How to start a small business on Etsy selling printables

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When it comes to starting your online business, selling digital products has become the best choice for business success and personal development.

Selling printables gives you the opportunity to work from pretty much anywhere as long as you have a good internet connection and it allows you to actually monetize your passion by creating and selling your best digital work.

Now it’s your time to jump in!

You can sell your passion and/or expertise in a digital format.

In this post, I’ll tell you how you can create digital products from scratch to start your very own small business on Etsy.

Why is selling on Etsy a good idea for a small business owner?

Speaking from a seller’s point of view, Etsy is one of the biggest marketplaces that allow you to take your home-based business to the next level.

If you’ve been debating about starting a small business, now it’s your chance, follow your intuition and have confidence in your business journey.

Although you do need to be prepared, I got you, just keep reading 🙂

How does Etsy marketplace work?

Just like its competitors (Amazon and eBay), Etsy has become an even bigger marketplace with more than 442 million visitors per year.

This means that having your store on Etsy will give you major visibility and traffic.

Simply put, your potential client is redecorating her house and is looking for printable wall art, they type in Etsy’s search bar (or Google search bar as they do have paid advertising there) something like “Boho printable art” and thousands of products appear, the key is to have your products show up on the first page right?

Is it too saturated?

I will not sugarcoat it, there are more competitors than ever before.

It will take time to get your first sales and position your shop amongst the others that have been there for years, but with a clear goal and a solid strategy, you will make it!

Can I have a profitable small business on Etsy?

It is possible to earn enough income from your Etsy printable shop to make your business profitable. No, it won’t happen in the first two, three, or four months, but it will be possible if you keep your mind to it.

Like any business, physical or digital, it takes a few months to take off, but once it does, it keeps growing.

You can definitely scale your Etsy printable business and turn it into a full-time passive income stream.

Make sure to grab my free Etsy Printables Success Checklist to help you start with your Etsy journey.


Grab the Etsy Success Checklist for free

Just add your name and I’ll send it to your inbox

    Having your account on Etsy it’s free. 

    Once you register as a seller that fees start to come in: 

    • You need to pay $.20 cents for every product (or listing) you upload to the marketplace.
    • Because we’re talking about digital downloads, you’ll pay this automatically every time your product sells, not just one time.
    • It can be a bit confusing at first, check their own website that explains it much better than I can.

    Check  out Etsy’s fees and payment policies here.

    Etsy printables success PRO tip

    You can also be successful even if you’re a non-US shop. You could always sell in your native language or in English. 

    If you live outside the US and you believe you won’t get the same exposure or have payment difficulties, Etsy has sellers from over 247 different countries!

    I’m not US-based and I have my Etsy shop up and running without issues.

    That’s why I love digital products because the hassle of having your stock ready plus shipping and handling can be quite time-consuming. With a printable Etsy shop, you only need to design your item once and it will automatically be available in the marketplace as much as you need it to.

    What type of printables can I sell on Etsy?

    Oh boy, the amount of printables and digital downloads is pretty broad. 

    And that’s great for you! As there are many opportunities to start making a profit from your work. In this case, we’re focusing only on printables rather than overall digital products, like social media templates, Photoshop brushes, design patterns, etc. 

    Take a look at some of the most popular PRINTABLE categories:

    • Planners
    • Habit trackers
    • Wall art
    • Posters
    • Custom portraits
    • Stationery
    • Wedding invitations
    • Coloring pages
    • eBooks
    • Birthday cards
    • Greeting cards
    • Party stationery
    • Workbooks
    • Business plan
    • Finance trackers
    • Checklists
    • Cheatsheets
    • Business cards
    • Stickers
    • eFlyers
    • Calendars

    There are many more, just go to Etsy.com and start typing “printable” and you’ll see the most popular options of the moment like in the image below:

    I’m writing this post in February, and as you can see Valentine’s Day is a big theme. You can definitely take advantage of seasonal content in your products or marketing. 

    This is Etsy’s homepage, and they’re promoting popular categories for Valentines and two of those categories work for printables: greeting cards and custom portraits and prints. 

