Etsy has gone a long way since its inception back in 2005, and one of the things that helped it grow was the addition of digital downloads that can be sold and purchased. Now, you might be asking yourself, what is a digital download and why is that relevant to me?
That is a valid question and one that this article will seek to answer in full. As an Etsy seller in the modern world, you have a wide selection of things you can sell on the platform, and digital downloads are one of them. Let’s take a look at what makes them special, and how you can make the most out of your shop by selling them.
What is a digital download? It is an audio, photo, or text file that can be sold and purchased on Etsy. This can be a crochet pattern, a song, or even a cool resume template. There’s almost no limit to what a digital download can be.
What makes a digital download special is that it is instant and requires no packaging or shipping, and can be sold infinitely without having to be made from scratch every time. This allows the seller to squeeze the most amount of profit from their creation and allows the buyer to enjoy the instant gratification of buying a listing that they receive… instantly.
Digital downloads have revolutionized the way people shop for handmade goods. Instead of going to your local Jo-Ann store to buy a sewing pattern magazine, you can now buy such a thing from your computer or phone, all while remaining in your Star Wars pajamas and fuzzy socks!
The most popular goods that are available to download on Etsy are things that people will use day-to-day.
Digital journals and planners are very in demand, whether they are meant to be kept on an iPad, or printed out and bound. These can include calendars, event planners, personal goals and motivation journals, and diaries.
Probably rivaling in popularity are digital coloring books. Have you seen all the adult coloring books in supermarkets and hobby stores in the last couple of years? The demand is surely there, and Etsy sellers saw this opportunity and took it.
Whether it’s sassy adult coloring books or funny, silly coloring books for kids, these products have a wide and broad market. Cheaper than a traditional coloring book, and more customizable, digital coloring books are a hit on Etsy.
Yet another digital product that is high in demand is… dun, dun, dun- stickers! While you can argue that one doesn’t use stickers day-to-day, they still serve the purpose of decorating personal belongings and spaces and making them more customized and unique.
Digital stickers are a bit different because they are meant to be used, well, digitally. They are meant to embellish digital planners and calendars and cards, and it’s entirely possible that you are selling another Etsy seller a digital sticker that they will use to design their digital product.
Other noteworthy digital downloads sold on Etsy are cards- business cards, invitations, thank you notes, and even birthday cards.
Starting a new business and need a personalized, customized card? You got it. Getting married and need a super niche themed “You’re Invited” card for your friends? No problem! Made a skincare brand and need product labels for your creams and lotions? Etsy’s got you covered.
Other runner-ups for popular digital downloads include business logos, Etsy shop kits, and social media templates. What’s unique about each of these is that they are products made by Etsy sellers catered towards other Etsy sellers and entrepreneurs.
Graphic designers and Photoshop artists alike can partake in making these products- and make a pretty penny out of it, too. And, if you are none of those things, you can always use a graphic design tool such as Canva.
Digital downloads are notably some of the cheaper items on Etsy because of their digital nature. This means that gross profit per sale might be low, but the sale quantity might be drastically higher than a traditional handcrafted physical goods store because of the low financial risk it poses to buyers.
How much you make selling digital downloads heavily relies on how you market and present your product. Just because it’s digital doesn’t mean it isn’t a product that is worth hyping up. Polishing listings, having clear shop policies, posting regularly on social media, and giving excellent customer service is still paramount in making good sales.
There are videos and vlogs of Etsy shop owners saying they’ve made well over what they expected selling digital products on Etsy- some even make it to six-figure digits! While that number sounds enticing, it doesn’t come without hard work and perseverance.
What are some ways that you can sell digital downloads? There are actually quite a few. Let’s start out with the easiest and most accessible one- Canva.
Canva, as mentioned earlier in the article, is a graphic design tool meant to create social media posts, business cards, invitations, presentations, and even videos. It comes preset with design elements, accents, fonts, and images that you can use to curate anything digital.
There is a free version of Canva, but it’s very limited in how much you get out of it. When you pay for the full version, you gain access to thousands if not more charts, frames, fonts, graphics, and images that can make your design truly yours.
Another option for making digital downloads is Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. This software is not free, but that’s because it is limitless in the art it can create. From customized brushes to layering to presets, Adobe is known around the world as the superior graphic design and photo editing software company.
