How to Make Digital Downloads for Etsy: A Guide to Selling Printable and Digital Products Online

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Are you looking to start selling printable or digital products on Etsy but don’t know where to start? 

Creating digital downloads can seem daunting at first, but it’s actually a straightforward process that anyone can learn. In this guide, we’ll cover the steps you need to take to make beautiful, functional and profitable digital downloads. 

You don’t need to be a graphic designer or an artist to create and sell products on Etsy; this guide walks you through the steps to creating your first digital product and listing it on Etsy.

Step 1: Choose The Right Product to Sell

The first step in creating digital downloads for Etsy is to choose a product to sell. 

The possibilities are endless when it comes to digital products, so you should focus on a niche that suits your skills and interests, as well as one that’s likely to make you some money. 

Printable wall art for classrooms is a really popular niche, and if you’re a teacher or a parent, this might be your thing.

Planners are also hugely popular – if you’re the kind of person that organizes everyone in your friend circle, maybe this is the niche for you.

Other popular digital products include worksheets, party decorations, ice breaker games, and social media templates. The possibilities are almost endless.

My Tip: once you’ve chosen your niche, research your competition and see what’s selling well in your niche to get ideas for products you can create. But make sure you don’t copy other people’s products – that is a big no-no. My favorite tool for doing product research is Erank.

Step 2: Plan Your Product

Once you’ve chosen a product, you’ll need to plan out the design and content.

Think about the problem your ideal customer would like you to solve; what components or functionality will your product need in order to do that?

Step 3: Create Your Product

This is the fun part where you get to use your creative skills to bring your idea to life! 

There are several design software options to choose from, (I’ll outline the benefits and drawbacks of some of them later in this blog post), but if you have no experience using graphic design software, I recommend you use Canva. It’s intuitive, easy to learn, and the free version has everything you’ll need to get started.

Once you’ve created your product, you’ll want to download and save it;  the format you save your product in will depend on what type of product it is, for example, if it’s something that the customer doesn’t need to alter once they download it, then you will save it as a PDF (more on file types later).

You might need to include instructions or tutorials to make sure your customers can use and enjoy your product, but this will also depend on what the product is. If it’s not editable by the customer, you probably won’t need to include instructions.

Step 4: Set Up Your Etsy Shop

Once your product is ready, it’s time to set up your Etsy shop

You need to create an account, set up your shop policies, and upload your product. Etsy is an intuitive and user-friendly platform, which means it’s easy to create a storefront and manage your listings. 

If you haven’t started your shop yet, you can use this link to get 40 free listings!

Step 5: Upload Your First Product 

Next, you’ll want to go back to Canva (or whatever design software you’ve chosen) and create your Etsy Shop listing images. Grab a set of free mockups for Canva here.

Make sure your graphics are simple and make it clear what the customer is buying. If you can, include a mock up so that customers can really visualize how the product can be used in the real world.

Etsy gives you space to include 10 images, and it’s best practice to use them all if you can.

Make sure you optimize your product listings by using keywords in the title, description, and tags, to give yourself the best shot at reaching your ideal customers. 

Want a bundle of products to start your Etsy shop? Grab my Etsy Launch Templates Pack!

etsy launch templates pack

Step 6: Market Your Product

Finally, you need to market your product to attract customers and generate sales.

The key here is to showcase your product’s features and benefits and to make it really clear that you can solve the problem your customer is experiencing.

Social media, Pinterest, Etsy ads, discounts, and building an email list are all ways you can market your products.

SEO is my favorite way to bring in traffic to my Etsy listings. Insightfactory is another great tool to use to find SEO optimized keywords for your Etsy listings.

Digital Downloads to Sell on Etsy

Here are just a few ideas for digital downloads that you can sell on Etsy:

Digital Wallpapers: Design and offer digital wallpapers for desktops, laptops, smartphones, or social media platforms.

Planners: Create printable planners for organizing schedules, goals, finances, fitness, or meal planning.

Games and Activities: Games and activities are popular products for adults and children alike. I love to use Chat GPT to help me create these types of products.

