Printables are a great side business because they require a little work up front and then virtually no work on the backend. Creating a printable and selling it online isn’t as complicated as it sounds.
You create the graphic, post it on Etsy and then every time you make a sale you make money. There’s no maintenance required and no need to make a new product every time one of your items sell.
We love how passive it is!
How to Make Printables
Printables are a fairly easy thing to make. The first thing you need to do is come up with an idea.
For example, the Millennial Boss has a shop called The Swag Elephant where she sells printables for bachelorette parties.
Let’s use bachelorette party printables as an example.
How to Come Up with an Idea for a Printable
Here are the steps we recommend you follow to come up with an idea for your printable product.
- Research printables on Pinterest
- Research printables already selling on Etsy
- Think about a problem that someone has that could be solved by a printable
- Think about printables related to special occasions, gifts, seasonal, etc.
- Sign up for our email list below to get a list of 25 printable ideas to sell online
How to Create A Printable
Where to find fonts and graphics OK for commercial use
Next, choose your images, text and other elements that you want to be in the printable.
There are two important things to note when choosing fonts and graphics for printables.
- The fonts and graphics must be OK for commercial use
- You can find free fonts and graphics OK for commercial use on Google Fonts, Da Font, and Creative Market
This is a bit of a learning curve but it’s important to make sure you meet all font licensing requirements before using them in your printable for sale.
How to layout the printable
Next, figure out how to lay it out. If you’re not good at layout, there are programs available that can help you. Below, I go through some of the software that will help you create a printable. They’re all pretty intuitive, so you should have no problem.
Here are two tips for creating your printable layout.
- Maximize white space
- Don’t use more than two fonts at once
Once you’ve created your printable, save it as a PDF. The PDF is essential because that’s what people will download on their home computers.
The best thing about selling printables is that you only have to make the printable once and they can be downloaded an unlimited number of times.
Learn How to Make Printables
Software to Create Printables
There are plenty of programs out there that will help you create printables, the goal is to choose the right one for you.
According to the Adobe website, Photoshop is “…the world’s most advanced digital imaging software, used by photographers, designers, web professionals, and video professionals.”
But, even though it’s for professionals, Ten Ton Online says that Photoshop isn’t hard to use when you’re just trying to do the basics. Printables certainly fall into the basics category.
Photoshop is a great program to use, but it’s costly. You can pay $700 to purchase the program outright or pay a monthly fee of approximately $10 per month.
While Photoshop is awesome, it’s a little bit of overkill when you’re just starting out. If you’re only going to be creating printables, you’re better off choosing one of the other free or low cost options below.
You can invest in an Adobe Creative Cloud product such as Photoshop when you have the budget to do so.
Other Adobe Creative Cloud products include Photoshop, Indesign, and Illustrator. All are very popular with printable sellers so if you have these programs already, use them.
This printable was made in Illustrator.
This is a rudimentary design program, but it gets the work done and it’s good for someone who doesn’t know a lot about design. Best of all it’s free and probably already installed on your computer if you have a PC.
If you don’t have it on your computer, Microsoft has a walkthrough here of how you can get Paint.
Paint allows you to create text, add shapes and insert photos. You’re able to manipulate the images and text fairly easily, but it’s all very basic.
Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
You probably already have the Microsoft suite on your computer as well. For basic printables, you have plenty of font choices and shapes and you likely already know how to use these programs.
These are a good choice if you want something that’s already on your computer and you don’t want to create a new account.
Clothed in Scarlet has a complete walkthrough of how to create a printable in Microsoft Word if you plan to go that route.
Of all the options, this one is my favorite. For one thing, it’s free, unlike Adobe Photoshop. It is more advanced than Microsoft Paint and it’s easier to manipulate than Microsoft Word.
Canva comes with free fonts and graphics that are OK for commercial use in printables. Note: just the free ones are OK for commercial use not any of the icons or fonts you must pay for.
There’s something in Canva for everyone and even the most basic of users (i.e. the ones using it for free) have the opportunity to use the free stock photos for their graphics.
As you get more experienced, you might consider buying the pro version of Canva that gives you access to better functionality such as resizing and more stock photos. The free is fine starting out.
These printables were made in Canva.
If you’re still lost on how to make printables there are some courses that you can take to learn.
The Millennial Boss has a whole course on how to create printables.
You can find the course here: Gold City Ventures Etsy Printables Course.
