Etsy Dropshipping: What Is It and How Does It Work? 

Etsy dropshipping refers to selling on the Etsy platform, but without making the product yourself. It involves a supplier who will deliver your goods to our Etsy customers. 

 min read
November 23, 2023
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Although I have done Etsy dropshipping before, I must be transparent here that I did not pursue it any further because I was looking for a more flexible dropshipping model—building my store.

In this article, I will share with you the things I learned, such as:

  • Etsy’s acceptable items for selling
  • Pros and cons of dropshipping on Etsy
  • What Etsy allows for dropshipping

In the end, I am confident that you will have the right foundation for dropshipping on the Etsy platform. Let us start!  

Key Takeaways

  • Etsy dropshipping is great for artists
  • You will succeed on Etsy if you look for a niche that serves a particular market
  • Print-on-demand is the best business model for Etsy dropshipping
  • Etsy is a huge marketplace where you can find millions of potential customers

Can You Dropship in Etsy and What Are the Rules?

Yes, you can dropship on Etsy, but there are several rules you must know. Although Etsy does not specifically use the word “dropshipping,” they do allow it, provided that you do not resell items that you did not design. 

This is where it gets murky. What is dropshipping anyway and what is reselling? To best answer this, below is a screenshot from Etsy’s Policy Page.  

As you can see, they do not allow selling items that you did not make. They only allow reselling in the “vintage” category. 

However, it is OKAY to sell items that you DESIGNED. What we can gather from this page is that yes, you can sell items or even dropship them, provided that you designed the item yourself. Later, I will show you how to do this.    

How Dropshipping on Etsy Works

Dropshipping on Etsy is not any different from any dropshipping, except that you will do it on the Etsy platform. In a nutshell, below are the things you must do.

  • Choose products you want to sell
  • Find dropshipping suppliers
  • Create your Etsy store
  • Upload your products

Once you make a sale on the Etsy platform, you must contact your supplier, pay them, and then they will ship the item to your customer.

The biggest challenge on Etsy is that they do not allow mass-produced items in the marketplace. As such, you can say goodbye to Alibaba or AliExpress. The items you must sell on Etsy must be hand-made. They must be unique. 

What if you are not an artist? Is this the end of your dreams? No, certainly not. You can dropship on Etsy by using print-on-demand platforms. These are companies that will print your design on blank products of your choice. 

You do not even have to order in bulk. Like the common dropshipping method, print-on-demand companies allow single orders only. You will only pay them after a customer purchases from you. Later, I will provide you with a list of print-on-demand suppliers you can use on the Etsy platform.

How to Choose a Niche & Product for Etsy Dropshipping

It is difficult to decide what to sell on Etsy, considering that they do not allow reselling and mass-produced goods. So, how will you choose your niche? 

The first thing I would do is select a niche based on a theme. Here are some examples: 

  • Astrology / Astronomy
  • Daddy / Mommy quotes
  • Jokes/humor

After selecting a theme, you can choose blank print-on-demand products, like mugs, canvas prints, etc. What you will do is sell many types of items, and all these items have prints related to your theme. 

For example, you can sell mugs, shirts, coasters, and notebooks—all with zodiac sign prints and designs. This way, your Etsy store has an identity. People who come here immediately know that you are the go-to store for zodiac signs. 

The other method is to select an industry. For example, you may choose yoga. In this case, you will only look for products that people can use in their yoga exercises. From here, you can sell yoga pants, yoga mats, scented candles, etc. 

Etsy Prohibited Selling Explained

Etsy has a list of prohibited items, which is a long list if you ask me. In this section, I will attempt to summarize the listing policy of Etsy. 

What’s most important is that they have a zero-tolerance policy for anything that promotes hate and violence, or anything that glorifies it. Anybody who violates this policy will have their account terminated immediately.

In general, these are the items you cannot sell on Etsy: 

  • Alcohol, tobacco, and anything related to drugs. Even medical drugs and devices are not welcome on Etsy.
  • Products that have medical claims like supplements 
  • Dangerous items and hazardous materials, such as radioactive items
  • Animals, animal products, and human remains. 
  • Anything that supports or glorifies hatred and violence
  • Any illegal item a regulated item internationally 
  • Nudity, pornography, and adult content

There are other rules that you must know, such as the nature of the product itself. Etsy is a marketplace for unique items, particularly handcrafted ones. You cannot sell anything that is mass-manufactured in a factory. 

One exception here is vintage items (mass-manufactured). However, the vintage item you sell must at least be 20 years old. 

In addition, you must only sell hand-made items that you either made or designed. If you work with a production company, such as a print-on-demand company like Printify or Printful, you must disclose that in your listing. 

With all these rules, we can say that you cannot sell a handcrafted item that has hate speech in it.

You also cannot sell items that look vintage but are not vintage. If you so much as use the word “vintage” in your listing for a non-vintage item, Etsy will flag you for false representation of your products.

