11 Steps To Make Money On Etsy Without Making Anything PLUS Ultimate List Of Ways You Can Try

April 5, 2024

The essential steps to make money on Etsy without making anything are:

  1. Choose your niche for making money on Etsy.
  2. Conduct thorough market research.
  3. Create your Etsy shop.
  4. Gather your inventory.
  5. Select a print-on-demand (POD) platform.
  6. Determine order fulfillment management.
  7. Apply for Etsy affiliate.
  8. Optimize product listings.
  9. Strategize your pricing.
  10. Promote your Etsy shop.
  11. Scale your Etsy shop.

Etsy gets 462.1 million visits per month according to SimilarWeb. That counts for millions of potential customers and buyers. With this amount of traffic, the platform offers a great opportunity for a dedicated Etsy shop owner.

However, Etsy also has over 60 million items listed for sale according to VentureBeat. This means there’s stiff competition among sellers on the platform. Making money can also take time depending on your chosen niche and products.

In this article, we'll delve into 15 steps to navigate Etsy successfully without crafting products yourself. We'll uncover methods such as selling digital items, employing dropshipping, leveraging Etsy's affiliate system, and more.

Is It Possible To Make Money On Etsy Without Making Anything?

Yes, it’s possible to make money on Etsy without making anything. You can do this by selling digital downloads, dropshipping, print-on-demand products, printables, reselling items, supplies arts and crafts materials, and becoming an Etsy affiliate.

While the overhead is low for these methods, competition is high. For example, some digital product sellers on Etsy can earn over $500 a month, but the majority make less. Success in this niche requires strong marketing skills and a good understanding of the Etsy platform. Some sellers like Suzi Whitford’s Printables By Number claim that it’s possible to earn thousands of dollars a month selling digital products, but this isn't the norm for everyone.

11 Steps To Make Money On Etsy Without Making Anything

1. Choose Your Niche for Making Money on Etsy

Your niche is a specific area or category that you know about or are interested in. It could be anything from vintage clothing, digital prints, or even crafting supplies. 

Choose a niche that has a demand. This will help you understand your target audience and find products to sell or promote without creating them yourself. For example, there is a 48% increase in Etsy searches for “monthly budget” so budget planners in the productivity and organization niche are becoming more popular.

Here are some Etsy niches you can consider:

Digital Downloads

Digital downloads are files your customers buy and use on their mobile devices. Some examples are art prints, crafting patterns, templates, and e-books.

Design tools like Photoshop, Canva, or even Microsoft Word are handy for creating your digital products. It's important to save your files in a widely accessible format like PDF or JPEG so they'll be compatible with your buyer’s software.

You don't need to create the designs yourself. You can outsource production to a third-party graphic designer or freelancer. But keep in mind that you'll need to pay them a fee before you make a profit from selling your digital products on Etsy.

Etsy Dropshipping

Choose an Etsy dropshipping niche with the type of products you want to sell. Then look for suppliers who manufacture or offer those items. Go for ones that have good reviews and a solid reputation for delivering on time.

Alibaba and Global Sources are good places to look. Their platforms can connect you to factories and wholesalers that specialize in a wide range of quality products, from apparel to crafts to home goods.

When you’ve narrowed down your options, ask the supplier about their pricing, minimum order quantities, and delivery times. It's also a good idea to order samples before buying in bulk. This lets you check the product quality yourself before selling it in your shop.

Print-on-Demand Products

Print-on-demand (POD) products are items created and printed only after a customer places their order. Common POD items include t-shirts, mugs, and posters that can sometimes be personalized.

When you list a POD product on Etsy, you simply upload your design and select the types of products you want to sell. The POD service handles everything from printing to shipping once a sale occurs. Your role primarily involves design creation, setting up your Etsy listing, and managing customer service.

Etsy Printables

Similar to digital downloads, Etsy printables are files your customers download and use. The difference is that printables are meant to be printed instead of just used on a computer. Based on Etsy's Market Insights Report, around 25% of top-selling Etsy shops in the digital goods category sell printables.

