Ultimate Guide To Selling Digital Downloads


All my best tips and ideas for how to add printables to your business. Since I started selling digital downloads on Etsy, my own website and Shopify I have made 100s of dollars a month! Here are all my best tips and ideas for how to create printables to sell online that will help add other products to add passive income to your business!

Don’t miss the part about selling something that other people are giving away for free!

About My Digital Downloads Etsy Store

I started my Etsy store in 2015 and opened a Shopify site in 2016 to sell printable planner pages and later services. This year I started selling digital downloads on my own site using Clickfunnels. I will talk more later about how I stocked my store at the start!

Here are my numbers for last year on Etsy…

That averages to $561.64 a month!

Now, you may have much bigger dreams about your downloadable products business, but seeing that I added very few new products and did almost no promotions, over $500 a month in passive income is a great sideline business for me!

Here is one of my planners that I have been selling for a little over a year. I have helped lots of direct sales people do better work AND made some real money doing it!

Digital Downloads Products For Passive Income

I have heard lots of “passive income” ideas over the years and most of them are crap, but selling digital downloads can be one of the most lucrative and hands free ways to make passive income I have found. Within reason!

On Etsy

Etsy is my favorite place to sell digital products. They have the infrastructure to help buyers get logged in and accept payments and also provide customers to buy my products. Additionally they send emails to help remind people about my products, do a wee bit of retargeting ads for free and also have paid options available for promotions.

Over the last few years I have had very few problems either with delivery or customer service.

On Shopify

I had a Shopify store up for a while and have slowly let it fade away. Honestly it is not Shopify’s fault, I am just not interested in doing customer support or helping them log in and find their products. Additionally, I have to generate all the traffic to my Shopify store and that can be a challenge.

Over the last few years I have had very few problems with delivery, but way more customer service is required.

On My Website

Probably my second favorite way to sell digital products is through my email provider. I use them to do my email marketing, which is tied to being able to purchase digital downloads and then to fulfillment.

Again I have to generate all my own traffic, but since it is a part of my regular cost of email, it doesn’t need to sell as much to break even or even make me more money!


Alrighty then, let’s jump in and talk about digital download products. What the heck are they?

These can include:

  • Printables (planners, stickers, party supplies, invitations)
  • SVG Graphic Files
  • Patterns
  • Excel Spreadsheets
  • Meal Plans
  • Services
  • Ebooks

More info about How To Create A Best Selling Digital Download On Etsy

Are Your Products Evergreen?

One of the best things about digital download products are their ability to generate passive income. As I said, I tend to “set them and forget them”, just letting them sit there and churn out sales year after year.

Here are some examples of Evergreen versus Non Evergreen products:


  • Evergreen – Perpetual planner pages where they write in the numbers
  • Non-Evergreen – Doing calendars each year with the numbers written in


  • Evergreen – A pattern for a super cute “ponytail hat” that lets the wearer pull her ponytail through a hole
  • Non-Evergreen – Pink cat hats that liberal women were wearing at protest rallies

If something is a HUGE seller for you and it is not evergreen, then for sure it is worth updating frequently yourself or by hiring a Virtual Assistant to help. I am not saying you should make everything evergreen or not, just that if you want to keep it truly passive it is best to pick something that is going to stay “in fashion” for quite a while.

How To Brainstorm IDEAS For Your Digital Downloads

If you haven’t ever thought of creating digital download products it can be REALLY intimidating to get started! But I bet you already have lots of things on your computer that you could launch today.

1. Start with what you already have!

For example, I started my store with worksheets that I had already made to use myself. I tend to make a new worksheet anytime I get stressed about my work so I just publish them as products as I go! I also had a few ebooks that I had created over the years that I put up.

2. Check out top sellers on your favorite site

I sell on Etsy so I like to use the site Craft Count to see what is popular. Now, this is NOT to copy but just to find out what other people have sold successfully in the past.

You can check out all the categories related to selling digital downloads and see what they top sellers are doing!

Note: Copying other successful people exactly rarely works. You could have your store taken down because of plagiarism. Additionally there is a thing called the “first to market advantage” which gives them a perpetual bonus for selling. It is better to look at what they do and find something comparable that you could do better than anyone else!

