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Etsy Offsite Ads – Is it good for Print on Demand Sellers?

11 min read

Meet Bill! Just like every other millennial, Bill is staring at his mobile phone, surfing the internet in search of a perfect birthday gift for his mom. Again, just like everyone else, Bill goes to Google and punches in a search query: “Best Mom Mugs”.

Tell me, is this an unlikely scenario? I bet not! In fact, there are over hundreds – even thousands – of people in search of one item or another, looking for the best place to put their money.

If you’re not visible, if you don’t appear on the search result page, your chances of making it big as a print on demand seller are really low.

Take it from me, digital marketing is the major market driver today. Gone are the days where Instagram and Facebook are just for birthday reminders and posting goofy selfies making funny faces.

PS: I have a lot that BTW…🤪

These platforms are visited by billions of people every day. That is, billions of prospective buyers and customers!

You know what that means. I know what that means. Etsy also knows! This is why Etsy has decided to make things better by creating a new ads system that is separate from its traditional Etsy Ads system.

It’s called the Etsy Offsite Ads and it is exactly the reason why we’re here today.

I know, I know. You have a lot of questions. I also have a lot of answers that I’m itching to give out. So, take this guide as one that’s from my heart to your ears (or eyes). 👀

Here’s all you need to know about the Etsy Offsite Ads as a print on demand seller.


What is the Etsy Offsite Ads?

Let me make this a simple “Etsy Offsite Ads guide for Dummies” kind of post.

The Etsy Offsite Ads is a digital marketing strategy that involves the publishing of product listings to foreign sites outside the Etsy website or other Etsy platforms.

In other words, Etsy is pushing out its seller’s listings to a much wider audience for patronage and growth.

A lot of people consider this as a forward-looking marketing approach from the platform. Etsy is making credible effort in increasing the digital reach of its sellers and also putting their marketing into account.

This innovative idea can allow sellers to capture potential leads as well as to get more customers outside the regular visitors of the parent site.

Via social sharing and search engines, Etsy sellers can make more sales by serving a broader audience.

Great, right? Yeah… Wait till we get to the fee part.

Yes, there’s a fee! Bummer…!

You see, ever since the new Etsy Offsite Ads came into use, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about it. Most times, what a lot of people want to know is if it’s really worth it.

I mean, if I’d be paying a fee for Ads, I must as well see organic growth in my traction and sales conversion. And when you think about it, it might not be a generally great idea for everyone.

The thing is, Etsy automatically signs every seller up for the offsite ads by default. Yep! You’ve also signed been signed up for it too. And unless you opt-out of it, you would have to pay the ads fee at the end of the month.

I would talk extensively about how the payment works down below.

So, read this till the end! Don’t miss out on the juicy part.

A lot of people might be thinking about opting out. I know many POD sellers who have approached me, asking for my advice on whether or not they should opt out of the Etsy offsite ads service.

It all depends on you actually.

If you aren’t making many sales, paying ad fees might be more stifling than helping. But you must also consider the fact that the more your ads stay up, the more your chances of making more sales. So, you see, it is a risk that you must be willing to take.

However, there are some of us who cannot make this choice. We are called the Above 10K Club.

Ok, I made that up! 😂

But here’s the way it works. If you make above $10,000 within 365 days as an Etsy seller, you cannot opt-out of the Etsy offsite ads service.

So, it is mandatory for you. Take me for instance. I’ve already made about $18,000, so I can’t opt-out, even if I want to. But if you make less, you still have a choice to either stay or bounce.

A lot of people in the Etsy community have complained about this. But I see some good in it actually.


How does the Etsy Offsite Ads work?

Etsy is known for its marketing and promotions. In fact, Etsy runs advertisements on various web platforms without receiving any upfront payment from shop owners.

Using the offsite advertisement system, Etsy is able to publish seller’s listings in search engine results as well as popular social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

However, shop owners do not get to choose whether or not they appear in any advertisement. Often times, appearance on an advert can be largely influenced by how good a listing is. This where your Etsy SEO comes in handy.

Now, here are some very important dates.

Officially, the offsite advertisement system became effective on the 27th of March, 2020. This means that every seller – including newcomers who register after the given date – would be automatically added to the offsite ads program by default.

Now, let’s go into some juicy details.

First things first, while the quality of your listing can be a big plus for the visibility of your ads, you really do not have to do anything to get your ads up.

