How to Make Printables to Sell on Etsy: A Beginner’s Guide

How To Make Printables To Sell On Etsy

How to make printables to sell on Etsy is one of the things you need to know if you are planning on starting a digital downloads business.

Aren’t you just filled with envy when you see money rolling in for people for just being able to sell digital printable products online? You can do it too!

Creating printables and selling them on Etsy is not just a low-maintenance way to feed your creative side, it can also help you make an absolute fortune.

What are Printables?

Printables are just what the name implies: they are documents of printable patterns and designs that can be downloaded off the internet and used by consumers. These days, people buy printables not just to indulge in their love of arts, crafts, and décor but also to help them keep things organized and planned.

Some examples of printables that are sold on Etsy include:

  • Meal planners
  • Greeting cards
  • Invitations
  • Calendar planners
  • DIY Project planners
  • Diet and fitness planners
  • Coloring books for adults
  • Stickers
  • Journals
  • Checklists
  • Worksheets
  • Spreadsheets
  • Paper stationery

Printables first gained prominence through arts and crafts and mommy blogs. Printables are usually quite brief and can be just one page, or up to 30 pages. They consist of more graphic work and image overlay than your average ebook or blog, which make them so much more eye-catching.

How to Make Printables to Sell on Etsy When You Have No Experience

What you first need to understand when making printables for sale is that:

  • You don’t need to be an Adobe-savvy graphic designer (though it helps!)
  • The tools you need to design and sell your printables come free or are very affordable.
  • You can create a single printable and use it over and over again to generate more passive income.

Design Ideas: Where to Start?

You know what they say: When in doubt, go to Google. You can look up sample printables from Google Images, Pinterest, and Etsy. Check out what sort of fonts, color schemes, and patterns people use to make their printables more appealing.

Obviously, you should not copy the exact designs of others, but there is no harm in taking inspiration from them.

The first thing you need to understand when you are thinking about how to make printables to sell on Etsy is what type of material you will offer your customers. Will they be planners on 1-page designs like birthday and wedding invitations?

Once you have decided what style of printables you prefer, you may need to decide on your color palette and branding features.

Color Palette and Branding Features

One of the things you learn in marketing is that all your branding features should match your brand images. That means your color scheme, logo, and your brand name should reflect your business’ message.

If you are in the business of greeting cards and meal planners, it is not a bad idea to go for the fun and casual side of branding. However, if you cater to law or finance companies, your branding features should be more serious. But regardless of what kind of vibe you opt for, the key is to remain consistent in terms of colors and logo.

Design A Few Printables

It is highly unlikely that you will be able to make a living selling printables on Etsy if you come up with a single design. The easiest strategy, if you are just starting out, is to make about 8 to 12 single-page printable designs. You can sketch out the design idea on paper which will enable you to make edits quickly.

You can then decide to sell these printables individually or as a bundle.

Keep Your Customers in Mind

You are launching your printable business on Etsy not just to please yourself, but to make a profit from potential customers as well. Therefore, one of the foremost things you should keep in mind when designing your products is the end-users’ needs.

For example, if your printables require a lot of color ink and a high-resolution print, most customers who have basic printers will not be able to buy them. However, if you think they would benefit from having the printables professionally printed, let them know. Some designers include a “right to print” page which customers can print out and take to their local Staples or other print shop so that they can have your designs professionally printed.

Also, make sure your cover sheet includes all the instructions related to the printable, as well as a thank you note.

Graphic Designing Software For Making Printables

There are plenty of tools and sources available that you can use to design printables. Here are some of the most popular ones that are easy to use:

Adobe Products

When it comes to graphic designing software programs, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign take the cake. So if you know how to use them, you can be sure it will bring any design to life. If you don’t know how to use either of the Adobe products, you might consider wanting to learn them eventually since they are the best software to use.

If you are considering designing stickers, greeting cards, or paper towel designs, Adobe Illustrator is your best bet. But if you plan on making ebooks or printable planners, use Adobe InDesign. However, this is not set in stone. It all depends on the type of printables you want to sell, and your preferences.

For those of you who don’t know how to use Adobe design products, this is what you can use.


If you are not so tech-savvy, Canva is a great tool that you can use. It offers newbies an easy starting point and works very well for almost all kinds of designs.

With the software, you can download files as large as 5000 x 5000px which is more than big enough for any type of printable you want to make. Moreover, their premade template options offer you pre-set file size for A4 size prints, invitations, cards, brochures, and logos.

You can make your own designs by uploading your own graphics and fonts or buying some. With just $9.95 monthly, Canva Pro gives you the option of uploading 100 custom fonts to the “Brand Kit,” accompanied by unlimited storage.


PicMonkey Can Help You Create Most types of Printable Designs

PicMonkey is another great online design software that can help you create most types of printable designs. If you have never used the software, you will be glad to see that its interface is intuitive and easy-to-use.

Many designers use PicMonkey to make quick edits and mockups for product images, but it also offers you a vast variety of other design options, like choosing your own backgrounds, icons, fonts, text, and sizes.

Google Docs / Microsoft Office

If you don’t want the hassle, you can simply use Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to make things like spreadsheets and worksheets. However, these software have very limited capabilities when it comes to graphic art so don’t bank on them to help you create something like wedding invitations.

Fonts and Graphics for Making Printables

For those of you who can’t draw to save your lives, there are several useful resources where you can find your fonts and graphics. No matter where you buy them, make certain that they are available for commercial use. This means you can use them in your designs as you want and then sell them. Here are some good sources:


CreativeMarket Offers High-Quality Graphics And Fonts

CreativeMarket is one of the best sources that allow you to purchase licensed files for graphic designing. Its plans are a bit costly but they are worth it since they offer a lot of high-quality graphics and fonts.


FontBundles Is A Super-Handy Resource For Printables

With FontBundles, by paying just a small fee, you can get unlimited illustrator files, vector images, fonts (it offers free ones as well), $1 deals, freebies, and discounts of up to 15% on all their products. This is a super-handy resource for printables.

Creative Fabrica

CreativeFabrica offers Designs Made By Real Artists

Creative Fabrica offers graphic designers lots of free as well as $1 graphics, fonts, and craft vectors made by actual artists around the world. If you subscribe to their newsletter, you will get a free font each week which you can use commercially, along with regular updates of low-cost or free graphic bundles.

Font Squirrel

If you are looking for fonts the fast and easy way, look no further than Font Squirrel. The website combs the internet for fonts that are free and available for commercial use.  This is a great resource for designers of all skill levels as the site has a huge repository.

Size and Shape of your Printables

Regardless of whether you have chosen a photograph, a digital image, or any other format of graphics, it is essential that it should be clear and of high quality. Your customers do not need blurry or pixelated printables. This is why you need to plan the size of your printables in advance.

If you are using a spreadsheet, make sure all its column and rows fit within the standard size so that you can get a printable of 8 ½ x 11 inches. When the idea is to sell planners, make sure the printables come in a range of sizes that fit the most common planner sizes such as classic (5.5” X 8.5”), personal (4.25” X 6.75”) and A-5 (5.8” X 8.3”). If you are creating a printable with a customized size, make sure your design fits well in the provided dimensions.

As for resolution, your images should not be more than 800×1000 pixels wide. For better service, you can provide both the landscape and portrait versions. A portrait image will work well on pinboards like Pinterest, which is a great marketing tool for small businesses. Square images are the best images from Etsy’s SEO point of view.

The maximum file size for any printable design uploaded should be 20 MB. Some platforms also allow you to load up to 5 files per listing.

Brand Your Printables

Your printables are your intellectual and digital property, and as such you have the right to put your digital signature on them. Note that big brands, no matter what products and services they provide, always brand their offerings — and so should you. You should also put your copyright notice on the footer too.

Make sure your signature and notices are low-key, so that do not interfere with the design of the printables. However, also remember that your customer may want to purchase your products again in the future. So you should put your brand name, logo, and website name on it at least.

Test-Print Your Printables

This is a no-brainer so you will be surprised to know that many people do forget to test-print their printables. This can cost you a lot of unsatisfied customers.

Make sure you take out a few prints of your printables to see whether it fits well on paper. If you are selling printables for planners, make sure you leave enough room on the one side for your customers to punch holes through without ruining the design.

Setting Up Your Etsy Shop

Etsy Platform Is Easy and Intuitive

Once your printables have been finalized, you now need to set up shop. Etsy’s platform is easy and intuitive, and allows you to easily create a storefront once you register as a seller.

Make sure to read Etsy guidelines to ensure you are not breaking any rules. If you run into any problems while opening your store, go to the help section for more guidance.

To start, click the “Open Your Etsy Shop” and then register with your email address. Fill out some basic information about your shop, including your shop name, language, and currency. If your shop name is already taken by someone else, a name generator can help you think of alternative names.

Before you start sending people to your shop, complete your profile. In the “About” section, you can use some creative storytelling techniques to help your customers understand your business. Connect emotionally with your buyers by weaving some personal information with professional information, and adding your own picture.

Adding Your Printables

Once your profile has been completed, it is time to start adding items to your shop. As you create your list, make sure you use only the best photographs to represent your product as a featured image.

It is also a good idea to do some keyword research to see what queries customers use to look for similar products as you. Add several tags to help shoppers find your products. Create product descriptions that lure in customers and answer their problem.

You can upload up to five digital images at one time. Each file must not be more than 20 MB in size.

Also, take out some time to write down your terms and condition and policies for delivery, return, order cancelation, and pricing. This is done to prevent your customers from receiving any unhappy surprises.

Naming Your Printables

When your customers buy your product, they will need to know what it is called. Forever, if your customer is downloading a meal planner, the file name can be “Brand Name Etsy Meal Planner.pdf.” Although it is not super-unique (except for the brand name), it is easily identifiable and your customers will have no trouble finding it.