To start, identify what type of printable you want to create and sell. It could be planners, calendars, art quotes, or worksheets. Choose something that interests you and has a market demand.

You can use Canva or Adobe Illustrator for designing your printables. Make your design clear and appealing to your target customers. It helps to use colors wisely and choose readable fonts. Once your design is ready, save it in a format that's easy for customers to download and print, such as PDF.

Reselling Products

Reselling products means buying items at a lower price and then listing them on your Etsy business at a marked-up price. You can find products to resell from different sources:

  • Wholesale Suppliers – Companies that sell products in bulk at discounted prices
  • Clearance Sales and Factory Outlets – Online and offline retail stores that sell original items at significantly reduced prices.
  • Thrift Stores – Stores that sell unique items that can fetch a higher price on Etsy due to their vintage or “one-of-a-kind” qualities.

When sourcing items, always consider the originality and demand of the product. Etsy favors unique and handcrafted items, so while reselling is allowed, you should look for products that fit the platform's guidelines and market demand. 

Craft Supplies

To capitalize on the demand for craft materials on Etsy, you can earn on the platform by sourcing and selling craft supplies. 

Crafters are always on the lookout for unique and affordable materials to use in their projects. You can source these supplies from wholesalers, clearance sales, or local suppliers, and then list them on the Etsy marketplace.

Items such as beads, fabrics, buttons, and crafting tools are in high demand. It's important to offer a range of options and keep your inventory updated based on current crafting trends.

2. Conduct Thorough Market Research

Market research involves gathering and analyzing data to understand trends, demand, and competition. 

To conduct effective research market on Etsy, explore its 'Bestsellers' section and read customer reviews. This will give you a better idea of which products are performing well and have high demand.

You can also consult Etsy's annual trend reports and use tools like EtsyRank or Marmalead to analyze popular search terms. You can use these keywords to optimize your product listings, titles, and descriptions to match what an Etsy shopper are looking for. These tools also show data on competitors' listings to compare their price points.

3. Create Your Etsy Shop

To create your Etsy shop, go to the Etsy website. Click 'Sell on Etsy' and make an Etsy account. Next, pick a unique name for your shop. This name should be easy for people to remember.

Once you have a name, list what you want to sell. This can be things like digital items or products you find elsewhere. Think about how much money you want to make and set your prices. Include different payment processing options like credit cards, PayPal, and Etsy Payments.

If you're selling things people need to have shipped, decide how you'll do this. Choose your shipping method and how much it will cost. Tell a potential buyer about your shop using a short description. Make sure to always follow Etsy's house rules and guidelines when running your store.

4. Gather Your Inventory

If you're reselling physical items or outsourcing production, you need to gather your inventory. You can either buy products in bulk from your chosen suppliers or set an agreed system with your dropshipping partner. 

For digital products, you need to create the files you'll upload on your Etsy listing. You can also outsource production to a freelance designer and have them come up with different variations. For instance, if you're selling digital planners, ask the freelancer to create 3 sets for daily, weekly, and monthly.

In all these cases, make sure that your inventory is high quality since it affects your customers' satisfaction and your shop's reputation. It also helps to prevent overstocking or supply shortages. 

5. Select a Print-on-Demand Platform

Print-on-Demand (POD) platforms let you create custom products using your designs, which are then produced and shipped directly to the customer only when they place an order. This means you can sell on Etsy without inventory.

Some POD platforms offer a wider variety of products than others. Whether you're interested in selling t-shirts, mugs, posters, or even phone cases, make sure that the platform caters to your niche. 

The platform should also integrate with your Etsy shop so you can automate listing products, updating inventory, and fulfilling orders. Many Etsy sellers use popular POD platforms like Printful, Printify, and AOP+.

6. Determine Order Fulfillment Management

To monetize your Etsy storefront, you need to set up your order fulfillment management system. This involves handling the storage, packaging, and shipping of products sold on your Etsy store. 

A survey by Metapack showed that 96% of online shoppers consider fast shipping as a primary factor for buying a product. So it’s important to have an efficient order fulfillment process.

