One of the most common questions I see when people are thinking about starting making products to sell online is: Should I sell my products on Etsy or Shopify? Or should I use another platform altogether?

I categorize sales channels for print-on-demand into marketplaces and non-marketplaces. For my purposes, a Marketplace is one in which it has its own search and ecosystem, and it is probably paying for its own retargeting ads on social media.

Historically, I might say that you take advantage of a marketplace’s own traffic to increase your visibility and sales. That’s less of the case now because POD marketplaces like Zazzle and RedBubble, or general marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon, are pretty saturated. The truth of the matter is you’re going to have to do your own marketing whether you choose a marketplace or to go it alone.

I actually recommend doing both, and using the strengths of each platform to your advantage. The promise of “passive income” is tricky- it’s rarely passive except inasmuch as you don’t have to do much after you’ve made the sale. But to get the sale, it helps to have the research and your systems for promotion in place!