Making printables to sell on Etsy is a popular side hustle that can bring in a decent passive income.
I’ve been working on growing my own Etsy shop, which sells printable planners and party games suitable for my parenting blog’s audience.
It’s a real learning curve, but I can really see how this could become a really brilliant income stream for me.
With very little effort I’ve made a few sales and I plan to add more products to my store, plus will be promoting it much more to try and grow this side hustle!
Now that I’ve got to grips with making my printable products to sell online I thought I would share the process so that you can get started.
To make printables to sell on Etsy you will need to:
- Identify the type of products you want to sell and who they are for.
- Create digital products in a design software such as Canva or Photoshop.
- Download your product in PDF format in an appropriate size – for example A4, A5 or US letter.
- Open your own Etsy shop – which is FREE!
- Create a listing describing your product and setting a price.
- Market your shop (which is easily done if you already have your own blog or social media following) or pay for Etsy ads.
- Create more products to increase the range offered in your shop!
We’re going to go into way more detail on these points in this article to help you get started.
What are printable products?
A printable product is anything that the customer downloads as a digital file and then either uses on their phone, tablet or computer or prints.
The customer may choose to print the product themselves at home or get a professional printer to make the physical copies for them.
There are all sorts of different types of printable products, such as:
- Party games
- Posters and artwork
- Greetings cards
- And many more!
There are some examples of digital products in the image below.
Why sell printables on Etsy
If you have your own website or online following already then you may be wondering why Etsy is a good place to sell your products.
There are a few reasons why selling printable products on Etsy is a great side hustle, whether you already have an audience or are starting from scratch:
You get access to a global marketplace
Etsy is a huge platform and has a global presence. It’s reputation as a seller of cool and unique products is stellar, which means that lots of potential customers are on there all the time.
And Etsy results frequently pop up at the top of Google searches for products – it’s a site that ranks online and so that means your chances of getting eyeballs on your products and therefore sales is increased.
Super easy to set up and run
Etsy is especially great if you have no existing audience through a blog or social media at all, but it also is a good platform even if you already have an army of fans.
That’s because it’s so easy to set up and operate.
The process of creating a store and getting your first listing online can be completed in less than an hour.
Then when it comes to actually running the store you can very much take your eye off the ball – for weeks at a time even – once you have your products live.
Of course Etsy takes its slice of the pie for any sales you make and charges you a small fee for listing products on the site.
But these are pretty low, and the benefits of using this huge marketplace outweigh these costs.
What’s great is that getting started with creating selling your printables is so low, making this a really cheap side hustle. It costs 20cents to list a printable product.
And you can make printables with free software, which I will talk about more in just a moment.
What type of printables can you sell on Etsy
When it comes to to the type of printables you can make to sell on Etsy the sky is really the limit!
Printable products have a variety of purposes, from education right through to entertainment.
One of the most important things to do when you are getting started with an Etsy store is to decide on a niche.
Being focused on one area makes it easier for you when it comes to product creation and it also means the customer is clear about what it is you sell when they land on your store.
Once you have decided on your niche you can then move on to brainstorm the type of products you can sell – maybe you already have a few ideas!
Think about five to 10 different types of products that would be popular with an audience. You can always use Etsy’s search bar to see what other people are already selling in your area of interest.
Here are some ideas in some popular niches:
- Educational games
- Toddler chore sheets
- Toddler reward sheets
- Colouring sheets
- Cleaning checklists
- Home management printables
- Home decor
- Organisation labels for jars, drawers etc
- Monthly calendars
- Meal planner
- Recipe cards
- Wedding invitations
- Hen party games
- Photo booth props
- Table numbers
- Wedding planner/journals
- Thank you cards
- Self-improvement checklist
- Self-care ideas
- Motivational sayings cards
- Mindfulness journals
- Product labels
- Income/expenses tracker sheet
- Business planner
- Invoice template
How to make printables for your Etsy shop
For the purposes of this article I am going to focus on making printables in Canva, however please note that you can use other design software to do this!
Some examples include Photoshop, PicMonkey, Microsoft Office and Adobe Illustrator.
Canva is an online design tool you can use to create a huge variety of digital assets, from social media posts to logos and posters.
You can use it to create documents of all shapes and sizes. There is a free version and a Pro version you can use – for the purposes of getting started with making printables the free version is more than enough.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to making your printable products with Canva.
Decide what you will make
First of all you need to decide what products you will make.
