How to sell digital downloads on Etsy

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You can make an easy passive income these days selling products without having to visit the post office once. Now is a great time to sell digital downloads online – with no inventory and low upfront costs, this is an excellent way to build a passive income online.

In this post, we will find out how to sell digital downloads and which digital products sell well on Etsy. How much money you can make selling printables on Etsy, and how to get started with a printables business. 

image of laptop with text how to sell digital downloads

You don’t need any specialized training or a particular style to begin a printable business; all that’s required is a willingness to try new things and keep going. 

*This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission. It will not cost you a penny more) Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Here is what we will look at in this post

Why sell digital downloads on Etsy 

get started guide to selling prints online

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  • Tools to get started selling digital online prints today
  • Learn how which file sizes to sell so you can go hands-off right away
  • Discovery why I get a 5-star review every time.
  1. Etsy is a vast market, it’s a shoppers paradise for unique and artistic items. Finding the perfect gift on Etsy is easy – but let us look at why selling printables on Etsy is the ideal way to get started. 
  2. They send the files for you – Once you have made your perfect printable, upload it to your Etsy listing, and Etsy will send these files to you customer. Easy. 
  3. Cheap to get started – Starting an Etsy shop on Etsy is also relatively inexpensive to get started. Etsy charge 0.20$ per listing and 5% Transaction fees on every item sold. 
  4. Big market – Buyers are searching Etsy 1000’s of times per day looking for printables. They have an excellent reputation for a wide variety of products. Which leads me to my next point. 
  5. Built-in traffic – No need to reinvent the wheel, Etsy traffic is a massive plus for sellers – especially those who are beginners and don’t have time or knowledge to send traffic to their Etsy shop
  6. Easy to begin – Setting up and starting an Etsy shop is really easy. There are lots of tutorials online, and you can get your shop up and running in minutes. 
  7. Lots of help out there – It’s no secret than many Etsy shop owners, such as myself, don’t mind giving away lots of helpful tips online. In recent years Etsy has gone a long way to make things more transparent for sellers and told them how to get found in search. 
  8. Make it once – sell it often.  
  9. Big competition – Of course, being so huge, you can feel like a tiny fish in the pond, but don’t let this stop you. Take the first steps and see what you can achieve. 

What kinds of digital products sell on Etsy.

In my Etsy shop, I sell printable wall art. I always enjoyed painting in watercolor, and this Etsy shop is where I create and sell art for sale.

There are other digital items that you can sell on Etsy.

  • Snapchat filters – 
  • Bottle wrappers –
  • Banners
  • Favor tags
  • Digital invites
  • Printable signs
  • Art
  • Pdfs for patterns
  • Planners
  • Printable stickers
  • Digital planners
  • The list is endless

The best selling digital products on Etsy

Lots of digital products on Etsy are about life events – Weddings, Birthdays and special events. As well as life events, think of social distancing, New year resolutions, and school items.

This is also a considerable market for teachers and people selling instruction Pdfs, everything from how to grow cactus plants to how to look after your cat. 

Pretty much everything goes on Etsy.

That’s why Etsy is so great – everyone can find ideas on what to sell on Etsy

What is an evergreen product on Etsy

An evergreen product is one which sells year-round with no exceptions. It can sell more or less the same amount throughout the year. For example, planners will obviously sell more towards the end of the year and beyond as people plan to make the most of the fresh start.

If you were to sell photos on Etsy, this is an evergreen product as it sells all year round.

Baby products are evergreen – people have babies all year round. If you sell printable baby progress charts, you can expect to sell the same amount year-round. 

How much money can you make selling digital products on Etsy

Well, depending of course on how much you sell, what your market is and what the need is right now. I’ve seen a significant increase in sales during the lockdown during January – June 2020. People are stuck inside, and what better way than to shop online. 

chart showing visits to etsy shop in stats
Visits to print shop on Etsy

If your items are well received and popular, there is no reason why you can’t make around 1000 $ a month, with say 150 prints. Most will depend on how well you can convert visitors to buyers. How much the buyer engages with your items and what efforts you are putting in to drive independent traffic to your shop. It’s worth mentioning that not all art is the same – some may be lower quality, for sale in other stores, or even trending at the time.

If I started lockdown again – I would have created printable organization products. People cleaned up like crazy, and I thought they purchased lots of organization home type printables to help them get their house in order. 

The good thing about printables – and not having any physical products in stock means that you can pivot to new products easily and adjust your items quickly and efficiently. 

You can’t do this with physical products. 

