There are literally millions of Etsy sellers, a portion of which are selling a digital download printable product. But how many of them are making the big bucks? And what about you? How can you make sure you design a best selling digital download on Etsy?
You have heard the hype… get paid passively, while you sleep! Just throw any old thing up for sale and millions of buyers will flock to buy it!
If you have been selling for any time at all, you probably understand that those magic words are just that, magical thinking and that having a successful store with highly sale-able products takes a bit more work than that!
But it IS possible to make money selling digital products with an Etsy online store! I have a line of planners, worksheets and courses that I sell everyday.
I have sold over 3,000 items and maintain a 5 star rating for my Paperly People shop!
Note: this is not a “how to do a digital product listing”… that is covered very well in the etsy handbook! How To List A Digital Product on Etsy
please note :: I often recommend resources, some I receive an affiliate commission for at no additional cost to you! Check out all my policies here
What Is A Bestselling Digital Download
So let's talk about what a best selling digital product looks like. To me it means that you have a high volume of sales and that the people who buy that product are happy, leaving good reviews.
My favorite place to find out who is selling well is CraftCount.com. They keep a running tally of top Etsy sellers by day and lifetime and are a great source for doing research into your product development.
So let's look at today's top shops!
The #2 site is Prettgraficdesign and they had 269 sales yesterday. They sell digital clipart, digital stamps, digital papers. They have been on Esty since 2012 and have 41,000+ 5 star ratings! That is awesome and let's us know that selling big on Etsy is possible!
#10 is SoCuteAppliques who make SVG graphics files that are used by scrapbookers and embroidery people. Melissa has been on Etsy since 2014 and has over 20,000 5 star ratings.
The nice thing about checking out Melissa's store is that she hasn't “locked” her sales information. You can click through on the sales numbers and see what she has sold recently!
As it is spring, you can see she three Easter designs and also a few baseball themed designs selling well. That is a clue! It is important to have all kinds of items that will sell throughout the year! If she only had Christmas designs, she would probably not be doing so well this time of year.
Looking at the #2 all time seller of collage download sheets on Etsy, with 62,000+ sales, we see that ArtCult has printable religious posts, tags and ephemera for sale.
So looking at just a few of the top shops we see that there is a mix of cute and vintage, patterns and clipart, and that there is no ONE thing that sells overwhelmingly well. Instead the shop owner took what they were good at or liked and developed a product line around those kinds of items.
Additional Resource: How To Do Market Research On Etsy
A Word About Copying Best Selling Products
So am I saying that you should open a shop like these? NO! They are already succeeding at these designs and competing with them head to head would be very frustrating indeed.
Instead look at what TYPE of things are selling well, the themes of the items and start thinking about how you incorporate some of those concepts into your work.
It is tempting to look at a successful shop and think, “I could do that, twice as good for half the cost” and beat them. But that is a recipe for disaster. Instead think about what you like to do or make and then bring that unique vision into the marketplace!
What Kinds of Digital Downloads You Can Sell On Etsy?
There are a ton of different things you can sell as a digital download on Etsy. Each of these products have successful sellers and unsuccessful products.
- Patterns (digital download patterns search)
- Coloring Pages (printable coloring pages search)
- Printable Artwork (printable artwork search)
- Party Decorations (digital download party decorations search)
- Stationery (printable stationery search)
- Planners (printable planners search)
- Printable Stickers (printable stickers search)
- Boxes & Packaging (printable boxes search)
- Services Like Header, Blog or Logo Design (graphic design search)
- Gift Tags (printable gift tags search)
- Iron On Transfers (printable iron on transfers)
- Scrapbooking Papers and Tags (printable scrapbook papers)
- Photography (printable photography search)
- Clipart (clipart search)
- Collage Sheets (printable collage sheets search)
- Wedding Invitations (printable wedding invitations)
Some interesting things happened when I was doing these searches. For example, I first did “printable packaging” instead of “printable boxes” and got a whole lot of bridal shower, baby shower and stickers. If you were selling printable boxes it would be a HUGE mistake to use the term “printable packaging” just because that is what you call it.
Also, as I started typing searches there were suggestions from Etsy of what I might mean (more clues) that will help you show up higher in search categories people are looking for…
So if you were selling your services on etsy, these might be good products to start with as they are showing up in search as popular topics people look for!