Once you’ve picked your niche then brainstorm five to 10 products and choose one to start with.
Consider what colour schemes and general style your products will have – do they need to be feminine and beautiful or practical and simple.
When getting started, brainstorm these things:
- Who is your product aimed at?
- How will it help them?
- What does it need to include?
- What size does your product need to be? A4, A5, US letter, something else?
- What products are already on the market?
- How can you compete with existing products? Do it better, or add an extra element!
Sign in to Canva
You can create printables using a totally free Canva account. There are so many great graphics on there which you can use.
It’s important to be aware of Canva’s license agreement when it comes to making products on Canva to sell as printable products.
The key thing to note is you can’t sell Canva’s own templates as your own creations for digital products, you need to make it yourself.
But you can use Canva’s FREE graphics – available in the free Canva account – to create a printable and then sell that.
If you decide to go ahead and start a Canva Pro paid account – which has a lot of advantages including being able to resize your creations easily and sell Canva templates – you will need to be aware you cannot use Pro graphics in commercial printable products.
Confused? It can be easier to purchase your graphics (this is what many digital product sellers do) and then import these to Canva for your designs.
Where to get graphics
Your printable may simply feature text – for example if it is a checklist.
But you might want to improve the aesthetics of your printable with some fun, quirky or stylish graphics to bring it to life.
That’s the case with things like invitations for example.
As I said above, you cannot use Canva Pro graphics in printables that you sell. But you can use the free ones.
If you want better graphics then you can always buy them from places such as Creative Market which has so many gorgeous creations by talented artists.
Remember to get a commercial license when buying graphics – this means you can use them in your products that you intend to sell.
Set the size of your product
You need to start with a blank document. You can either use Canva’s blank templates, or set the width and height of the document yourself.
You can create a custom size in pixels, inches, mm or cm.
What size your product needs to be really depends on what you are making. Before getting started, I suggest you research what sizes are similar products being sold in by checking on Etsy.
Design your product
Now you have your blank document it’s time to get started.
On the left of the screen you will see sections for Elements – where you can find graphics, tables and shapes to add to your creation, Uploads – where you can add your own pictures and graphics, and Text.
If you’ve never used Canva before then have a play around – if you’ve used any kind of publishing software before then it should be fairly intuitive to alter the font, font size and resize objects.
There are tons of tutorials online showing you how to put together cool products.
When it comes to checklists I recommend creating a table, as this ensures your rows and columns are all even and it just looks neater than trying to create a checklist from scratch yourself.
Be aware of trademarks and copyright
When designing your product remember that you cannot use trademarked brands in your designs.
This may also include phrases.
For example, making Disney or Marvel printables could land you in big trouble.
There’s a great post here about how to avoid copyright and trademark infringement.
Export your product
When you’re happy with your product it’s time to hit share. You’ll get various options for how to save your printable.
I always go for the PDF Print option. Download it to your computer and then be sure to name your file something relevant to the product – for example Newborn Baby Checklist A4.
Resize your product
As Etsy is an international marketplace you will find your digital products are easier to sell if you provide them in both A4 and US letter sizes. I also sell mine in A5, as some people prefer to use planners in this format.
If you have Canva Pro you can resize your file automatically with just a few clicks using the resize tool.
Where you are using the free version, you will need to create a new file in the size you want and then cut and paste your design over to the new file.
You may well need to play around with the size and layout in order to make it fit and look good.
You can also use Canva to create your hero images. These are the images that appear in your Etsy listing and are crucial to selling your products.
Take a look around Etsy to see what other people in your niche do with their hero images.
It needs to be eye-catching and showcase the product.
Add multiple hero images that explain what the product is, what size it comes in and gives the buyer a good look at what they are getting.
There is a real trend on Etsy for printable products that the buyer can customise with their own words and information.
This flexibility is clearly very appealing on multiple levels:
- It means you can sell a bigger variety of products.
- Customers love being able to make the product their own.
- It looks much more professional than leaving blank spaces for people to handwrite in their personalisation.
- Customers do the personalisation themselves using the suggested methods below. It means you set up the product, then sit back and let the sales roll in without having the personalise individual sales.
You can produce printables that can be personalised by the buyer in a few ways.
All of these involve the buyer receiving an email after they have made their purchase through Etsy through which they can access the editable templates online.
They make the changes they want, then download as a PDF and print as they want.
