If you want to start a home-based business, it doesn’t get easier than learning how to create digital downloads to sell and then opening up your own Etsy store.
Selling digital prints on Etsy or other online marketplaces is a great way to make money from home with few upfront costs and no inventory issues.
I started my digital downloads business a few years ago but only got started on Etsy recently.
Read on for everything you need to know about selling digital prints on Etsy, Amazon and other online sites.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure for more information.
How to create digital downloads to sell
Before you learn how to create digital products to sell, you need to decide what to sell and where to sell them.
There are so many different kinds of digital products that you can sell online but choosing the right one can make the difference between a thriving business and a non-starter.
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to start a business selling downloads but you will need to use a software program that let’s you create PDF printables.
Where to sell digital downloads
You have a few options when it comes to selling the printable downloads that you create.
Your best bet is to list your items in as many places as possible to boost your chances of lots of sales.
Should I Sell Digital Downloads On My Website?
Yes! My preferred place to sell digital downloads is on my website. I have full control of the pricing, there are no fees and it’s easy to set up.
There is more work involved in setting up your listings and the checkout process but once you have a system, you will find it easy.
You can easily sell digital downloads online with PayPal and a gateway site such as SendOwl.
Sendowl allows you to add checkout buttons to your website and then it acts as the merchant, taking payment and delivering your digital product to the customer.
The advantage of this versus a marketplace like Etsy is that you will be able to collect your customers emails and market to them when you launch other products they might like.
The disadvantage of selling your digital products on your own site is that you need to get traffic to the site in order to find buyers.
You will have to promote your website on social media and Google. If you already have a blog or site, then it’s easy to add a store to your site and harness your existing traffic.
If you don’t have a site yet, here is how to start your own blog that makes money.
You could also consider you can opening your own store with Shopify.
Shopify gives you the flexibility of your own storefront without creating your own site. You can create your site however you like using their themes and take advantage of their checkout processes.
How to sell digital products without a website
If you don’t have a website and don’t want to build one and promote it, you can still create an amazing printables business.
You can do this by putting your products on online marketplaces and using their marketing tools and merchant services.
Selling printables on Amazon is an easy option. If you write stories or how-tos, you can make money with Kindle Publishing.
In fact, many different kinds of digital downloads such as planners can be sold on Kindle.
You may know it as the handmade marketplace but the truth is, digital prints sell really well on Etsy.
The rest of this post will focus on the ins and outs of selling digital downloads on Etsy but all of these tips can be translated to Shopify, Amazon or your own site
Advantages of selling your Digital Downloads on Etsy or Amazon
1.Huge Traffic – both Etsy and Amazon attract millions of shoppers every day and give you the best chance of making lots of sales in a way you couldn’t with your own site.
2. Instant File Delivery – Both platforms send your digital files directly to the customer meaning your sales are completely handsfree once you have listed your items for sale.
3. Low Start-up Fees – It is very cheap to get started with Etsy (20 cents per listing and 5% transaction fee) and Amazon is similar.
4. Get Started in Minutes – Setting up and starting an Etsy shop is really easy. Kindle Publishing is very straightforward too.
Here are my tutorials for each platform:
Selling Digital Prints on Etsy – The Lowdown
If you take some time to look at the Etsy bestsellers list for any given month, you will see that digital downloads, or printables are nearly always at the top of the list.
Gone are the days of having to order custom invitations from a fancy printer or creating your own fitness trackers.
Nowadays, you can buy almost anything in printable form online for a fraction of the price and then print yourself whereever and whenever you want.
Personal, I have bought many digital downloads from Etsy – from wedding invitations to baby shower games.
If you are interested in selling digital prints on Etsy, there are so many things you can make.
What kind of digital products can I sell on Etsy?
The best thing you can do is take a look on Etsy to get some ideas for what sells. My advice is to pick a niche and focus on that in order to really build a customer base and stand out from the crowd.
So many products can be made into a digital download that someone wants to buy.
To see what products sell the most on Etsy, you can check out websites like erank and Marmalead. Both these sites will show you the top sellers and types of products that are selling on Etsy in real time.