Being able to create products on the fly is why selling digital is excellent right now. The world is changing daily, and we see new things emerge all the time on Etsy.

Who new yard signs would be selling like hot cakes

How to make digital downloads for Etsy

You can start by making a simple digital download on Canva.com. They have a massive amount of templates and several easy to follow tutorials to get you started. 

I followed this course on creating printables to get me started. It was simple to follow and a great jumping-off point. 

More advanced uses who want to really get off to a flying start and are willing to invest in Illustrator – might choose to invest in a course. I took this course on creating and making printables in Illustrator, and it helped me make this product for sale in my shop. 

I also sell art online and create my files in Photoshop – if this is something you would like to learn, you can jump on the ‘interest list’ right here. 

Where can I find graphics for my designs

Once you have decided which printable items to sell on Etsy – one of the first hurdles new shop owners find is that they can’t seem to make their own items as polished as the next. 

This is where buying someone else’s graphics can get you further and faster. Try Creative Market for graphics and templates. I use lots of items from The Hungry Jpeg – they have fantastic graphics for sale, which you can use on your own products to make and sell. 

Design cuts is another place or even a new one for me Watercolorpng.

Can anyone sell on Etsy – Do I need a license

I think it’s essential to do some of your own research for this. However – if you are selling printable in the standard format, you do not need a license to sell.

Don’t sell any medical advice or advice which can be construed as medical advice.

But please see Etsy’s terms for this. If you at all unsure – please contact Etsy directly for definitive guides. 

How to sell on Etsy – quick tips

Decide on a product – first off, you will need to do some competitor research before you begin. There is little point in spending the twilight hours creating something no one is looking for.

I created a printable Etsy planner for this – it has a large section on researching your completion on Etsy -together with ways to get you started. 

How to start an Etsy shop to sell digital downloads

  1. Open a shop Get started by opening your first shop on Etsy. If you want to start off with free listings – use this link, and we both receive 40 free listings. So you can get started on Etsy for free. 
  2. Decide on your Etsy shop name – This part is where most people click off and go and watch the tv. Don’t if you are stuck for a name on Etsy, just create it with the one you like for now, and you can change it later. This post is all about deciding on your Etsy shop name
  3. Create a listing – This doesn’t have to be difficult, I didn’t have any listings ready, so I posted a photo off my phone for sale to get past this page on setting up an Etsy shop. You can delete the item later and once you are ready for your real products. 
  4. Add your products – As your printables business won’t be created overnight, just get your first item up and listed. Don’t worry about writing a perfect Etsy shop title. Just get it as far as you can. 
  5. Add photos to your products on Etsy – There is no perfect way to add product images to your shop. I would say make them light and bright. Try to use all ten image spaces if it is relevant. Don’t duplicate. Keep the customer in mind. 
  6. Market your products using Pinterest. This is an easy way to drive traffic to your shop from off Etsy and create your own customers. Many customers are bought to Etsy from Pinterest – it’s the perfect place to promote your Etsy products for free.
Etsy planner preview

Getting it right on Etsy!

  • Get your digital copy of the Etsy Creative Planner – with everything you need to get started today
  • Includes a full 2021 Calendar which you can print out
  • Each planner includes links to my most valuable posts on getting started on Etsy
  • Even if you have an Etsy shop already – this planner will organize your thoughts so you can create a map to success
  • Bonuses include Tags pdf and much more

Other tips for Etsy sellers

Remember – you can also use canva.com to build Pins to promote your shop.

Recently I’ve been adding more of my images to Instagram and have seen a lot more traffic to my store from social media. 

Perhaps this traffic with die down entirely in the later part of 2020.

Still reading?

Great – 

Read the Etsy seller handbook here. It contains so much information from how to get found in search, tips to getting started and has highlights from Etsy shops which you may find interesting. 

Get inspired – Want to be inspired with other Etsy sellers – read about other Etsy sellers and how they got started. 

Be careful about copyright – you don’t want your Etsy shop shut down. 

Look, we all have to play nicely in the sandpit. It is not ok to take someone else’s design on Etsy and sell it as your own, either on Etsy or off Etsy. I have had several sellers try to sell my prints as their own. It happens.

Etsy was excellent when I told them – I could prove they were my original designs, and I had been selling them for some time. Keep photos as proof everything is your work.

These infringements are taken seriously by Etsy – just the same as using Micky Mouse in your designs or title. You just can’t do it. 

What size should my files be on Etsy

You can add up to 5 digital files for each digital listing on Etsy. Those files can be up to 20mb in size – at the time of writing. 

