(Updated 2024) The Complete Guide To Selling Printables On Etsy For Passive Income

Last Updated:

February 25, 2024


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You’ve probably dreamed of making passive income on the side. An extra income stream that will earn you money even when you sleep. It gives you more time, flexibility and freedom.

Etsy is a surprisingly good way to earn some side-hustle money passively. I know because I’ve been doing it for the last 3 years with multiple shops.

If you don't know how to start, this is the guide for you. We will go through the process of earning passive income on Etsy by selling digital products and printables.

Let’s get started!

What Are Digital Downloads?

Before we talk about printables, let's look at digital downloads as a whole.

If you have been on Etsy for a while, you probably have seen digital products & digital downloads. They are designs that the customers can download without a physical printed product. Some examples include planners, cards, logos, photo presets, etc.

One of the biggest advantages of selling digital products is that you only need to make it once, and the product can technically be sold forever. Also, Etsy helps you deliver the digital products so you don’t have to spend time handling shipping.

Benefits Of Digital Downloads

What Are Printables?

Printables are a type of digital products that is intended for the customers to print out themselves at home or using a printing service. It gives customers the convenience of choosing their favourite design and printing it out at home on the same day, which saves them time and money. For example, printable party invitations, printable planners, printable colouring pages.

Some printables are also editable. They are templates that customers can edit themselves, including text, colours and layout. For example, a wedding invitation card which the couple can change the date and names. This customisation means that customers can adjust the templates to their requirements on a budget. It saves them time and money as they don't need to hire a designer to create a custom design.

Isn’t Etsy Saturated With Printables?

It’s true that many products and niches on Etsy are highly saturated, but luckily Etsy has 96.3 million active buyers (in 2021). There are always opportunities to niche down and find particular products with good demand and low competition.

One of the ways to do that is to look for long tail keywords that shoppers actually use.

The longer the keywords, the more targeted it is to your target customers. For example, “planner” has about a million results, which means you are potentially competing with a million other listings for the first page placement of Etsy search. But if you ‘niche down’ and set a longer keyword like “fitness planner for moms”, the competing listings drop to about only 625. You will have a much better chance of ranking on the first page for a long-tail keyword.

When you target longer-tail keywords, you will face less competition

How To Earn Passive Income With Printables?

For printables, you only need to make a design once and you can sell it forever. After creating the designs with tools like Canva or Corjl, you can upload your printables to Etsy. Etsy will help you send the designs to customers automatically after they place an order, making the process quite passive.

One of the things I love about earning passive income on Etsy is that I don’t need to look at my shop 24/7 and still be able to earn a living. It also allows me to create more streams of income for financial stability.

Is It Easy To Make Passive Income on Etsy?

Quite the opposite.

Contrary to what many other Etsy gurus make you believe, you need to put in hard work in the beginning to give your new passive income shop the best chance to succeed.

In the beginning, you should expect to work extra hard to create good quality designs targeting your ideal customers. Initial traction for a new Etsy shop is important. If you already have a full time job, it would be the best if you can work as much as you can on your shop after work and on the weekend.

How Much Can I Make Selling Printables On Etsy?

You can expect to earn about $10-100 a week at the start. Usually a shop that is set up correctly (good quality products in a niche that's not overly competitive) can make one sale per day pretty early. 

A shop with stable sales can earn about $1,000 or more, which could be quite profitable. The money you can earn depends on your niche, price point, how well your products rank, etc.

My shop - Growing Your Craft - made about 5,000 sales in a year. The average price of product is about $5, which means on average I get almost $2,000 extra every single month. Pretty good for a passive income side-hustle!

The best thing is, the income is pretty passive other than answering customer questions and creating new products from time to time. And my shop is still going great.

A sneak peek of one of my Etsy printable shops

What Printables Sell Best On Etsy?

You’re probably wondering what printables actually sell well on Etsy. There are countless possibilities on Etsy. A lot of the digital printables are worth selling for side income. When you search “printables” on Etsy, you will get over 4 million results. It’s hard to know which one to start exploring.