Consider the following that all have a market on Etsy:
- Teaching materials
- Watercolor artwork
- Cute sayings for framing
- Bottle labels
- Snapchat filters
- Bachelor party games
- Wrapping paper
- Tags for gifts
- Planner Stickers
The bestselling digital downloads on Etsy
The top selling digital downloads are often associated with a major life event.
Getting married, having a baby and celebrating life’s milestones are great opportunities for selling your digital downloads.
Here are some ideas:
Weddings are a goldmine for anyone selling digital prints on Etsy.
Think of all the things you need – Save the Date cards, wedding invitations, place-cards, ceremony programs, menus, invitations for the rehearsal dinner. It never ends.
And that is not including the shower and bachelor/bachelorette parties that need invitations and games.
There are whole Etsy stores that just focus on selling printable games for bachelorette parties, for example.
People having babies are the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to selling digital downloads.
From baby shower invitations and games to birth announcements – there are so many different Etsy printables you can make and sell.
Nursery artwork is another great seller and digital downloads make this way more const-effective for new parents.
Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other life events are other occasions when people like to buy nice invitations, thank you cards and signs.
Digital Downloads That Sell Seasonally
Another type of digital printable that sells really well are seasonal products. Obviously the holidays are a great time to sell all kinds of printables, from games to decorations.
Many products can be adjusted to suit different holidays too (for example, I have seen chocolate bomb tags for Christmas and Valentine’s day).
Don’t forget about smaller holidays such as July 4 and St Patrick’s day as there are huge markets for these kinds of days too.
Evergreen Products To Sell On Etsy
An evergreen product is basically the opposite of a seasonal product. Evergreen digital downloads can be sold all year round and are not focused on a specific season.
Planners are the number one evergreen product on Etsy. Of course, planners are huge sellers at the beginning of the year but people look for niche planners all year around. An example of a niche planner would be a budget printable or a fitness tracker.
Artwork and birthday invitations are other examples of evergreen products.
The Best Programs To Create Digital Downloads To Sell
The good news is that you don’t need to actually spend any money to start making printables.
You don’t have to buy an expensive graphic software such as photoshop or illustrator as there are free products that can make beautiful digital products.
I’ve made printables with Google Sheets and Docs but it does help to use a real graphic site.
My top choice is Canva. I sell digital downloads on my website and on Etsy and I use Canva to create them all.
Canva is a free online graphic tool that will let you make planners, invitations, gift tags and any other digital products. There are tons of templates on Canva to get you started with creating your own products.
Canva has quite a lot of tutorials on making different digital products to get you started.
I also took this course on creating digital products to sell on Etsy. I highly recommend taking it if you are serious about your Etsy download business.
The course is run by two Etsy shop owners who sell digital downloads very successfully. I took it over the holidays and learned so much from them.
The course includes:
- Step-by step tutorials for creating many different templates in Canva and other software
- Free templates to get you started
- Sep by step guide to starting your own Etsy shop
- Tips for creating listings and pricing your products
- An exclusive private Facebook group with tons of support
What about selling custom digital files on Etsy?
If you want to take your digital download business to the next level, then you can offer customizations to your buyers.
Personalized products will sell for a much higher price than generic printables but of course, you will need to spend the time creating each one.
There are two different options if you want to sell custom digital downloads:
First, you could make each item to order and ask customers to fill out their information when ordering. If you have the template ready to go, this shouldn’t take you too long to do and it will help to increase your sales.
Secondly, you could offer editable files that they alter themselves. The Etsy printables course above has a lot of tutorials on creating custom digital files using a product called Corjl.
This is the best option in my opinion because you can still offer instant digital downloads to your customers and make passive income instead of having to work on each order.
Corjl is also an online marketplace so it offers another place to list your digital downloads for sale.
Where can I find graphics for my Etsy downloads?
You can’t just grab free clipart online and use it in products you want to sell on Etsy and other sites.
You need to adhere to copyright laws and only use graphics with a proper commercial license, especially when you are selling digital products.
