Creating assets you can sell over and over again — that’s the passive income dream, right?
This is exactly what Rachel Jones 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.
Note: I call this the Buy Buttons strategy. To kickstart your business, find the marketplaces your target customers are already shopping. 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.
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, etc.
How Rachel Got Started Selling Printables on Etsy
It didn’t go as well as she hoped. She noticed there was some seasonality, with people being 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 wedding-related items and some profitable custom orders.
But again, she found this to be a competitive niche.
Next, she tried to pair her expertise with the types of products that were already selling on Etsy. The result? 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 that asks you to verify you’re symptom-free and to waive liability if you contract the virus while at that business.)
Rachel found a few of these forms on Etsy 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.
Soon, the sales started to come in and Rachel realized the potential for printables in the business niche.
Etsy Keyword Research and Competitor Analysis
A tool Rachel recommended to help with analysis is eRank. There’s a free version, but Rachel said the paid version is worthwhile (plans range from $5.99-$9.99/mo).
Some of the things eRank enables you to do:
- 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 researching what was 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. Instead, it’s more important for a keyword to have low competition so you have a better chance of your products being found.
What File Formats Work Well for Etsy Printables?
PDF is the most common format for printables. You can also use JPEG, PNG, and other file types, but you want to make it as easily accessible for your 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. As a result, many of her printables are available to download as a Canva template, which enables customers to edit them right away.
Software and Tools for Creating Printables
The good news is that you can create printables with free tools and and you don’t have to be a graphic designer.
Rachel did have some experience using Canva before starting her Etsy shop, but didn’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 making money using Canva, and it’s pretty easy to use with drag-and-drop features.
She also uses Microsoft Word to design forms or printables with a lot of text. It’s easy to save Word documents as PDFs and make them available for download.
How to Protect Your Printables Business From Competitors
With low startup costs and competitors also using tools like eRank, it won’t 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 advised 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
Provide the best possible customer service to increase the number of positive ratings for your Etsy shop. Those help encourage new buyers to trust you, and can 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 to think about adding other digital items like a free ebook, cheat sheet, or some other related item.
Create Better Listings
Optimizing your listing description for your listing and images will help increase sales. (See below.) For inspiration, look at the bestsellers in your niche and emulate them.
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 browsing your printables 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
A lot of people spend hours creating a product, then just want to list it quickly on Etsy and be done with it. They don’t spend enough time making the listing attractive to customers.
Etsy allows you to add 10 images per listing. Rachel recommended using all 10 image slots with beautiful images so customers know exactly what they’re getting.
Etsy also allows you to add short 15-second videos to your listings. Rachel strongly recommended adding videos to show customers how to 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 your listing title 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.
Instead, if you use the title “wall art for a second child baby shower”, your listing will be much more likely to appear 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, 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 there are other marketing strategies to increase sales as well.
Here are some of the other marketing strategies Rachel recommended.
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’ll typically pay $0.10-$0.15 per click, so it can pretty quickly eat into your margins on items that cost less than $5.
Rachel isn’t using Instagram herself, but she’s seen some Etsy sellers having a lot of success doing so.
This would be a must-do if you’re selling products that you can show yourself using.
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.
How Much Time Does it Take to Run an Etsy Printables Business?
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 physical inventory to store, and the sales process runs automatically.
With overall revenue of $150,000 in 2021, Rachel took the leap and quit her day job.
When we spoke, she planned on spending 20-30 hours a week creating new products to build out her inventory.
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. Today, she has over 200 printables listed in her shop with plans to keep adding more.
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!
Looking for More Side Hustle Help?
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- Download The Side Hustle Show. My free podcast shares how to make extra money with actionable weekly episodes.
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