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Digital downloads are the perfect passive income plan – and one of my favorite things ever to create. For me, creating digital products is about time freedom. I only have to create them once and they sell over and over again. If you're wondering how to make money from Etsy, you're not alone – and I've got you covered!
Once you list your digital files on Etsy, customers can shop at their convenience: no open/close hours like a brick and mortar store, and usually no need to bug you with customer service questions. 😉
The digital files are added to your customer's account immediately upon checkout, and they can download them right away – or save them for later. The convenience factor for both you and the customer is why digital downloads are so popular on Etsy – and really, everywhere online these days.
Oh, and before I forget… read my new post about what to do if your Etsy account gets suspended – how to fix it, why it probably got deactivated, and more.
What can I sell on Etsy for passive income?
Digital products are the best way to make passive income, and Etsy make its easy peasy lemon squeezy to do!
Whether you create your digital products with Canva, Photoshop, or another program like PowerPoint, the possibilities are endless.
The most popular items on Etsy can vary from day to day, but overall there are themes that stay consistent.
What kind of digital products can you sell on Etsy?
While in the brainstorming process of deciding which digital products to sell on Etsy, decide who you want your customers to be.
Who do you want to serve, who do you want to help?
There are two options here: B2B or B2C. B2B, or business to business, is what I refer to as “being in the middle” and has been extremely profitable for me.
B2C, or business to customer, is selling to end users (like moms planning parties), and if done well, it can be just as profitable!
The important thing is that you're passionate about helping your people – whoever they may be. My people are mostly moms who want to make a better life for themselves and their kids, working less hours and making more money – that's why I teach about selling digital products and earning passive income.
Who are your people? Are they busy moms who love planning parties on a budget? Are they overwhelmed teachers who need lesson planning tools?
Really think about who it is you want to help with your digital products. This is the most important part of setting up your business, I promise!!
What sells the most on Etsy (digital)?
With the right branding, mockups, and audience, anything you create will sell on Etsy. But I did some research to see what was selling best on Etsy right now and I found a treasure trove of digital products that have lots and lots of sales!
What printables sell well on Etsy?
Business Cards (B2B)
Every business needs business cards. I used to sell my services of business card creation in person to local businesses. While livingin a small town in Arizona – well, it used to be small, Queen Creek is growing quite fast now – and I wanted to get to know the business owners in the area.
I went door to door to meet them, offer free advertisement by way of my Facebook page (I had many local followers even before I moved there), and see what I could do to help their businesses grow. While the internet was one way, in this small town, in-person events were a big deal so businesses needed to make a lasting first impression. This begins with business cards.
Now, more businesses understand the importance of an online presence, but they still need a “calling card” of sorts when they do pop-up events – or when they're standing in line at Starbucks and strike up a conversation that ends up leading to a new business opportunity.
Designing business cards is simple, and if you start with a template, you could have 10 different designs completed in under an hour. Change the fonts, colors, and theme and you're good to go.
Some business card themes that are popular on Etsy include:
- floral (plants, flowers, etc)
- girly/boss babe (bold colors like pink and purple, cursive fonts)
- minimalist (neutral tones with easy to read fonts)
Pro tip: your marketing images should be diverse. The lack of diversity on the front page of Etsy is astounding. EVERYONE needs business cards, not just blonde white women.
Party Invitations (B2C)
Those who love to plan parties and those who are throwing something together last minute because it was dropped in their laps all need invitations. Digital invites ensure that even if you end up planning last minute, you can pull it all together on time without the hassle of printing and mailing.
Popular party themes on Etsy include:
- kids: dinosaurs, planes, toys, trains, dolls, flowers, princesses
- life events: baby shower, bridal shower, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, holidays
- aesthetic: minimalist, floral, girly, woodland creatures, rainbow
Pro tip: Do NOT create anything Disney, Pixar, Nickelodeon, etc. These are trademarked and you can get your entire shop shut down for using them. I use clip art exclusively from Creative Fabrica because the licensing is so easy to understand.
Yes, I know, many shady sellers on Etsy will sell Disney etc but it is NOT worth the risk! Not only could your shop get shut down, you could get sued – and it's extremely unethical to piggyback someone else's design for profit without permission.
Product Labels (B2B or B2C)
Think about how your customers can use labels:
- makeup and skincare products (body butter, makeup, oils)
- pantry organization
- candles, wax melts, etc
- toy organization
- drawers, cabinets, etc
I use labels in Spanish for things around the house, like light switches, utensils, and more!
Pantry labels would be an example of B2C sales, or product labels for whipped body butters (for sale) would be an example of B2B.
Just as every business needs business cards, they also need a logo. You can create custom logos and charge more, but it's not as hands-off.
Popular logo themes on Etsy:
- aesthetics: rose gold, floral, girly, bold, minimalist
- color themes: pinks, browns, greys, black and white
- by business: lash artists, coaches, beauticians, chefs
Simple logos are extremely easy to make on Canva. If you haven't played around with Canva much, starting with logos will be a fairly simple learning curve considering their font pairing options.