This doesn't mean you need to manage everything yourself. You can partner with third-party fulfillment centers like ShipBob and Rakuten Super Logistics that offer fast services. You can also use software like ShipStation or Etsy's native shipping tools to streamline operations, automate label printing, and get discounted shipping rates.

7. Apply for Etsy Affiliate

Etsy affiliates earn a commission for every sale made through their affiliate links.

This doesn't require you to have products of your own. Instead, you promote items from other sellers. You can sign up for Etsy’s affiliate program and choose products that resonate with your audience or followers.

Once Etsy approves your application, you can share these product links on your blog, social media, or other platforms. When someone clicks on your affiliate link and buys a product, you earn a percentage of the sale. It's a simple way to generate income by promoting products already available on Etsy, without having to manage a shop yourself.

8. Optimize Product Listings

Optimizing your product listing means making sure that each of your product listings has a clear title, high-quality images, and a detailed description. 

Using relevant keywords in your listing title and description helps your products appear in Etsy search results. 

For example:

If you search for the keyword “2024 digital planner,” the listings that show up at the top are those with the exact terms in their title or feature image.

It’s also important to be thorough in your descriptions. Mention the dimensions, materials used, colors available, and any other details about your. Anticipate and answer questions a buyer might have.

9. Strategize Your Pricing

The right price for your Etsy products is a balance between covering costs, making a profit, and offering value to buyers.

Research your competitors and browse similar products on Etsy to note their prices. If your product offers something better, you might adjust your price to reflect this added value. 

Sometimes, buyers are willing to spend more on an item if they perceive it as special or if it addresses a particular problem.

After covering all expenses, you'll want to decide on a profit margin. This represents the amount you'll take home after all costs are deducted. While many sellers aim for a profit margin between 20-30%, the exact percentage can vary based on your product type and market demand.

10. Promote Your Etsy Shop

Even the best products on Etsy won't sell if customers don't know about them. Use social media marketing and share your store on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to showcase your items and drive traffic to your Etsy store.

You can also collaborate with influencers or bloggers in your niche to reach a wider audience. Consider investing in Etsy's paid advertising for better visibility within the platform. It helps to join online forums and communities related to your products to spread the word. 

11. Scale Your Etsy Shop

You can scale your Etsy shop once you have a steady flow of sales and a good idea of what’s working in your online store.

Scaling means expanding your product range or offering variations of your best-selling items.

Use analytics provided by Etsy to understand where your traffic comes from and which products are most popular. This data can guide you in stocking more of what your customers want. 

Scaling also involves streamlining your order processing and shipping to handle larger volumes. Consider automating certain aspects of your business or even hiring a shop manager or assistant for tasks like packaging or store management.

7 Ways for How To Make Money On Etsy Without Making Anything

1. Selling Digital Products

Selling digital products is a great way to make money on Etsy without making anything. It’s a low-overhead business model that doesn’t require shipping, storage, or inventory management. With digital products, you can earn up to $100 per week for new sellers and up to $3,000 per month for more established stores.

Digital products are downloadable items that customers can instantly access. You can design a digital product once and sell it repeatedly. Some examples of digital products include:

  • Digital Invitations
  • Digital Planners
  • Lightroom Presets
  • Digital Announcements
  • Social Media Graphics
  • Clip Art

2. Dropshipping

Etsy dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn't keep the products it sells in stock. 

Instead, when a product is sold, it's purchased from a third-party supplier and shipped directly to the customer. As a seller, you don’t need to handle the product. You only act as a middleman between the supplier and the customer. 

You need minimal investment for dropshipping, often starting as low as $100 to set up your online storefront and select products from suppliers. The average dropshipping income is around a 15% to 20% profit margin.

3. Print-on-Demand Products

Print-on-demand (POD) is another lucrative way to make money on Etsy without making a physical product yourself. In this model, products are created once a customer places an order. It removes the need for inventory since items are printed and shipped directly to the customer by a third-party provider.