3. Ask your current customers what they want

I have found that asking my “peeps” what they want results in the best products. Send out an email asking what your current tribe needs and then make that. OR do a Facebook survey listing your top 5-6 ideas and ask which your people would like to see first.

When I started I heard this A LOT and never really paid it any mind, but as I have gone on I start noting down what people are asking about a lot and then create products to answer those needs as we go.

How To Create Digital Downloads

Now that you have an idea for your first product, I am sure your next thought is, how do I make this a digital download. Here are some ideas, starting from the easiest to the hardest!

1. Use MS Word, Excel or Powerpoint (or Google Docs)

Many people think that you have to get all fancy for your digital downloads, but you can start out easily by just having a Word Doc, Excel Spreadsheet or even a Powerpoint (just remember that not everyone has Powerpoint).

If you are unsure about how to do this I can’t recommend this “fill in the blank” template to get you started! Remember, it is not the format but your content that they want to buy!

2. Save As A PDF

Another easy way to make digital download products is to simply choose the “save as” PDF function in your print menu.

This allows you to deliver a formatted, easy to keep file to your customers.

3. Use Graphics Programs

Some sellers like me will want to use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to create their products. this is generally only necessary if you are making “fillable” forms or graphics heavy products like patterns or SVG files.

You can also use the free program, Canva.com to make printable!

How To Make Products That Help Your Business

Many of us are using this type of lower ticket product to sell into a larger product. For example, some people who buy my $3.50 Etsy SEO worksheet go on to buying my $150 Industry Research SEO product.

So with this in mind, you could make money passively by selling a “smaller” digital download product that would help them move down the sales funnel to your higher ticket item.

Tips For Upselling

1. Include a call to action at the end of your digital product.

If you did a great job on a lower ticket item, they may want to buy something more from you when they are done. Mentioning that you have another (higher priced) offering at the end of your product.

2. Add them to your email list

As you launch more and more products, some buyers will want to buy some or all of them. If you have them on your email list you can notify them when a new product launches.

3. Send them to a “survey” at the end

When I do work for people I like to send them to a survey to get feedback on what I did right or wrong. You could include a subtle upsell pitch at the end of the survey.

4. Give them a coupon or “credit” towards your higher ticket item. 

Sometimes all it takes to get someone who likes you to buy is a wee discount. Include a coupon for a discount or even offer to “credit” the cost of the digital item towards them purchasing your higher priced product.

Making More Money With Your Digital Printables

Most sellers start by selling lower priced digital downloads but there are easy ways to move that price point up!

I started with all products between $1-3.50 and that made making money a little challenging. But then I decided to start selling planners that were $17.50. This increased my income exponentially!

Here are some ways to increase the size/price of your printable products:

1. Bundle – you can bundle a number of related products together and offer a bit of a discount on buying the larger product.

2. Increase Size – moving from a single page to a whole planner let me charge more for my products.

3. Advanced – increasing what you offer. I have videos for each of my products, a pattern maker could include a video walkthrough too! A party supplies maker could include an “in the mail” copy so they can see what it is supposed to look like. Adding more to the digital download will increase the happiness of the person who buys your products which is super important.


One thing about digital downloads. They can be scary to your buyers. Even though they have been around FOREVER in internet years, many people have never ordered or paid for one yet.

ANYTHING you can do to make people understand the process when you send your confirmation email will help. Make sure to include directions for how they will get your product and how to download it (say if it comes in a .zip file).


You need to ask for reviews! When lots of happy people say nice things about your product that can make it way less scary (you can even include your reviews in your listing pictures!)

How Can You Sell Something That Other People Give Away For Free?

One HUGE problem I hear from people considering making digital download printables to sell is that other people are giving them away for free. How the heck can you combat this with your product?

1. Don’t Worry! First off, you need to stop worrying about other people and focus on making your product AMAZING! People are more than willing to pay for something that is of value.

2. Make Yours Professional. The only way to prove your value is to provide something they can’t get for free. Check out your competition and do more than they do for free.

