There are so many options when it comes to printables it’s hard to fit it all into a single post. In September I talked about printables as a side hustle, but didn’t focus completely on Etsy. Below is the transcript/shownotes (with links added) of this week’s podcast, which focuses more on why Etsy is a good place to start a printables business.
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Welcome to Episode Six, Starting a Printables Side Hustle, and Why Etsy is a Good Place to Start.
First of all, what is a printable?
A printable is any document, page, planner, or card that the customer can print from your supplied file on their home computer. The variety of printables that can be created is only limited by your imagination. Some types are calendars dated and undated planners, also dated and undated notepads greeting cards to do lists, flash cards, business cards, address labels, stationery, recipe cards, activity books, coloring books, journals, chore charts, habit trackers, checklists, and more. You create the document on your computer and export it as a PDF. That way you can send the file to the customer or have it available for them to download as soon as payment is received.
There are two types of printables and the type you offer is entirely up to you. First, there’s a ready-made one. What this means is everyone who orders it will get the same thing. This type can be uploaded to the platform and the customer has instant access to it as soon as they’ve completed their payment.
Second, there’s a customizable one. This one has the basic layout the same, but details are requested and you can edit the main file before sending it to your customer. This is great for baby showers, bridal showers, birth announcements, wedding invitations, and so on. Now, you don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other, you can combine them.
How are printables created?
Printables can be created using any software that supports text, graphics, or both. I’ve used Canva, PowerPoint, MS Word, Google Docs, and Affinity Publisher. I’ve also made greeting cards then scanned them so the design itself can be printed. This way I can sell the cards as printables yet they’re of my own design. This is an aspect I’ve only just begun so I really don’t have any facts or figures of my own to see how well it does or doesn’t work.
If you even have basic knowledge of using any word processing program, you can create a printable. I’ve created some using text alone and others where I have inserted tables, photos, and even order forms. With the software that comes with computers it’s easy to create simple or more detailed documents, calendars, and other forms. And if you’re not quite sure how to do it, there are thousands of tutorials online. I have enrolled in classes so I can learn how to design in Affinity Publisher, Canva, and PowerPoint. I found a lot of value in the paid classes but there are some great free tutorials online as well.
My top three recommended courses are:
Planner Girl by Secret OWL Society. This is one of my favorites because it teaches how to find your zone of genius, and plus how to make printable and digital planners using editable templates.
Yadsia Iglesias Media LLC. She teaches how to make planners using Canva. Plus, she also includes editable templates. I’ve mixed and matched some of her templates and have come up with some pretty neat planners.
Share Your Brilliance with Dvorah Lansky. This is the one where I learned so much about PowerPoint. I honestly had no idea I could change the layout and create such awesome things. I used PowerPoint to make slideshows when I worked at the library for the electronic bulletin board, but using it for planners was a new concept for me. It has become my go to when designing new planners and other printables.
I’m also an affiliate for the above three and the links can be found in my show notes (this post) and in the episode description.
You’re also going to need clipart and or fonts for your printables at some point as well. If you’re also an artist, you can utilize your skills and create your own clipart. But if you’re anything like me, you may prefer to buy it. I buy mine from Creative Market and purchase a commercial license. This enables me to sell up to 5000 copies of whatever I use a particular design in. There’s also an extended commercial license that allows for an unlimited number of sales. But if you’re just starting out I would stick with a commercial license. If you have to upgrade it later you can.
A little side note on Creative Market: If you design your own clipart, fonts, wallpaper, etc. you can also become a seller there. I’m not quite brave enough to attempt to do any of that, that end of it yet but maybe one day. My drawing is gradually getting a little better.
Next, why Etsy is a good place to start with your printables.
Now that I’ve covered what printables are, what you can use to design them and where to get your clipart it’s time to talk about Etsy. You may hear contradicting information, but I do have to say it has been a good place for me to sell my printables and other items. Before I get too far in though, I will say this. It’s like any other business, you have to put in the work. Just because you have opened an Etsy shop, it doesn’t mean everyone is going to flock to it the first day.
Etsy already has a customer base, so as a shopper all you have to do is key in what you’re looking for. Whether it’s patterns, yarn, bodycare, products, clothing, home decor, cards, planners, printables, or what have you, you’re sure to find it on Etsy. Anything crafty, vintage or even brand name items are there.