As an Etsy seller, you only pay the supplier for the product after you've sold it. Your main role is designing the product and marketing it effectively on your Etsy store. The products range from t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, pillows, and more.

You can expect profit margins ranging from 20% to 60% with the print-on-demand model. For example:

A T-shirt might cost you $10 from the supplier, but you could sell it for $25 on Etsy. This gives you a $15 profit per sale. As your store gains traction and your designs become popular, you can earn thousands of dollars a month using this method.

4. Printables

Similar to digital products, printables are a profitable way to earn on Etsy without making anything. These are downloadable items that Etsy customers can buy and print at their convenience.

Making money through this business model depends on the quality of your designs and how well they cater to the demands of Etsy’s audience.

These are examples of printables you can sell on Etsy:

  • Art Prints
  • Label Templates
  • Learning Materials
  • Patterns For Knitting, Crocheting, or Sewing
  • Journals
  • Stickers
  • SVG Files 
  • Wallpapers 
  • Printable Planners (calendars or budget planners)
  • Gift tags 
  • Printable Party Decorations (cake toppers, and kids’ birthday party invitations)
  • Seasonal Printables (letters to Santa, Halloween pumpkin carving template)
  • Printable Color in Books for Kids
  • Printable Greeting Cards (Valentine’s Day cards, funny Birthday Cards, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day cards)
  • Printable Templates for small shops and businesses (client intake forms, Instagram story templates)
  • Wedding Printables
  • Printable Thank You Cards for Teachers

5. Reselling Items

You can make money on Etsy without creating anything by reselling existing items. This involves sourcing products from suppliers and then selling them at a higher price.  

According to Etsy’s rules, you can only resell items in the vintage and craft supply categories. They don’t allow sellers to resell a handmade product or item designed by other people. Some popular items to resell on Etsy include vintage item, antique jewelry, rare collectibles, and refurbished home decor pieces.

6. Supplying Craft Supplies

Supplying craft materials is a lucrative way to make money on Etsy without making anything yourself. This method focuses on providing materials that other creators and hobbyists need for their projects.

Given Etsy's focus on handmade and unique items, there's also high demand for high-quality craft supplies ranging from beads, fabrics, and specialty tools. When you supply craft supplies on Etsy, you can earn anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per month.

7. Becoming An Etsy Affiliate

Becoming an Etsy affiliate offers an opportunity to make money on Etsy without selling your own products. As an Etsy affiliate, you promote products listed on Etsy. When someone makes a purchase through your referral link, you earn a commission.

Earnings as an Etsy affiliate can vary based on the products you choose to promote and your marketing strategies. New affiliates might earn around $100 to $300 per month on average. As you expand your audience and refine your promotional tactics, monthly earnings can grow to over $1,000.

7 Pro Tips To Make Money On Etsy Without Making Anything

1. Use Keywords In Your Titles, Descriptions, and Tags

Optimizing your titles, descriptions, and tags is a pro tip for earning money on Etsy without making anything. Using Etsy SEO to find relevant keywords can greatly improve your shop's visibility on Etsy. It helps potential buyers to easily find your products when they search.

2. Promote Your Products on Social Media

One of the pro tips for making money on Etsy without making anything is to promote your products on social media. You can share them on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. A study from the ODM Group revealed that 74% of consumers use social media platforms to guide their buying decisions. Targeting these audiences increases your product’s visibility and drives traffic to your Etsy store.

3. Use Etsy Offsite Ads

A pro tip you can follow is to use Etsy ads to earn money from the platform without making anything. An Etsy offsite ad automatically promotes your products on sites like Google, Facebook, and Instagram. You can reach beyond Etsy's user base and tap into the billions of daily users on these platforms.

4. Diversify Your Product Offerings

To make money on Etsy without making anything, a pro tip is to diversify your product offerings. Introduce a range of items to cater to different customer needs. Offering variety helps you appeal to a broader audience and increases the chances of making sales. This also minimizes the risk of market saturation for a single product so you can maintain consistent revenue streams.

