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How to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy

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Thousands of people have opted to sell digital downloads instead of traditional physical products.

There’s just less headache when it comes to inventory management and startup costs. 

And one of the best marketplaces to sell online is Etsy. However, the competition is rough. If you want to stand out, you need to be one step ahead from the get-go. 

That’s why we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to sell digital downloads on Etsy. 

Why You Should Consider Selling Digital Downloads on Etsy

Creating and selling a digital download on Etsy is a great way to supplement your income. Here’s why:

  • Saves Money: A digital download saves money since it doesn’t require storage, fulfillment, and shipping, unlike a physical product.
  • Flexible Workload: You can create a bunch of digital files at once and then sit back and watch them become a passive income stream as they’re sold.
  • Large Marketplace: It’s easy to create an Etsy shop, and you’ll get decent exposure with its huge audience and well-established marketplace.
  • Ongoing Income: A digital download can be sold repeatedly, unlike a physical product.

Problems With Selling Digital Downloads on Etsy

While selling digital downloads on Etsy is an excellent side hustle, there are a few risks shop owners should be aware of.

Here are the issues to look out for: 

  • File Size: Etsy only allows 20MB uploads at a time for each digital download, so you might need to split up larger files which could reduce quality upon printing. 
  • Some Skills Needed: Business owners need at least entry-level skills and knowledge of their niche to make digital downloads become a hit.
  • Major Competition: There’s tons of competition, which might mean there’s a demand for your products, but you’ll also need to stand out if you want to sell on a large scale.
  • Piracy Concerns: Digital downloads, unlike physical products, are highly subject to piracy which means other creators might duplicate your original work and try to sell it as their own. 

What You’ll Need to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy

Selling digital downloads on Etsy is an online business with relatively low startup costs. It’s important to know how to start an online business before diving in.

Here’s what you need in this case: 

  • Software: You can create digital downloads using software such as Canva, Apple Pages, or Adobe Illustrator.
  • Social Media Accounts: You’ll need to promote your products on different social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok. 
  • A Payment Method: You can receive Etsy payments through methods like PayPal, a bank account, or Apple Pay.  
  • A Google Analytics Account (optional): It can help you monitor traffic to your Etsy store and adjust your marketing strategies accordingly.

What Digital Downloads to Sell on Etsy

The first step to selling digital downloads on Etsy is figuring out which niches and products are in high demand.

Here are some of the best products you can try:

1. Organizational Digital Downloads

Organizational digital downloads are a massive hit on Etsy. They include planners, workbooks, worksheets, to-do lists, and calendars. Planners can be either printable or digital.

A printable planner is usually in PDF format; buyers can print it and keep it on their desks as they work. Digital planners are usually integrated with apps like Notability or Goodnotes. 

You can also create budget trackers for Excel or Google Sheets and resume templates. 

Why This Product Sells Well

These products are time-consuming to create, and people who buy them often have little time to do so.

These digital downloads help users stay organized and work toward their goals, making them a popular item on Etsy. 

2. Business-Centric Digital Downloads

Most people will spend money on things that’ll make them more money. That’s why business-related digital downloads are so popular. 

You can create social media templates, business cards, brand identity kits, website templates, and invoice templates. 

You also create ebooks which can become a major hit once you learn how to sell books online

Why This Product Sells Well

Most entrepreneurs and small business owners prefer to buy these digital downloads from Etsy.

It’s usually much cheaper than hiring a social media specialist or an agency to create their business products.

3. Graphic Design Digital Downloads 

Graphic design products might require a bit of skill to create, but they have the potential to become huge sellers. 

Lightroom presets are especially common with influencers these days. You can also create logos, video intros, video effects (VFX), fonts, clip art, wedding invitations, and printable wall art. 

Some people even sell Photoshop actions, which are pre-recorded editing tasks that automatically play when you execute the file on a new project. 

Why This Product Sells Well

Not everyone has the time or skill to create these products, making them in high demand.

And they can easily become viral if an influencer buys your digital download and uses it on social media. Your sales can multiply overnight. 

How to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy: Step-By-Step Instructions

vector graphic showing an illustration of people learning how to sell digital downloads on etsy

The Etsy marketplace is full of buyers and sellers interested in digital products. You’ll need a plan if you want to stand out and create best-selling digital downloads.

Here’s your step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Prepare Niche Market Research

Proper market research will tell you what to sell on Etsy. You might have a list of ideas, but ensure there’s a demand for your digital products. 

Try using the Etsy search bar and type in some of your digital product descriptions. Pay attention to what auto-populates: that’s a gold mine for ideas. 

Before sticking to one digital download idea, do a quick search of product listings and digital product sales. This can give you an indicator of how much you can potentially make and an approximate selling price. 

Step 2: Create Your Digital Downloads 

You need to create your digital download. There are tons of easy-to-use websites and apps you can try. 

Canva Pro

Canva Pro is probably the easiest graphic design software to use. It has several readymade Canva templates you can use for inspiration. The Canva graphic design tool is intuitive; you won’t need much experience or training. 

