How To Sell Digital Downloads On Etsy

If you are interested in creating digital downloads and selling them on Etsy, you will want to read this first. Passive income is not as easy as some bloggers make it seem. There is a lot of work that is involved in creating passive income. I’m going to teach you how to sell digital downloads on Etsy and be successful at it.

You might be saying, “Well once you create it, it’s done, right? You just start making sales and there is no additional work.”

No, that’s not how passive income actually works. I spent a full year working on earning passive income through my Etsy shop. A full year where I spent the first 6 months thinking all I had to do was create it and they would come. For those first six months I made 3 sales. 3 sales of $3 a piece – a whole $9 in passive income.

Lucky for you, you will not have to spend the first six months waiting for that first sale.

How To Sell Digital Downloads On Etsy

There is a lot of work that goes into building passive income. Especially on Etsy.

My husband and I both built passive income on RedBubble and TeePublic with designs. On our greatest month we made $600. So when I approached creating digital downloads for Etsy I thought this would be that easy. The fact is it is actually a lot harder than that.

When I started taking Etsy seriously as a business venture I decided to do a lot of research in what other people, and what the most successful sellers were doing.

I studied other people’s shops who were creating the same types of products I create. The most successful shops have upwards of 200 items in their shops.

This is when I came to the realization that I would need to put a lot more work into my Etsy shop.

Realistically, on my best day, I created 3 new designs. That means if I had that same day every day I would need 67 of them to create 200 designs.

Let me tell you about that day. I was off from work, my toddler was actually well behaved, and my husband was busy working on his business. We ordered pizza and my phone was on silent for the entire day. That day was a 12 hour working day.

How often do you have a day like that? I get them maybe once a month. After working, taking care of my family, marketing, writing for this blog, and any other must do tasks I have going; I’m lucky if I can push one or two designs a week.

Even if you set a goal of one design a day (which I tried.) That’s still 29 weeks before I have enough designs in my shop that I can see massive success. That’s a lot of work.

Check out my post The Low Down Dirty Truths About Starting An Etsy Shop and Get Your Free Etsy Business Plan.

Creating Printables To Sell

If you are selling printable art or digital downloads of any kind, you need to have lots of products to choose from. In a marketplace like Etsy there are millions of products up for sale. This means there are hundreds if not thousands of products using the same keywords that you are using. This means there is a lot of competition. If you have only 40 digital products you do not have enough products to be competitive in this market.

There, that is as bad as it gets. If you want to earn substantial passive income you have to put in a LOT of work upfront. Not so bad huh?

Of course you could take my route and start earning more money by offering a physical product of your digital work. There are plenty of manufactures that Etsy allows for you to work with who drop ship directly to your customers.

In my shop I offered digital art, printed art, and coffee cups. I planned to offer more products as I continued to build the shop. Though, I ended up choosing blogging over running an Etsy shop as I loved writing more than creating digital art. Still I found success with Etsy so since I’m not capitalizing on that anymore, I’m instead sharing how I did it with you.

Whether you decide to stay completely passive with digital downloads or add a little more work and offer products, the remainder of this post will help you.

How can it be passive income if you have to work?

Here’s how. You have 200 designs in your shop. You sell 2-3 items per day between Etsy searches and other marketing avenues. If your product is $5.00 that’s an extra $300 a month. Ok so it’s not replacing your job but it’s money to pay off debt, pay for Christmas, or even just pay a bill or two.

When you sell an item on Etsy and you have automatic renewal on, Etsy will renew that listing and you will show up at the top of the search results for your keywords again.

So in the beginning when you only have 40 products you’ll be renewing listings every few days or once a week to get noticed. When you have 200 products and are making frequent sales, the renewing happens on it’s own. Less work for you, means you are one your way to making passive income.

What if I create 40 products and just renew them?

