Making a Choice: Etsy vs Shopify for Print on Demand

Making a Choice: Etsy vs Shopify for Print on Demand

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding the Difference Between Etsy and Shopify
  3. The Strategies for Etsy
    • Choosing Passionate Niches
    • Regular Upload Schedule
    • Staying Up-to-date with Trends
    • Building a Large Product Catalog
    • Showing Up in Search Results
    • Dealing with Etsy Fees and Potential Store Shutdowns
  4. The Strategies for Shopify
    • Creating a Brand within a Niche
    • Streamlined Product Line
    • Using Social Media Marketing
    • Designing Your Own Store
    • Setting Your Own Policies
    • Investing in Marketing Budget
    • Paying for Shopify and Domain Name
  5. Pros and Cons of Etsy
    • Pros: Easy to Use, No Marketing Budget, Established Customer Base
    • Cons: High Competition, Continuously Creating New Designs, Etsy Fees, Potential Store Shutdowns
  6. Pros and Cons of Shopify
    • Pros: Creative Control, Branding Opportunities, Stability, Flexibility, Growth Potential
    • Cons: Marketing Efforts Required, Out-of-Pocket Expenses
  7. Conclusion
  8. FAQ

Etsy vs Shopify: Which Platform is Right for Your Print on Demand Business?

In the world of print on demand, two popular platforms often come up for discussion - Etsy and Shopify. Both have their pros and cons, but many people struggle to decide which one is the best fit for their business. The key to making an informed decision lies in understanding the strategies involved in each platform and evaluating them against your goals and preferences. In this article, we will explore the strategies for both Etsy and Shopify, analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each platform, and help you determine which one is the better option for your print on demand business.

Understanding the Difference Between Etsy and Shopify

Before diving into the strategies, it's important to understand the fundamental differences between Etsy and Shopify. Etsy is a marketplace solely focused on handmade and vintage items, where sellers can set up their own shops within the platform. On the other hand, Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows sellers to create their own online stores from scratch. While both platforms enable you to sell your print on demand products, their approaches and requirements vary significantly.

The Strategies for Etsy

If you decide to go with Etsy, here are some key strategies you should consider:

1. Choosing Passionate Niches

To stand out on Etsy, it's crucial to choose niches that you are passionate about and create designs that resonate with your target audience. By focusing on specific niches, you can establish yourself as an expert and attract customers who are interested in the products you offer.

2. Regular Upload Schedule

Consistency is key on Etsy. It's essential to maintain a regular upload schedule and constantly add new products and designs to your shop. Most successful Etsy sellers create new designs daily, staying on top of trends and seasonal demands, ensuring their product catalog remains fresh and appealing to customers.

3. Staying Up-to-date with Trends

Keeping up with current trends is vital on Etsy. Whether it's seasonal occasions or popular themes, incorporating trending designs into your product catalog can significantly increase your chances of making sales. Researching and staying ahead of trends in your niche should be an integral part of your Etsy strategy.

4. Building a Large Product Catalog

Success on Etsy often lies in having a large product catalog. Aim to build an extensive collection of designs, targeting various niches and themes. The goal is to have a diverse range of products that can appeal to different customers, increasing your chances of making consistent sales.

5. Showing Up in Search Results

Etsy is a search-based platform, meaning customers find products by searching for specific keywords. To succeed on Etsy, it's crucial to optimize your listings and ensure they appear in relevant search results. This involves using relevant keywords, writing compelling titles and descriptions, and utilizing tags effectively.

6. Dealing with Etsy Fees and Potential Store Shutdowns

While Etsy offers a user-friendly platform, there are some downsides to consider. With Etsy, you'll be subject to fees for listing products and transaction fees for each sale. These fees can eat into your profits, especially if your margins are tight. Additionally, there is a risk of Etsy randomly shutting down stores, which can be a setback for your business.

The Strategies for Shopify

If you prefer the flexibility and control of building your own online store, the following strategies for Shopify might be more suitable:

1. Creating a Brand within a Niche

With Shopify, you have the opportunity to create a unique brand within your chosen niche. Carefully curate your product offerings and design a cohesive brand identity that resonates with your target audience. Building a brand allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition and establish a loyal customer base.

2. Streamlined Product Line

Unlike Etsy, where a large product catalog is advantageous, Shopify often thrives with a streamlined product line. Focus on a few core product types and create designs specifically tailored to those products. This approach allows you to maintain consistency, streamline your production process, and deliver a more focused customer experience.

3. Using Social Media Marketing

As a Shopify store owner, you'll need to invest time and effort into marketing your products. Utilize social media platforms to grow your following, engage with your audience, and drive traffic to your store. Social media marketing offers a powerful tool to showcase your products, build brand awareness, and drive sales.

4. Designing Your Own Store

One of the significant advantages of Shopify is the ability to design your own store. You have control over the visual elements, branding, and user experience. Tailor your store's aesthetics to align with your brand and create a seamless shopping experience that captivates your customers.

5. Setting Your Own Policies

With Shopify, you have the freedom to set your own policies, from shipping and return procedures to customer service standards. This allows you to shape your customers' experience and ensure it aligns with your brand values. You are not reliant on the policies and guidelines set by an external platform.

6. Investing in Marketing Budget

Unlike Etsy, where marketing is not a requirement, Shopify store owners must allocate a budget for marketing efforts. This can include paid social media advertising, influencer collaborations, or other promotional strategies. While it does require an investment, effective marketing campaigns can yield significant returns.

7. Paying for Shopify and Domain Name

Keep in mind that Shopify comes with monthly fees for using their platform. Additionally, purchasing a domain name is necessary to create a professional and branded presence for your online store. These are costs you need to consider as part of your overall business expenses.

Pros and Cons of Etsy


  • Easy to use platform
  • No marketing budget required
  • Established customer base


  • High competition among sellers
  • Continuous need to create new designs
  • Etsy fees can eat into profits
  • Potential store shutdowns

Pros and Cons of Shopify


  • Creative control over your store's appearance and branding
  • Opportunity to build a distinct brand
  • Stable platform with flexibility and scalability
  • Potential for growth and expansion


  • Requires investment in marketing efforts
  • Additional expenses for Shopify platform and domain name


Choosing between Etsy and Shopify for your print on demand business is a decision that depends on your goals, preferences, and approach. While Etsy offers simplicity and an established marketplace, Shopify provides more control, branding opportunities, and growth potential. Assess your priorities, evaluate the strategies outlined for each platform, and make an informed decision that aligns with your vision for your business.


Q: Can I use both Etsy and Shopify simultaneously? A: Yes, it is possible to have a presence on both platforms. However, managing two platforms requires additional effort, and you'll need to consider factors such as inventory management and product listings.

Q: Which platform has lower fees? A: Etsy has lower upfront costs, as it does not require a monthly subscription fee like Shopify. However, Etsy charges fees for listing products and transactions, which can cut into your profits. Shopify requires a monthly fee but offers more flexibility and control over your business.

Q: Is it necessary to have a large product catalog on Etsy? A: While having a large product catalog can be advantageous on Etsy, it is not a strict requirement. You can find success with a smaller catalog if your designs are unique and resonate with your target audience.

Q: Do I need programming skills to set up a Shopify store? A: No, you don't need programming skills to set up a Shopify store. The platform provides a user-friendly interface and customization options that allow you to design and launch your store without coding knowledge.

Q: Can I switch from Etsy to Shopify or vice versa? A: Yes, it is possible to switch between Etsy and Shopify. However, the process may involve transferring your listings and adjusting to the different platform's requirements. It's important to plan and prepare for the transition to minimize any disruptions to your business.

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