6. Provide Exceptional Customer Service

Responding promptly to customer inquiries and addressing concerns is a pro tip for making money on Etsy without making anything. Keep in mind that 94% of customers are likely to return and recommend a business after having a positive experience, based on data from Hubspot. Ensuring timely deliveries also improves your shop's reputation.

7. Study All Legal Requirements

If you want to make money on Etsy without making anything, a pro tip is to familiarize yourself with Etsy’s legal guidelines. These include rules on the listing fee, import/export regulations, and intellectual property rights. For example, Etsy prohibits certain items from being sold on their platform like animal products and alcohol. Being compliant ensures smooth operations and prevents potential issues that could harm your shop's operations and finances.

8. Collaborate With Other Etsy Sellers

Building relationships with other sellers is a pro tip that’s beneficial for making money on Etsy without creating products yourself. You can promote each other store’s items, share insights, or even bundle items together for special offers. Collaboration can introduce your shop to a new audience and boost sales.

How Much Money You Can Make On Etsy Without Making Anything?

According to the Etsy automation platform Alura, the money you can make on Etsy without making anything ranges between $10,000 to $50,000 annually. However, this range is not guaranteed. The amount can vary depending on factors like competition, the seller’s marketing strategy, customer service, and shop optimization. If you want to make this amount of money on Etsy, you need to be proactive and dedicated to your business. Managing an Etsy store requires you to invest dozens of hours each week to manage orders, answer customer inquiries, and promote your products.

4 Challenges On Making Money On Etsy Without Making Anything

1. Etsy Is A Competitive Platform

One of the challenges of making money on Etsy without making anything is that it is a competitive platform. According to a report from Etsy, the platform has over 4.36 million active sellers. For newcomers, this number means that standing out and attracting potential buyers' attention can be daunting. To succeed, you have to offer unique products or have a distinct marketing strategy, which isn't always easy when you're not selling handmade items.

2. Etsy Has Niches That May Be Saturated

Finding a niche that isn't already over-saturated is a challenge when if you want to make money on Etsy without making anything. Certain categories like digital prints or jewelry have thousands of listings, with some popular items having over 500,000 search results. For someone new to the platform, breaking into these saturated niches can be difficult. It requires offering something special or targeting a very specific sub-niche.

3. Etsy Requires Hardwork In Promoting Non-handmade Products

Earning money on Etsy without making anything is challenging because there’s extra effort required to promote non-handmade products. Majority of buyers on Etsy are looking for one-of-a-kind, handmade items. This preference means that sellers not offering handmade goods may need to invest more time, money, and creativity into marketing to appeal to the platform's primary audience.

4. Etsy Has Strict Seller Policies

New sellers need to study Etsy’s strict policies which can be a challenge if you want to make money on Etsy without making anything. Failure to meet Etsy’s guidelines and standards for seller performance can lead to penalties or even shop suspension. For sellers not making their own products, you need to make sure that your third-party suppliers meet Etsy's quality and service criteria. This adds an extra layer of complexity and risk. It's important to maintain high standards so you’ll remain in good standing with the platform.

Making Money On Etsy Related Articles

Conclusion: Why Local Lead Generation Is Superior That Making Money On Etsy Without Making Anything?

Making money on Etsy without making anything may not be the best business model because of competition from millions of active sellers in saturated niches. There’s also the additional effort required to promote non-handmade products and deal with Etsy's strict seller policies.

Local lead generation, on the other hand, sidesteps these issues. Instead of battling for a spot in an over-saturated market, local lead generation lets you tap into local businesses already looking for customers. With local lead gen, you're not dealing with a middleman platform with strict rules. Instead, you’re dealing directly with businesses that value the leads you generate.

Local lead generation

A lead generation site can focus on a specific local service. Once it ranks high on search results, it can consistently attract potential customers that you can redirect to a local business. For your efforts, you could earn a commission for each lead or a monthly retainer. Some lead gen sites can make between $500 to $2,500 per month, depending on the niche and the agreement with the business. If you're looking for a sustainable and scalable business model, it might be time to consider the local lead generation biz model.

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