Selling Printables on Etsy or your Website: Step by Step Guide

First of all: The title is a bit misleading. Before we start talking about selling Printables on Etsy I'd love to  implement one thought into your head: Why Etsy?
Yes, Etsy is already a huge marketplace and yes, it's super easy to start advertising your products. And yes, all the buyers for your Printables are already there. So why am I hesitating telling you that Etsy is the one and only platform you should sell?
ONE reason but it's a huge one: You don't own Etsy (unfortunately 😉 ). And you don't own YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and whatever free or nearly free platform you are using. Even if you pay for the service - you still don't own the platform. And because of that you need to keep in mind: You have to play by their rules. And even if you do it might happen that you wake up in the morning and for whatever reason your store is - closed.
I know it's a nightmare. But I read a lot about this recently in Facebook Groups and if I believe the guys and girls there it can happen. Sometimes it does by mistake and your shop will get restored. But what if not? 
Maybe I'm afraid of something unnecessary. But after all I'm a business owner and I need the income I'm generating to pay my bills. And therefore I cannot put all my eggs into one basket and rely on Etsy alone.

I don't want to tell you NOT to open an Etsy shop. Actually the opposite is the case. But I want you to keep in mind that this is rented land and that you might want to have a backup plan - like your own website with a shop and your own email list to be able to contact your peeps.

Alright, I stop worrying you here about things which never happened to me as well. But still: Please keep in mind that having a backup plan handy is a great idea.

Why selling Printables is a GREAT idea

When I first started my online business ventures in 2006 (oh yeah, it's that long ago!) I wanted to have a website selling digital scrapbooking kits. I wanted to sell digital scrapbooking kits because I figured that I could sell those over and over again without having to store inventory at home. 
And although I moved away from scrapbooking kits I still think that this reason is also a great one to sell printables from the comfort of your home. I also sell SVGs, eBooks and Online Course and all of these things have one thing in common: They are digital products.
You do not need a large upfront investment.
You do not need any special machines and such to create printables except your printer (to try them out).
You do not need to print 100s of items bevor you have even sold one.

One of my Printables you can find in my store and which I can sell over and over again!
If you want to have a look check them out here.

So how do you get started?

What you need to start your Printables Business

First things first. Make sure you have everything you need. And really, that's not much:

  • your computer
  • a graphic design program such as Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer
  • graphic design elements/sets with a commercial use license
  • mockups to present your products
  • an Etsy shop or a website with a Woocommerce Shop (or both, reason mentioned above!)
  • a printer to try out your designs bevor you sell them

Basically, that's all. Sure you might want Corjl if you sell custom designs. You can link Corjl from your listings and people can try it out and if they purchase they can customise and download their file from there. But this does not apply to you if you don't want to sell customisable files. Or you might want to invest into a fancy research tool - you can but you don't have to. We can start with what I mentioned above.
Once you have what you need what is the next step?

Join the Library

It's FREE!

Inside the Library you can find lots of Printables, SVG files, Patterns, Templates and Material for my video tutorials! It's well worth to join. Try it, it's free.

If you wanna try out if designing Printables is something for you sign up for my newsletter and get access to the Library. You cannot just download and use my Printables for your family fun but you also get tutorials about how to create them. It's a great way to try out this business model and see if you enjoy it!

And if you know you do - jump into the next steps!