There are a few places you can get clipart, fonts and other graphics for commercial use:
On Canva, you can use clipart and fonts that are free to use for commercial use. This includes most of their graphics and some of the fonts. The only catch is that you can only use altered graphics and media:
From the Canva website:
Unaltered vs altered media
By using content in a design or a composition, you’re creating something unique – once you do, there are very few restrictions on what you can do with your creations. Go wild!
However, unaltered media has restrictions – it can only be used in up to 800×600 (or 600×800) pixel dimensions and it can’t be sold or printed on products or merchandise.
The Hungry Jpeg
I buy most of my graphics from The Hungry Jpeg. They offer tons of bundles of graphics, fonts and illustrations for great prices.
They also have a weekly freebie that includes a complete license that you can use on products for sale – check out this week’s here.
This is another great place to source fonts and graphics for your digital products. Creative Market also gives out 6 free items every Monday so it is worth checking out. Here are the freebies this week.
What size should my Digital files be on Etsy?
Etsy allows you to upload 5 digital files for each listing on Etsy. Each file has a limit of 20mb so you may need to compress your files into zips if your downloads are graphic heavy.
If you have trouble minimizing the size of your digital downloads, another option is to upload it to dropbox and provide your buyers with a link to the item there. I’ve used this option and it works great.
What file format should I use?
I normally offer my products in both PDF and jpeg formats. Most people want the PDF but it’s nice to offer both options.
What about paper size?
You can offer letter size for US customers and A4 for European buyers plus other options such as 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 depending on what kind of product you are selling.
If you have Canva Pro, you can resize your products in seconds using their resizing tool which makes it easy to offer different size options as part of your standard listing (this can help to increase sales).
How much money can you make selling digital products on Etsy?
Although the sky is the limit with creating digital products to sell, it’s worth knowing some numbers.
Obviously, digital downloads do not sell for as much as paper products that you create and ship to your customer.
However, you can make a digital download one time and sell it again and again, creating a passive income stream that makes you money while you sleep.
Some digital products such as artwork tends to sell for a bit more money but on average, most products sell for under $20.
This means you would need to sell 50 items a month to make $1000 before fees (Etsy takes 5% of your transaction fee plus charges 20 cents for each listing).
How do I price my products on Etsy or Amazon?
In order to get the right price for digital downloads, you really need to do some market research to see what your competitors are pricing their items for.
My biggest tip is that you want to be middle of the pack. Too cheap and people think your product is not good quality. Too expensive and you price yourself out of the market.
There are no real guidelines for pricing as each niche and product type is different.
Remember to factor in the Etsy listing fee and transaction charge (5%) in your product price.
Getting started selling digital downloads on Etsy
1.Create your products
Before you open your Etsy Store, you want to work on creating some products. Etsy actually doesn’t let you open a shop without uploading at least one product and to be honest, most Etsy experts recommend at least 10-20 products before you launch.
2. Open your Etsy Shop
Once your products are ready to go, it’s time to open your shop. You have to pay for every listing you add to your shop but you can get 40 free listings when you create your shop through this link.
3. Pick the perfect Etsy Shop Name
If you already own a website, picking your Etsy shop name might be easy. If not, it can be a huge time suck. This post will tell you everything you need to know about picking the perfect Etsy shop name.
4. Add your listings
Once your shop is ready to go, you can spend some time perfecting your listings. Digital products can either be printed out and posed on backgrounds or you can create listing photos on Canva.
You can add up to 10 photos on your listing and I recommend using as many as possible.
You can then add a detailed description to your listings so your customers know what to expect.
I always make it very clear that it is a digital download only and that nothing will be shipped.
5. Promote your store
Don’t just create your listings and wait for the sale to roll in. Make sure to promote your products on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and everywhere else you can think of.
Join Facebook groups in your niche and get involved then promote your products naturally.
How To Create Digital Products To Sell – Final Thoughts
Selling digital downloads on your own site or on Etsy is a great way to create a passive stream of income from home.
Make sure to research the kinds of downloads that you want to make before you start your business. Niche printables do well because there is less competition and you can carve out your own target market.
Make sure to promote your products on social media in order to attract as many buyers as possible.
If you want to learn more about creating printables online , make sure to check out the Etsy printables course from Gold City Ventures.
More Etsy Tutorials