While it is mostly used by professionals, anyone can use it, and with the help of Adobe’s self-guided tutorials and guides, as well as YouTube video demonstrations, even an amateur can hone in their creative side.
Procreate is another popular option for curating digital downloads. It is a digital drawing application geared towards iPad and iPhone and only needs a one-time payment to be used.
This app allows users to make digital planners, stickers, and wallpapers meant specifically for Apple products, so it’s a bit more of a niche software. This is a great budget option for people who are just starting out with digital design and have the desire to keep that traditional element of pen-to-paper drawing and designing since it is compatible with a stylus.
Other noteworthy design platforms include Gimp and Inkscape. These two are free alternatives to traditional graphic design software and are worth looking into for beginners. Inkscape is a vector graphics software that is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS. Gimp is an image editing software that has 3rd party plugins and is also open source.
Digital listings are a little different from physical ones. When you make a digital download listing, you have two options- it can either be an instant download or a made-to-order listing. For now, we’ll only cover how to make an instant download listing and cover custom digital downloads in another article.
When you make a new listing, select Digital item under Type. You then click Upload file where you can attach up to five files for the listing- the maximum size per download is 20MB.
It is important to know that digital downloads cannot have variations within the listing, so if you have different types of, say, journal templates to choose from, they will need to be made as separate listings.
Now, you might be asking yourself, where and how do you get photos of your digital download to display on your listing? Say you are selling a digital print for a t-shirt and want to find a photo of a model wearing your design.
There are a couple of ways to go about that. First, you can always make an image on Canva by searching for a model wearing a blank t-shirt and layering your design over the shirt, then downloading the image and using it for your listing.
Another way to go about this is to use either RedBubble or Placeit to find a mock-up. When you go to RedBubble and make an account, you can upload your design and choose from a variety of already-made photos that will showcase your design in a variety of settings, such as on a water bottle or on a shirt.
Placeit is similar and offers a lot of images with mock-ups for anything from apparel models to business cards to app demos to flyers, all featuring your design.
Placeit has a free and paid subscription- the difference is, you get unlimited access to all 90,000 designs on the site when you pay for the premium version, whereas a free account is much more limited in design choices.
Once you have your photos, description, tags, attributes, and pricing complete, it’s time to publish that baby! One should take note that this is still a listing, and as such, has a $0.20 fee and expires every six months.
How should you price your digital download? There’s no materials cost, and there might not even be overhead costs, but there is the cost of labor, and possibly a fixed cost for whatever software you pay for to make the design.
When pricing your digital download, it’s important to know how long you worked on it and how much you spent, if anything, to produce and download it. For example, if you are using Canva’s free subscription and decide to use a “Pro” design, it will cost you a dollar to use it once.
That means, if you made a design using, say, five “Pro” elements, it cost you $5 for that design, labor not included.
Of course, you won’t want to charge a buyer $5 plus labor cost per digital download because it can be bought infinitely, so try to use your discretion to determine how much your download is really worth.
It’s also a good idea to use an Etsy Profit Calculator to see how much you can potentially profit from selling a listing and determine the price that way.
This question is highly personal to each individual. There’s no doubt that digital downloads have become widely popular in the last decade, and the cost to produce them is virtually low depending on what software you use.
Depending on your level of skill and willingness to invest, you could produce high-quality art that sells for a lot of money, or, instead, play it safe and make digital products that are less time intensive and are cheaper, and will sell a lot quicker.
That’s the beauty of digital downloads- they are so versatile that they allow you to choose your time investment, level of creativity and energy, and monetary contribution. Whether you want to make a career out of selling beautiful coloring books, or simply want a side hustle selling digital planner templates, it is totally up to you.
Because of this flexibility, digital downloads are really easy to fit into anyone’s budget and schedule. The possibilities are endless and the demand for digital downloads is only going to increase as more people embrace technology.
Adding digital downloads to your ensemble of Etsy listings will expose you to a new world of buyers. Not only that, adding digital downloads also enables you to expand your Etsy brand and participate in a new, innovative community.
So if you are an Etsy seller and are thinking about selling digital downloads, there’s no better time than now. Unleash your creativity in a brand new way.