Etsy has a team of experts that works hand-in-hand with their digital marketing partners to ensure that shop owners gain more tractions, more customers, and more money.

And yes, there is no yardstick for eligibility. As long as you are a shop owner on Etsy, you’re eligible for the offsite services. What Etsy does is that it collates the data of all the listings on the platforms and forwards them to the advertisement partners.

Information such as product titles, product descriptions, product images, and more are forwarded.

You must understand how much the quality of your listing affects your ad visibility. Your listing might not reach the kind of audience that you would expect without a great listing.

So, you need to create a good product title, description, and tags. It is very important because Etsy, the search engines and social media platforms will use this to show up your product.

If the product information is related to the search query that people insert, the chance they will buy a product will be higher too.

Using a search algorithm, the advertisement sites are able to match user’s query with fitting listings or profiles. They show the users quality profiles and listings that best suit what they are searching for.

Like our imaginary friend, Bill, he would be shown product listings on mugs for moms.

Here is something that you must note. You cannot determine the exact listing that you would like to use for your ads.

You can’t just go like, “Hey, this product is my best one yet. Don’t use that one!” No one is going to hear you. What Etsy does is that it selects listings according to their performance on the parent channel.

However, to boost the chances of a particular listing getting picked, you can improve the quality. This way it can get noticed quicker and get advertised better.


Where does Etsy advertise its listings?

I’d keep this part short.

For the offsite ads, Etsy has formed an alliance with digital marketing giants such as Google and Bing for the search engines, as well as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for the social media platforms.

What Etsy does is to provide an upfront payment from its own purse to kick start the advertisement campaign. These platforms would then collate the data of Etsy shop owners’ listings and put them up as and when due.

However, there are certain regulations and eligibility requirements that might be needed before listings can go up. Each platform has its own specific policies and listings that do not adhere to its policies can be omitted.

Before you get all jumpy, check out the ads policy of Google, Facebook, Instagram, Bing, and Pinterest too.


What you need to know about the Etsy offsite ads fees

The fees for the offsite adverts vary by how much income you have been able to generate in the last 12 months.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Etsy shop owners who have made about $10,000 and above would have to pay 12% of the revenue made from sales that were directly from the ads. This means that you would have to pay 12% of the money made from customers who placed orders from the ads.
  2. On the other side, shop owners who make less than $10,000 can choose not to participate in the offsite adverts. However, if they choose to go with it, they would have to pay 15% off any order made from the offsite ad.

However, Etsy has ensured that they would not charge any fee up to $100. Hence, regardless of how much the total cost of the order is, Etsy offsite ad fee would not exceed the $100 mark. That’s a good thing, I guess.

For Etsy shop owners who are trading in a different currency, the same percentage applies. However, the transaction would have to be calculated in the USD rate of the transaction date.

The Etsy offsite ads makes use of a pay-per-click system. I’d explain.

You are only charged a fee when a buyer places an order for your product by clicking an offsite ad.

Note that when a buyer clicks an ad and places an order within 30 days from the point of clicking, such as order would attract an offsite ad fee.

However, you would not be charged if a buyer just clicks the ad without placing an order. So, before you get charged for an offsite ad fee, you must have made a sale. That is a good strategy if you ask me.

Also, if a shopper clicks another shop owner’s ad, but wanders off to your Etsy shop and places an order, you won’t be charged for ad fee. Lucky you!

However, when shoppers place multiple orders from a single click, you would be charged an offsite fee for each order, as long as the shopper places them within 30 days.

So, let’s say a Print-on-Demand seller makes about $8,500 throughout the year and only about 10% came from offsite ads, this means that he made about $850 from offsite ads. So, he would have to pay 15% of $850 for offsite ads fee which is $127.5.

But for a seller who makes about $12,000 in a year, it’s a little different. Still assuming that only about 10% of his revenue came from offsite ads, that means that he has to pay 12% of $1,200 for offsite ads fee. If my math is good, that’s about $156.

Here are my personal stats.

So, I paid about $365.83 from about 154 completed orders; gaining about $3,600.11 in sales. Fair, right?

The average cost per order was about $2.3 which the average cost of production per item was $10.

So, if I am to calculate my profit at the end of the day, that would be $3,600.11 – ($1,540 (154 order x $10) – $365.83) leaving me with exactly $1,694.28.