Been there, done that. It doesn’t quite work. I was making maybe $20 a month doing it that way. Minus the Etsy fees and Marmalead (at the time it was a great Etsy keyword finder) fees I was looking at a loss in my business.

With the high amount of competition that means you have to sell what your buyers want. This means you will need more items under more keywords getting in front of the eyes of your potential customers.

You have 40 products, your 40 listings show up under 80 keywords at best. That means you have 80 chances out of thousands of possibilities to get eyes on your product. Now if you have 200 listings and 400 keywords you now have 400 chances out of thousands of possibilities to get your listing in front of potential customers.

The key to really earning passive income on Etsy is really about having enough listings to get seen often.

Ok it’s not so bad, how do I get started?

First, read my post on opening a successful Etsy shop here.

Second, open your shop with 40 free listings here.

After that, put in the work. Create templates and as many designs as you can. List regularly and you continue to create, research, and brainstorm.

Sure creating a stream of passive income is work. Here’s how I helped to justify the work I put into my “passive income.” I have nothing to lose by doing it. It doesn’t cost a lot to get started. It doesn’t put my family at risk of being broke. Even at one point when it was just $20 a month, that was a tank of gas (with my rewards card.) That was pizza once a month. It’s $20 that I didn’t have before.

I started my shop, now what?

Start creating loads of products. This will fully depend on your time available to do this but you should shoot for at least one new design up in your shop everyday for at least 6 months.

It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a side hustle or looking to create an actual business, if you want to reach your financial goals you will have to make it a priority in your life. Make creating new products a priority in your life in order to make that extra money.

The dishes can wait, you can watch TV later, Facebook isn’t that important. All of that can be put on hold so you can create more time to focus on getting your Etsy shop up and running and making passive income.

Marketing Outside Of Etsy Is Key

Once you have your first 40 products in your Etsy shop now it’s time to start looking into other marketing channels. I personally found a lot of my own Etsy success by using Pinterest – which you can read about here.

You must market your Etsy shop on other platforms because Etsy does a really great job about giving everyone a chance to make some money on their platform with their search results. The downside to the way the Etsy search algorithm works is if your product is popular it doesn’t really matter, everyone still gets to the top of the list somehow.

Using outside marketing – like Pinterest – helps to increase your products exposure and sales. While in the beginning it’s going to be a lot of creation, after you create your first 40 digital products you need to start looking at adding a marketing plan as well.

Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Something that we see a lot of in the online business marketplace is this idea that success happens overnight. Overnight success is the exception, not the rule. You may see a slow start especially in the beginning.

Make sure you ask for outside opinions on your shop and how you might be able to improve things. A fantastic group that I’m still a part of is Creative Mother Hustlers on Facebook. It’s filled with an active community of handmade creators who will critique and offer advice.

As long as you keep your eyes on your goals creating passive income is not difficult, it just takes time. So keep working at it and you will get there. Follow me on Pinterest and pin this to your business board. Please subscribe to stay updated on the blog.

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    Crystal Lynn

    Crystal is the founder & CEO of MommyThrives and also full-time mom to a very active little guy. She’s passionate about cooking, cleaning, and organizing and turns her experiences into actionable systems to make mom-life simpler. When she’s not busy, you can find her reading, painting, or even on occasion indulging herself shooting bandits in Borderlands on her PC.

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    3 Responses

    1. Ana says:

      Awsome article, thank you, you’re wright, it’s not as easy as it seams. 1 printable per day for 6 months… here we go!

    2. Kristen says:

      Hi! So I just started my Etsy shop. Like juuust started. I read your article but what I don’t understand is what should I put for a quiantith of my digital products? Obviously that number is infinite..

      BloomInkCo is my shop

      • winomom says:

        For my digital products I always put 50, I tried putting 999 and wasn’t making sales, when I dropped that number down to 50 I actually started making sales. I think when people think something is limited they are more likely to purchase the product. Try it both ways, it might work for you at the 999 or you may find that what I did works better.

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