    Printables are definitely a popular option for customers nowadays.

    How can I make printables (digital downloads)?

    My go-to for creating printables has to be Canva.

    You can use their free version or pay for the Pro subscription that comes with more graphics, fonts, and overall branding elements for your business.

    I personally started with the free version and upgraded once I started using it more and noticed that it was a good investment.

    When we’re just starting out with our entrepreneur journey every cent counts girl I know, so take your time and decide if you want to pay for it. 

    Etsy printables success PRO tip. Use premade templates from Creative Market

    Alright, so what happens when you’re not precisely a graphic designer but you have great ideas and tons of inspiration?

    If you get stuck when it comes to the design process, don’t be discouraged.  Maybe you’ve tried Adobe Illustrator or Canva but the whole design process is still intimidating?

    I have a solution for you: buy premade templates or graphics with commercial use from qualified designers.

    Chances are many of the listings or items you’ve seen from your competitors, come from a premade template. 

    You can try Creative Market, Design Bundles and Creative Fabrica, and even Etsy itself just look for “templates”. The quality and prices of their products are great especially if you’re just starting out and need a little bit of help in the design department.

    Creative Market also has free weekly goods when you sign up with them, it’s worth checking it out.

    Basic resources you’ll need for your Etsy shop

    As I mentioned before you don’t absolutely need to have advanced skills and/or platforms to start making profitable printables.

    Some free resources are:

    Canva

    Placeit (they offer several freebies)

    Photopea

    Microsoft Office (PowerPoint, Word)

    Inkspace

    Google docs

    Some paid resources are:

    Canva PRO

    Placeit 

    Picmonkey

    Affinity Designer

    Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

    Procreate

    Etsy printables success PRO tip. Keep an eye on your finances since day one

    Almost every paid software or platform has a free trial. 

    In some cases, you don’t need to add your payment details and if you do, make sure to set up a reminder on your phone’s calendar to know when the trial ends, and in case you decide to keep a paid subscription, make the proper adjustments to your budget. 

    I personally register all of my business expenses on an excel sheet, it’s very simple.

    If you want to use it download it here. You’ll get a PDF format and a xlsx format that can be used with Excel or Google Sheets

    #STEP 1. Have a strategy

    If you need a little help in the goal-setting department, check out my post where I provide a free workbook to help you out with this. 

    Let’s open your Etsy shop. You need to take the first step and I’m here to walk you through it. 

    It can be intimidating at first but I got you girl.

    Make sure to grab my free “Etsy printables success checklist” to help you out with the entire process: what you need before, during, and after opening your shop.

    What you need before starting your Etsy shop


    1.-I recommend that you use a separate email for your Etsy printables shop. This way you will have everything organized under one account.

    2.- Decide on your shop’s name as it can only be changed once after the initial set up.

    3.- Decide on your payment details. Which account you’ll use to pay for fees and which one to receive your funds/earnings (they can be different accounts). 

    Important: you need to select your bank account location (country) and you cannot change it later on. This is a heads up for people who are digital nomads or have several residencies/nationalities, therefore several bank accounts in different countries, choose wisely.

    4.- Create a simple logo for your shop. You need to add your logo on your profile picture and on your shop’s cover photo. It’s always good to start your business with a goo-looking logo that can be easily created with Canva.

    Just head to this post where I give a free Canva brand board template to create a kickass branding for your small biz.

    What you need to set up your shop


    # STEP 2. Register as a seller and start getting sales.

    Ready to open your Etsy shop? Grab your 40 free listings

    In order to successfully open your Etsy printables shop, you need to upload at least one listing (item) to your shop, you cannot skip this step. 

    The process to set up your Etsy shop on Etsy goes like this:

    1.- Register on Etsy, make sure to get your first free listings here

    2.- Once signed in, select “sell on Etsy” at the top menu of the website.

    3.-Choose your shop’s name, check availability (make sure to have at least one alternative in case your desired name is already taken).

    4.-Now it’s time to list your first product! This is exciting but there’s a lot of information to fill in: product name, category, up to 10 images showcasing your product, description, tags, inventory type (physical or digital), and price. Take your time to research and decide on all of this. 