Figuring Out Which Digital Products To Sell On Etsy
Now, there is no search feature in Etsy for just digital products so you can front load some success by picking a category that is part of the top level searches. These are ones that I found which seem to be digitally focused.
- Supplies > Collage Sheets
- Handmade > Graphic Design
- Handmade > Paper Goods
- Handmade > Patterns
- Handmade > Photography
Does that mean that you should pick one of these categories? Nope! But if your skills lie in one of these areas you might be able to do a bit better organically if you can get your products to fit into one neatly!
For example, in this search for “Artwork” one of the categories that comes up is Clip Art. If you were making a product, it might be worth it to consider designing it so it would fit into an Artwork > Clipart category. (all of this is done with on the back end using the categories buttons when you are loading your listings)
How Many Competing Products Are There?
This one is tricky! Say that you come up with something truly unique like “printable grapevine wreath patterns” (there are no results for this search). What you want to think about here is, IS THERE A NEED for this product? and then is there a market for this product.
Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe no one dared to be this audacious before and you will come up with a great product that all the designers will jump on and make a bestseller. That said, you will have to do A LOT of marketing to raise awareness.
But what about something that is saturated? What if you just do “clip art”? There are368,615 competing products! Do you think you can make a generic piece of clip art that will be so amazing that everyone in the world will want to buy it? Probably not.
Best to find something that has an already established base of buyers, but which is not oversaturated. Do searches to see how many items are competing once you have your item narrowed down.
How To Price Your Digital Downloads
Digital download products can be priced differently than a physical product that you have to make with materials, time and your own hands. Yes, there is time on the front end making it, but then you can sell it forever.
With pricing you need to find a happy medium. Do some searches and see what competing products are priced for. Don't go bargain basement or twice as much as everyone else. Start in the middle and you can work your way up or down based on sales.
Why Sell On Etsy?
When you are thinking about selling your digital content online, there are lots of options, on your own site, in a Shopify store, or at a marketplace like Etsy.
Here are a few reasons I love Etsy!
While there is a transaction fee, it is small and the listing fee is small too! Since you are selling digital goods there is no fulfillment cost so after you have accounted for your time, everything else is profit!
Additional Resource: Get 40 Free Listings When You Sign Up For Etsy
Starting an online business is hard, you have to do all the techy things like set up a shopping cart, find a credit card processor, etc. With Etsy you can be selling any type of digital product online in minutes.
You can even sell online courses! I send them a Word document with access to all the files and videos as the automatically delivered document.
It is super simple to sell ebooks on Etsy. Simply fulfill them with a PDF version of your file and let them print them out.
Etsy really is a simple solution to sell digital products and printables online!
Final Thoughts About How To Create A Best Selling Digital Download On Etsy
Having sold digital products for over a year now, I do have some things that I think you should consider, in particular order.
Custom Products. There is that little button you can push to say that you will customize one of your digital listings. I had that pushed for a little while and then took it off. The small amount I could charge to make custom work for people was not worth it! AND there was a lot of back and forth talking about the changes. For me digital products are meant to be passive, not more work for one-offs.
What You Like. You are going to be working on your shop A LOT and making new products regularly. More important than being a best seller, I suggest that you make something that you actually enjoy doing! I make planner pages in my real life, so doing more is not a real hardship for me. There are a couple of top selling shops that are out of business now and I have to think that it is because they could-not-stand-one-more-day of making things they didn't love.
Bad things. Last but not least, you will see Etsy shops that have trademarked and licensed materials for sale (think Disney Princesses). Some sellers do have a license to sell these items but many don't. Some do it through ignorance, but many are just hoping they don't get caught. Find out before you spend time on a design if there is a trademark or copyright on the phrase, picture or concept. Better to spend your time making new things rather than trying to defend against your shop being shut down!
Additional Resource: How To Avoid Problems With Disney For Etsy Sellers
My Digital Etsy Shop
I have sold over $24,000 worth of digital printables in my Etsy shop, Paperly People!
And while there is no “true” set it and forget it, I haven't done a whole lot of marketing for these products other than Pinterest pins and blogging about them.
The nice thing about selling your printables on Etsy is that you can drive traffic there, but also Etsy has buyers they direct to your products… win win!