Abigail is a content writer and entrepreneur from Oregon who loves coffee, good books and finding creative ways to make extra income!
Did you know that you can make money on Etsy without having to ever go to the post office, carry inventory, or package items? Well, you can! There are two ways you can make money on Etsy without keeping physical items in your home: selling digital items and selling drop shipped items.
Let’s explore the first method.
How to Make Money Selling Digital Items on Etsy
If you are even a little tech savvy, selling digital items on Etsy might be an effective way for you to make a few extra bucks. The best part of selling digital items on Etsy is that you can do the bulk of the work up front when you create the item and then turn around and sell it an unlimited number of times! Unlike selling physical items that require supplies like yarn, beads, leather, or glue, it doesn’t cost you anything to get started selling digital items (besides the Etsy listing fee of 20 cents).
Examples of Digital Items You Can Sell On Etsy
You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to selling digital items on Etsy! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Knitting or crocheting patterns
- Sewing patterns
- Social media graphics
- Art Prints
- Digital planners
- Sticker downloads
- Clip art
- SVG files
- Lightroom presets
- High-quality stock photos
- Digital pregnancy announcements
- Wedding invitations
You get the idea.
How to Create Digital Items for Your Etsy Shop
First, do some product research. Before you get started creating, look around Etsy and see what’s hot. If your idea is so unique or unusual that no one has ever sold one on Etsy, you’re much less likely to see income from it. You also don’t want to get lost in an over saturated market, so look for items in the happy middle ground when it comes to your prospective item’s popularity. Also, if you have expertise in a certain area, capitalize on it. Do you love using your Cricut to make handmade items? Then you’d likely be great at selling SVG files on Etsy since you are already familiar with them. Do you love to knit or crochet? Consider typing up your patterns and uploading them to Etsy as a PDF.
When you’re ready to start creating, you’ll find you need high-quality tools. My favorite free tools for creating digital products are Lightroom and Canva. (Both offer a free version!) Lightroom is an amazing tool for editing photos; you can even create your own presets to speed up the process. Canva will help you create thumbnail pictures that will draw others to your shop. You can also use Canva for creating clip art, digital art or social media graphics.
To upload your digital items to Etsy, simply save them as a JPG or PNG file or folder and then “compress it” (create a zip file copy of it) and upload it. When making your Etsy listing, be sure to select “digital” instead of “physical” so you’ll have the option to upload. Also, create a set of simple instructions so your customers will know how to both download your digital product and how to use it.
Now for the second method.
How to Make Money by Selling Drop Shipped Items on Etsy
If you enjoy graphic design, selling your designs on drop-shipped items may be for you! Drop shipping simply means you design the item and then upload your item to a website like Printful or Printify. They fulfill the order for you by printing your design on the item and then ship it. All you have to do is create the design and upload it to one of their items.
Because you are working to fulfill orders through third-party this method has several pros and cons.
- You can sell almost any item you want without having to keep it in your house.
- It’s surprisingly easy to create designs and upload them.
- You can experiment to see what sells with relatively low stakes
- Your profit margin is lower because you have to pay the company that makes the item.
- Customer service is more complicated because an item may be late and you have no control over it.
Examples of Drop Shipped Items You Can Sell on Etsy
With drop shipped items you are only limited by the number and type of items your third-party manufacturer offers. Some examples of commonly drop shipped items are:
- Tote bags
- Tank tops
- Cosmetic bags
- Basic jewelry
- Phone cases
How to Get Started Selling Drop Shipped Items on Etsy
First and foremost, order samples. Printify will let you order samples of products with your designs on them at a steep discount. Take advantage! When your samples come, take photos of them as a beautiful flat lay as well as on you or a friend. Then make those photos the primary photos on your Etsy listing. Also, take this opportunity to update your Etsy listing with more descriptive information now that you have personally handled the item and are better equipped to describe it to others.
Be sure to wear and use your items as well! Word of mouth is a powerful force when it comes to succeeding in small business. If you’ve designed a great shirt that you love, wear it and let the compliments roll in! When people comment, be sure to let them know where they can get one. If you don’t see a lot of people in your day to day life, consider uploading a good quality photo of yourself wearing, holding or using your item to Facebook or Instagram as well as a link to your Etsy shop so your friends can grab one too.
Important Things to Know About Selling on Etsy
Think you might be ready to open an Etsy shop and start selling digital or drop shipped items? Here are some things you should know before you get started:
It Takes Time to Make Money
Most Etsy sellers report only making a few sales their first year in business, more their second year and then a bunch in their third year. But, don’t let that stop you from creating and marketing your dropshipping or digital download Etsy shop! As Earl Nightengale said, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” Because each listing only costs 20 cents ever 4 months, you’re not likely to go broke while giving your items time to get noticed. Be patient!
Not Every Item Will Be a Hit
While you may get lucky and have a product go viral, most of your products will see a few sales each month at best. And that’s ok. If you have enough listings, you can start to see a nice profit even if you’re not selling dozens of each item every month.
Tips for Getting Traffic to Your Etsy Shop
Apply to Instagram Pages that Share Listings
Some Instagram accounts exist for the sole purpose of sharing Etsy listings. Search for these accounts in your Instagram search bar and apply to be featured. Some shops simply require you to use a specific hashtag in your post and then they will re-share your picture. Other shops may require you to apply via their website. Whatever the instructions are, be sure to follow them.
Use Your Pinterest
Be sure to share every single item you create on Pinterest. While it’s unlikely, you just never know if an item will go viral. Don’t spam your boards, however; pace yourself and share your items over several days. After a few weeks when you’ve pinned other things, go ahead and repin your items again. If you are a member of group boards that are appropriate to your items and that are ok with you sharing sellable pins, go ahead and pin there too. Just be sure to follow the group’s rules.
Post One or Two New Items Each Day
While figuring out Etsy’s SEO (like all SEO for that matter) can feel like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall one thing that will keep your shop in the spotlight is sharing one or two items every day. While you should open your shop with at least a dozen items, add extra items over some time to ensure your shop is regularly updated.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Abigail Hreha (author) from Oregon on July 01, 2019:
That’s great Larry! She might really enjoy this!
Larry Slawson from North Carolina on July 01, 2019:
Never realized this. My wife loves Etsy, so I'll have to tell her about this haha. Thank you for sharing.
Abigail Hreha (author) from Oregon on June 27, 2019:
Thank you both for the kind words!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 27, 2019:
I know a couple of people who have sold items on Etsy and done fairly well. Thanks for all the great information.
RTalloni on June 27, 2019:
Thanks for this information. Nicely done and useful post.