My friend, Pam, has a free group on Facebook you can join to learn more about how to use Canva. It's called Canva Creations with Pam.
Digital Art Prints (B2B or B2C)
I could write an entire blog post on digital art prints because there are sooooo many options, so many customers, so many themes, the list goes on and on.
Popular Etsy themes for digital art prints include:
- nursery (dinosaurs, planes, trains, baby animals, alphabet)
- quotes (Bible verses, sarcastic, funny, witty, motivational)
- pets (cats, dogs, birds, etc)
Pro tip: If you want to sell more wall art prints, you need to create awesome mockups that make them look they are really hanging in someone's home. This helps your potential customers picture them in their homes (or offices), which increases sales.
Canva Pro has mockups like this that I use all the time. Here is an example of one I created for this post:
Simply drag and drop your JPG or PNG into the white space and you'll have a mockup to put in your Etsy listing. Picture where your customers may put your prints in their home or office, and try to find a mockup that will match. The idea is to help them visualize your prints in their lives.
Stationery (B2B or B2C)
Stationery is soooo easy to create in Canva! There are many templates for lined paper, you just need to add clip art.
Keywords to use for your stationery:
- printable stationery pages
- printable stationery
- printable stationary (yes, misspellings are searched often)
- digital stationery
- digital stationery paper
- stationery paper
- letter writing paper
Need more ideas for keywords? Check out my SEO Keyword Cheat Sheets Shop!
Ah, journals! I love love love journals, even though I never use them LOL. But I really enjoy creating them, selling them, and browsing different journal designs on Etsy.
You can create journals that are intended to be used digitally, or you can create journals that get printed out and are written in with pens, pencils, etc.
Popular journal theme ideas:
- witchy/metaphysical (in this post, I talk about metaphysical side hustles)
- for moms, for dads, for grandmas, etc
- gratitude journals
- prayer journals (all religions!)
- study journal (learning a new language, skill, etc)
- reflection journal
- fitness/workout/eating healthy
- habit journal
- junk journals
Here is an example of a best-selling junk journal set:
Gift Tags (B2C)
Think about it. When do you give gifts? Who do you give gifts to? That's how you can start brainstorming gift tag ideas.
- Christmas – or any holiday
- bridal showers
- baby showers
- teachers / back to school / teacher appreciation
- neighbors / welcome to the neighborhood
- and more!
Planners and Calendars (B2C or B2B)
Planners and calendars for B2B clients would be something like a business planner, business organizer, etc. For B2C, you could create a planner for literally anything in life! What is the last thing you planned?
Planners are needed for:
- birthday parties (various themes)
- bridal showers
- baby showers
- bachelor/bachelorette parties
I created a tutorial showing how to design calendars in Canva:
Digital Bookmarks (B2C)
Every person who joins me in my Etsy course laughs at the thought of digital bookmarks… until they sell some!
The shop ArtCult has nearly 100,000 sales and their items are all digital. You can see these digital bookmarks are hot sellers for their shop. Their mockups are beautiful, which definitely helps sales!
While I was writing this blog post, one of my VIP clients posted about her latest WIN: she sold her first digital bookmarks, within 24 hours of listing them!
Now you want to make your own, right? Of course you do! 🙂 They're easy and fun to make, and they sell surprisingly well. Don't ask me why, I just know THEY DO!
Here is a step by step tutorial (from my course) on how to create digital bookmarks in Canva and sell them on Etsy.
Word Searches (B2C)
One of my top sellers are digital bookmarks, with a close second being word searches.
You can make word searches on any topic you can think of, and for almost any customer:
- states and capitals (for teachers, homeschoolers, kids)
- famous inventors (same audience as above)
- beginner Spanish (or any language)
- and more!
My step by step tutorial shows you how I create word searches, and gives you a template to make your own. Templates make everything so much easier.
Patterns (B2B or B2C)
Patterns for all sorts of things sell as digital downloads on Etsy! Think about it: what can you create a pattern for? I can almost guarantee someone else wants the pattern, too.
Some of the patterns I've looked for recently include:
- crochet patterns (bikini tops, bags, change purses)
- knitting patterns (bags, clothing, quilts, wash cloths)
- beading patterns (necklaces, bracelets, rings, head pieces)
- quilting patterns (baby quilts, dog bed quilts, keepsakes)
- sewing patterns (clothes, costumes, bags, accessories)
- building patterns (chicken coops, tree houses, van builds)
I actually got my start on Etsy by selling digital patterns. For my boutique,I made tutus, hairbows, and capes (for Halloween costumes, birthday parties, etc). I created an ebook showing my friends how to make them, and decided to list them on Etsy. I listed them once, and they sold over and over again for YEARS on the platform!
When I sold my tutu business, I sold the digital products alongside the business name, and was able to help the new owner start making money right away because the digital products were already in place.
Make the patterns available for commercial use, and this easily opens your market up to both B2B and B2C.
Flyers and Brochures (B2B)
Flyers are one of the easiest things ever to create, but some people don't even know how to do the basics yet so guess what that means? With minimal effort, you can create a product that helps your customers save time and makes you money! That's a win-win in my book.