Benefits of Dropshipping on Etsy

Now, I want to talk about the benefits of selling on Etsy. Why should you choose Etsy on other platforms, and what are your gains? Below are the benefits of selling on Etsy:   

  • Etsy is a place for creative people
  • Etsy is a huge marketplace 
  • Customers on Etsy are “better” customers

Allow me to explain each one. 

1. Etsy is a place for creative people

The creators of Etsy built this marketplace for artistic people. They wanted an online marketplace where artists could sell what they had to offer. They also wanted a marketplace where buyers could find unique items that they would not find somewhere else.  

Because of this, you can also rest assured that no one else is selling the same product designs as yours. Sometimes, you may come across some copycats, but you can always report them to Etsy. 

Etsy is an ideal place to dropship if you are a designer, or if you have an eye for great design. You can pay artists for their work and use their designs in your products.  

2. Etsy is a huge marketplace 

Back in 2022, the annual revenue of Etsy is around $13 billion. It is one of the biggest marketplaces in the world. 

There are 81 million active buyers on the platform. These buyers purchased at least once in the last 12 months. While this pales in comparison with Amazon’s size, I can say that it is still a huge opportunity if you are an artist. There is no other marketplace for artists where you can find this many buyers! 

3. Customers on Etsy are “better” customers

I hate to categorize or stereotype consumers, but I must. Etsy buyers are a bit “elite,” if you ask me. What I mean by this is that they have more money to spend, and they certainly are easier to deal with. After all, these are people who have good tastes.

Not that I am disparaging Amazon buyers, but Amazon is for the masses. It is where you will find buyers who are always in a hurry, even if they paid a paltry amount of money. These customers are also the ones who are quick to leave negative feedback, believing that they should have gotten better quality for what little they paid for. 

In my opinion, it is a good idea to dropship on Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, provided that this is really the business model you want. On the other hand, there is really nothing wrong with building a store on the Shopify platform. You can also do it in WooCommerce. 

There are, however, challenges to building your store. For one, you need to know something about web design. You also need some serious knowledge about web traffic, social media management, and many more—all of which are not big problems when you launch a store on Etsy. 

Pros and Cons of Dropshipping on Etsy

Before you decide if Etsy is the right marketplace for you, let me provide you with a list of the pros and cons of dropshipping on Etsy.

Pros of Etsy Dropshipping

  • Big Market – there are 95 million active buyers on Etsy. These are people who come to the platform to buy—they are actively looking for a product. You no longer have to market your Etsy listings as you would in your store.
  • Advertising – similar to Amazon, you have an option to advertise your product on the Etsy platform. There is a cost associated with it, but then your listings will have better visibility on the platform.
  • Easy to Use – Etsy is a platform that offers simplicity. It is easy to use and integrates with many other platforms.

Cons of Etsy Dropshipping

  • Too Picky on Products – Etsy is not a place to sell mass-manufactured products. You must ensure that you make or design all the items you sell. In addition, to this, you must declare on the platform that you have a manufacturing partner. As such, people will see that you are selling your products from a supplier. 
  • Listing Cost – the marketplace is not exactly free to use. You must pay a listing fee of $0.20 per product every four months. If you have like 100 dropshipping products, it translates to a fee of $20 every four months.
  • No Modification – unlike Shopify or WooCommerce, you cannot modify your Etsy store. it is like Facebook where all product listings look the same, with the same areas for features, pricing, etc.  

If you ask me, the pros of Etsy far outweigh the cons. The truth is that you will have access to more people if you dropship on Etsy than if you build your Shopify store. However, you must also take into account the limitations of Etsy, especially the competition.

Three Print-on-Demand Suppliers for Etsy

In this section, I will discuss the three best print-on-demand companies that I recommend for dropshipping. You can integrate all three platforms on Etsy. 

1. Gelato

Gelato is a print-on-demand (POD) supplier and platform. It is where you can find products like mugs, shirts, cards, and tote bags—all of which you can design and sell on Etsy. They even have a photo book, which is not a common POD product at all.

Gelato Features

Here are the features of Gelato: 

  • Integrations – you can integrate Gelato with several marketplaces and platforms. Some examples are Shopify, Wix, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce. You can also integrate Gelato and Etsy with no need for an API or third-party conduit. 
  • Multiple Production Site – the platform has business partnerships with POD suppliers in over 32 countries. You can choose which supplier to work with based on your target market.
  • Customer Support – one thing I love about Gelato is that they offer 24/7 customer support through chat. They also have a wide range of articles that users can read to solve common issues. 
  • Product Selection – there are many blank products that you can choose from, such as calendars, mugs, and clothing for men, women, children, and more. 

Pros of Gelato 

  • Worldwide print-on-demand products
  • The platform is free to use
  • There is a design editor for blank products; no need to use photo editing software programs
  • They offer discounts to subscribers 

Cons of Gelato

  • Premium product mock-ups are only available to paying subscribers

Gelato Pricing

Gelato offers four pricing plans, including a free one where you can integrate the store with a maximum of two platforms. Then, there is Gelato+, Gold, and Platinum.

