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

If you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.


Want more side hustle content delivered to your inbox once a month?

Who I Am, and Why I Do What I Do [Ep. 5]

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 to’s and inspiration to create the life you deserve. Whether you want to replace your current income or to supplement it, I’m here to share my experiences, ideas, and even some of life’s lessons when it comes to side hustles.

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. Thank you for your continued support.

Episode 5: Who I Am, and Why I Do What I Do

Note: This blog post is copied from the episode script, which has been transcribed by otter.ai, and edited by me.

Welcome to Episode 5: Who I Am, and Why I do What I do.

I hope you had a happy holiday season, and that 2022 started out on a good note. My Christmas and New Year’s was quiet. But when the temperatures are hovering in the minus 30 to minus 40 Celsius range, it’s not a bad thing to not have to venture very far.

In my last episode, I said I was going to take the Christmas break to plan out the first quarter of 2022. And part of that plan is to increase the number of listings I have in my Etsy shop. I started off with five sales between my two shops the first two days of the year, which I’m quite happy with. To some it may not seem like much but for me it paid my fees plus I had some money deposited into my bank account this week. Anytime my fees get covered with a little bit of extra, I consider that a win.

More of my story.

January 5 marks the 20th month since I became a widow. And that life event has made me appreciate the people in my life so much more. We never know what each day will bring. And the world as we know it can quickly come crashing down. My world changed in a heartbeat. Or rather, when his heart stopped beating. The things I took for granted were no longer there, like him being here when I got home from work. We had plans, and many of those plans died with him.

One of my regular blog readers asked me today, what was different about me since I became a widow? And my first answer was, I don’t take things for granted now. I also told him I’m still trying to figure life out. Because when something like that happens, it’s not something that can be done in a week, a month, or even a year. I now do all the tasks and chores we shared. And I’ve become better at being self sufficient. And when something arises that I’m unable to do, I’ve learned to ask for help from friends or family. And when I’m asking for help, you know I must really need it because I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to certain things. And in the case of frozen water lines earlier this week (oops, I meant last week), I had to call a plumber. It was something that I couldn’t fix. And it’s just the way it happened to be.

We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can do what we have to so we can move forward. For me, that meant resigning from my job as a library assistant, and taking the time that I needed for me. Too many people are forced to go back to work after the death of a spouse. I know someone who has been, you know, told that she should go back and I don’t agree with that. I refused to be one of those people being forced to go back.

I did go ahead with our deck building plans that we had had. Although, I may have made the deck bigger than we had discussed. Taking on a massive project like that gave me something to do to keep busy. It also taught me to not be afraid of a chop saw. And that using one was much faster than a handsaw. And ironically, it was the handsaw that I cut my leg with. Go figure.

As I completed that project that was about six weeks in the making, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had taken a pile pile of lumber and cement blocks that didn’t come with instructions, and turned them into a two level deck complete was railing and steps. The latter were made from stair risers I bought but the set between the two levels was made from wood. I do have to say, had anyone told me two years ago that I could have made a deck almost all on my own I would have told them they were nuts.

That life event made it even more important for me to pursue my dream of creating passive income. I started my side hustles and blog pre-widowhood with the intention of supplementing our income so we could travel. Now I do it to not only support myself financially, but also to show you there are so many options available when you’re ready to say goodbye to the 9 to 5.

Or maybe you’re not ready to give up the 9 to 5 just yet. And that’s okay. Being over 50 gives us an advantage over the 20-somethings in the world. We have life experience. And that alone can give us a list of side hustles we can do that the younger generations can’t.

30 years ago I couldn’t give anyone parenting advice. Although, I may have attempted to a time or two. But now that I have kids on my own, I feel my input is valuable. I don’t proclaim to be the perfect parent, because really, there’s no such thing. But at least I can understand what other parents endure. And in a few months, I’ll be able to share some of that advice with my daughter when her first baby arrives. I think that’s pretty exciting.

