Etsy How-to

How to Sell Printables on Etsy: What You Should & Shouldn’t Do

If you’ve got a knack for graphic design then you might be wondering how to sell printables on Etsy to capitalize on your creative talents. And well, selling printables on Etsy is a fantastic way to monetize your skills… If you know what you’re doing and which mistakes to avoid.

Here’s how to get started.

Selling printables on Etsy seems like an easy way to make a quick buck. After all, it’s a growing business trend that many entrepreneurs are embracing as a quick way to make passive income.

But it’s not as easy as you think.

That’s because learning how to sell printables on Etsy comes with its own challenges that you need to keep in mind.

Sure, when it comes to selling printables on Etsy you’ll see lower overheads, improved scalability, and many of the same benefits that come with selling a digital product. But you’ll also be faced with a handful of unique challenges you won’t see when selling physical products on Etsy.

This article will walk you through those pros and cons, do’s and don’ts, and many other things on how to sell printables on Etsy. 

What are printables on Etsy?

Printables are digital files that buyers can purchase and print on their own time. They can be stickers, labels, invitations, resume templates, and more. Printables sold on Etsy can be printed at home or by using a professional printing service.

Sellers can upload their digital art files to Etsy in a variety of formats. Once the buyer purchases that listing, they’re free to download the digital file and print it however they see fit.

In some cases, digital files are editable by the purchaser. This allows the buyer to personalize their printable before they’re ready to print. For example, you may want to include specific details on printable birthday invitations, making an editable printable and ideal file-type.

Selling printables on Etsy is a popular business model for beginner entrepreneurs since it doesn’t take much to get started. Once your digital file is created, you can re-list your printable as often as you wish, with purchases available for instant download.

So, here’s what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to selling printables on Etsy:

Do: Your research

Man using computer in empty office.

As a designer, you know that there are tools out there to create your art. 

But there are also digital tools to make your creations versatile enough to sell. Whether that’s Photoshop extensions, third-party file management tools, or other after-effects programs, it pays to do the research to find what you need to sell your printables. 

While you’re here to learn how to sell printables on Etsy, it also pays to research how to create printables, too!

Don’t: Copy your competitors.

It’s all too easy to find a successful printables store on Etsy, see what products they’re selling a lot of and replicate it yourself. 

But there’s so much more to it than that. 

They’ve more than likely created a comprehensive pricing plan, which is why they’re selling good volumes. So it would be best if you created your own pricing strategy

They’ve probably also done their keyword research (more on that later). Therefore, they know what shoppers are looking for and what listings they’ll find on Etsy.

Your competitors have probably also done a lot of trial and error you won’t find by looking at their printable listings. These are mistakes that you’ll have to make yourself and learn from. 

Use your competitors as guidance and a way to ‘feel’ the market rather than a guide on precisely what to do. 

Do: Think about practicality. 

Printables aren’t just artwork. 

Printables are anything that can be printed, either by a home printer or on a larger industrial printer. 

Therefore, consider products like:

  • Diaries
  • Schedules
  • Planners & Calendars
  • Checklists
  • Books
  • Business cards
  • Greeting cards
  • Packaging designs
  • Bookmarks
  • Coloring books
  • Embroidery & knitting patterns
  • Board games
  • Fonts
  • Gift tags
  • Envelopes

The worst thing you can do is get into the headspace where printables are ‘just’ digital art printed and hung on a wall. 

There’s so much out there that can be designed by a talented designer like yourself, then sold on Etsy. 

Think outside the box!

Don’t: Forget keyword research.

Just becuase you have fantastic designs, doesn’t mean anyone will find your products. You’ll still need to find a way to market your printables on Etsy.

SEO is a great way to do that.

Do the keyword research around the products you’re selling using Marmalead. You’ll see search volumes, trends, competitiveness, and much more. You’ll also find keywords that may be related to your main keyword but much less competitive. 

When you find effective keywords, use them in your titles, tags, and your descriptions. 

Do: Fine-tune the creation process.

How to sell printables on Etsy - man tuning radio.

Your creative process is unique to you.

You may be very in tune with yourself and understand how you work and create, or you might just be figuring that out. Either way, pay attention to how you create and then adjust your environment and tools accordingly.

Helping yourself be more creative won’t always equate to more cash, but it will help you create things that do the job you want them to do. 

Don’t: Forget about seasonality.

Holidays are primetime for printables. 

Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and even just the changing of seasons are cause enough for people to want to update their home decor, stationery, or other knick knacks. 

Do your research on when to make these seasonal printables available and when to remove them. Don’t be surprised if you find Easter printables being sold in November. 

Also, don’t forget that there’s a southern hemisphere, that the seasons there are opposite, and that by selling printables, people from all over the world can buy your product. 

Do: Think about scalability.

How to sell printables on Etsy - Cosmetics on old kitchen scale.

In the world of eCommerce, one of the biggest challenges of scaling a business after getting initial traction is the capital required. This is partly due to having to hold more inventory to keep up with demand.

More Inventory means more physical space needed to store it, which means more people to fulfill orders and so on. 

But printables aren’t a physical product. So growing and scaling are significantly more straightforward. Scaling a printables business has its challenges, but those challenges aren’t physical storage space.

Scaling your Etsy printables businesses generally starts by adding more products. More designs, for more mediums, for more audiences. Of course, adding more products should always be done after comprehensive competitor analysis.

One challenge associated with scaling a printables business is the returns process. What happens if a customer isn’t happy with their purchase? There’s no physical item to return, so they can ask for a refund and still keep the product. How will you handle that at scale if this happens once in every 100 sales?

Remember, it’s not possible to set return or exchange policies on your digital listings. If a buyer contacts you about an issue with a digital item they’ve purchased, you can still choose to resolve the issue as you see fit.

Don’t: Compete on price.

How to sell printables on Etsy - Person calculating pricing for Etsy printables.

As you’ve read earlier, one of the benefits of selling printables is the low overheads.

That means there are fewer costs to pass on to your customer when calculating your pricing. But that also makes it easier and more tempting to lower your prices and make your products appear more enticing. 

But when you compete on price, it’s a race to the bottom. Being ‘the cheapest’ or even ‘one of the cheapest’ associates your products (and brand) with being disposable. 

If you feel you’re charging too much, keep your prices the same, but add in more value. Offer a form of customization service, add a few extra digital assets to your downloads, or add a discount for a repeat purchase. 


Learning how to sell printables on Etsy isn’t a shortcut to success. 

It’s a business model that cuts down your overheads, simplifies distribution, and can be scaled incredibly efficiently. 

But there’s still a lot of groundwork that has to be done if you’re to reap the benefits. Marketing, sales, and product management are the same as selling a physical product. Get those things under control, and then take advantage of the printable business model, and you’ll have clear sailing for many years to come!

Grow your online business, develop your SEO, and launch your sales into the stratosphere.

Read The Squeeze each week to see what’s new with Etsy and the growing industry of eCommerce. There’s a lot of noise out there getting in the way of your success. Cut to the chase with tips and tricks you can implement in your business right now. Let The Squeeze be your guide.


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