Here are the prices: 

  • Gelato Plus – costs $14.99 per month; you can get as much as 30% off on standard shipping. This plan also gives you access to premium mock-ups.
  • Gold – costs $99 per month; you can get as much as 50% off on standard shipping. 
  • Platinum – no fixed price; you get fixed rates on shipping.    

Gelato is a good print-on-demand platform for Etsy. It has many products, but then you have to spend more money if you want to access the other cool features. 

As a final word on this area, I recommend that you select only one POD supplier in the meantime. You can integrate all three, but you will put yourself under extreme stress if you use all three at the same time. 

Browse the product catalog of Printify and do the same with Printful and Gelato. After that, list down the merits of each and decide which POD platform is best for your business.

2. Printify

Printify is one of the biggest POD companies and it is free to use. What I particularly like about Printify is that you do not need to pay to be able to use all the features. It has 900+ products, and like Gelato, it works with global suppliers.

Printify Features

  • Large Catalog – with over 900+ types of products to choose from, you have so many options as far as niche goes. Some examples of the products that you can find here are shirts, mugs, notebooks, stickers, and many more. 
  • Designer Tool – the platform has a free design tool where you can generate mock-ups for your products; this tool comes with no extra fee. All account types have access to the same mock-up tool. 
  • Integration – you can integrate Printify with Etsy, Shopify, Walmart, eBay, and even TikTok. Like Gelato, you can integrate Printify straight with Etsy, with no need for building a Shopify dropshipping store or buying a pre-built Shopify store.

Printify Pros

  • Lots of products to choose from
  • It is free to use the platform
  • They offer superb customer support
  • You can get discounted prices if you are a paying subscriber

Printify Cons

  • Only a few mock-ups per product; you must use PlaceIt to generate better mock-ups

Printify Pricing 

Printify is free to use, but there is an option to upgrade. The paid plan costs $24.99 per month. At this price, you can integrate your Printify account with 10 stores. In addition, you can get up to 20% discount on all products.  

There is another plan called Enterprise, but the price depends on how big your business is. With this plan, you can integrate your Printify account with an unlimited number of stores. 

Printify is a great partner for Etsy print-on-demand dropshipping, as they have print providers in over 110 countries. Right now, there are only 80+ print suppliers here, but they can keep up with the demands of over two million merchants using Printify.

3. Printful

Printful is another big print-on-demand company that you can use to dropship on Etsy. The company has been around since 2013, and they have sold over 72 million products. The company is so big that it ships around one million products a month.

Printful Features

  • Integrations – Printful integrates with several platforms. Some of these include Shopify, Etsy, WooCommerce, Wix, and many more.
  • Embroidery – you can sell products with embroidered prints, not just direct-to-garment prints.  
  • Warehousing – the company can warehouse your goods, even if they are not Printful products. This service is great for big businesses that need to order bulk products or those who are not into white-label dropshipping.
  • Design – like the previous two, you can use the design tool Printful for free. They also have a logo maker that comes with more than 100 templates.

Printful Pros

  • The app is easy and free to use
  • It has a mobile app where you can view your orders and fulfill them
  • Printful integrates with many marketplaces and e-commerce platforms

Printful Cons

  • You can only sell embroidered items if you are a paying member

Printful Pricing

Printful is free to use, but you have the option to upgrade to a paid plan. The price is $24.99 monthly. The main benefit of the paid plan is that you get paid discounts on all products. You will also have access to branding options, custom packaging, and custom marketing materials like photo and video shoots.

Etsy Dropshipping FAQ

Does Etsy allow dropshipping?

Yes, Etsy allows dropshipping, provided that your products are not mass-manufactured. It must be you who designed the product, and there has to be an element of art or personalization to it. 

Is it legal to dropship?

Yes, dropshipping is a legal business. There are no laws against dropshipping. However, you must check your local regulations and find out if you have to register your business, pay taxes, etc. 

Can I dropship items from Etsy to Shopify?

Yes, you can connect Etsy with Shopify. To do this, you must already have an Etsy account and some products listed in it. Integration is easy because there are apps you can use to facilitate the integration between these two platforms. 

What can I sell on Etsy?

You can sell anything on Etsy that is artistic and handcrafted. Make sure to read the Etsy Selling House Rules. This guide should tell you what you can and cannot sell on the platform.

Summary: Etsy Dropshipping

The next step is to decide what niche you want to penetrate. Go to Printify, Printful, or Gelato and check their services. Choose a product or a few products that you want to sell and think about how you would go about designing them.

Do not dropship on Etsy without a plan. The one thing you must do before even signing up for an account is to have a business plan. Settle on a niche, a list of products, designs, pricing, etc., and you should be ready to compete!

Try Dropship
Discover winning products to sell today.
Shopify Offer
Start and sell with Shopify $1/month for 3 months.
Try Dropship
Discover winning products to sell today.
Shopify Offer
Start and sell with Shopify for $1 for one month.

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