I also couldn’t tell anyone how to change oil in a vehicle, how to change a tire, or how to build a raised garden bed. But now that I’ve lived a few more decades, I have that knowledge as well.

You see, life experience goes a long way. The 20-somethings are generally booksmart but us 50-somethings are life smart, as well as book smart. And what I’m trying to say is this, if you’re ready to slow down in life, or want to change, then do what makes you happy. Life’s too short to not be happy.

Whatever side hustle you choose doesn’t have to become permanent. You do it for as long as you wish, and you have full control over when you stop. Maybe you only want a few hundred extra dollars a month. With there being so many options available both online and off, there’s no reason you can’t do what you want. I think our generation has an advantage because we’ve lived in a world without computers, in a world without the internet. And we know what life is like without them. And if you’re anything like me, you also know how easy it is to utilize their power.

Some side hustles are a one time deal, while others are an ongoing moneymaker. You may not find that perfect fit for you right away, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Always remember that we grow as we get older. So what you wanted to do 10 years ago may no longer be something that excites you now. In my case, 10 years ago, I wanted to be a bookkeeper. After doing it as a side hustle for a couple years, I realized it really wasn’t my calling after all. And now I just do my own books.

I’ve done a lot of things over the years for mail order fabric squares to different party plans. But to date, my very favorite is creating printables I sell in my Etsy shop. Plus, I love sharing my knowledge with others when it comes to side hustles and self publishing.

I believe others can learn from my oopses. And believe me when I say I’ve made a few. I don’t claim to be perfect or to know it all. What I do know was I love what I do. And it has taken me a lifetime to get here. There is no timeline on when you should do something when you shouldn’t do something. If you want to go back to school when you’re in your 50s go back to school when you’re in your 50s. There’s nothing saying you can’t. And if someone says you shouldn’t, their opinion really doesn’t really matter.

Conclusion

Now that you know more of my story, I will continue the episodes as I started; giving you ideas and resources so you can find what works for you. And speaking of resources, don’t forget to check out the tools and resources page on my website takeonlifeafter50.com. It doesn’t matter what stage of your working years you’re at because a side hustle can be started at any time. The advantage for those of us over 50 is we have a little more time to pursue our own interests.

Kids are grown and have lives of their own which means we are able to set up a studio or not or an office in a spare bedroom. The night owls can once again work when they’re most productive. And I am that night owl. Our projects can be left out without fear of someone else moving without someone else moving it. Unless of course there are cats in the house. And yes, that’s experience talking. I love my cats but I sure don’t love it when they decide to rearrange things for me. I forgot what it was like to have indoor cats because hubby was allergic to them. After the first disaster or two I learned to put away whatever I didn’t want scattered from one end of the house to the other.

In next week’s episode I’ll talk about starting a printable side hustle and why Etsy is a good starting point. See you then.

Thanks for listening to this episode, and I hope you’ve been able to take away a little something from if you want to learn more about me visit my website to takeonlifeafter50.com and get your copy of 3 Side Hustles to Fill Your Piggy Bank.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

If you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.


Want more side hustle content delivered to your inbox once a month?

Self-Publishing for Authors [Ep. 3]

What is self-publishing? And why should an author consider it?

I’m going to change my format just a little from here on in. The last couple of weeks I have been writing a blog post on one topic, then doing a podcast episode on another. By the time the show notes and transcript is finished, it’s time to start all over again. As of today, you can read the blog post, listen to the podcast…or both.

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.

Episode 3: Self-Publishing for Authors

Since I still write out my script, no additional transcript will be included. As I get more comfortable with talking into the mic without the entire episode written out, transcripts will be included.

Without further ado, here is Episode 3: Self-Publishing for Authors

Self-Publishing for Authors

Self-publishing. What is that exactly you may be wondering.

In a nutshell, it is getting a book or other work published without going through a publishing house or label.

There are pros and cons to self-publishing just as there are with practically any other business venture, but in my opinion the pros outweigh the cons.