I think that’s a really good take home, if you ask me. The ads give you increased visibility and the ability to reach a wider audience.

So, I think it’s really good.


Is the Offsite Ads good for print on demand products?

I would be talking from my personal experience and my several years knowledge as a print on demand shop owner. I think it’s best for you to put your best foot forward.

If you are in a very busy market or a highly competitive niche, running ads might not be the best marketing strategy for you. This is because the chances that you would get lost in the crowd is highly probable.

So, if you’re selling general products such as “Bag for Women”, “Men’s Wallet”, or other things like this, offsite ads might not work very well for you. They are just too competitive!

But if you’re a print on demand seller, offsite ads might just be the rocket that you have been waiting for to take your business above the moon.

You see, the Print-on-Demand is different. It deals with niches and specific kinds of audiences.

Although there are some highly generic POD niches too, a narrower line of product listing can find its way up much faster.

If you have a list for products such as “Engineer mug”, “Teacher Mug”, or “Nurse Face Mask”, you have a greater chance to stand out when using the offsite ads.

This is because your product is serving a more specific and less competitive niche. So, it would be much easier for your target audience to find you.

I have over 10,000 products listed on Etsy already. This means that I have products for thousands of niches. And one thing about having different niches is that you get to use various trendy keywords.

Different niches have their peculiar keywords that must be used when listing. Ensure that you pay attention to these keywords as you list your product.

Also, if your shop is ranked for different keywords, you would be much visible and a lot of people would begin to pay close attention to you.

You can have a great edge on advertising platforms such as Google Shopping and others. So, you see, the more niche products you have, the more conversion rate you will get from ads. It’s that simple.

There are so many narrow niches like “sonographer face mask” or “inspector coffee mug” with low competition on the ads. Your product will be much visible when shoppers search for products like this on Pinterest or Google.

I always prefer low competition niches. Your audience is very specific and defined. Also, there are very few other sellers who are offering the same products online. So, your chances of getting a lot of cash is pretty high.

The Etsy offsite ads can come in handy when shoppers are searching for different products outside the Etsy search box.


The Impact of the Offsite Ads on the Print-on-Demand sellers

Etsy is striving to push out its products to a much global scale, enabling couch-based entrepreneurs to sell their products to a much broader audience.

Using state-of-the-art technology and data processing, they are able to work with big gun advertisers like Google to ensure sellers reach their maximum potential.

Compared to the previous systems of Etsy ads, this much better.

Until recently, Etsy operates a cost per click system of advertising. This means that you get to pay every time your ad is clicked – whether or not the shopper places an order.

This is not a very good thing for small shop owners. But with the offsite ads, you get to save a lot of money by only paying after you yourself have been paid.

Not only do you enjoy more money, you also massive visibility from the millions of users that search for online stores every day. Social sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are known to be the most used for finding brands and products.

With the time limitation of 30 days, your liability for paying ad fees is reduced. You don’t have to pay ads fee forever. Once 30 days elapse, you are free to enjoy all the profit from your sales.

The offsite ad doesn’t affect any current ad campaign that you might be running. The previous Etsy ad is still in function and can be used side by side with the offsite ads.

But I don’t use it personally… 🤪


How to opt out of the Etsy Offsite Ads

In case you decide that you do not want to be a part of the offsite ad, you can easily opt out of it in just 5 steps.

  1. Log on to Etsy, and click on the Shop Manager.
  2. Once you’re in, go to the settings panel.
  3. From the settings, find the offsite ads and click on it.
  4. Then click on Stop promoting my products then confirm it.
  5. Confirm again that you really want Etsy to stop promoting your product

If you later have a change of heart, revisit the offsite ads option and click on Restart Offsite Ads.


My Final Thoughts

Overall, I have had a very good experience using the Etsy offsite ads.

It has really been good for me and you can try it out. It is a very good marketing strategy for those in the print on demand business.

Running global audience ads with a niche-based product can be quite profitable. It’s good because some niche products are difficult to sell on Facebook or Google ads. Etsy also runs retargeting on the offsite ads too. This makes it even better for print on demand sellers.

You get to make a lot of money without much stress. Yes, you would have to make some financial investments. But at the end of the day, it should be worth it.

I actually want Etsy to spend more money on offsite ads. Now that we are in the Q4, things are going to begin to get pretty hyped very soon.

—Bank K.


Further Readings:

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