Notion Templates: Create a template that customers can download and import into Notion.

OneNote Templates: Create and sell templates for the Microsoft note-taking app

Digital Stickers: Create and sell digital sticker packs for use in digital planners, messaging apps, or digital scrapbooking

Business Cards: Design digital business card templates that customers can customize and have printed at a local copy shop or straight from Canva

Art Prints: Sell digital art prints that customers can print, and frame for home decor. Just be sure that it’s your own work – you can’t legally sell a copy of the Mona Lisa or The Girl with the Pearl Earring!

Patterns and Templates: Design and sell digital sewing patterns, crochet patterns, or other crafts

Fonts: Create and sell original digital fonts for personal or commercial use

Social Media Templates: Design digital templates that customers can download and edit for social media posts, story templates, or Instagram highlight covers

Photography presets: Create and sell digital photography presets for editing photos in popular editing software

SVG Files: Design and sell SVG files for use with cutting machines like Cricut or Silhouette, allowing customers to create custom vinyl decals, T-shirts, or other crafts.

Need more ideas? Grab my 101 Digital Products to Sell on Etsy Guide!

Best software to create digital downloads

As I mentioned earlier, there are several options when it comes to design software. They all have their own benefits and drawbacks.



  • User-friendly 
  • Huge range of templates and customization options


  • Some limitations in terms of advanced features and fine control compared to professional design software

Adobe InDesign


  • Powerful desktop publishing tool specifically designed for creating layouts and documents
  • Offers advanced typographic controls, precise layout capabilities, and seamless integration with other Adobe Creative Suite apps


  • A much steeper learning curve compared to simpler tools like Canva

Adobe Illustrator


  • Vector-based design software widely used for creating illustrations, logos, and other scalable graphics
  • Provides extensive drawing and editing tools, allowing for precise control and high-quality work


  • Its complexity means that it can be overwhelming for beginners
  • Primarily focused on vector graphics, so it may not be the best choice for certain types of digital downloads



  • Natural drawing experience and extensive brush library
  • Intuitive interface, layers support, and various creative tools 
  • Ideal for artists and illustrators


  • Currently only available only on iPad

May not have the same level of versatility for other types of digital downloads outside of illustrations and artwork

In my opinion, the most important thing to consider if you’re brand new to design and design software, is to base your choice of software on your level of expertise – you can always upgrade your skills later down the line.

The type of digital downloads you want to create is also an important consideration of course, but if you go with what’s easier for you in the beginning, you won’t find yourself overwhelmed and giving up.

Best file type for Etsy digital downloads

The best file types for Etsy digital downloads are JPG, PNG, and PDF.

Let’s break these down one by one:

JPG (or JPEG) is a widely supported file format for images, and it provides a good balance between file size and image quality. It’s suitable for both photographs and digital art.

PNG is another commonly used file type. It’s ideal for graphics, logos, and designs that require a transparent or non-white background.

PDF is often used for printable files, like planners, worksheets, and templates. PDFs preserve the formatting you’ve added to your product, and allow users to easily view, print, or share files across different devices and operating systems.

The file type you choose to provide to your customer will depend on your product and its intended use.

For instance, if you are selling digital artwork, you may want to offer both JPG and PNG formats to cater to different customer preferences. Bear in mind also that copy shops often require a JPG format for print jobs.

How to make printables to sell on Etsy

If you’d like to learn more about how to make printables and digital downloads so that you can create passive income, whether as a side-hustle or a full-time gig, I highly recommend checking out the E-Printables Course by Gold City Ventures.

It is the course I took to start my printables journey!

Final Thoughts

Creating digital downloads for Etsy is a great way to monetize your creative skills and reach customers worldwide. My takeaway tips for success:

  • Stay focused on one niche at a time if you choose to do product lines
  • Use keyword and market research to find the best products for you to sell
  • Keep your own interests at heart – if you don’t enjoy creating something, move onto the next thing
  • Choose a design software meets you where you are
  • Be consistent – try to list a product on Etsy once a week

By following these tips, I know that you will create an amazing, and profitable, Etsy shop!

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