The course walks you through coming up with ideas for your printables and then creating them.
- Student Reviews of the Etsy Printables Course
- 14 Awesome Etsy Printable Shops from our Etsy Mastermind
Selling Printables on Etsy
Once you’ve created your printables, it’s time to make some money off of them.
Etsy is the best marketplace that I’ve found for selling printables. It’s fairly easy to set up a shop. Etsy has millions of customers so you’ll receive plenty of traffic for your products.
Picking a Price Point
One of the other things that you need to think about when posting your printables in your Etsy shop is what you want to charge.
Etsy has an article called How to Price Like a Pro, you can read it by clicking here. Most of it won’t apply to printables, but you should take into account the amount of time that you spend creating the printables when you choose your price.
You also want to consider what comparable shops are charging. If you charge too much more, people will start going elsewhere.
Increase traffic to your Etsy Listings
You need to drive traffic to your Etsy shop listings. I recommend these 3 strategies.
- Run promoted listings for a few dollars per day to new listings for atleast 2 weeks.
- Use appropriate keywords for your listings by adding all 13 tags to each listing and using keywords in the listing title.
- Create a Pinterest profile for your Etsy shop.
If you need some tips on how to sell on Etsy, I have a whole article on it, just click here: How to Sell on Etsy. The article also includes details on Etsy’s fee structure, what Etsy looks for when ranking items in searches and how you can rank higher in Etsy searches.
I also wrote an article on how to improve your Etsy Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Great SEO in your Etsy posts will help you pop up in more searches and bring more traffic to your Etsy shop. To read that article, click here: Etsy SEO Tips.
Monitor Your Shop Regularly
It is also important to make sure that you monitor how the items in your shop are performing. If you keep track of sales, then you can tell which items are doing well and which items need to be tweaked to make more sales.
It’s possible that the item you posted needs to be rewritten or revised to help with sales.
Here are all my sales so far with about 2-3 weeks of maintenance work every 6 months. This is not a side hustle that I spent a lot of time on but it’s profitable.
How to Create Digital Downloads to Sell
Printables are just one type of digital download that you can sell online. You can also create graphic files, patterns, and ebooks for people to download.
If you’re an Excel wizard, you can create Excel files for people to download so they don’t have to create the formulas to make the Excel file to work.
If you’re a graphic artist, create graphics or cool images that people can download for their own art projects or put on t-shirts or bags.
The possibilities are endless.
Think about the skills that you possess that other people may not and then create something that other people can use. Once you create those files, save them and then get ready to sell.
Sell Digital Downloads Online Free
Etsy is probably the best place to sell printables and digital downloads because it has such great traffic, however, there are fees that go along with selling on Etsy.
Some sites have smaller or no fees and others just have a better audience for the items you’re selling.
Etsy fees are minimal in the long run and the benefit is that you get access to millions of their customers.
Selling Graphic Files and Patterns
While Etsy is one great place to sell your work, there are other marketplaces out there.
Creative Market is a top site to sell your work. You can open a shop and post your work online including icons, images, templates, web themes, and fonts.
When it comes to selling eBooks, Amazon is the top site to sell on. Using Kindle Direct Publishing is one of the best ways to distribute an eBook.
Your other option is to create a website for your eBook and then sell it that way. Some people will create a sales funnel just for their eBook to drive sales to their website and their book.
Sales funnels are a difficult thing to manage, so for most people, Amazon is probably the best bet.
Selling Excel Files
Fiverr is a great place to sell things like Excel files for download. Fiverr is a better choice than Upwork because you can post your item on Fiverr and then just wait for someone to buy it, much like Etsy.
I have a whole write up on how to sell things on Fiverr: How to Make Money on Fiverr.
Downside of Selling On Your Own Website
If you want to cut out the middle man, you can sell through your own website or a blog but there are downsides.
While you don’t have to pay other people when you make a sale, you do have to worry about other costs and extra work. You have to on the overhead that comes with running your own shop including advertising, payment processing, and website upkeep. There are also the costs that go along with running your own website.
If you’re selling a large number of digital downloads or something like an eBook, then it’s probably worth it to have your own website and to create your own sales funnel. If you’re only doing a few per week or month, it’s probably worth it to go through an online retail shop.
In that case, you’ll want to start a blog.
- How to Start a Blog FREE 7-day course
- April Side Income Report – $2184 from Blogging & Etsy Digital Downloads