selling printables on etsy

Side hustles are a great way to supplement your income or possibly start a new career.

Today I am interviewing Julie Berninger, who started a super interesting hustle of selling printables on Etsy. 

Her story is very inspiring and she shares tips on how anyone can start this successful business. 

Here are all the secrets on how to sell printables on Etsy.

Can you tell us about yourself and how you started selling printables on Etsy?

I’m Julie Berninger and I’m a mom with a full-time job in Seattle and also a blogger at Millennial Boss. I was listening to a podcast on my lunch break a few years back and was inspired to open my own Etsy shop. Now, three years later, I have a successful online business.

I actually had ideas spinning around in my head for years about starting an online business, but I was either too overwhelmed or too afraid to go for it. I finally dove into starting an Etsy business and realized it was the perfect side job for me with the little time I have available. I also liked shopping on Etsy so it was a natural fit!

When I first opened my Etsy shop, I was selling temporary tattoos, but I switched to printables about one year in and never looked back!

Printables are digital files that someone can print out on their home printer like checklists, gift tags, labels, wall art, party decorations, invitations, etc. I sell printable games for bachelorette parties and other digital files that I make on my computer.

I love selling on Etsy because it allows me to be creative and also I like that this side hustle is very passive. The only thing I do after I make the printable is answer customer questions, which I get maybe once per month. My Etsy shop, The Swag Elephant, has over 1,000 sales!

What is the process involved in selling printables on Etsy?

The first thing you have to do is actually make the printable on your computer. When I started, I used the free online graphic design tool Canva, which allows you to pick colors, fonts, and graphics to make up the printable. I also got inspired by what I already saw on Etsy and on Pinterest and tried to make printables that looked like the popular ones but maybe had one or two things different to make mine stand out.

I’m not a graphic designer, so my first printable didn’t look great, but the funny thing is that one of my first printables is my bestseller. I make printables in the bachelorette party niche and customers have very different expectations (lower) than in the wedding invitation niche!

I would recommend avoiding weddings and wall art until you get better at design since brides are very picky about the look of their wedding invitations!

I’m so glad I didn’t let the graphic design piece intimidate me into never starting! Over time, I read up on graphic design and learned to use more whitespace and pick colors that go together. There are some free websites like Canva’s color palette generator that I’ll use to find a picture I like from Pinterest and upload it to their tool to learn what specific colors are in the picture. Then I take those colors and use them in my printable as inspiration.

After you make the printable, you upload the file to Etsy along with the listing pictures. Some people print them out on their home printer and take pictures with their phone or camera. Other people just “fake” the images by getting stock photos and applying their product over it.

For example, if you are selling nursery wall art, you can find a stock photo of a nursery where the wall art is a blank frame. Then you can put your printable you made on top of that image and it looks like it’s actually in the picture and not fake. I love that hack!


Do you have to be creative to start this hustle?

Definitely not! I like being creative but don’t consider myself a creative person. I actually use Pinterest to get inspiration for a lot of my printables, and I just pin things I like to my boards.

I have boards for printables for all different events like Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July, and Mother’s Day, and I just keep seeing all of these different ideas and pinning them throughout the year. That approach helps me think of new things to make, and I don’t stress about having to be creative or come up with something genius!

Are there any costs involved?

You can get started with this side job for almost nothing. It costs 20 cents to list your first product on Etsy, and you can find free fonts, graphics, and design tools to make the printable. That’s what I love about selling things on Etsy because it’s super inexpensive and there are no monthly fees like with other platforms such as Shopify. It felt low risk to get started.

Now, if you sell your printables you have to pay a small transaction fee, but that fee is worth it because as a digital seller, you get to capture almost the whole sale price as profit. Etsy sellers of handmade items like knitted scarves have to account for their time and materials to make their items and shipping.

Digital sellers have the time to make the first item and then hundreds of customers can buy it by just downloading it. No shipping involved.

Why did you choose Etsy marketplace for selling?

I chose Etsy because I love buying things on Etsy. If I need to buy someone a gift, that’s where I look because everything is super trendy and personalized. For example, my best friend just closed on her first home, so I sent her a housewarming gift from Etsy. There is a huge market for printables on Etsy, and it’s a great place to sell printables because you can get them in front of Etsy’s 30 million+ customers!

How much money can you make with this side hustle?

I think it’s reasonable to make between $500–$1,000 per month on this side hustle if you find out you love it and really want to put time into it. There are some printable sellers who are making tens of thousands or six figures per year but they do it as a full-time job.

I do this as a side job so I’m looking to put in a few hours one weekend per month and get a few thousand dollars out of it. I don’t have any more time to invest in a side job right now because I have a nine-month-old.

Please share any tips you have for someone who wants to start this hustle.

Just do it! I talked myself out of starting an Etsy shop for a long time until a podcast inspired me to go for it. Maybe this is that light bulb moment for you.

So many people were asking me about how I got started and brainstorming ideas with me for printables they could make that I created a free eBook that will give you 12 months of ideas of things you could sell on Etsy.

It also talks about free tools that I use to make sure I pick trending products and stuff that will sell on Etsy. Here is that eBook if you want to download it for free and make your first move in creating your own Etsy printables business.

You can download the eBook here.

I thank Julie for giving so much information about this unique side hustle and sharing her story with us. 

Selling printables is a great choice for earning extra money online if you are looking for a flexible side gig.

About Sireesha Narumanchi

Hi, I am Sireesha, and thank you for stopping by to get to know me. I am a work-at-home mom, a side hustler, and a firm believer in making "working from home" a success for everyone. I have worked in a remote job for over 11 years and tried many side gigs. I have been featured on many popular websites like Forbes, Business Insider, American Express, QuickBooks, The Muse, Moneyish, Virtual Vocations, Spark Hire, Bustle, Fairygodboss, Side Hustle School, Payoneer, Jobbatical, and Skillcrush.Read more...

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