Don’t you hate it sometimes, when you see people being able to sell digital downloads and making an absolute fortune on Etsy or Shopify on products that cost a few bucks? Why the heck can’t I do that?
I did think that, which is why I opened a digital monthly membership site on Patreon via my crafty/creative blog for Printable planner files. You can do it! It’s entirely possible to sell digital PDF’s and get paid monthly.
There are many ways that you can make money selling digital products 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.
Where can I sell my digital products?
You can open an Etsy store and sell, or click here to start a 14 day free trial with Shopify and start selling digital products. They have loads of handy templates and really optimised to save you an unbelievable amount of time and increase conversions. That means, getting you as many sales as possible. However, Etsy, already have an existing base of shoppers willing to part with their money and significant SEO juice with Google. Which makes marketing a dawdle.
Scroll down or use the contents table to see more platforms to sell, including e-commerce stores, marketing and even online courses to help you sell digital products.
Designing Easy Digital Downloads
The First Step Before You Sell Digital Downloads Online
Before opening a store to sell digital products, I advise that you do your keyword research using the Google Keyword Planner to ensure your idea is viable. A great store to open is Wall Art prints. It gets LOTS of searches and fairly low competition as of February 2020.
How to design the actual digital downloads? It is another question entirely.
Before you sell easy digital products, learn about adobe products
Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator are the industry standard and what actual pros use. You can install a free trial and then when you decide to purchase you will be provided with a License key. Adobe are a reputable company that have been serving designers since 1986!
However, if you don’t want to use it at this stage that isn’t a problem. Simply keep going and you can see how I’ve created printables using Canva, it just has a lot of limitations unless you use the Pro Version (which is an affordable way to manage your printables). These are great options.
Make And Sell Digital Downloads When You’ve No Idea What You’re Doing
You can open an Etsy store and start selling, or click here to start a 14 day free trial with Shopify and start selling. They have high converting (lots of shop sales) templates and really optimized to save you an unbelievable amount of time and increase conversions. That means, getting you as many sales as possible. However, Etsy, already have an existing base of shoppers willing to part with their money.
The First Step Before You Sell Digital Downloads
Before opening a store to sell digital products, I advise that you do your keyword research using the Google Keyword Planner to ensure your idea is viable. A great store to open is digital Wall Art. It gets LOTS of searches and fairly low competition as of November 2019.
How to design the actual downloads? It is another question entirely.
Before You Sell Downloads, Learn about Adobe Products
However, if you don’t want to use it at this stage that isn’t a problem. Simply keep going and you can see how I’ve created printables using Canva, it just has a lot of limitations. There are better options out there if this is going to be a business model.
Now what? Let’s start with graphics, illustrations, and fonts aka Design Elements
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 DesignCuts (my favourite), 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 + their fees. If you’re using a free online editor to create your printable downloads you will be limited by file type, so CM might be for you. They even sell templates that you can use to create your own Printables businesses, whether using eCommerce, WordPress, or another place that allows you to sell digital products.
Recommended Programs To Design Digital Content:
Online Design Resources:
Graphic design courses:
- Digital Illustration In Adobe Illustrator
- Creative Designer Bundle [Best Value]
- Digitise Artwork In Adobe Illustrator
- Canva Pro
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 or Illustrator?
Adobe has a really helpful tutorial right here.
How do you design and sell digital products, when you have no experience?
First of all, you will need to know what type of digital products you are going to offer.
- Will they be digital printable files?
- Recipe Cards?
- Planner stickers? (easy digital downloads to create)
- Wall Art
- Framed Prints
- Cutting Files (popular digital files)
- Prints to be framed and placed on a wall?
Click for an example of my digital download; printable stickers and cut file available to purchase here.
Once you have decided on the types of files 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.
Related: How To Choose Color Like A Designer [Expert Guest Post]
Think About Layouts
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 60-day trial through that link), it was really helpful for me when I created the Darling December Printable Planner for Christmas and The Creative Happy Life Planner back in 2016.
If you don’t know how to use Adobe Illustrator, what can you use to make and sell digital downloads?
You will be limited to PNG and Jpeg Digital files when you use a program like Canva to make your digital products.
If you are serious about making a living from digital products, then you should invest in the correct software.
Is Adobe Illustrator the best thing to use for creating Digital Products?
Short answer, Yes and no. 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. Deciding to sell 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 familiarized yourself with your chosen software, it’s time to get creating!
