How to Make Etsy Work for You

Etsy is becoming one of the most-used platforms when it comes to handmade and digital products.

Has another week really gone by already? I could have sworn I just wrote my last post a couple of days ago. I guess what they say is true: the older you get the faster time passes.

Etsy is becoming one of the most-used platforms when it comes to handmade and digital products. More and more people are turning to the Etsy search bar to find the gifts they want and the products they want. If you are considering a shop or just getting started, this post has some advice on how to make Etsy work for you.

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.

In my last post I talked about cutting out my Etsy Shops, but after some careful consideration I have decided to keep at least one going. It’s an easy platform to list my digital products and it doesn’t require daily maintenance. However, more regular updates are beneficial from what I understand, as Etsy rewards shop owners that are more active. Not monetary rewards, but in how often the shops show up in searches. (I do suppose if there’s a sale generated then that does become a monetary reward.)

I have been practicing my copywriting skills in my product descriptions as well, which has attracted a bit more attention. I don’t make a sale every time someone clicks on my shop but my conversion rates vary from less than 1% to 10%, depending on the product. Some months are better than others but I believe that’s the case for most businesses, whether they’re on or offline.

Product Analytics

Something I have started using to see which products are popular on Etsy is Everbee. It has helped me ditch several ideas which I thought were great, but the demand (or even interest in some cases) just wasn’t there. It has essentially saved me from spending time and money on a listing that isn’t going to get any visibility because there’s no one searching for it.

This is a fraction of the listings shown for the search term “bookmark”. See the numbers and the potential?

The search pictured above is showing mostly physical bookmarks, which is probably as good or better than digital downloads. Bookmarks are light and fit into a regular size envelope, which is also inexpensive to mail. (If shipping physical bookmarks be sure to work the cost of shipping into your price. Shoppers like free shipping.)

Everbee has helped thousands of shop owners earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, simply by using the analytics tool to see what’s popular. That said, don’t just create an item because it’s popular. The point is also to enjoy the creation process so it should be something you’re interested in. Believe me when I say it’s more of a chore to create something you don’t like.


I added a set of bookmarks to my shop today, as well as a Canva template so other shop owners can create their own bookmarks or product inserts for physical products. The demand for bookmarks is still high even with a lot of people reading ebooks. (I don’t know about you, but I still enjoy reading a hardcopy book. They’re easier on the eyes and there aren’t any batteries to need charging.)

With the increase of digital products being created many are turning to templates to make that creation faster. I have purchased templates in the past for planners and journals with commercial rights, and have had some small successes with certain ones. Now that I have created my own on Canva I foresee myself adding more templates to my shop to help others create their own products.

The templates are not restricted to digital products though either. It’s relatively simple to use a template, print out the product you created, and sell it as a tangible item. There is always someone out there that would like to get a physical product as opposed to a digital one. besides, physical products are much nicer for gift-giving.

One thing to keep in mind when using a template is whether or not you can sell the finished product you create from it. Some shop owners will allow the sale of the items created, while others specify it’s for personal use only. No matter the end-use of the product created, the templates are generally not allowed to be sold by others. This can cause hiccups so be sure you’re clear on the end-use policies.

My sales for 2023. They’re not spectacular but they have increased since I started using Everbee.

As the picture above shows, my sales haven’t been spectacular this year. But, they are better than last year. My total sales for this shop were $86.oo in 2022, and I have already surpassed that and there are still 4 months to go in 2023. I think with the addition of templates my numbers will continue to rise.


If you can afford it, I also recommend advertising your products on Etsy. The daily budget is from $1.00 – $25.00. I suggest starting at $1.00/day for no more than 3 or 4 listings. I just increased my daily budget to $1.50 for 5 listings, so will see how that works out for me. You can choose to spend your daily budget on one listing or several, but I have found the sweet spot to be around 3. It may not immediately translate into sales, but it could translate into a new shop follower. That in itself can lead to sales when you list new products.

Wrapping It Up

There are entire courses and ebooks on how to make Etsy work for you, but this post is based on my experience with the platform. As I said in the beginning, I was contemplating cutting my shops but have decided to utilize the resources I have instead. I’ll be able to either write my own case study by year-end or throw in the towel. Either way, spending time using Everbee, Canva, and Etsy ads will help me create the products I enjoy. And most of all, I’ll be able to do a follow-up in Q1 of 2024 and let you know what worked (or didn’t) for me.

Have you spent much time on Etsy as a shopper, or do you have a shop of your own? Let me know in the comments below.

Creating and Selling Greeting Cards as a Side Hustle [Ep. 7]

Greeting cards are bought every day of the year, with some occasions selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cards over a matter of a day or two. Now wouldn’t you like to have a piece of that pie?