This episode is going to focus on independent authors self-publishing their books, with comparisons and references made to other types of publishing. 

As I mentioned in my first episode, I chose to self-publish. It is becoming a lot more common, and acceptable to do so nowadays.

When some people hear the words self-published they automatically presume the book wasn’t good enough to get accepted by a traditional publisher. In all honesty, that’s what I thought in the beginning too. As I did my research though, I realized there’s a lot of pressure put on independent authors. 

If you want to be taken seriously as an author and are doing it all on your own, you have to make sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Doing a half-assed job will not earn you any good reviews.

It doesn’t matter how good your story or subject matter is. If you have a book filled with typos, spelling errors, and poor formatting, your readers will soon tell others how bad your book is. A publisher wouldn’t accept poor quality, so you shouldn’t independently publish poor quality.

When you decide on your genre, content, and book length it’s time to start writing. And also time to start telling the world about it. I made the mistake of finishing my books before saying anything to anyone about them. By doing so I didn’t build an audience waiting for my book’s release. Sometimes I’m a little too introverted for my own good.

One of the first things a traditional publisher wants to know is what you’ve done to market your book. If you haven’t done anything then it’s going to be that much harder to convince them you’re serious about making sales. Gone are the days of a publisher doing all the work.

Something else that may tip the scales in favour of being self-published is the dollar factor. Very few authors are writing just to help or entertain others. 

Publishing your own books does give you more control over title, content, and pricing. Plus with platforms such as Kindle, Kobo, and Lulu, you have options in terms of ebook, print, audio or a combination of the three. I have only named the three because they’re the ones I’m most familiar with.

In the first episode I briefly touched on the low percentage an author actually earns when traditionally published. Let me explain.

A traditional publisher pays, on average, an 8% royalty rate to the author. An ebook might get you 25%. If you publish on your own via Kindle, Kobo, or other platforms, your royalties for a print book can be up to 60%, and as high as 90% for an ebook.

If you were to publish one book traditionally at $25 retail and you got an advance of $25,000, it would take 12,500 copies sold for the advance to be paid off. And yes, you do not earn anything extra until that advance is paid in full. (Side note here: the royalty you earn will only be $2 per copy, which is why it’ll take so many books to be sold.)

If you self-published that same book and sold it for the same price, it would only take 1667 copies sold to make that amount of money. And you’d even be $5 ahead. I think it would be much easier to sell 1667 copies as opposed to 12,500, don’t you? Granted you don’t get an advance when self publishing, but with the print on demand services available you don’t have the upfront costs either.

I personally prefer the ebook route, but do have my romance novellas available in print on Amazon as well. My Pipestone Creek Series is also available as a bundle download in my NotJustAlpacaDesigns Etsy Shop. I will be moving it to my website in the not-too-distant future, which will then allow me to earn a little more. Etsy is really not the best place for ebooks; at least not for me.

In the first episode I also mentioned what is called a vanity publisher. What they do is print and market your books, to a point. They’ll also try to upsell you editing packages, whereas a traditional publisher does all of the editing for you.

Vanity publishers prey on authors who want their books done quickly, but said authors also pay the price. I almost fell for their scheme, and I think if I would’ve had the thousands of dollars they wanted to publish my book, I probably would have gone that route. Thankfully my bank account was almost empty, and upon further research I realized I had almost been taken advantage of.

They call themselves independent publishers, but if they’re asking for money upfront they’re really a vanity publisher. There are small publishing companies that do pay authors an advance, so do your homework to make sure you’re not being taken for a ride.

Here’s how you know if you’re dealing with a legitimate publishing company or a vanity publisher. A legitimate publisher will never ask the author to pay anything up front. The vanity publisher will. If you’re being asked to pay, turn around and walk away.

Whether you’re self publishing or going through a publisher, there’s a lot of work to be done on your part. The planning, outlining, writing, first edit, second edit, marketing, pricing, cover design, blurbs, and so on. Books of more than a few thousand words are rarely written in a weekend, and even then it takes time to make sure it flows smoothly.