To help you out, here are some best-selling printable ideas on Etsy:

Read more here - 30 Most Popular Digital Products On Etsy

Best Free Design Tools To Make Printables

For most designs, I would recommend Canva because it’s:

I personally use Canva frequently for creating printables quickly. They have a large selection of fonts and assets even for their free plan so you can easily mix and match to create high quality printables.

One thing to keep in mind is that you can’t sell Canva assets by themselves. As long as you use them in your own design with other elements (assets, colours, text, etc), then you will be ok. 

Other than making printables to sell, Canva is also a great place to create Etsy shop banner, Instagram post template and other branding assets for your new shop.

Click here to follow my tutorial of how to create and sell templates with Canva.

Best Design Tool To Use For Editable Printables

If you are making editable printables, then I would recommend Corjl. It’s the platform I use personally for Growing Your Craft.

Another alternative for this is Templett. They offer similar functionalities. However, I find Corjl better than Templett in these few areas:

JetTemplate is another good option if you want to start for absolutely free. I've compared all 3 of these options in this article.

Instead of downloading the printable and upload the finished design to Etsy, you can put your printable design on Corjl. 

Customers who buy your design will be able to access the design, edit and download the printable template themselves. All of that is done by Corjl without involving you.

This is how the Corjl designer looks like

How Much To Charge For Printables?

How much you should charge for printable designs depends on two major factors:

  1. Complexity of your design
  2. Pricing of your competitors

For most printables on Etsy like thank you card, they are typically sold for around $3-8. If your printables are editable by the customers, you can charge more at around $5-15.

As you are competing directly with other printables on Etsy, people will compare your products with others. They will look at the quality of the design, what’s included, prices, etc.

A good way to find out how much you should charge is to look at the biggest shops in your niche. Find their comparable printable designs and see how much do they charge, and whether your design is up to par with them.

In the beginning of your Etsy journey, it could be a good idea to undercut your biggest competition by about 20-30% to get some initial traction.

Creating Clickable Product Photos

Product photos can make a big difference for your click-through rate of your listings. It can also make your designs look more desirable, and therefore easier to sell.

For printables, we don’t need to actually print out the design and take photos ourselves. We can use mockup to make product photos.

The tool I use to make mockup product photos is called Artboard Studio.

Using mockups is a great way to showcase your designs in a realistic setting, which allows customers to picture themselves using the design more easily. Here’s the process of creating product photos with Artboard Studio:

  1. Choose a template or start from scratch
  2. Replace their design with your design
  3. Edit the mockup like add/delete element, change colour, etc
  4. Export your product photo

Here's a product photo I made with Artboard Studio for my soap bottle label

Printable Etsy Shop SEO

Etsy SEO (search engine optimisation) is the main way that your printables will get found on Etsy. If done right, it will be the only traffic source that you need and the best thing is that it’s free.

Keyword research is one of the most important aspects to ranking well on Etsy search. You want to use keywords that are long-tail and descriptive. As we talked about before, longer keywords can help you find niches that are less competitive, which means it will be easier for you to rank higher.

Another way to find targeted keywords that your customers will use is to look at your competitors’ product listings. The chance is that they have already done the keyword research. You can use the relevant keywords for your own printable listings.

Tags are also important in improving your Etsy search ranking. Be sure to use all 13 tags and use multi-word phrases to maximise your reach.

SEO is a big topic. If you want to know more, click here to read our SEO guide.

Writing Etsy Printable Product Description

Product description is often where customers find the information they need when they are interested in your printables.

So make sure you have all the information there so they can make the decision to buy from you. Here are some of the things you can include in your description:

Delivering Printables To Customers

Etsy helps you deliver your printables to customers after they purchased. 

You can upload your design to the bottom of the listing edit page. You can upload up to 5 files at 20mb each.

When a customer places an order for that product listing, Etsy will immediately send them the link to download the file. They can also access the download page at a later time in their ‘Purchases and Reviews’ page.

What's Next

Now that you have a good idea of how to start your very own printable shop on Etsy to earn passive income, it's time to dive in and actually do it. Here are some resources that I have to help you get started:

If you want to go more in-depth in setting up your shop for success, consider joining GYC Etsy Academy 2.0 where digital product is a big focus. You'll find resources specifically for building a digital product Etsy shop including:

When you are ready, click here to join and start building your digital product Etsy shop today.

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