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.

Creating and Selling Greeting Cards as a Side Hustle

Beginning of full transcript. It has been edited for clarity.

You’re listening to Take On Life After 50, the podcast for people over 50 who want to supplement their retirement by doing what they love. I’m your host Diane Ziomek, and this is where you’ll find practical how-tos and inspiration to create the life you deserve. Whether you want to replace your current income or supplement it, I’m here to share my experiences, ideas, and even some of life’s lessons when it comes to side hustles.

Welcome to Episode 7: Creating and Selling Greeting Cards as a Side Hustle.

I hope you’ve had a good week. We had some reprieve from the frigid temperatures for a few days, but the last couple have been bitterly cold again. Winter isn’t ready to loosen its grip on us quite yet. It really isn’t all that bad though, because it gives us creative people a good excuse to stay inside and make things.

In this episode I’m going to talk about card making as a side hustle. You can either make ready to ship cards or design cards using graphics software and delivered to your customers via a platform such as Etsy, or via your own website or offer both. Not everyone has access to a printer and may want a handmade card for that special someone. Stay tuned to the end where I’ll give you another side hustle you can start as well.

I remember when I started scrapbooking. I went to Creative Memories class with my sisters and I had such a hard time cutting my pictures. Once I got it through my head that it was okay to cut them I was able to create some fun pages. One of my favorite layouts is of a trip to a petting zoo over 20 years ago. I took my kids, my niece, and my mom and we had a blast. I got some amazing pictures and created the scrapbook pages while the outing was still fresh in my mind.

Now, what does scrapbooking have to do with card making you may be wondering.

First of all, if you’re a scrapbooker you already have a lot of the supplies needed for making cards. You’ll have cutters, adhesive, stickers, cardstock in a variety of colors, paper punches, washi tape, and more.

If you’re not a scrapbooker that’s okay too. You can get started with your card making adventure for less than $50. All you’re really going to need is some cardstock in a variety colors, some good paper cutting scissors, (which you most likely already have), a ruler, markers and some stencils. (Once again, something you probably already have.) If you have a steady hand you can even forego the stencils and write the message freehand.

You can finally put the boxes of pencil crayons and geometry sets to use that are left over from kids school days. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose kids had to have new sets every year. Even though the one from the previous year was just fine. I swear I have at least a half dozen geometry sets in my house. I recently dumped a bunch of pencil boxes into large freezer bag so I am also set for crayons for the rest of my life I’m sure.

If you find you’re enjoying the card making process you can invest in some additional materials such as a good paper cutter, an envelope maker, pop dot adhesives, embossing tools, glitter glue, calligraphy pens, and the list goes on. There are thousands of items you can use for making cards. A quick search on Amazon will show you just how big a variety there is, or even walk through the papercrafts selection of your local Michaels or your craft store. Most dollar stores also have a fairly decent selection of paper, paper glue, embellishments, and so forth.

Now that I’ve covered some supplies, it’s time to decide on what types of cards you’ll make. You have several options here depending on how much time you have or want to spend on making cards.

First of all, there’s the holidays and celebrations. You might decide you want to only be busy a few times a year so you concentrate on Christmas, Easter Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Canada Day (for us Canadians), Fourth of July (for our southern neighbors), Halloween, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

You can pick and choose whichever holiday or celebration you want to make cards for. If you personally don’t celebrate Christmas, then it really doesn’t make sense to do something you don’t have an interest in.

Second are the special occasions. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, baptisms. The list goes on and on. You can pick and choose here too, because there are so many options.

Third, there’s the everyday cards. The sympathy cards, get well soon, thinking of you, welcome to the neighborhood…you get the picture. If you’re not sure of all the reasons people buy cards, just go to your local pharmacy or department store and peruse the card selection, make notes, get ideas, and then go home and start with one type. It can be whatever you like because as a card maker, you have the flexibility and the creativity to do as you wish.

Did I mention greeting cards are a multimillion dollar industry?

Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are probably the two most profitable occasions for card makers. If you make cards, then there’s a pretty good chance you’ll sell some of these two dates come around. Add in a few other occasions, and you can keep busy all year round if you so choose.

But what if I don’t want to spend hours making cards that no one may buy you ask. In that case, you can do one of two things.

A, you can make the card after your customer orders it or, B, you can create printable cards. With printable cards you design the card on your computer using clipart, fonts, and even photos (which you must have the rights to). You then export it as a PDF which a customer can print at home or take to a local print shop. This method works well if you don’t want to create ready to ship cards or even as a sideline to handmade cards. You pick the occasion, design the card, then list and upload the digital file to a platform such as Etsy, Shopify or even to your own website.