What about print sizes

My files are digital prints of my artwork. I try to include up to 7 file sizes in each purchase. This means I must zip some files to get them to fit into the maximum 5 files. The zip files must also not exceed the 20mb file size. 

What file format should I use

I sell my prints in Jpeg files. This allows for printing at home or online. Your products, if you are selling planners, for example, will be better suited to PDF format. 

As I’m selling artwork – I also upload them as 300Dpi. This is especially important if you are selling art online. If this is something you are interested in, sign up for the waitlist to be notified of the course updates.

Keeping your files safe

Once you have uploaded your files to Etsy, it is easy to forget them and move along. But I have learned to my detriment the cost of losing files I sell online. I once had around 50 files lost as I accidentally deleted them permanently from my drive. Now I keep lots of files offline in a storage drive.

What size should my Etsy images be

Since each listing has 10 spots for images, 10 listings = 100 photos you will have to create, so getting the size right the first time is best. 

I create my first Etsy listing image in landscape format – approx 5 parts along the bottom and 4 parts up the side. Basically, 10×8 – but keep your item in the center to allow for cropping in the search results. See Best practices for creating your Etsy listing images.

Should I use mockups in my designs? 

If you followed any of the links above the Creative market or Design cuts, you will find lots of mockup photos to display Etsy’s printables. There are several on Etsy you can choose from also. This clean option is the one I have used for lots of Mockup prints

What else do I need to do in my listing

It may be obvious to you that it’s a digital product. Still, often the customer will either not read the title or the description or both. I’ve had several people email me a few days later and say ‘where’s my print’ – because they haven’t read that it’s digital. Make a statement in your listing title and description and make sure there is no room for error. 

Pricing on Etsy

So what price should you sell your product for on Etsy? – I sell my prints at 5-6$ per item. This is around the average price for prints on Etsy. It allows the buyer to print at their own cost while leaving me with quite a bit of profit. When you take into account, you can sell digital items repeatedly at no additional work.

If you are selling a 200 page PDF on How to plant a garden – well, this price will be slightly more, of course. 

Just use your judgment. Remember – buyers like shops with a proven sales record.

Sell more on Etsy

To get my shop to 100 sales, I put everything for sale for 1$. Did it work? 

Of course – everyone loves a bargain – and my shop looked more established quickly, which must have lead to more purchases in the long run. 

But I don’t want to sell my items so cheap – !

No, you must remember – you are selling digital, it is at no extra cost to you, don’t be precious over your work, just get it sold and be motivated by the cha-ching on your phone.

But you don’t have to do this. It was just something I felt I wanted to try to get my shop off the ground. 

At the very least, I was able to iron out which was going to be my best seller and if there were any customer issues, such as files missing.

Other ways to get your first sale on Etsy

  1. Add a coupon code straight away to your shop – buyers feel good that they are better than the rest, and a bargain can quickly give a sense of urgency, which it wouldn’t otherwise have.
  2. Bundle products together – my best seller is three prints, which I put together one day. You can purchase each print separately, but this way, I removed the stumbling block of them having to look for matching prints. The sale comes easy if the buyer doesn’t have to think or decide. You’ve done the hard work for them. 
  3. Email – You can start an email list for your Etsy shop quickly. Still, it is a more advanced technique for sellers as you are then responsible for emailing them regularly. 
  4. Reviews – Sell your items quicker than treacle, avoid any nastiness from the outset, don’t try to play the hero by standing by your 6$ sale. No one will thank you for it – and a negative review in your shop is more destructive than gone off milk. Just give them a refund and get on with your day even if they complain about something which is not your fault.
  5. Guarantees – I do have a guarantee in my shop that I will refund any purchase if the printing is compromised due to file quality. Buyers feel confident they can purchase knowing they can come back if they don’t like the quality. 

I will say – in 5000 sales, I’ve never had anyone want a refund for printing quality. I do have an external page to explain how to print your printable art on my website. Which helps. 

Final thoughts on selling digital products on Etsy Know your product and who your competition is. Keep things simple, to begin with, don’t get hung up on getting it perfect. There is room for improvement in every shop. 

