Creating assets you can sell over and over again — that’s the passive income dream, right?
This is exactly what Rachel Jones at MoneyHackingMama.com has done by creating and selling downloadable printables on Etsy.
This year she’s averaging over $10,000 a month in sales, all while balancing a full-time job and two young kids.
Rachel has only been doing this for two years, and she’s planning on leaving her full-time job in the near future and going in full-time on her Etsy business.
Note: I call this the Buy Buttons strategy. To kickstart your business, find the mini-marketplaces your target customers are already shopping at. Go where the cash is already flowing!
Tune in to The Side Hustle Show interview to learn:
- how to find profitable niches to sell digital products in on Etsy
- some of the categories Rachel likes
- the tools and technology she uses to get it all done
How to Figure Out What Kind of Printables to Create
“Success leaves clues,” Rachel told me. To get started selling printables on Etsy, first look at the products that are already doing well.
She said you can start by searching for “printables”, and then look for items that come up with a “bestseller” tag. When you start digging into some of the best-selling printables, you’ll get a good idea of what’s in demand and selling.
When doing so, be mindful of trends and seasons affecting sales. Mother’s Day printables are obviously going to be more popular around Mother’s Day, Christmas is a holiday that does well with printables, and so on.
How Rachel Got Started
Rachel is part of the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) community, and actually started out creating budgeting templates as that’s something she’s interested in.
It didn’t go as well as she hoped. Rachel said she soon noticed there was some seasonality, people are far more enthusiastic about budgeting in January. Plus, it’s a pretty competitive space overall, too.
Rachel then pivoted and started selling wall art. She had some success with this, mostly wedding-related items and some profitable custom orders.
But again, she found this to be a competitive niche.
Reassessing where there was a demand on Etsy within a niche she has expertise in, Rachel pivoted this time to creating printables for businesses.
Rachel’s idea was further validated when her sister told her she had paid a lawyer $250 for a Covid form. (The kind of form you commonly see on business premises asking people to verify they are symptom-free and to waive liability if they contract the virus while at that business.)
Rachel looked to see what was available on Etsy for these forms and could see there were a few selling in the $10-50 range.
So, she made one of those Covid forms and some other Covid-related forms for businesses and put them up for sale.
Rachel started getting some sales and realized there was potential for printables in the business niche.
Keyword Research and Competitor Analysis
A tool Rachel recommended to help with analysis is eRank. There’s a free version, but Rachel said you’ll benefit from using the paid version and it’s worthwhile (plans range from $5.99-$9.99/mo).
Some of the things eRank enables you to do are:
- Track your competition and find out what their best selling items are
- Look up which keywords your competitors are ranking well for
- Find out which keywords are trending in your niche
Rachel said using eRank was a huge turning point for her. By doing research into what is working for her competitors and identifying low competition keywords, she was able to better optimize her own products.
She doesn’t focus too much on search volume when looking at keywords. It’s more important to Rachel that a keyword is low competition and she has a good chance of her products being found.
What File Formats Work Well?
PDF is one of the most common formats for printables. You can also use JPEG, PNG, and other file types, but you want to make it as easily accessible for the customer as possible.
Rachel creates a lot of her designs in Canva, and she said a lot of users want to be able to edit those templates in Canva. So, Rachel makes some printables available to download as a Canva template, this enables the customer to edit them right away.
Software and Tools for Creating Printables
The good news is that you can create printables with free tools and without the need for previous experience or much in the way of graphic design skills.
Rachel did have some experience using Canva before starting her Etsy shop, but she doesn’t have a design background.
Canva is the main software Rachel uses for printables, particularly if they require graphics or design work. There are loads of templates to get you started on Canva, and it’s pretty easy to use with drag-and-drop features for the most part.
She also uses Microsoft Word for designing some printables, typically for designs that are forms or have a lot of text. It’s easy to save Word documents as PDFs and make them available for download.
Protecting Yourself From Competitors
With a low barrier to entry and competitors also using tools like eRank, it’s not going to be long before other sellers try to muscle in on what’s working well for you.
Rachel offered the following tips to help you stay one step ahead of the competition:
The last thing you want is a pricing war. But Rachel said sometimes competitors will cut in a lower price than you and you have to respond.
If you have a profitable item for sale, it’s often worth dropping the price below your competitors to make more sales.
Offer Better Customer Service
Providing the best possible customer service will increase the number of positive ratings your store has and increase repeat customer orders.