When it comes to cards, I’m for Etsy all the way. I like it for ideas and inspiration plus the customer base is already there. That doesn’t mean you can’t list your cards elsewhere. But if you’re just starting out, it’s an ideal platform. When designing digital cards, be sure to make the file in the finished size for ease of printing. Use a 300 dpi (or dots per inch) setting for the best quality and include instructions on how to print the cards in a separate download for your customer. You may choose to indicate cut and fold lines which I highly recommend. You should also indicate whether the card is best suited for cardstock or photo paper.

I have printable word search Valentine cards in my take on life after 50 printables Etsy shop, which I have included files for in three sizes. That way my customer can choose whichever size works best and print accordingly. And because the words are everyday vocabulary, the smaller sizes also work great for class parties.

The benefit to digital downloads is your customer can purchase, download and print the card all within a few minutes. I have found this to be a necessity at times simply because I live in a rural area and I don’t have access to the card aisle at the pharmacy 24/7. When I shop on Etsy, I do have access 24/7. I can print my purchase at 3am if I so choose, and I have done that.

Granted, the cards aren’t three dimensional, sparkly or handmade, but it’s the next best thing when you need a card right away. Plus, you can add your own embellishments if you so choose.

You’re also going to have to come up with pricing your cards. When mailing physical cards I suggest no more than $10 each, which should include shipping. Browse Etsy to see what others are charging and what they charge for shipping. Remember to look at listings shipped from your country, as all pricing and shipping is not created equal. With digital files the price can be less but don’t sell yourself short. It takes time to create digital products too and your pricing should reflect that your time is worth something.

Now for a little bonus.

If you decided making cards is something that you are interested in you can use the same skills and materials to create customizable invitations. I personally wouldn’t suggest committing to creating 100 handmade wedding invitations, but it’s a service you could provide on a smaller scale for perhaps a baby shower, or birthday party. This is where the digital files would come in handy because your your customer could take them to a local print shop and have them done much quicker than if they ordered from a specialty shop.

If taking the invitation route, you’ll collect the information required from your customer, edit your invitation template, and deliver the file via email. Be sure to specify in your listing that they will not receive the file as soon as payment is processed as it takes time to key in their information. Encourage them to review the file when they receive it to be sure there aren’t any errors before they have it printed. Even the most careful typist can end up with a typo, which is often, in this day and age, related to autocorrect.

I recently designed and printed baby shower invitations which will be going out in the mail within the next couple of days. I will be listing them in my Etsy shop but not until mid to late February as the ones printed are for my daughter’s baby shower. And I really can’t have family and friends seeing them on Etsy before they arrive in their mailbox now can I?

As I wrap this up, I want to say this. It doesn’t matter what your skill level, whether you do physical or digital cards and/or invitations, or which platform you use. The point is to have fun with it. You’ll get better and faster as you go along, and the ideas will naturally start coming to you. Use those cards you see online for inspiration, but don’t copy someone else’s work exactly.

When it comes to pricing stay competitive no matter how fast you get. Undercutting other creators hurts everyone. In the end, you’re a creator, and your time is worth something. If you want to make a profit, you can’t be selling your cards for $1 apiece.

Next week, I’m going to switch gears a bit and talk about writing ebooks and publishing on KDP (or Kindle Direct Publishing). Publishing an ebook can become a great side hustle which provides passive income. Join me next week to learn more. I’ll see you then.

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 take on life after and get your copy of three side hustles to fill your piggy bank. Also, if you have questions that you’d like me to answer in either personal email or podcast, you can email me at info at take on life after 50 dot com

Transcribed by


After I finished recording and uploading the episode to Buzzsprout I had a couple of thoughts I should have included.

  1. You can use photos in your cards and invitations, as long as you have permission (in the case of customized items). If you took the photos, then you have the right to distribute as you see fit. Something like this would be ideal for birth announcements or family Christmas cards.
  2. If you’re serious about card making and want to invest in some specialized equipment, a Cricut would soon pay for itself. If you already have one, you know the possibilities are endless with it. I’ve been wanting one since I worked at the library and used it there. It’s now on my Amazon Wish List, along with some other accessories. I do have an older style but its design and cutting capabilities aren’t near what the new ones are. (Cartridges and a 6″ mat.)
  3. Have a storage system for your supplies. Clear plastic totes with lids are great for stacking items such as washi tape, scissors, punches, adhesives, and more. I suggest the hinged lid 12″ X 12″ for your 12″ sheets of cardstock.

Let me know your thoughts on card making. Do you foresee it as something you might try?

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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 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 and get your copy of 3 Side Hustles to Fill Your Piggy Bank. (The link is in the sidebar.)

Transcribed by

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