I am in love with these flyer templates from labelmwah. Notice most have similar set ups, but different graphics and themes. Start with a template (or create your own) and swap out the graphics to make multiple listings.
The mockups are important, too! I love how this shop shows the flyer on a phone. Everyone uses their phone these days, so showing the flyer in action on multiple devices is genius.
Clip Art (B2C & B2B)
If you love designing, or even if you like drawing in Procreate, clip art is an extremely profitable digital product to create. In fact, I'm looking for new clip art all the time and my clients are, too.
Coloring Pages (B2C)
Coloring pages are extremely popular, no matter where you're selling them. Think of different themes like:
- religious / Bible verses
- motivational / gratitude
- color by number
Coloring pages are fun to create, and you can do different themes, age groups, etc.
More digital product ideas
Here are a few more digital product ideas to help you get started selling on Etsy!
- zoom backgrounds
- restaurant menus
- travel brochures
- phone and desktop backgrounds
- meal plans
- excel templates
- digital backgrounds (12×12 papers)
- graphics for other Etsy shops
- invoice templates
- scrapbook/junk journal elements
- website themes
- budget planners
- habit trackers
- party printables
- digital stickers (here's my post about how to make stickers)
- social media templates
- brand kits
- resume templates
- workout planners
- educational printables
Digital printables by theme
Now that we've covered the specifics, let's talk about themes.
Some of the Etsy best selling themes for digital products include:
- weddings (planning, invites, place cards, thank you cards)
- children (nursery, educational, parties)
- for ______ (moms, dads, grandparents, kids, teachers, nurses, secretaries)
How much can you make on Etsy per month?
Making $100 a month selling Etsy digital downloads is the first goal I would start with if I was starting on Etsy today. I know that seems like a low amount, but I'm not going to tell you that you should build a $10,000/month business on borrowed land.
Can you make $10K on Etsy?
You can make $10K a month selling digital products, but I don't recommend it, and here's why:
Etsy is an amazing platform with the power to get your products in front of nearly 100 million people for pennies on the dollar, but you don't own your shop – Etsy does.
While you are building your shop for Etsy printables, I highly recommend building your own website as well. Use Etsy to build your brand recognition and get in front of customers fast, while you're building your blog on the side.
You can build a blog on self-hosted WordPress by following free tutorials on YouTube, and simply duplicate all of your Etsy products to put in your own shop.
I use WooCommerce for my shop, but there are many options. Setting up shop this way ensures that if something ever happens to your Etsy shop, you won't lose all of your income.
Collect email addresses from your buyers by providing a freebie to get them on your email list. I know it may seem like a lot of work, and it can be, but it's the safest way to build your passive income business to thousands of dollars a month.
Is it worth it to sell digital downloads on Etsy?
Despite the warning above about building on borrowed land, it's 100% worth it to sell digital products on Etsy – but you've gotta list a lot of them.
Listing 10 products and wondering why you aren't making a full-time income is the biggest mistake I see new Etsy sellers make!
Look at the best-selling shops on Etsy. How many products do they have? Usually hundreds if not thousands!! They've put the work in, they've frontloaded it, and now they're reaping the benefits. That's how passive income really works.
How do beginners sell on Etsy?
Start your Etsy journey by deciding:
- who you will serve
- what you will call your shop
- what you will be selling
You can use this Etsy link to get 40 free listings.
Follow the instructions in my video below for a step by step on how to actually start your first Etsy shop.
After you've gone through the logistics of setting your shop up, the next step is to start creating. Whatever it is you decide to create, you can't just slap 9 listings up and call it a day. Create something new every single day, if you can!
Use PLR and templates to make your life easier, and the creation process doesn't take as long. You can also use templates for mockups, which make the listing process take about half the time.
Last but not least, make sure your Etsy SEO is on point. If you haven't read my post about how to rank on the front page of Etsy yet, now is the time!
Grab my spreadsheet of 100+ digital product ideas and get started creating them in Canva!! NOTE: I am still working on this spreadsheet. It needs to be organized but I wanted to hit PUBLISH to get this out. I'll update the link ASAP.
I wish you the best of luck on your Etsy journey. I am excited to see what you come up with! 🙂
If you need a step by step course with more than a dozen lessons and tutorials to get you started, I would love to have you take my digital Etsy course! You can buy it here for $127 or watch this workshop and get a HUGE coupon at the end.
While you're here, read some of my other Etsy posts!
Learn How to Make Money on Etsy
- 7 Cricut Projects You Can Sell on Etsy
- How to Rank on the Front Page of Etsy (SEO Tips)
- How I Price My Handmade Goods to Sell on Etsy
- How to Make Digital Planners to Sell on Etsy
- Avoid Getting Your Etsy Shop Shut Down! #1 Rule
- Ultimate Guide to Selling More Stickers on Etsy
- How to Sell Printables on Etsy for Passive Income
- How to Make Calendars in Canva to Sell on Etsy
- How to Make Subscription Box Inserts to Sell on Etsy
- Build Your Digital Etsy Empire: Make Passive Income on Etsy