(This post contains affiliate links. All this basically means companies may compensate me for sending you to their sites or sharing their products or services. I only choose products I would buy myself and appreciate your support to keep this website running.)
Are you ready to sell digital files on Etsy? I have been selling digital files on ETSY for a few years. It’s not only fun, but I LOVE the passive income. (Passive Income = making money while you aren’t paying attention to it). I have made a few products that have been wildly successful and add to our family income while not requiring extra effort or time.
Before you start creating digital products to sell on ETSY
- You have to register as a seller and create your storefront before you begin. You will also need a PayPal account to receive payments.
- Make sure you are following the ETSY guidelines.
- Make sure you have permission to use any fonts or graphics for RE-SELLING from the original designer. Take the time to do the research if you are unsure.
What to create and sell on ETSY
My best advice is to create something you would use or refine something you are already using, like this teacher appreciation gift tag, that other people would appreciate. My most successfully selling products are items I created to use myself. Chances are if you need something, others will too.
As a graphic designer, I design outside of my personal “favorite style” often for clients. It’s a stretch for me artistically- which is actually good for keeping my skills sharp. The bad part is I am not usually super excited about the finished product even if it looks amazing. So, if you are going to ask someone to buy your work on ETSY, the more excited you are about it, the better it will sell.
I have listed items that I don’t “love” and I have never sold them. I think this happens for a few reasons- they are either too specific to a theme or style, or they don’t coordinate with the rest of my work and seem out of place. My customers often come back or ask for custom projects because they like my “signature style”. Stick with what makes you happy and sell sell sell!
HOW TO CREATE A DIGITAL FILE FOR ETSY
Maybe I am old school, but I almost always sketch out my ideas on paper first.
This works best for me because it helps me visualize not only the size I want my end result to be but the space I have to create it. Then when I jump into Adobe Illustrator to design the product, I have a starting point.
I almost always end up with something, not exactly the same as my drawing and that’s okay. Once I start working I get in a groove and new ideas or improvements come to me.
BUT when I don’t sketch it out, I usually fidget at the computer longer than I had planned. This leaves me frustrated that I am off schedule or a project is taking longer than the time I had allowed.
Tools for creating digital FILES for ETSY sales
- ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR:
I use Adobe Illustrator to design all my graphic projects. This is exactly what this program was designed for and although there is a learning curve, you can create simple products with not too much experience.
I have a relative (who will remain nameless) who designs in Photoshop. Secretly he is just waiting for me to teach him Adobe Illustrator I think. Photoshop will allow you to do some graphic design, but it is not nearly as easy (for me at least) or as efficient at doing graphic design properly. It’s worth the time to learn Adobe Illustrator if this is something you want to spend more time doing.
Adobe Illustrator is available through a monthly online subscription here. It’s a little pricey, but if you create some great products, it will more than pay for itself. You can also get a FREE 30-day trial to see how you like it.
I have explored Canva in the research of this article, but it does not appear to me that you can sell documents you create there. It is a great tool for creating your own documents or graphics. Be sure to read their terms before you begin.
- OTHER TOOLS:
Other tools like MS Publisher and Word can also work if you are creating simple documents. Abby Lawson at Just a Girl and Her Blog has a tutorial on how she creates printables in Word. Maybe because I have been using Adobe Illustrator for so long, I just can’t wrap my head around Word, so I am glad Abby has shared her knowledge.
If you want to take it up a notch and DRAW or HAND-LETTER your products see this post about tools just for hand lettering. Then check out this great class on how to Digitize Your Designs. I have been following Amanda for awhile on Instagram, and although now is not the season for me to learn hand letter, this is where I will go when I am ready for a new skill. She is amazing and so humble about her success. (I think she even just quit her day job to hand letter full time!)
My best tips for Creating Digital FILES to Sell on Etsy
- Keep the customer in mind with the end product– How will the customer print it? If it’s an invitation or a gift item, encourage the customers to print at a professional printer or their local print shop. If it’s a to-do list or menu planner, a home printer will probably be fine. I try to keep this in mind when I am using colors and how much ink the customer will use to print the document.
- Make it easy to use– Include a cover page to your document with any directions the customer will need after they have printed your document.
- Brand the product appropriately– I like to put my name on my digital products but I draw the line on items that will be framed or saved indefinitely (like my Teacher Appreciation Book). It’s kind of tacky, in my opinion, to have your logo or name all of these types of items. Use and toss items- I go right ahead and include contact information or my logo so they can find me again. Also, anything that gets cut out- I find an empty place to include my logo and web address.
- Name your product files with clear descriptions– This is more of a customer service thing. Before you upload your files to ETSY, be sure it has a name that describes the item. This will make it easy for the customer to save, or find, once they have downloaded it. When possible I include my name in the title as well so they remember where they got it and shop with me again.
- Files matter– The maximum file size for each file you load is 20MB. You can load up to 5 individual files per item listing.
- Adjust with criticism– It’s inevitable you will have critics. Sometimes it’s truly a mistake in your layout, or even a typo. Adjust and re-distribute as soon as possible. With digital products, the customer also has to assume some responsibility since they are printing, cutting, using, etc. So not all issues are avoidable. Try to resolve when you can, but you can draw the line at excessive tech support (in my opinion.)
Getting The Digital File Sale on Etsy
- Create a LISTING. Title your item clearly and simply. Drill down to the core of your item. If it is a chore chart, use chore chart in the title. If it is a tag to hang on flowers for a neighbor, use something simpler like gift tag.
- Include the word PRINTABLE in title and description. Be sure to write simply using the words your customer would search to find the product you are selling. Sometimes this is hard because we are so close to the item, so think like your neighbor or grandma.
- Have clear images (either great photographs) or create digital images like this. (Etsy maxes you out at 800×1000 pixels.) Square images are best for the way Etsy has set up their search. If you can’t have all square images, be sure the first, and main image is square. I create mine 800×800 pixels
- Include clear directions or restrictions right in the listing for the customer to read while they are looking at your product. You can look at my listings for an idea.
- Link to other similar products in the item description or suggest your viewer take a look at them too. Most of your first time shoppers are going to come from ETSY’s search engine, not from a link directly to your store.
- Add items in small batches. I feel this keeps my shop fresher in ETSY’s back process. ((I also know that when I get a sale, more sales follow, so I think ETSY pushes you up the search screen the more items you sell.))
- I do not have my digital files “auto renew”. I do this because it requires me to make sure my store if full of items people are buying and I can hold on to seasonal items when needed too. You can set your quantity to a high number, I use 100. You will only be charged when an item sells.
- Don’t forget to set up your auto communication for digital file sales in INFO & APPEARANCE. My says this:
Thanks for your purchase!!! I am so excited to share my work with you.
All sales are final on digital items. No returns or refunds allowed after purchase.
Please note that various computers and printers may show color differently. I cannot guarantee color matching.
Purchasing this item is for personal, non-commerical use only. You may share within one school building. Copyright and rights to this image belong to Resa Design, LLC ©2016. This file is protected by copyright laws. Thank you for your understanding.
Customer Service available at email (AT) resadesign (DOT) com
Resa Design, LLC
Can’t wait to hear how you do. Leave a link to your store below, I would love to take a look. I am also happy to help as much as I can. Feel free to leave questions below or contact me directly.
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