Here are the key ways Etsy sellers are making editable printables:
- Templett. Templett is an online design platform much like Canva. When your buyer purchases a customisable template from your Etsy store, they are sent a link to the Templett template. They can then customise whatever you have decided should be changeable in the design. For example with wedding invitations customers will be able to change the names, date and place in the text. In some cases the customer can upload their own photos too, for example scans for baby announcements.
- Corjl. Very similar to Templett, you create a design (adding your own graphics and elements as you choose) and then sell it.
- Canva. Once you have created a template on Canva you can then share that link to the template with anyone. It’s quite similar to the above platforms. The feature to share a template link is only available with the Pro version.
It’s worth noting that doing this adds an extra layer of cost to your printables business.
You will need to pay the above suggested companies fees in order to sell your customisable templates.
But I think it’s clear that when it comes to particular products, having that customisable element is really appealing and it will help your products stand out.
As I add more products to my online store I plan to invest in one of these platforms – probably Templett – in order to make my products more appealing.
How to open an Etsy shop
So you have created your first product, and now it’s time to open your actual Etsy shop.
Getting started is incredibly easy, and it’s free to open an Etsy store (they charge you for the listings and take a cut of sales).
Pick a name
What will you call your store? It’s important to use something that reflects the type of brand and products you are making.
It doesn’t have to be totally obvious, but something that sounds related to what you are selling is important.
Add a logo and your details
You need a logo to look professional. You can also add a banner to your shop too.
Many sellers use the shop banner to showcase their biggest selling products.
Read up on image size requirements, including your logo size, here.
You’ll also need to add other details, such as what your store is selling in a description.
Remember you can go back and edit things, including the store name, later if you need to.
Create your first listing
Your listing is where your describe an individual product you are selling, upload your hero images to show the customer what the product looks like and set out the pricing.
When pricing your product you need to take into consideration your costs and how much others price similar products on Etsy. There’s no point pricing yours at double the typical price online.
You’re selling a digital not physical product, so be sure to select that option in the description.
As part of your description it’s important to be very clear customers will not receive a physical product. State this is a digital download several times.
It can also help to give a guide to how customers can use the product. For example:
- Purchase the product.
- Follow the download link and get your PDF.
- Print your PDF at home or through a professional printer.
- Use paper/card etc for best results.
One of the most important things about your listing is to consider the key words that potential customers will be searching for on Google and on Etsy itself.
Etsy is a big search engine. When someone types in Workout Planner, you want your product to be in the running to appear in the results.
As you are getting started it can be useful to target longer tail keywords. For example instead of just “Workout planner” you may want to put in “Workout Planner for Beginners”.
You need to use the Title and Tags sections to add as many keywords as you can. You will notice titles for most Etsy listings feature multiple titles – that’s to ensure the product ranks under different search terms.
Use your title to not only say what the product is but also describe the look – for example is it a boho design or feature rainbows – and who it is aimed at. For example is it for expectant mums? Put that in the title!
You can go back at edit your listing description at any time.
Add more listings
My experience as a customer on Etsy tells me that a shop looks far more attractive to a potential buyer if it has more products on there.
More products – that are relevant to the niche – make it look like a proper business.
I recommend aiming for 20 products within your first few months of operating, with a goal of expanding that as your business grows.
Over time it will be become clear what your good sellers are, so you can focus on making similar products.
Consider the look of your shop
As you add more listings it’s important to consider the aesthetic of your shop, because many customers may browse your shop front before buying a single product.
They need to see that it’s clear what type of thing you create and your shop should look appealing.
It’s the same principles as for a physical shop you may visit, you want to set the right ambience and be clear what it is you have to sell.
Once you have a few items to sell then take a look at your shop and consider if it is giving the right vibe. Are the colours consistent and does your logo and banner work alongside the products you are selling?
Be aware of your tax obligations
It’s important to always keep accurate records of your sales and be sure to declare your income so you can pay whatever taxes you owe.
If you are ever unsure, seek advice from a tax expert or from the relevant government department – in the UK’s case that would be the HMRC.
When it comes to tax and Etsy there is a handy tax guide for UK Etsy sellers here.
I hope this has given you a good idea of the steps needed to get your Etsy store off the ground.
I’m often frustrated by claims about how easy it is to make a ton of money with Etsy – the truth is it takes work to get a shop up and running with decent products and get it noticed.
However there are individual sellers in there doing incredibly well making products in the comfort of their own home.
Want more ideas for how to make money from home? Check out my best jobs for stay at home mums.
My favourite way to make money from home is with my websites, you can read up on starting a blog here.