Provide Added Value
You can keep your price the same but offer some added value to make your products stand out. Rachel said think about adding other digital items like a free ebook, cheat sheet, or some other related item.
Create Better Listings
Rachel said that putting more time into writing the description for your listing and including better images helps increase sales. Try to help customers by answering questions they may have so they don’t need to reach out to you.
Promote Your Items on Social Media
If you promote your items on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms, you can send people directly to your store.
Etsy also allows you to create your own storefront with your own URL. This helps keep customers within your ecosystem browning your products and not seeing your competitors.
How to Optimize Your Printables Listings on Etsy
Rachel shared some of her best practices for creating listings that stand out on Etsy.
Create Beautiful Images
Rachel said a lot of people spend hours creating a product, then just want to list it quickly and don’t spend enough time making the listing attractive to customers.
Etsy allows you to add 10 images per listing. Rachel recommends you use all 10 image slots with beautiful images showing customers exactly what they’re getting.
Etsy also allows you to add short 15-second videos to your listings. Rachel said she strongly recommends people learn how to add videos showing customers how to fill out or use the printables they’re downloading.
Use Highly Relevant Keywords and Descriptions
Using the right keywords is crucial for visibility on Etsy. Etsy is a search engine and a lot of people start out by searching for what they want using keywords.
Rachel said the first 3-5 words you use in the title for your listing are the most important. Use these to describe your item accurately and use keywords you think people would type in when searching for your item.
It’s also important to use long tail keywords that are less competitive. If you simply title your listing “wall art”, it’s unlikely you’ll be discovered.
If you use the title “wall art for a second child baby shower”, however, you have a much higher chance of appearing when people are looking for that specific type of wall art.
She said the description is not really used by Etsy, but Google uses it. So, the better description you write with the more relevant the keywords, the better chance you have of ranking in Google and driving organic traffic.
Marketing Strategies to Drive Etsy Printables Business
Having your products found organically in Google and Etsy is great, but Rachel said you will need to use other marketing strategies if you want to increase your sales.
Some of the marketing strategies Rachel uses are:
Rachel likes using Etsy ads to drive sales. She said they’re pretty easy to set up, and they work on a pay-per-click basis.
Paid ads are a great way to jump to the top of the search results. However, the most important thing to get right when using Etsy ads is to use the right keywords. You don’t want shoppers clicking your ads unless you’re selling what they’re looking for.
Rachel said products priced $5 and up is the sweet spot for running paid ads. You’re going to be paying somewhere between $0.10-$0.15 per click, so it can pretty quickly eat into your margins on items costing less than $5.
Rachel isn’t using Instagram herself, but she’s seen some Etsy sellers having a lot of success doing so.
If you’re selling products that you can show yourself using and generate some excitement, Rachel recommends starting an Instagram account.
Rachel has also seen Etsy sellers doing well on TikTok. She knows someone selling digital planners that has a large following on TikTok and is able to drive business directly to her store.
What Time Investment Is Needed?
It takes a lot more time to get a shop set up in the beginning than it does to maintain it. When first starting out, Rachel would take days off work and spend hours working on her store.
Nowadays, it really varies. Some days Rachel spends no time at all or maybe just 10-15 minutes answering customer questions. Other days, she’ll spend hours creating new products to add to her store.
This is the beauty of selling digital downloadable products. There is no inventory to manage, and the sales process runs automatically.
Rachel is planning on quitting her full-time job in the near future. She said she’ll be spending 20-30 hours a week creating new products when she does so.
On a personal note, Rachel is excited to start traveling now the world is starting to open up. Being able to work on her shop remotely gives her this opportunity, and she’ll still be able to create and upload more products.
On the business front, Rachel’s goal is to make $1,000 a day from her Etsy store. This is a lofty goal, but she thinks it’s perfectly obtainable when she’s able to put in full-time hours and scale up the number of products she’s selling.
Rachel recently hired a graphic designer to help her produce more products. She currently has 114 products for sale and is going to be scaling this number up in the near future.
Rachel’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation
“Go where the demand is.”
Links and Resources from this Episode
- Etsy Printables course
- Rachel’s review of the Gold City Ventures course
- Start with Why
- Buy Buttons
- Drop Shipping and Digital Products on Etsy
- LinkedIn Jobs – Find the best candidates for free!
- Skillshare – Get a free trial of Skillshare Premium Membership, with unlimited access to 30,000+ on-demand classes!
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