Print on demand (POD) is a great way for entrepreneurs to start their own businesses with limited overhead. What you may not know, however, is that Etsy can be a solid platform to use to start your own POD business.
Take Lisa Webb, for example. Since starting her online business, she’s sold over $450,000 selling t-shirts—at first exclusively on Etsy. She joined me on the latest episode of the How to Sell Online podcast.
So how does Print on Demand work?
Print on demand allows online sellers to create products without having to order large quantities of inventory and store it. With POD, products are printed only when someone orders them. This means that you don't have to worry about stocking up on inventory. You save cash and don’t have to have your living room and office look like a warehouse.
One reason that Lisa, like other online sellers, chose to start her business on Etsy was its reputation as a well-known and trusted platform. It has a large user base and is a well-trafficked site.
For Lisa, it meant that because Etsy generated the traffic for her, she didn’t have to spend a lot on ads or even work with influencers at first. She was instead able to devote her time to creating great designs that customers would be drawn to.
Lisa also took the time to explore Etsy’s search engine optimization (SEO) tools—which she shared with me during our conversation. For example, unlike Google, you can use as many tags as you want. She also suggests that although there are online tools you can use to help with titles or descriptions, one of the best approaches is to just use common sense. In her case, what would people type in if they wanted to buy a t-shirt?
Choosing the Right Print on Demand Company to Worth With
You might be wondering how Lisa knew what print on demand provider to work with for her shirts.
Well…through trial and error.
She read reviews, she ordered samples, and she chose the right one for her company. The funny thing is that the company she prefers to work with for POD is different than the one I tend to work with. I guess the moral is to just find the provider that works best for you!
Something that was really exciting about Lisa’s journey is her decision to branch out. She started two additional stores—both aimed at helping other online sellers who were also selling t-shirts.
And the other? Lisa decided that it was time to launch her own website. You might question why, given her continuing success on Etsy. But it all comes down to Lisa not wanting to have all of her online selling “eggs’ in one bucket. By starting and growing her own website, she’s able to maintain control over its design, how it functions, and she wants to market it.
Basically, she’s not playing in someone else’s sandbox—she’s playing in her own. And that’s an important thing in ecommerce.
Etsy and other marketplaces have been known to make changes that leave sellers scrambling to adjust. While it remains a great place to start your business, moving towards starting your own online store is a good goal for the future.
There are so many other great tips that Lisa was able to share about the methods she used to maximize her business success—you’re really going to want to grab and pen and notebook and listen to the podcast episode.
Top 10 takeaways from my conversation with Lisa:
- Change your mindset—and live the life you were created to live.
- Take the first step.
- With print on demand, find someone reputable to work with.
- Do what you can with what you know.
- Charge what your product is worth.
- SEO is a must on Etsy.
- Focus on your numbers, not your competition’s.
- Play in your own sandbox.
- Look for new opportunities.
- Ready, fire, aim.
About Lisa Webb:
Lisa is a serial entrepreneur who started a print-on-demand t-shirt business in 2019. After scaling her t-shirt business to multi-six figures, she and her wife started DollyMocks, a store focused on providing t-shirt mockups, designs, and tutorials to help business owners get started and grow their online businesses. Lisa and her wife live in Illinois with their 2 dogs and are excited to be welcoming a baby boy in January.
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