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.)

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Mickey and Merlot

What a strange name for a title, don’t you think?

One week ago I got two kittens: an orange one and a calico one. The orange one is a boy and he’s Mickey. When it came time to name the girl my daughter suggested Merlot, and I agreed. Sure, they’re boozy names; but given what life has dealt me I think it’s fitting. And how many cats do you know that are named Merlot?

Mickey is helping as I write this. Doesn’t he know it’s after 10 pm and he should be sleeping? He’s chewing on my sleeve, and tries to walk on the keyboard. If there’s a typo chances are I missed his input.

What I have been doing since December (my last post).

Christmas came and went, even though it was much different than any I have ever celebrated before. My daughter had dinner with me, then I went to my son’s for supper. During dinner we video chatted with my sisters and my son, so we spent some time together even though we couldn’t be in the same house.

Our winter has been fairly decent for the most part, so I did some tree-trimming and a lot of branch-burning in the fire pit when it wasn’t too windy. When we did have the minus 40 temperatures, I stayed home and inside for the most part.

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 been working on my Etsy Shop, and have even changed its name to reflect more of what I do now. It started as Not Just Alpaca because I sold alpaca fiber and items made from it. As time has gone on, I have added patterns (of my own design) and printables: all digital downloads. The name of my shop is now Not Just Alpaca Designs – not a big change, but still a change.

Little changes have been happening since I lost Ross, and revamping my shop and what I offer has been one of them. Another is my daughter and her dog have moved back in with me. No matter what life has dealt me, I am a mom first. And if one of my kids needs a place to live, then my door is always open. She moved back into her old room, with the only change being a new, bigger bed. I do have to say, these modular homes do not have second and third bedrooms big enough for a big dresser and queen size bed. It’s a tight fit in there. (The third bedroom is my office, so no bed in there.)

I haven’t been diligent with my blog postings, which hasn’t been helpful to you, my reader. I’m the first to admit I have a tendency to procrastinate, and that’s something I’m going to try hard not to do. Life gets a little overwhelming at times, and writing is what used to get me back on track. I have found that even my journal has been neglected; something that used to give me joy has become a chore.

It’s amazing how the time has flown by, no matter what has been happening in the world and my life. Covid-19 has dictated where we can go, what we can do, and who we can spend time with. It’s hard to believe we have been living in the Covid-19 world for over a year now. I am glad I have a home in the middle of nowhere, and can go outdoors without neighbours giving me the evil eye. I really do feel for those who are stuck in apartments, and can’t go out at all.

Where I am now.

As we begin month four of 2021 I find myself needing to be more present here. I started this website to help others earn an income from side hustles, and I haven’t been a good mentor. I am working on rectifying that problem, and realize it’s time to go back to using a planner. When I made notes, kept track of what I planned to do in a day, and jotted down some gratitude, I was more productive. Now that one day seems to blend into the next, I find I’m kicking myself for not getting as much done.

It’s amazing how much a planner helps. I have drawn out spreads for each month, week, and day; and also just taken the Bullet Journal approach. I’ve had separate habit trackers, gratitude pages, lists, and recaps. At the end of the day, I could reflect on what I did because I had it documented. Now the end of the day comes and I have nothing written down, and it bothers me.
The photo is of the daily page in my planner. When using a digital planner, the tabs are hyperlinked so you don’t have to flip through dozens (or hundreds) of pages to get where you want to be.

I’m switching from a paper planner to a digital one (started using it just about a week ago) to see how it works out for me. It’s a hard switch to make because I’m generally a pen-and-paper girl, but I need to do something. And given the areas of my life I want to keep track of, hauling around a two-inch binder full of paper just isn’t going to work. My iPad will be much easier to carry around than a binder.

I’m using one I bought from Secret Owl Society (on Etsy), but will be making my own. I’m partway through the course on how to make them using Affinity Publisher, so will be learning as I go. I have a basic one made, so if you’re interested in checking it out, just follow the link to my Etsy Shop above. My personal one will have several more sections than the one I have listed in my shop, simply because I have more things on the go.

One thing I did learn (after the fact of course) is that with digital planners there’s no need to have a page for each week or day of the week. When using an annotation app such as Goodnotes, there’s an option to add pages as you go along. I guess I should have watched the rest of the videos before I added 52 weekly pages and 365 daily pages. Whoops!

Moving forward.

Now that Mickey and Merlot are sleeping, it’s time for me to do the same. I have a feeling my office time will be much more entertaining now that I have two little hellions underfoot. I have missed having cats in the house (Ross was allergic so we only had outdoor kitties), and it’s going to take some getting used to. I ordered a cat tree for them, so maybe they’ll spend more time on it than on my keyboard when it gets here.

Now that I’m working on getting back on track I’ll be posting more often. I can’t promise a certain number of posts per week or month, but I will do my best to get at least one out a week. And my planner will help me with that.

Have you used a digital planner? Paper planner? Or no planner? What are your thoughts on digital, whether or not you have used one?