Top Tip: 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 Marketing Images For My Etsy Store?
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. Upload the JPG files that you saved as you completed product creation and arrange them on coloured backgrounds like so:
Example of promo image style:
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.
You Need To Have A Strategy To Sell Downloads and ACTUALLY Make Money
Don’t just trust me when it comes to selling Printables and digital products online. When I last chatted with my friend Julie, she mentioned that she was blown away by the results she is seeing on Etsy.
Earn $5000 From Digital products/Printables Alone?!
She said she had earned over $5,000 last year with less than an hour of work per week…needless to say, I was interested.
Julie sells printables. Think planners, checklists, wine labels, coloring pages, and wall art. These are all digital items that the customer can download and print at home. As you can see, they’re not necessarily all planner pages like the downloads that I share.
It’s the perfect passive income product because Julie only has to make them one time, upload them to Etsy, and then thousands of customers can buy them with no further action from her.
She doesn’t have to worry about shipping or inventory like other Etsy sellers. And because she doesn’t have manufacturing costs other than her time, the profit on each sale is huge!
Don’t believe it?
Here is the link to Julie’s Etsy shop, The Swag Elephant, if you want to check it out. She sells printable games and decor for bachelorette parties. Julie has a course teaching others how to launch profitable Etsy printables shops and it’s opening again for enrollment later this week!
She also sent me a freebie to share with you today, it’s her Seasonal Products Secret ebook!
Inside the ebook you’ll find 12 months of ideas for best-selling printables that you could create and sell on Etsy.
With the holidays coming up, I can definitely see how people would be shopping for seasonal printables such as gift tags, shopping checklists, greeting cards, wall art, and more!
This ebook had me brainstorming about all the printables I could make. And don’t miss your chance to get in on the Etsy Printables course that is only open to registrants for FOUR days. For a preview of the course, watch the video at the start of this post.
Where should you sell your digital downloads?
The fact that you are going to be selling digital products narrows the focus of where to sell your digital files.
There is no reason why you shouldn’t sell on Etsy AND have your Shopify store, If you want to get your digital files out there and earn a real living, then you could have a store on multiple platforms IF you can manage it. It’s hard work dealing with Etsy listings etc. So sticking to one platform to start with is highly recommended.
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. The idea is to get your audience to part with their credit card info to purchase your digital products in your online store.
How To Sell Using Your WordPress Blog As A Main Selling Platform:
If you have a WordPress blog that already does pretty well (you can even start your own blog and launch it in 7 days), a site like Etsy or an eCommerce platform like 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.
If you want to use affiliates (like I am), it means that I can promote your products on my posts and pages and earn a small commission from Etsy for promoting their platform. It costs nothing additional (on top of standard Etsy fees) to you or your customer.
I highly recommend that you promote a platform like Skimlinks. As it automatically turns Etsy links (and others) into affiliate links.
How To Deliver Digital Goods With Or Without A Store
Each platform will handle the digital product delivery differently but it’s usually an instant delivery upon checkout and confirmation of payment. Be sure to accept multiple payment methods (including credit card info and debit cards) so you can make as much money as possible.
The majority of methods will require a small transaction fee but that’s the nature of the beast. You will still get paid instantly and some platforms will digitally stamp buyers’ information onto PDF products so they won’t share illegally.
What size of promotional images should you create when selling online when you sell digital downloads?
If you decide to sell digital goods 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.
Again, I would recommend having at least one Portrait image in there, maximum width 1024px. Because a lot of people have preferred platforms, and you want them to share it where people will be most engaged. That means images for Facebook Twitter Youtube and Pinterest. Yes, including youtube!
How do I write a good product description for selling online?
You will have to do a little sleuthing and check out the keywords that your competitors use. That’s the first step. To do that, you should use the Google Keyword Planner and aim for keywords that have a search volume of at least 10k and low competition.
Then there are some other things that will require a little thought…
Who Is The Ideal Audience Of A Digital Product Store?
Believe it or not, knowing who you are targeting will affect the language you use in your listings, headlines, and descriptions. 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. Whether you are selling via your blog, via your online store like Etsy or your eCommerce store, 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.
Keep in mind that people who have poor eyesight (like myself) really struggle to read large blocks of text squashed together and of course, some fonts are better than others for that.
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. When you sell digital downloads, there’s no way to return the item so the customer can never use it again. Unless you show good faith and accept refunds that way. I’ve heard of others doing this and never having to issue a refund or maybe one or two.