Here is a reminder of what we covered in this post

  1. Why sell digital on Etsy
  2. What kind of digital products can I sell on Etsy
  3. Which products sell the most on Etsy
  4. What is an evergreen product on Etsy
  5. How much money can I make selling on Etsy
  6. How can I make digital downloads to sell on Etsy what programs do I need
  7. Where can I find graphics to use on Etsy
  8. Do I need a license to sell on Etsy
  9. How to start an Etsy shop
  10. How do I price my products on Etsy
  11. How to sell more on Etsy
  12. Tips to get your first sale on Etsy
get started guide to selling prints online

Grab the free Ebook today

  • Learn how to get your art online and where to sell it
  • Tools to get started selling digital online prints today
  • Learn how which file sizes to sell so you can go hands-off right away
  • Discovery why I get a 5-star review every time.

If you enjoyed this post on How to sell digital downloads on Etsy – please pin it to your favorite pinboard. 

Image with hands on laptop with the text how to make and sell digital downloads

You might also like these posts for more help on selling on Etsy. 

How to name your Etsy shop

Things to sell on Etsy

Using Pinterest to sell more on Etsy

Please let me know in the comments if you sell Digital items on Etsy – or if you have any questions.

watercolor image with text how to sell digital downloads

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14 Comments

  1. are you aware that your website comes up as a suspicious link? I rarely see this so i wanted to send you a heads up.

    1. Hello
      Really – I cant find any bad links. I did undo the security certificate for a day – but it’s back up now. Maybe it was just during then. Do you remember which link you clicked or was it the whole website.

      Thanks
      Trina

  2. ok so this was a lot of information to take in- could you clarify what apps are best to create downloadable files?

    1. Hello Karissa
      I create most of my downloads in Photoshop as I’m working with watercolor artwork. If you only wish to create printable lists or pdfs you should try Canva.com. Or even PowerPoint if you are able to use it. I also use Illustrator for larger projects and Indesign – which are paid products in the Adobe suite.
      If it’s artwork you wish to sell like me the only real choice is Photoshop. It does however have a large learning curve for someone with little experience.

      I hope this helps
      Trina

  3. This is such good info! Can you talk more about the files you include and their sizes? What do you use to resize, how do you explain this to your customer?

    1. Hello Amanda,
      My watercolors I lift off the background and then place them on different sized artboards and then export them from PS. I tell my customers which files to print using the notice to buyers – so they get all the information when they purchase. I also have a page on the website which explains it also.

  4. This is great content. I’m very familiar with selling products (cut-vinyl items) on Etsy, but have created a specialty digital monogram set. I have the whole alphabet done and have saved each individual letter as a file, because that is how most people will want it. Etsy allows for 5 files per listing. Should I just Zip all of the files into a Zip file? Will that count as 1 file? Also, I have each letter saved as an .EPS, .PNG, .DXF, and .PNG file. This means that the whole set has 104 individual files.

    1. Hello Tammie
      Thank you for your comment. Yes, you will need to wrap all your files into zip files – each less than 20mb in size. If that’s not possible, then you can also think about storing the files off Etsy and delivering a link. For example I have a listing which is 3 prints, but as I need to provide 6 files for each print, they are too big to store on Etsy. So I deliver with the listing a PDF with the link to download the files from Dropbox. This may also be an option for you if you can’t reduce them all.
      I hope this helps
      Trina

  5. Hi Trina, your information is invaluable–thank you! I have been designing 13″x 19″ downloadable digital graphics with DIY furniture transfers and decals in mind, so the files are large. I know I’ll need to supply a link for downloading from Dropbox. Do you explain how to do this somewhere, or know where I can find this information? Thanks!

    1. Hello MaryKay
      Yes, just set up your Dropbox folder and then from the menu inside the folder create a sharable link. (anyone with the link can have access ) Make sure you chose they can only view, not edit etc. Next you will need to create a PDF and add a button with the link to your Dropbox folder. You can add other information to the PDF, such as social links or website links, I created mine in Google Docs. Then when you create your listing, instead of adding the print to the download, just add the PDF to download. Name it something obvious, such as – Open up for your download link. Then you are done.
      I hope that helps
      Trina

  6. Do we need to add a notice that it’s for personal use only or does Etsy stop people selling it on without our consent?

    1. Yes, you will need to add information on personal use in both the description and on your files. Etsy won’t monitor anything for you.

      Let me know if you need more help

      Trina

  7. So for a digital print, it is better to include all the (5) sizes with that one-time purchase or make it so the customer has a drop-down option to choose? Also, with the latter, is adding a higher price tag with the larger image not recommended?

    1. Hi
      I would only use that option if you were using printed and shipped. But for digital, you will need to justify the price. Giving them one print, when really you can give them 6-7 prints isn’t going to affect you. Also you will have loads of questions about sizes and potential refunds if they purchase the wrong size.

      Thanks
      Trina

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