You’ll also have access to thousands of stock photography images you can incorporate into your digital design. 

Adobe Apps

Adobe has several apps you can use to create a digital download, such as:

Adobe Illustrator: A relatively easy graphic design platform for creating social media templates, printable planners, and other digital prints.
Adobe Photoshop: Offers the most functions for creating digital printables but has a steep learning curve.
Adobe Draw: Best for those who want to draw a product image by hand.
Adobe Lightroom: For editing and modifying your digital printables.

Apple Pages

Apple Pages is an excellent tool for creating ebooks and document-style digital downloads. 

Step 3: Create Your Etsy Shop and Set Each Selling Price

You need to create your profile and follow the prompts to create your shop. You’ll need your basic info, then you can choose a shop name and set up a payment method.
 
Pay special attention to the About section of your shop because your story will help you sell to future customers. The most successful Etsy shops add a personal touch that appeals to their potential clients. 

Once your shop is ready, you’ll need to decide on the price of each product before you create a digital product listing. Read up on how much it costs to sell on Etsy and how to make money on Etsy before you decide. 

Factor in the cost of making the digital products, including software subscriptions, a marketing budget for Etsy Ads and other platforms, and your valuable time.

Also, bear in mind that each listing costs $0.20, and each sale comes with a 5% transaction fee. 

Step 4: Create Listings

This is where you start adding mockups of your products. You must add a catchy title, high-quality images, tags, and detailed product descriptions. 

And ensure you use many relevant keywords that improve your Etsy SEO (search engine optimization). This can help you rank higher in searches which converts to more customer purchases. 

It’s also a smart idea to outline your policies on delivery times, returns, and exchanges. This builds toward an excellent customer service experience. 

Step 5: Market Your Digital Downloads

Despite Etsy’s huge customer base, setting up a store isn’t enough. You also need to market your products through several channels to boost your sales and reach more clients. That’s one of the secrets of how to sell on Etsy

There are tons of ways you can market a small business.
You can run Etsy Ads or advertise on Instagram or Facebook. You can also set up a Pinterest account and showcase your digital prints.

YouTube, TikTok, and other streaming platforms are also great ideas.
Create an email list and use an email marketing platform to reach more people.

You can also ask each customer for their email address so you can send offers, discounts, and newsletters to your email subscribers. 

The better you market, the more money you can make, so give it some time. As your business flourishes, you can eventually sell on other platforms too.

Related: How to sell on Facebook, How to sell on Instagram

Step 6: Get Good Reviews! 

The secret to an ongoing profitable business is customer satisfaction. So make sure you maintain excellent customer service and answer any and all customer inquiries. 

Couple that with high-quality digital downloads, and you’ll get great reviews that’ll drive your sales even further. 

Things to Consider When Selling Digital Downloads on Etsy

Planning ahead can save you time, effort, and money. Here are a few things to keep in mind when selling digital downloads on Etsy: 

Your Digital Downloads Must Be Unique

Your digital download should be unique if you want to stand out among competitors.

Aim for competitive prices that help you sell faster, even if your profit margins aren’t massive at first. Remember, your startup costs were little, as well.

Don’t Rush Things

It takes time for sales to reach a steady, sustainable level. Don’t expect to sell the moment you finish creating your store. 

Utilize the time it takes for your shop to become famous and work on your skills.

Simple but Hard to Copy

Make your digital downloads easy to use and intuitive because buyers might not have your tech-savviness and could ask for a refund.

At the same time, add watermarks to your listing photos to make it harder for others to pirate your designs. Etsy has a reporting portal in case this happens. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Selling Digital Products on Etsy a Lucrative Business?

It depends on how much time you’re willing to invest in creating the products and marketing them.

If your digital downloads are unique and you promote them through different platforms, they could turn into a lucrative passive income source. 

What Are Digital Downloads?

Digital downloads are products that people can buy online in a digital format instead of purchasing a physical product.
They can include things like printables, templates, custom designs, and even ready-to-go spreadsheets. 

Similar Tutorials to Check Out

Selling digital downloads on Etsy is a great side hustle, but there are several other business ideas you can try to increase your income.

Here are a few tutorials to check out: 

  • How to Sell on Amazon: Amazon is another huge marketplace for selling physical and digital products to a large audience. 
  • How to Sell Pictures for Money: If you have solid photography skills, you can sell pictures as a lucrative side hustle. 
  • How to Sell on eBay: eBay is one of the oldest platforms where business owners can sell all kinds of items to potential buyers. 

Wrapping Up

Selling digital downloads on Etsy is a relatively easy and low-cost business venture. But it takes dedication and persistence to hit big. 

The more time you spend preparing and promoting your products, the better sales you can generate in the long run. Hopefully, this article can be your blueprint to becoming a top-selling Etsy business owner. 

Let us know what you think in the comments, and if you liked the article, share it so others can benefit as well!

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