsy and the resulting profit per hour invested. Evaluating profitability accurately allows sellers to understand the true potential of Etsy as a side hustle opportunity.

Is Etsy a Good Side Hustle Opportunity?

Given the insights shared about the reality of selling on Etsy, it is essential to consider whether Etsy is a worthwhile side hustle opportunity. While some sellers may experience significant success, the data from Etsy suggests that the average seller may struggle to generate substantial profits. Success on Etsy requires a significant time investment, strategic optimization, and diligent management of fees and taxes. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully consider the amount of time and effort one is willing to invest before pursuing Etsy as a side hustle.


Selling print-on-demand products on Etsy can be an appealing side hustle opportunity. However, it is important to have realistic expectations and be aware of the challenges and considerations involved. By understanding the realities of selling on Etsy, including limited success rates, time investment requirements, fee management, sales tax obligations, and profitability calculations, individuals can make informed decisions about whether or not Etsy is the right platform for their side hustle endeavors. Remember, success on Etsy, like any business venture, requires dedication, strategic planning, and ongoing adaptation.

I am a ETSY merchant, I am opening several ETSY stores. I use Etsyshop to find ETSY stores and track competitor stores. Etsyshop really helped me a lot, I also subscribe to Etsyshop's service, I hope more people can like Etsyshop! — Ecomvy

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