Starting a Printables Side Hustle, and Why Etsy is a Good Place to Start [Ep. 6]

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.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

Starting a Printables Side Hustle, and Why Etsy is a Good Place to Start

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 info@takeonlifeafter50.com 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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Turning Your Hobby Into a Side Hustle [Ep. 4]

Welcome to Episode 4: Turning Your Hobby Into a Side Hustle

In this episode I’m going to give you 3 hobby examples, and how you can turn them into some extra cash. Keep in mind these are suggestions, and the amount of money you make is entirely up to you. Remember though, implementation is the key factor no matter which route you take.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

Turning Your Hobby Into a Side Hustle

Note: This blog post is copied from the episode script. There may be slight changes during the episode but for the most part it’s verbatim.

#1. For the Gardener

Many people, myself included, love to garden. It’s relaxing, is a good form of exercise, and is a provider of healthy snacks.

  • Market Garden. If you love to plant but find yourself with an abundance of produce during the growing season, selling your excess at a local Farmer’s Market or even at your farm gate is an option. Plant things such as carrots, cucumbers, radishes, cabbage, beans, peas, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, beets, etc and you will have a good customer base. 
  • Word of mouth is probably the best type of advertising, as are posters put up in your local community. If you’re active on social media you can post updates when you’re at a market or let others know how to contact you if they would like to buy. 
  • You will need access to at least an acre of land, depending on how much you want to plant. This is an ideal side hustle for farmers or acreage owners, simply because of the amount of space needed.
  • U-pick garden. Similar to a market garden, except your customers come to you and pick their own produce. U-pick’s are generally for fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, saskatoons, and apples. Your location will determine the types of fruits and vegetables you plant, as well as the amount of traffic you’ll get. A u-pick along a frequently used roadway will do better than one that’s off the beaten path.
  • Greenhouse. If you love to plant and tend to seedlings, then this is an ideal venture. A lot of seedlings can be grown in a backyard greenhouse that’s as small as 8’ X 10’. Access to water, and electricity for fans and heaters is beneficial. Depending on where you live, you could easily need the heater at night, and a fan during the day to cool down the greenhouse.
  • This is where you can experiment with flower varieties, vegetables, fruits, and even houseplants. Unlike the Market Garden and U-Pick, this is a gardening side hustle that you can do from your urban backyard.

If you have a green thumb and enjoy getting your hands dirty, gardening may just be what earns you some vacation money.

The tip of the iceberg when it comes to hobbies.

#2. For the Fiber Artist

This is one of my favourite pastimes. I love to crochet, spin my own yarn, and design new patterns for practical things. I have been crocheting since I was 8 or 9, and have made dozens, if not hundreds, of items over the years. I have earned thousands of dollars over the years by selling my items, designing and selling patterns, and by teaching others via Skillshare.

  • Sell ready made items. This avenue is perfect for craft sales, farmer’s markets, an Etsy shop, or even your own website. It’s the one I have pursued over the years, mainly around the holidays. It’s perfect for those of you who like to make the items, even though you don’t need them.
  • In addition to selling ready-made, you could also do custom orders. That way you won’t be filling up closets with items you might sell. Rather, you’ll be making the item for a customer after they have paid you for it.
  • Design patterns. If you like to design patterns for clothing, practical household items, or even toys, this could be for you. I have designed crochet patterns for placemats, clothing, and other household items. One of my best-selling patterns is for a lingerie bag, which is made from cotton yarn and can be used for lingerie, reusable make-up pads, or even doll clothes.
  • Teach others. If you’re good at a craft why not teach others what you know? Not only does it help someone else learn a new skill, it also gives you an additional stream of income. You can either teach one-on-one, have a small class, or record your lessons and upload to a platform such as Skillshare. I have made a few hundred dollars doing the latter over the years, and with only two short classes.

No matter what form of the fiber arts you pursue, there is money to be made. And since the entire world has had to spend more time at home, more people are utilizing the time to learn something new, or they’re shopping online. Why not try your hand at selling directly to customers, designing and making the patterns digital downloads. Or teaching via Skillshare, Teachable, or even your own YouTube Channel. No matter which format you choose, your earnings could be enough to buy that new RV or a lakeside cabin.

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#3. For the Artist

Anyone with some artistic ability can cash in on their talent. The invention of PNG and high resolution printers and scanners has made it so much easier for artists to share their work with the world.

  • Drawing. If you’re good with a pencil and paper, you can sell your art on sites like Etsy, or make it available for commercial use via sites like Creative Market. You can sell your drawings as PDF files for wall art, or JPEG or PNG files that other creators can use in their planners, calendars, journals, colouring books, and so forth. I myself have purchased commercial rights graphics from designers on Creative Market.
  • The beauty here is you can design, draw, upload, set your price, and it then becomes a form of passive income. I’m trying to convince my daughter to take this route, as her artistic talents could easily supplement her maternity leave in a couple of months.
  • Painting. Whether you paint portraits, abstract, or landscape, you can sell your art online, do custom orders, or consign it to galleries. Or you can scan your finished paintings and make them available as digital downloads customers can purchase via Etsy or another digital products platform. If you have your own website you can sell directly from there.
  • Making your paintings into greeting cards could also prove to be quite lucrative. No matter what you decide, be sure to sign your works of art. You could become a famous artist one day.

When it comes to creating, do what works best for you. If being put under pressure stifles your creativity, don’t commission portraits or other custom work. If a timeline fuels the fire, by all means, run with it. Either way, your artistic talent could fund a trip to Rome, Paris, or wherever you want to go.

Conclusion

This episode has only touched on a few ways on how to turn your hobby into a side hustle. And I haven’t even talked about the financial side of it, aside from giving you ideas on what you could do with your side hustle earnings. I am not here to tell you where to invest, or how to spend your earnings. I’m here to help you find little ways to add to your bank account, or the coffee can under your bed. 

I’m also here to tell you to keep it fun. If it is no longer enjoyable, then it is no longer a hobby. It becomes a chore, and we all dislike chores I’m sure. Keep it fun for you, and don’t let it interfere with your family time. I’m the first to admit when I start something new I eat, sleep, and breathe it. As I get older I am learning to prioritize and take a step back from spending every waking minute on one thing. 

Remember, it’s a hobby. If you want to turn it into a full time thing, that’s entirely up to you. But based on personal experience, take it one step at a time. There’s nothing worse than burning yourself out doing something that once gave you joy.

With Christmas just around the corner I’ll be taking a little break to spend time with family, get caught up on some little projects I’ve been putting off, and planning out the first quarter of 2022. I’m excited to continue this venture; or perhaps I should say adventure. My podcast and blog posts will resume the first week of January, with more about me and why I do what I do.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Thanks for joining me, and I’ll see you next year!

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Teaching as a Side Hustle?

It was summer of 2016 and an online friend told me about a platform she was using to teach others how to make homemade wine, cheese, and more. Enter Skillshare.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

I have always enjoyed teaching others how to do something, but up until that point it had been in person or through my books and articles. I was both intrigued and terrified by the thought of teaching online.

After some persuading on her part, I bit the bullet and published a class titled How to Spin Your Own Yarn. (Update March 2022: this class was unpublished by Skillshare due to it no longer conforming to their guidelines. I chose not to record a newer version.)

That class still earns me a few dollars a month, and I only had to do the majority of the work once. Of the 62 months since I first published, there have only been 9 months where my payments have been $0.00. I don’t consider that terrible, since I haven’t really done anything to promote my classes. The majority of the students found my classes through the platform’s search feature.

I only have two classes published at this point, the other being Make Your Own Weaving Sticks (also unpublished due to same reason as above). I tried to teach my Creating and Selling Nonfiction course but was not happy with the format, so left it as a digital download in my Etsy Shop instead.

Are you a teacher at heart?

Whether you’re camera shy or not, teaching others is doable on Skillshare. In fact, because you do the videos yourself, you can do as many takes as necessary to get it the way you want it.

The lessons consist of short videos so your students can consume them in bite-size pieces. There’s nothing worse than trying to go back through a video that’s an hour long to find a segment you want to replay. By having several short videos your students can rewatch a step they may have not understood the first time, or missed because of a distraction.

Recording the lessons can be done with your phone, a camera, or webcam. I recorded mine using either a digital camera or my phone; I honestly don’t recall which it was now. You don’t have to have top of the line equipment; as long as it gives you a clear picture and audio you’re set.

Classes can be anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours long. They must be structured, have an introduction (this is basically where you tell your potential student what the course is about and what they will learn when they take it), as many lessons as it takes to teach the subject, and a conclusion.

As I write this I am using a 5+ hour class for a reference. One thing I have noticed is none of the teacher’s lessons are over 20 minutes. The average lesson ranges from 5 to 15 minutes, with more or less time for some of them. His entire class has 31 videos, which includes the introduction and conclusion.

Skillshare has a wonderful reference section, as well as a teacher handbook. They explain how to structure your classes, how to optimize the description with keywords, and how to record and edit. The handbook also covers class promotion, earning revenue, building your channel, and more.

A snippet of the Getting Started Menu.

As you can see in the photo above, the Teacher Handbook is full of information to help you record a great class. Plus they want you to succeed. If you do well, they do well.

Are you in?

You don’t have to teach classes about spinning or making weaving sticks like I published; you can teach anything you wish. From A to Z, any topic you pick, chances are there’s a class on it. And if there isn’t, then you can be the first to teach one!

The best part is you can sign up for a free trial and take some classes, set up a teacher account, and earn some extra cash for as long as your class is published. Like I said earlier, I have had only 2 classes published for the majority of the past 5 years and I earn a few dollars almost every month. If I promoted my classes more, I know my earnings would be much higher.

It’s nice to get the email from PayPal mid-month saying “Skillshare has sent you $$$.$$.” It’s one side hustle I really haven’t put any time into once the classes were published. It’s almost a set-it-and-forget-it type of deal. However, it’s better if you engage with your students and followers regularly. (I need to practice what I preach in this regard.)

(Update March 2022: In addition to earning as a teacher Skillshare also has an referral program, which I still belong to and endorse. I need to brush up on my recording skills and add another class or two; but don’t foresee it being within the next month or two.)

Let me know in the comments if you are currently a teacher on Skillshare, or if it’s something you’re considering. And if you teach on another platform, which one?

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