A lot of people don’t ever bother to rename a file once it is downloaded, so if your printable is named IMG_Psdj_1287454.pdf, it will be much harder for your customer to find it on their computer. This simple detail will be appreciated by your customers, and is a more professional approach to take.

Creating a Title and Product Description for Your Printables

Your title should be brief but should have a lot of crucial details. For example, if you are creating a wedding invitation printable, add “Wedding Invitation” to your title. Also, add the word “printable” to the title. Don’t assume that people will be able to figure this out on their own.

For your product description, as mentioned above, do some keyword related research to see what is working well for your competitors. Also consider who you are selling your printables to. Who your customers are will affect the language in your listing.

Create a list of all the features and benefits that your printables provide, and add appropriate keywords to them. Try to section your product description into bullet points as not many people read through large blocks of text.

Download Instructions for your Printables

When you are in the business of selling on Etsy, you will soon find out that people do not like to read. So make sure you add detailed download instructions and policies in as many places as you can.

Your listing description should also add instructions like:

  • “This item is printable and nothing will be shipped to the customer”.
  • The file size and file format
  • Printing size and method
  • Restrictions, like who can use the product after it has been downloaded
  • “Not for commercial use or resale”
  • Also, add a refund policy, although this is not strictly necessary due to the nature of digital files. There is no way to return the item once the person has printed it out.
  • Disclaimer that colors may appear different due to monitor and printer settings.

You can also add a “READ IT FIRST” page before your customer downloads the printable so that they have all the information needed to purchase your product in an informed way.

Check Trademarks Before Creating Designs For Printables

This is one of the most important steps for any entrepreneur or business. Since we live in the digital age, it is becoming increasingly easy for people to copy or steal someone else’s content. Keep yourself protected from any trademark or copyright claims by checking that you are not violating any laws with the content and phrases you are using.

To learn more about trademarks, you can go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and perform a search. It may be annoying, but it can cost you a whole lot of money and leave your reputation in shambles if you are caught infringing on someone else’s work.

If Etsy discovers that you are using someone else’s work and claiming it as your own (even unintentionally), it can close down your shop. When we talk about trademark phrases, we don’t mean just the obvious ones like Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Marvel; it could be normal, everyday phrases as well that you would never expect to be trademarked.

Copyrighting Your Own Stuff

Anyone who has a business knows how much money and effort goes into operating it. So make sure you copyright your stuff so that nobody can claim it as their own.

You can do this by placing a small line of text at the bottom of your page stating that all rights belong to you, and you are sharing it for personal use only. You can also add your logo and website URL as well.

File Format

Make sure that you save your printables in PDF format. This format is easier to print, preserves the quality of your work, and someone else cannot edit your printable to resell so it provides an extra measure of security.

Most software provide you with the option of “save as PDF.” If you use any of the Adobe products, the option is in-built. However, if your software does not have the PDF option, you can use software to convert your file to PDF format.

Pricing Your Printables

A good way to know how much a printable costs is to search for similar products on Etsy. Initially, you may need to experiment with different pricing to see which one generates the most sales.

However, don’t sell yourself short and add Etsy’s membership and web hosting fees when determining the price of your printables. A big mistake that people make is setting their price too low and missing out on making the maximum amount of money.

A big advantage of selling a printable is that a single design can be sold to thousands of different customers, so the overhead charges are quite low.

On average, the optimal pricing for printables on Etsy is between $2.99 and $6.99, though it depends on your type of offering. Remember though that selling on an Etsy store will cost $0.20 for each four-month listing, as well as a 5% transaction fee. This does not include PayPal fees.

Don’t Forget Customer Service

Make sure that you take part in any online conversations and answer questions promptly. Treat all your queries as important, because not everyone understands tech. Never patronize a customer or make them feel ignorant.

One of the best things you can do is to thank all your customers who buy your products. Make sure you focus on building a positive relationship with your customers.

Market Your Printables

Market Your Printables To Ensure Customers Find Your Store

Your printable business will not be successful if no one knows it exists. Don’t assume that people will automatically find out about your business. Remember, there may be hundreds of competitors providing similar products on Etsy, and who are also marketing their products better than you.

This is why you need to create social media accounts for your Etsy store. With Facebook, you can send ads that target your potential customers. You can also start a YouTube channel where you can take your customers through the process of how you create some of your printables.

A great marketing tool is to create a blog that not just links your Etsy shop, but also provide regular updates on the type of products you sell, and how to use them.

If you run another business, reach out to your existing customers and let them know you have set up a printable store on Etsy. Also, when people sign up for your emails, give them a free printable as a lead generator.

Final Thoughts on How To Make Printables To Sell On Etsy

If you have printables to sell, Etsy is a great platform to make money. The platform has an infrastructure that makes it easy for buyers to log in and make payments. For marketers, Etsy sends emails to customers to remind them of your product, offer paid promotion options, and also does a bit of free advertisement.

If you follow the simple ads above, you can watch your income grow on Etsy.