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Selling PDF templates on Etsy – A beginner’s guide 2024

    How to sell PDF templates on Etsy ideas

    Selling digital products like PDF templates and printable that customers can download and self-serve is a great way to build a semi-passive online income source.

    While it takes time to see result (as with any other businesses), selling PDF on Etsy is a way simpler business to start.

    This is our opinionated guide on how you can get started!


    Types of PDF templates to sell on Etsy

    Treat this list as an idea foundation you can branch out and niche down to.

    There is literally no rules on what could work on Etsy – the most important thing is how you can create valuable products (PDF materials) and reach your customer group(s).

    Printable journal page template

    Journal is a popular product on Etsy, and it is not hard to see why,

    We have an inner desire to record and reflect on our encounters in life. There is a myriad of ways this can be done creatively, spiritually and effectively. If you have a strong opinion on how to improve your life with journaling, you may have a product there!

    👉🏻 Ideas: Create journal page that are organised based on different aspect of life (spirituality, finance etc) and perhaps for different intervals (daily, weekly, monthly etc)

    Printable workbook & worksheet PDF

    Parents are ready to do anything for the best of their children – I speak of this from my own experience.

    For those who have a background in education, you may be able to turn your experience into printable worksheet PDFs that many parents could appreciate. and looking to buy on Etsy.

    To-do list template prints

    There is a productivity junkie hiding in all of us.

    Checking things off to-do list pumps a little dopamine into our body.

    If you have an idea to present to-do list differently; perhaps more visually, categorically and creatively – consider turning it into a to-do list PDF template sellable on Etsy.

    👉🏻 Ideas: To-do list that are oriented towards a certain lifestyle (like business, house wife, student, health and fitness).

    Coloring book templates PDF

    Coloring books are no longer designed for kids only.

    For adults who spend much of our lives mindlessly in front of a screen, coloring books offer a little gateway away and let us practice our creative brain just a little harder.

    There are different visual thematic coloring books you can find on Etsy, and you might just have something people appreciate and want to buy.

    Printable greeting & invitation card

    For a celebration of life time like weddings or engagement party, it is always great to be able to send out invitation cards that are unique and professionally designed. This is why there are so many printable greeting and invitation card for sale on Etsy.

    👉🏻 Suggestion: Do not be afraid to enter a crowded market – instead try to offer as many choices with great and unique design as possible. Printable greeting and invitation card is one area where niching down wouldn’t really work.

    Budget tracker printable PDF

    Even with the growing usage of Excel and Google Sheet, a custom design budget tracker that people can write one remains one of the more popular and easy ways for many to track their budgets.

    👉🏻 Idea: Instead of designing a generic looking budget tracker, try to create one that is goal oriented to help your customer refine their personal finance and spending towards a bigger goal.

    Creating your PDF listing on Etsy

    At initial glance, creating your first PDF listing might look intimidating. Well, the good news is you can always start with something brief and go back to refine the listing details.

    You don’t have to get everything right – just treat it like an experiment or a work-in-progress.

    Below we add in some tips to help you get faster in creating your PDF product listing on Etsy.

    Etsy listing title and description optimization

    • Etsy listing title matters a lot more than you think, because this is how Etsy decides when to present your listing to customers. Tips:
      • Use up all the available character limit for the Etsy title
      • Insert variations of keywords that your customers might use to describe and search for your product
      • Check and refer how competing products in the same category are naming themselves
    • While Etsy description does carry some weight on your search result performance, you should instead focus on making it as readable and comprehensible as possible.
      • Describe in absolute clarity what customers can expect while making an order.
      • If there is a specific way to run the PDF file (eg. with a certain software), you should include these details as well.
      • Consider sharing a preview file with your customers. Preview files can be either watermarked file, or PDF with incomplete content.

    Etsy listing thumbnails

    Your Etsy listing thumbnails are how your customers form your first impression.

    Instead of cramping all information into a messy image, split them out into multiple images – make sure of ALL the available slot to upload as many images as possible. More details is always better.

    Bundling your PDF templates on Etsy

    When your Etsy store has more listing, it increases the opportunities for them to be found by customers. An Etsy listing with more listing also shows your commitment and credibility in your niche.

    One way to add more Etsy listing without creating more products is to create bundle listing. This means you can create listings that are “2 in 1“, “3 in 1” etc.

    When you have more listing, customers are encouraged to weight the purchase decision among your products, instead of against competitors’ products.

    Delivering your PDF to customers

    Once a customer has made an order, it is time to deliver the PDF(s) to them.

    This is usually done by storing your PDF(s) in an online storage like Google Drive or Dropbox, then sending them the PDF link via email.

    This process can be easily automated with no code tools like Zapier and ConvertKit etc. – so that whenever an Etsy order is made, an automated email with the PDF link will be sent to the customer.

    Promoting your PDF Etsy store

    Creating your PDF template files and uploading them as an Etsy listing store is only the first step. Now you need to start acquiring customers, and this isn’t something we recommend you to just sit on (cause nothing will happen!)

    Here are our quick thoughts on the different marketing channels with its own pros and cons:

    • Etsy Ads – Competitive and costly for beginner, it will also take time and money to fine-tune and adjust the ad setting for optimal outcome.
    • Social media marketing – This is the go-to choice if you already have a big following. If you don’t, you should start building it slowly.
    • Online communities – Join online communities like Facebook Group, Reddit and Slack groups related to your niche. Be helpful and offer your opinion (without hardselling!) – build up your reputation and chip in your product if the time is right!
    • Content marketing – Build your own lead magnet! Create articles, resource list on your website and build a mailing list. From here you can spread the words about your products!

    Other than ads, nothing screams immediate return (we know) but such is the nature of the internet businesses. We promise you will see something if you persist on for at least 6 months!

    Conclusion

    While selling PDF templates on Etsy is both a competitive and lucrative hustle (just look at how these Etsy sellers made $10k/month), it will be worth your effort and can truly turn into a semi-passive income if you find your own niche where you can shine!