As a seller, using tags and keywords will help bring the customer to you. Giving as much information about the product that you can is important. The less questions the shopper has by the time they’re finished reading your description, the better. If they don’t have to look too far and if it’s made easy, chances are they’re going to become your customer. They’ll want to know what the item is, who it’s meant for, the size of it, what it’s made from, in the case of physical products, and what it includes. As a printable seller, you’ll want to have as many listing photos as possible showing the finished item and use. Plus a video is an asset if your list in your listing as well. I’ve used PowerPoint to make a video of my planner pages with success. One note here though, I highly recommend making a file of single pages to flip through. Some of my planners have several repeats of the same page and it just does not transfer over into the video well. In this case, less is definitely more.
Now as I’ve said Etsy is a good starting point. It doesn’t mean that you have to stay exclusively on Etsy. However, when I took the Create 30 Products in 30 Days by Dvorah Lansky from Share Your Brilliance, I didn’t realize she also has an Etsy shop. Her products are available on Etsy plus on her website. I think that’s good planning on her part because if someone is on her site, they can buy directly from her. If they’re on Etsy and find her shop, they’ll be able to buy her products there as well. And the best part for her is the Etsy shoppers quite often enroll in her classes.
Now, back to doing your work. You’re going to have to let people know you have an Etsy shop just like you let them know if you had a brick and mortar business. Just because it’s open, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get sales the first day. It could take weeks or even months. I’m not saying that to discourage you, I’m just letting you know it’s a possibility. With the large number of Etsy shops available, you have to let others know you have one too. I opened my second shop in September of 2021 and it was several weeks before I got my first sale. Aside from some advertised listings and mentions in the occasional blog post, I haven’t really put a lot of time into promoting it. So really, I can’t complain about only having a few sales because I have no one to blame but myself.
I have read about people saying Etsy is a scam, that it doesn’t help shop owners get sales, yada, yada, yada. I have had my first shop since September 2014, and not once have I blamed Etsy for not getting sales. It’s all on me if I don’t. I do have to say though, 2022 started out great because I had a few sales on New Year’s Day. I can’t complain.
Something else I need to add here and that’s shop maintenance. You can’t just add a few listings and forget about it. You need to utilize your shop settings. You need to update your shop announcement regularly. And I’m terrible because if I see a shop that doesn’t have an announcement or it’s years old, I’m more than likely not going to make a purchase. I don’t know if they’re still active, if I’m going to get what to order, or if they will even answer my messages. Keep up on the shop announcements. And as I say this, once again, I need to practice what I preach. Time to check both of mine again.
It’s also a good idea to regularly tweak product descriptions, play with keywords, peruse other shops to see what’s working for them and update photos. I recently updated a couple of listing photos in my Not Just Alpaca Designs shop because the existing one wasn’t flattering at all. You wouldn’t let a brick and mortar store get stagnant so the same should apply to your Etsy shop.
I think Etsy is a good place to start with any business but if you want to make your own name, then branching out on your own is necessary. For me I’m content with remaining an Etsy seller because I know the shoppers are there. I also know that if I continue to tweak my listings and my shop, plus add new listings, my sales will increase over time. As a side hustle, it’s perfect for me because I’m not ready to devote all my time to a printables business. You decide what’s going to work best for you. It really is just a matter of personal choice. And for me, the best part of a printables business is I don’t have to ship products away because my customers have instant access as soon as payment is cleared. I can go about my day doing what I enjoy while making a little extra cash on the side. If you decide to start a printables shop, email me with any questions you have at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to answer.
Join me next week when I dive a little more in depth about greeting cards; both printable and ready-to-ship. Thanks for listening to this episode and I hope you’ve been able to take away a little something from it. If you want to learn more about me visit my website takeonlifeafter50.com and get your copy of 3 Side Hustles to Fill Your Piggy Bank. (The link is in the sidebar.)
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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6 thoughts on “Starting a Printables Side Hustle, and Why Etsy is a Good Place to Start [Ep. 6]”
Great post, Diane! Thanks for the excellent information. My wife has create dozens of printables and I’ve been searching for a way to monetize her work. I’ll pass your post along to her.
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Hi Grant! Thank you for your comment. I’m glad my post has been helpful, and wish your wife success with her printables business. 🙂
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I’ve always heard about Etsy but don’t really know much about it, so thanks for shedding some light on this. I’m a noob in printables too, but I do use ruled line printouts because I write on blank paper a lot, and sometimes I like writing in straight lines, lol. Great info here, Diane. Thanks for sharing!
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Thaks for stopping by Stuart. I’m glad you were able to take something away from it. I like to write on real paper too, and prefer lined, otherwise I end up with bigger spaces and lettering the further down the page I go.
Really well-thought-out article.
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Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. 🙂