     5.-The next step is to set up the payment method and how you’ll get paid. You can choose to be paid once per month,  every two weeks, once per week, and daily.

    Etsy printables success PRO tip. Use mockups to showcase your digital files

    Etsy has up to 10 image slots to upload for each one of your listings.  

    They do recommend having as many images as you can. Your first image will be your thumbnail and it has to be one where you show the product and tell the customer what it is (if it applies).

    For example “Dated printable planner 2021” or “Printable wedding favor tags”. In order to make your products more appealing, you need to create mockups of how your product would look printed once your customer purchases it. 

    For this, you can use Placeit, which is my go-to for mockups and social media templates like Instagram story videos.

    Some things you can use for free and some others require a paid subscription, it’s definitely worth it if you also plan to promote your Etsy printables shop on social media. 

    Just click here, go to the top menu and click on “mockups”, then select the first option that says “freebie” and look at the categories to see if there’s something that matches your needs. 

    # STEP 3. Hit publish, maintain your strategy…. and celebrate!

    After finishing setting up your shop, you have now successfully listed one item on Etsy’s marketplace. Congrats!

    This is a huge milestone and you should be very proud.

     Now go to “Shop manager” to see your dashboard. Here you can upload more listings, check out your analytics, change account information and see your funds amongst other things.

    What you need to do after your shop is live


    Upload up to 10 listings… or more.  You will notice that right after you launched your store, Etsy recommends you upload up to 10 listings. 

    Here’s the catch: the more products you offer the higher they can rank your store as they see you as a potential seller that can attract several customers (and sales)  and not just one.

    Promote your shop. Etsy uses GoogleAds which means that when someone is using Google to look for something, Etsy will appear in the top search results. They also have millions of visitors of their own.

    However, doing some marketing to attract buyers to your shop is still quite useful, especially at the beginning for getting your first sales.

    Grab the Etsy Success Checklist for free

    Just add your name and I’ll send it to your inbox

      # STEP 4. Start promoting your products

      Create a blog. Having your own blog is extremely beneficial. At first, it will help you lead traffic to your shop, and eventually, you can sell your products on your very own website! 

      That’s my plan actually: it’s important to not put all your eggs in one basket.

      Etsy is a third-party platform between you and your customers. In my case, I’m using Etsy to see which products sell well, what’s my competition doing, and what’s trending at the moment. 

      Eventually, I will start selling my items on my blog, this way I can get more profit and a closer relationship with my customers and subscribers.

      Promote on social media. Etsy goes perfectly well with Pinterest and Instagram. Especially Pinterest as you can link your listing directly in each pin. 

      Use Etsy ads. You can create a small marketing campaign using Etsy ads,  in order for your listing to appear higher in the search results. 

      I’ve used Etsy ads in the past and they didn’t really work for me. However, you can give it a try and see the results for yourself.

      Offer coupons and sales. There’s a section in your Shop Manager dashboard where you can give incentives like coupons to your clients or potential clients.

      Get your first reviews. Like other e-commerce sites, Etsy buyers can leave reviews on your items which can give you a huge boost on sales. Make sure to provide good quality items and customer support. When you have a digital-based shop,  you won’t get that many messages from customers but it will happen occasionally, just make sure to reply on time and according to your values.

      If you’re unsure about having your own website, give Etsy a try.

      It’s an e-commerce platform with millions of monthly visitors

      It costs only $.20 cents to potentially sell your product to hundreds of people. Save a few dollars with my link to get your 40 free listings, use Canva and other platforms like Placeit to promote your shop. 

      Stay motivated, remember why you’re doing this: for independence, for art, for an additional source of income, because you’re passionate about your niche. Enjoy it every step of the way!

      Remember you are your best business partner! As a solopreneur, it can get tough but once you start seeing results you’ll see the time and energy invested was worth it.

      And that’s a wrap, definitely let me know if you liked this post and I’ll create more specific content for you guys.

      I love Etsy as it is a great platform for small business owners. If you’d like to see more Etsy shop ideas bookmark this post as I’ll update it constantly with more relevant content.

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