  1. Research: Begin by researching the Etsy marketplace to understand what types of printables are popular and in demand. Explore successful shops selling similar products to get insights into pricing, presentation, and marketing strategies.
    Pro-Tip: "Track" shops you've found. Write down the number of sales they have on the one day and check back on the next day. Do that for a week or two and you get an impression how much they are selling.
  2. Create Your Products: Develop a range of high-quality printables that cater to your target audience's needs and interests. This could include digital art, planner inserts, greeting cards, invitations, wall art, and more. Use graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer to create your designs. So far I'm not a huge fan of Canvas. There are so many tools which are -right now- not yet included. Yes, you can somehow put your Printables together with it... but well... there is a lot missing. I guess it will chance in the future because they just bought Serif and the Affinity Programs but right now my recommendation is to use a "real" design program. I know many, many website recommend something else. Still, for me this skill is an investment into a sustainable business.
  3. Set Up Your Etsy Shop: Sign up for an Etsy seller account and set up your shop. Choose a catchy and descriptive shop name, create a compelling shop banner and logo, and write an engaging shop description that highlights what sets your printables apart.
    Pro-Tip: If you need help with your shop banner and logo - there are packages on Etsy you can buy and which will help you to create your banner and logo in no time. You can always change them later, it's just something to get started!
  4. List Your Products: Take clear, high-resolution photos of your printables and create compelling product listings. Write detailed and keyword-rich titles and descriptions that accurately describe your products and include relevant tags to improve discoverability.
    Pro-Tip: Look a the shop descriptions of your competition. What do they highlight? What keywords do they use? What Tags are they using? You can find out all that and more just looking at their listings. Sure you can always purchase a subscription for a tool like Marmelade, eRank or Alura but you don't have to.
  5. Pricing: Determine your pricing strategy by considering factors such as material costs (which are obviously none to really not much!), time invested, and market demand. Research competitor pricing to ensure your prices are competitive while still allowing for a reasonable profit margin.
    Pro-Tip: Pick one product which is in high demand and sell it with low to no profit. Yeah, you read this right 😉 Why should you do that? It gets people into your shop and they might add another piece to their shopping card because they got the desired one for a bargain!
  6. Digital Delivery: Decide how you will deliver your printables to customers. Etsy offers digital download options, allowing customers to access their purchased files immediately after payment. Ensure your files are formatted correctly and include any instructions or usage rights. If you sell huge files (with huge I mean more than 100mb divided into 4 downloads) you need to store your files e.g. in Google Drive or in a Dropbox Folder and send your customers a PDF over Etsy with the link to download their file(s).
  7. Promote Your Shop: Utilise social media platforms, email marketing, blogging, and other promotional channels to drive traffic to your Etsy or Website shop. Engage with your audience, showcase your products, and share behind-the-scenes content to build brand awareness and attract potential customers.
  8. Provide Excellent Customer Service: Deliver exceptional customer service by promptly responding to inquiries, processing orders efficiently, and addressing any issues or concerns that may arise. Positive reviews and satisfied customers can lead to repeat business and referrals.
  9. Analyse and Adapt: Monitor your shop's performance using Etsy's analytics tools and adjust your strategies accordingly. Pay attention to which products are selling well, where your traffic is coming from, and how customers are interacting with your shop to optimize your sales efforts.
  10. Stay Informed: Keep up to date with Etsy's policies, trends in the printable industry, and best practices for selling online. Join Etsy seller communities, participate in forums, and seek out educational resources to stay informed and continuously improve your Etsy shop.

Please note: If you decide to go for an e-Commerce business model it's totally fine. Millions of people do that. But: Please be aware that each month you have to start from scratch. There is no recurring billing attached to this business model. You have to excite your people again and again to make sales. Don't get me wrong: No matter which business model you have you always have to do that. But with a recurring payment model attached it gets easier to pay your bills.
What does that mean for you?
You could figure if - for your business - it would make sense to offer a subscription model. Maybe you could offer people something which makes them want to pay for your service month after month.
I get it though: This is als a tough business model and requires time and dedication. But it's possible, no question!
I found some memberships online where people purchase a subscription for a place where you can download everything for a small monthly fee. 

There are a lot of different ways you can make money from Printables. Just to mention another one - you could create seamless patterns and use those to create fabric on Spoonflower or Notebooks on Amazon. You can also sell them as digital paper sets on Etsy. You see: Designing Printables means you have infinite options to sell them!

You can start learning about selling and creating printables for free in the Safari Lounge Designer Classes. Test my courses, download the resources and enjoy the community - it's all on me for 7 days!

Safari Lounge Designer Classes

Learn everything you need to know to build a sustainable Business for Printable Products. Let's create together, plan your business together, and market your products. It's all there,
personal coaching included! In case you just wanna have fun - that's inside as well!

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