3. Grow A Tribe To Sell To. This has been a big one for me. I have this website and an email list who I sell to based on what they need. Your tribe will be the people who start the buying ball rolling and then tell all their friends about your products.

4. Offer Guarantees. I offer a 100%, money back guarantee on everything I make, no questions asked. Over the years I have given back a handful of dollars, but that guarantee makes people so much more comfortable to buy!

Selling Digital Download FAQs

I get a lot of questions about selling digital downloads… here are some of the best ones!

How does selling printable’s work….can you only use certain fonts/graphics? 

If you are creating your own photos or graphics you have nothing to worry about.

Stock Photos

If you are buying stock photos, check the licensing agreement. They will generally tell you the number of products you can create using their “standard” license. (look for “usage rights” or “usage agreement”)

This Big Stock Photos’s current info….

You may not copy or reproduce any Content (in whole or in part) more than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) times, either directly or indirectly, except as expressly provided in Part II hereof.

Big Stock Photo Usage Agreement

So, if you made a cute little mug design from one of their images, the standard usage agreement would cover you up to 250,000 sales BUT another clause in the agreement would get you!

YOU MAY NOT: Use or display any Content on websites or in connection with any service designed to sell or induce sales of user-commissioned “print-on demand” products using or incorporating Image(s), including, by way of example only, postcards, mugs, tee shirts, posters, giclée prints, wallpaper, artwork and other items. 

Big Stock Photo Usage Agreement

You may have to purchase an extended user license to cover your product that you want to produce.


Fonts are much easier to get licensing for sales for! Whoo whoo!

I love Creative Market because even their big font bundles come with at least a basic commercial use license.

If you use their fonts in your products you can sell a fair number before you ever have to worry about crossing a line.

I would avoid the “free” font sites. Most of those give away fonts for personal, not commercial use.

Can I use the already made templates in CANVA and personalize them with info then sell them?

Absolutely! Canva offers templates to put your IP (Intellectual Property) into. Check out the video above to get more details!!!

Do I need a license to sell printable’s?

You do NOT need a license to sell printable. Now, whether you have to charge sales tax varies a little bit state to state. That is the reason I sell mine on Etsy… they handle all of that for me!

Additional resource :: Get 40 free listings on Etsy!

How do I know someone won’t resell my items?

Truth is they might. They might steal your item and sell it as their own OR they might claim a copyright infringement and get your original item taken down (this happened to me).

Like everything in life, there is always a risk, but do a few simple things, like put a copyright notice in your printables and make your PDFs non-editable and you are a fair way to keeping safe (scammers are LAZY!!!!)

Is Etsy the best place to sell Printables? Why would I sell on my website if I could just point people there?

I would rather sell my digital downloads on Etsy than my own website (or Shopify store).

Pros to selling on Etsy… they do all the technical store setup and delivery of products, they have buyers already there looking for things like yours

Cons to selling on Etsy… there are other sellers you are competing with so you could “lose” your buyer you worked so hard for if they get the idea to buy something from you but like someone else’s product better

You can mitigate this somewhat by having an Etsy Pattern website that is a “standalone store” featuring products you have listed on Etsy. So you get the benefit of being “on Etsy” and also having your own shop to send people to.

If a listing ends, do you lose your links from Pinterest?

If you have a listing on Etsy and you don’t renew it, the links from Pinterest WILL break and Etsy will recommend other products that match your previous listing rather than pointing them to your shop.

Do I have to have WordPress, or can I use SquareSpace for my site since the SEO will likely come from a separate shop anyway?

This is a GREAT question that can be confusing for A LOT of people who are just getting into selling printables or doing internet marketing!

First you don’t have to have ANY website if you are selling your printables on Etsy. You can direct people to your Etsy shop rather than to a website THEN a product. Many sellers never set up a website.

Second, if you are planning on blogging a lot about your process or doing a lot of SEO (search engine optimization) I would recommend setting up a WordPress site. If you are just looking to do giveaways and have fun social media posts, then I would pick SquareSpace.

Check out my Etsy shop to see all the items I have for sale!

You may also like