How To Make And Sell Downloads
Don’t you hate it sometimes, when you see people making an absolute fortune being able to sell downloads on Etsy or Shopify*? Why the heck can’t I do that? I did think that still believe that until recently but I’d rather be blogging than making a million printables but, you can do it! It’s entirely possible.
There are many ways that you can make money selling printable files or downloads for making craft products like totes, tea towels and bags.
My advice is that you should start a secret pinterest board to keep all of your inspiration. Remember that it’s okay to be inspired by others, but you should never rip off another designer. That’s not cool. Not to mention illegal.
You can open an Etsy store and start selling, or click here to start a 14 day free trial with Shopify* and start selling. I advise that you make products for inventory first so that it doesn’t eat into your trial. Just make sure to bookmark the link.
How to design the actual downloads? Is another question entirely.
Now what? Let’s start with graphics, illustrations and fonts.
Where do you get the graphics for making printables or digital files when you can’t draw? That part is simple. By purchasing premium license files from a Website like Creative Market* or FontBundles.net*. With Font Bundles, you can save up to 94% on their bundles where you get up to 10 fonts, illustrator files and vector images. Which, is super handy for creators of digital printables.
Whereas, with Creative Market, you will be paying the designers full price + Creative Market fees. If you’re using a free online editor to create your printable downloads you will be limited by file type, so Creative Market might be for you.
Some of my favourite fonts and bundles:*
- Olyvia Script
- Seinna Grace
- Design Bundle
- The Big Design Bundle
- Cool Fonts Bundle
What do I do once I’ve downloaded my purchased files?
Files are typically delivered in Zip files no matter where you buy them.
You will need to Unzip the files and review what you’ve got. If you’ve never unzipped a file before, then you can download a program like Stuffit Expander for Mac or WinZip if you’re using a Windows computer.
Then depending on the program you will be using, upload or open in your chosen software and start designing your products.
How do I install fonts in photoshop?
Adobe has a really helpful tutorial right here.
How do you design products when you have no experience?
First of all, you will need to know what type of downloads you are going to offer.
- Will they be digital printable files?
- Recipe Cards?
- Planner stickers?
- Prints to be framed and placed on a wall?
Click for an example of my printable stickers and cut file available to purchase here.
Once you have decided the types of file you will see, you will need to choose a colour palette. If you have no idea where to begin, a colour palette site like design seeds can be an infinite source of colour combinations.
Now you know the purpose of your download, the colours, how will you lay it all out?
At this stage, grab a pencil and a piece of paper. You will have a better idea of where you want the product to go when you can see a mini thumbnail sketch. When you see the rough draft, you will be able to figure out if there’s anything to be added or removed and adjust the design accordingly.
There’s an excellent Skillshare class that teaches you how to create thumbnail sketches for creating artwork* (you can get a free trial month) but it was really helpful for me when I created the Darling December Printable Planner for Christmas, and The Creative Happy Life Planner.
If you don’t know how to use Adobe Illustrator, what can you use?
If you are serious about making a living from selling downloads, then you should invest in the correct software.
Is Adobe Illustrator the best thing to use?
Short answer, Yes and no. “Whatchu talkin’ bout Willis?” I hear you cry. Well, it depends on the type of download you are offering to sell. If you are creating printable planners or ebooks, then Adobe InDesign is a much better fit. If you are creating stickers or tea towel designs, then Adobe Illustrator is for you.
It also means that you can purchase ai. Files, which most vectors and Font Bundle deals offer.
How do I learn how to use Adobe InDesign or Illustrator without losing my mind?
That one is a simple question. Brit & Co offer great classes: Intro to Adobe InDesign or An Introduction To Adobe Illustrator. Brit&Co are one of my absolute FAVOURITE websites to purchase creative classes. Honestly, I’m completely sold by all the bright colours and talented instructors they manage to get.
Once you have familiarised yourself with your chosen software, it’s time to get creating!
As you finish your products, be sure to save JPG files and PDF’s.
You will need the JPG files for creating ‘ads’ or promotional imagery for your listings. The PDF’s will be the digital files you deliver to the customer.
How do I create advertising images?
There are two ways, number one: print out your files and take photographs using a great camera. I use a Canon 40d (it’s an old one, check eBay*) but an intro level Canon DSLR* (easier to use than the 40d if you aren’t familiar with DSLR cameras) would be excellent.
Personally, I used Canva for my images because it was faster than using Photoshop at the time (my computer needed to be cleaned out).
Upload the JPG files that you saved as you completed product creation and arrange them on coloured backgrounds.
Alternatively, you can use Flat Lay style stock photographs from Etsy* or CreativeMarket and Photoshop the JPG image of your file onto the desk or a clipboard. It’s possible to purchase something called a ‘Scene Creator’/Generator or Mock Up, to create your own flat lay on a desk using PNG files.
Where should you sell your digital files?
The fact that you are going to be selling digital products narrows the focus of where to sell your digital files.
With a site like Etsy, there is a lot of competition but if you are savvy with your keywords and competitive pricing you should do okay.
If you have a blog that already does pretty well (you can even start one – sign up here for a seven-day crash course to help you start a successful blog), a site like SendOwl* or Shopify* would be ideal for you. You can direct traffic there and also sign up affiliates for your products so that they get a cut for recommending customers to buy your products.
What size of promotional images should you create?
If you decide to sell on Etsy, your images must be 800-1000 pixels wide maximum. For good measure, I would have both portrait and landscape images. Having a portrait image could mean that your files get shared on Pinterest, as it’s a visual platform, it’s an excellent marketing tool for any small business.
If you decide to open a Shopify store, your product images can be any size up to 4472px by 4472px, or 20 megapixels but Shopify recommends that you size them 1024px x 1024px.
Again, I would recommend having at least one Portrait image in there, maximum width 1024px.
How do I write a good product description?
You might have do a little sleuthing and check out the keywords that your competitors use. That’s the first step.
Then there are some things that will require a little thought.
Who are you selling to?
Believe it or not, that will affect the language you use in your listings.
Create a big list of all the features and benefits of your product. Do this for every single file, although some may be rather interchangeable.
There’s an excellent tutorial on Moz about how to write product descriptions that sell. It’s well worth a read.
Make sure that your listings are easily read because a lot of people (myself included) tend to skim through large blocks of text.
Be sure to include a disclaimer and refund policy. It’s completely up to you, but usually, due to the nature of digital files, you don’t have to issue refunds. There’s no way to return the item so the customer can never use it again.
If you got this far
- Start a secret Pinterest Board for design inspiration
- Use a site like Design Seeds for colour palette ideas
- Bookmark this post for future reference
- Sketch out some ideas for your digital files
- Purchase PREMIUM License font’s & vectors from a place like Creative Market* or Font Bundles* (premium license means you can sell the items you make using the fonts etc, if you don’t you could get sued)
- Create your digital files and create enough for a shop inventory (14+ files should be a good starting point)
- Either Print and Shoot your files, or create them using Canva or PicMonkey (don’t forget social media friendly images)
- Come up with great product headlines & descriptions
- Upload images
- Share and promote (according to good social media etiquette), write a blog post about your shop opening, offer an introductory discount or exclusive extras
- Join Zeek and Slater in giving yourself a pat on the back
Do you have any other questions related to how to make and sell downloads or printables?
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