Self-publishing may not work for everyone, and that’s okay. And there’s nothing wrong with being traditionally published. In fact, I think having my name on a book published by HarperCollins or Simon & Schuster would be my greatest achievement as an author. 

I am more of a “let’s get it out there” type of person, rather than waiting for an acceptance or rejection letter. I write what makes me happy, and to entertain and educate others. And the money plays a part too. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t.

I suck at the marketing end of it, which is why my sales aren’t as good as they could be. I’d much rather be writing than marketing, but truth be told, that attitude hasn’t helped my cause any.

As a self-publisher you need to do all of the things, and if you don’t want to do certain tasks, then you’re going to have to hire some help. A virtual assistant could take care of the marketing so you can concentrate on the writing. It all depends on how much you want to earn as an author, and how quickly you want to be in the top 100.

An editor may be necessary if spelling and sentence structure isn’t your strong suit. Just because you weren’t a Straight A student in English doesn’t mean you can’t write and publish a book. That’s why speech to text was invented I’m sure.

I find when it comes to editing my own work I have to step away from it for a while. Reading out loud also helps me catch mistakes, as does using the text to speech feature on my computer. When we edit our own work we automatically put the words in as we’re reading, even if they aren’t there. I’ve done it more than once, and was thankful I caught it before it was published.

That brings me to another point. When self-publishing it’s a lot easier to fix errors and resubmit a manuscript. And with the print on demand services, you’ll never be stuck with 5000 copies of a book with a major error in it.

Pricing your book is one of the most difficult tasks as far as I’m concerned. I firmly believe an ebook should not be as much, or more than a print book; yet the experts advise differently. In my opinion once the file is submitted there’s no additional cost directly related to that file. However, if you look on Amazon and other ebook retailers, you’ll see prices for ebooks sometimes higher than their print counterparts. 

Audiobooks on the other hand, I can see why they’re on the higher end of the price point. It takes a lot of prep time and work to get them just right. I have listened to several audiobooks through the years and can’t imagine how long it must take to get each chapter just right.

Audiobooks are, however, another avenue you can take with your self-published books. I plan on narrating my own as I become more comfortable with the microphone and hearing myself talk. Have I said I don’t like the sound of my voice?

The topic of self-publishing is one that has its pros and cons. I like the versatility I have when publishing, and have been able to take what I have learned and help others avoid some of the mistakes I made. As I continue my self-publishing journey I’ll be able to relay more information. 

I have to be honest: my book writing has been at a standstill since Ross passed away. He was my biggest supporter, and teased me about being a kept man whenever I made a sale. As I’ve been writing the script for this episode I realize how much I have missed working on my books. And perhaps getting back to my unfinished manuscript will help with the healing and moving forward as well.

Authors write for different reasons, and publish in whatever format works for them. If you choose to self-publish, keep these key points in mind.

  1. Do your very best work so you get the very best reviews.
  2. Decide which format will work best for your audience. Not everyone likes an ebook.
  3. Price competitively. You’re undervaluing your work if you price too low. (Oh dear…I just had an “aha” moment. I guess I need to practice what I preach here.)
  4. Write to educate or entertain.
  5. When you self-publish you don’t have to have a 100,000 word manuscript. Short ebooks can be in the 5000 word range and be packed with valuable information.
  6. Be yourself in your writing. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. (This point was brought up in Episode 2 but also applies to you as an author.)
  7. Hire help for the tasks you don’t have time for or don’t like to do. Your teenager could be a wonderful asset if they’re given social media tasks.

In the next episode I’ll be talking about turning your hobby into a side hustle. Have a great week and I’ll see you then.

And in case you missed them, I have included the first two episodes below.

Episode 1: Take On Life After 50
Episode 2: Information Products and How to Create Them

If you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.


Want more side hustle content delivered to your inbox once a month?

%d bloggers like this: