As the world continues to throw itself into an increasingly virtual future, you can make a relatively easy passive income by selling digital downloads. That’s right; you don’t even need to head to the post office! If you have a passion for anything remotely digital, you can almost certainly turn your passion into a money-maker by downloads on Etsy.
Consider this the only guide you’ll need! We cover all aspects of selling digital products, including:
- Can you really turn a profit selling digital downloads on Etsy?
- What types of digital products sell the best on Etsy?
- How to price your digital downloads on Etsy
- How to make digital downloads to sell on Etsy
- Answering your burning digital-download-related questions
So, let’s dive right into the details!
First Thing First — Can You Actually Turn a Profit Selling Digital Downloads on Etsy?
Whether you’re in it mainly for the money or not, the main question people ponder when deciding to sell digital downloads (sometimes called printables) is, “can they really make me money?”
You’ll be pleased to know the answer is yes ! Thanks to the low startup costs and zero inventory, you can turn a profit with relative ease.
Etsy sellers have reported making between $50 per week and $1,000 per month through digital downloads. But ultimately, the money you earn depends on your product and price.
What Types of Digital Products Sell The Best on Etsy?
Speaking of products, taking inspiration from the most popular digital items can work wonders for your store.
Our best-selling digital downloads on Etsy list goes into great detail about each one, but here’s an overview to get you started:
- Downloadable clip art and wall art
- Crochet patterns
- Downloadable embroider fonts
- Digital planners
- Coloring book pages
- Custom stickers
- Budget trackers
- Invitation templates
- Website templates
- Scrapbooking elements
The list is truly endless. Essentially, if you can think it, you can sell it.
Many high-volume digital downloads sold on Etsy relate to poignant life events, such as weddings, corporate cocktail parties, and birthdays. But instructional PDFs and teaching resources sell well too.
In our opinion, that’s what makes Etsy so brilliant. Regardless of your artistic ability or interest, you can find a digital product to sell and earn a passive income (after the initial work, of course).
Our Advice: Learn From The Best
Let’s Learn from the Big Kids!
If you want to learn from the best you are in the right spot. We have compiled an expansive list of high performers in this field.
We highly recommend you click on a few of their shop names and check out how they have become so successful. It might even be beneficial to order a product or two to see the products first hand.
How do these shops present their material?
How are their printables formatted?
How are these Etsy listings worded, and how are the listing titles crafted?
What do these shops have to offer the consumer?
These shops below have been very successful for a reason. Enjoy the learning journey!
Some of our favorite Etsy Printables
#1 LILAxLOLA : LILAxLOLA has a whopping 133,948 sales (at the time of writing, of course). She sells printable artwork
#2 Daisy Stem Designs: Steph, the owner, sells art prints. Dissimilar, however, is the fact that she sells completely customizable family prints which have always been popular on Etsy.
#3 Of Life and Lemons: The lady behind Of Life and Lemons doesn’t just sell digital downloads. Having said that, her digital prints do well.
#4 SpokenGifts: These digital prints are mainly black and white, tailored to a variety of markets and boosting sales. This is, undoubtedly, a trend in the best selling digital download Etsy shops
#5 DarlingJadore: DarlingJadore sells digital crochet and knitting patterns to make everything from headbands to sweaters to beanies to home decor.
#6 LoveJunkJournals: This one is for all the scrapbooking lovers out there! LoveJunkJournals sells vintage-themed digital printable kits and has seen a staggering 64,704 sales.
#7 Tralala Stickers: Tralala Stickers specializes in printable planner stickers. Each month is themed from the last and Eva, the owner, regularly runs sales to promote her brand.
#8 Digital Planner Tools: This shop caters to teachers, students, fitness fanatics, social media marketers, house flippers, party planners, and so much more. They’ve essentially targeted the entire population!
#9 The Magic Happens: The Magic Happens sells beautifully created digital planners, notebook covers, and Apple watch wallpapers. Each line of product matches so you can have continuity from your wrist to your iPad.
#10 AimeeMacIllustration: Aimee, the designer and owner of this Etsy store, sells printable artwork, cards, and more. Her aesthetic is pleasing yet targets a smaller audience while still managing to be one of the best digital sellers!
Okay, So, What About Pricing Digital Downloads on Etsy?
Remember when we said, “Ultimately, the money you earn depends on your product and price?” We’re going to tackle the price portion of this now.
Allow us to let you in on an insider secret — almost every Etsy seller struggles with their pricing! No matter how long they’ve been selling, they constantly wonder whether they’re charging too much or too little. So, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about price too much initially. After all, you can always change it down the road.
However, upon researching, it appears the average price of printable products is between $5 and $6. Although, it depends on the specific product you sell as to how much you should charge (for example, some digital planners go for $20).
With that in mind, here are three major factors to consider when deciding on your products’ prices:
- Your competition — If you’ve managed to find a gap in the market and your product has a fantastic USP (unique selling point), then price away! As the only seller offering the product, you can essentially charge however much you like. But if you aren’t part of a specific niche or you’re selling similar items to other Etsy sellers, you need to consider the prices set by your competitors. After some solid research, your safest option is to charge in the mid-range.
- Underpricing — There’s always a strong temptation to underprice your digital downloads (especially as a new seller). It’s normal to think that a higher price tag won’t sell. But it isn’t always the case. With that said, some sellers take the initial route of pricing everything spectacularly low to skyrocket sales during their opening weeks. If that feels like something you want to do, go ahead. There isn’t a tried-and-true rule!
- Costs — We’ve saved arguably the most crucial factor until last. While setting up an Etsy store is free, some costs come with it. To publish a listing, you’ll spend $0.20. Then, there’s a 5% transaction fee on top of a 3% plus $0.25 payment processing fee. Make sure you price your digital products in such a way that covers these costs (otherwise, you’ll struggle to turn a profit).
Math may not be your strong point if you’re anything like us, making pricing even trickier. But we’ve got some good news — you can use this online Etsy fee calculator to get the hard arithmetic work done for you.
How to Make Digital Downloads to Sell on Etsy
The internet is a vast place, meaning countless ways to create digital products to sell on Etsy exist.
Before you start making anything, you should think about the following:
- Type of digital download you want to make — Different products require different software. For instance, SVGs aren’t made with the same software as spreadsheets.
- Software knowledge — If you’re already familiar with a design/spreadsheet program, consider the downloads you could make with it. That way, you’ll soften the learning curve and start earning money sooner.
- Budget — As a beginner, you might not want to splash out on expensive design software like Adobe Creative Cloud. Therefore, you’ll need to learn how to use free programs to start selling.
Affordable (And Even Free!) Software for Creating Digital Downloads
While purchasing Adobe Creative Cloud is the dream, the $600-per-year cost probably isn’t something you want to jump headfirst into. So, consider the following, much less-expensive programs to get started selling digital downloads on Etsy:
- Canva — It’s free and fantastic for creating basic ebooks, printable art, and other simple downloads. The paid version allows you to access more options and design elements.
- Inkscape — If you’re looking for a free program similar to Illustrator, you’ve found it with Inkscape. It’s great for making SVG files, graphics, and other printables. The vector-based art means you can scale it easily without risking the quality. With that said, keep the steep learning curve in mind!
- PicMonkey — At $8 a month, it’s relatively similar to Canva.
- Note: All graphics on our blog here at SellersTable.com have been created using PicMonkey. We find it simple to use and offer an extensive library of graphics. An easy strait forward software to learn!
- Gimp — This free, open-source software is akin to Photoshop. It lets you create raster-based artwork and should be used for polishing pieces and creating graphics. Although, there is a steep learning curve, and you’ll need quite a bit of computer memory to run it.
- Affinity Designer — Affinity Designer costs $20 for the iPad app or $50 for the desktop program. It works in vector and raster formats, allowing you to make everything from SVGs to printable artwork. You’ll need to spend some time learning how to use the program. However, if you’ve ever used Illustrator, you can expect similar controls.
- Procreate — It’s perhaps the most popular app for designing printables and graphics. You’ll need an iPad and preferably an Apple Pencil. The app itself costs $10, but it’s more than worth it.
- Google Documents, Sheets, and Slides — As long as you have a Gmail account, you can utilize these free programs. They’re perfect for crafting spreadsheets, ebooks, and similar printables.
Let’s Talk File Types
Before we divulge our cheat sheet for common digital download types you’re likely to make, take some time exploring popular file formats. It’ll make the next section easier!
- PDF — It’s a document file mostly used for ebooks, calendars, and planners.
- JPG — It’s a picture file with a white background used for art prints. Make sure to save at 300dpi resolution for best results.
- PNG — It’s a picture file with a transparent background used for clip art, logos, and cut files.
- SVG — It’s a cut file that can be used with vector programs. Cricut machines use SVGs. Silhouette machines require DXF files.
- CSV — It’s a spreadsheet file used for budget spreadsheets and other types.
- AI — They sell for high prices since they’re only used in Adobe Illustrator.
Cheat Sheet for Digital Download Formats and Sizes
And now for the main event! The last stage of our how-to-sell digital downloads on Etsy guide is the ultimate cheat sheet for formats and sizes of popular types of products:
- Art prints — Use Procreate, Adobe Fresco, Photoshop, Gimp, Illustrator, or Inkscape to create them. Choose 8.5″ x 11″ or A4 size. Ensure they’re available in high-quality JPGs.
- Digital clip art, design elements, and patterns — Use Photoshop, Illustrator, or Affinity Designer. Clip art and elements should be between 7″ and 8″. Make them available in JPG or PNG formats. For patterns, 12″ x 12″ is ideal, and they should be JPGs.
- Cut files — Use Illustrator, Procreate, Inkscape, or Adobe Fresco. They’re scalable; size doesn’t really matter. Make available in the following formats: SVG, PNG, JPG, and EPS.
- Planner printables and checklists — Use Canva, Inkscape, Photoshop, or Illustrator. Size planner pages 8.5″ x 11″, leaving 0.25″ around each edge to ensure the full page prints. Save them as PDFs. If they’re planner stickers, offer JPGs and PNGs as well.
- Spreadsheets (e.g., budget trackers) — Use Google Sheets, Excel, or Numbers. Save them as CSV files.
- Ebooks — Use Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Canva, Google Docs, Google Slides, or Microsoft Word. Save them as PDFs.
Still got questions on selling digital products on Etsy? See the section below!
Questions and Answers
How Does Etsy Handle Copyright for Digital Downloads?
Under US Copyright Law, designs and artwork (digital otherwise) is automatically copyrighted upon creation. But certain elements won’t fall under such protection, like standard geometric forms.
Sellers should not resell other people’s designs as their own. If somebody steals your digital downloads, you can file a DMA notice with Etsy.
Do You Need a License to Sell on Etsy?
As long as you don’t sell medical advice or anything that could be considered medical advice, you don’t need a license to sell digital downloads on Etsy. However, make sure you check Etsy’s Terms to ensure you aren’t breaking any rules.
What Size Should Digital Files Be?
Etsy lets you upload five files of 20MB each. If it’s larger than 20MB, upload the items to Google Drive and share the link inside a PDF.
Which Color Mode Should You Use for Digital Downloads on Etsy?
You can choose between two main color modes when making your file — CMYK and RGB. You must select the right option as CMYK has fewer color choices than RGB.
Use this quick guide to help make your decision:
- RGB — Pick RGB if the end product remains as a digital file (like digital planners, website logos, etc.).
- CMYK — If your end product should be printed (like invites, wall art, etc.), choose CMYK.
We hope this article has helped you learn everything you need to know about getting started in the world of making and selling digital downloads. We have found the best way to get started it to jump right in and start creating. Seeing where your creativity takes you if half the fun!