Selling on Etsy with no Inventory

Are you wanting to start an Etsy shop but are short on space to keep inventory?  Well, I’m now selling on Etsy with no inventory in my home.  There are ways to do this and today I’m going to share three ways you can sell on Etsy without keeping shelves and rooms of inventory.

Selling on Etsy with no Inventory - Carmen Whitehead Designs

Last year when I moved from a home where I had a dedicated studio and inventory space to a 2 bedroom apartment  with no extra space for those privileges, I had to find a way to make it work.  I knew there were Etsy sellers that had their stores on almost automatic pilot and were making good income. For the life of my shop I had always sold originals and mailed prints.  I decided to temporarily stop creating canvas originals until I was in a studio with the ability to create them.  I didn’t want to give up mailing prints, so I found a way to fit my two printers into my very large walk-in closet and that is where I print them and prepare them for mailing.  So far, it’s working out wonderfully.  One of the reasons I chose this apartment was for the fact that it has a huge walk-in closet that would accommodate my printing and shipping station, but also storage for my art supplies that I still wanted to keep.

So before I even moved, I started doing research on how I could do this and here is what I discovered.

  • Digital Downloads –

    • Etsy makes it very easy to list digital downloads and they have tutorials that help you with that.  I already had files of my existing prints so I started converting some of those listings to digital downloads.  But, I also noticed how popular typography style prints were and I created several designs that would work for different categories i.e. nursery, kitchen decor, inspirational. 
    • With digital listings you want to make sure your wording is specific and detailed in the description.  Although Etsy does put a watermark at the top of the listing showing that it is a digital download, many shoppers do not see that and assume they will receive a mailed product.  I place asterisks, capital letters and repeat it several times in the listing to reduce the chance of a wrong purchase. 

  • The  software I use for creating my digital downloads is PicMonkey.  You can certainly use Photoshop or Canva, but PicMonkey is a site that I had used for years in editing my blog photos and I was very familiar with it.  I do save my files in the highest quality option given and in JPEG format.
  • If you’re not an artist you can still sell some digital downloads.  Planners are so popular right now and creating pages to input to your planner is an easy way to be a part of that popularity.  Now, these items I would save in PDF format for easier printing by the customer.
  • The wonderful thing about digital downloads is that it’s a sale you don’t have to do anything afterwards.  I set up my listings with a quantity count of 100 and that way I don’t have to deal with relisting a sold out listing.

  • Drop Shipment of Products –

    • After creating some of my typography style prints, I wanted to put some of those designs on mugs.  I love collecting coffee mugs with funny sayings or seasonal style mugs.  So, I researched how I could do this. 

The Mug Life - Etsy shop with coffee and tea mugs for every occasion and event.

  • I was not in a position to create the mugs my self , so I found a company that would create the mug with my design and ship it to my customer.  I discovered Printed Mint, located here in Phoenix, and a year ago I opened my second Etsy shop, The Mug Life.   

Selling on Etsy with no Inventory - Carmen Whitehead Designs

  • They make it very easy to upload your design with helpful templates so you get the sizing just right.  You can upload orders individually or they have the option of importing orders right from Etsy.  This was so helpful during the holiday season when you can get multiple orders daily.  They also have other products you can add your design to such as t-shirts, canvas bags, cosmetic bags, even blankets.  
  • With this option, you need to make sure you price your items competitively, but also  enough that you will make a decent profit for each item sold.  See what other shops are selling and for how much.  Then check out how much the company will charge you for production and shipment.  
  • Again, you want to do your research in what company works best for you and your shop needs.  You want to find a drop shipment company that has a good reputation, quality products, good selection of products, and absolutely great  customer service.


  • Services or Classes – 

    • Do you have a talent or service you want to offer?  Maybe a graphic designer or web designer?  I’ve also seen tarot card readings, new business consultations, even personal shopping services.  So many people communicate now via email, skype, phone, etc.  that you can consult with customers world wide.
    • You can also sell creative classes such as access to a video series of art classes, or an e-book of knitting for beginners.  
    • There are many ways you can share your knowledge with others on Etsy and make a profit.

Are these suggestions helping you think of how you can sell on Etsy?  Don’t let the obstacle of no inventory space or products stop you from opening your own shop and sharing your talents on Etsy.   

If you haven’t opened your shop yet, here is a little incentive for you to do so.  Etsy and I are offering you 40 free listings to get you started!  This is a win-win for both of us, we both receive 40 free listings when you open your shop using this link.  How cool is that?!

If you’re looking for more business resources, check out my Art Business Resources category!

Art Business Resources for starting and growing your Art Business.

Thank you so much friends for visiting and I hope I’ve inspired you today!


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3 thoughts on “Selling on Etsy with no Inventory

  1. Caren says:

    Carmen, really great post! This was super helpful. This is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve been wanting to design t-shirts since I have a good sized following me on my travel adventures related to travel. Followers can buy though my Etsy Store and then I can use a company like PrintedMint to print and ship directly to my customers without me having any inventory!

  2. Resin Puddles says:

    Hi Carmen,

    Great post, thank you so much for sharing. A suggestion: the font here is way too light to read fast and easy. Would really be helpful, especially to eyes over 40, take make the font darker. Thank you!

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