You might have already come across articles about making a side income by selling printables online. It all sounds good, right? True enough. But how do you get started? We have already looked at the what printables are and how they differ from print on demand designs. Just to refresh your memory, printables are files that can be downloaded and printed by the customer. Print on Demand products are manufactured, with the artist’s design, and then shipped to the customer.
Now, let’s look at a step-by-step approach that you can follow to make printables yourself.
Table of Contents
- Steps to Make Printables for Sale
- Books About Creating and Selling Printables
Steps to Make Printables for Sale
Step 1 – Brainstorm An Idea for a Target Audience
Step 1 probably sounds rather obvious but you would be surprised how tricky it can be to settle on one idea to start with.
There’s a good chance right now that you are feeling all out of ideas. I certainly was in the beginning. That is, until I started to look at printables others have created, just to get an idea about the range of possibilities. In particular, I started looking at top-selling printables on Etsy.
But first what is Etsy?
Etsy is a site where artists, craft enthusiasts and creative hobbyists can sell their own products including vintage wares. The emphasis is on hand-made saleable gifts and products. This could even be jewelry, for example, or items for the home such as wall hangings with stitch craft etc. The stipulation is that the products must be made by the artist or shop owner.
However, the products can also be downloadable digital products, namely printables. So Etsy is a popular platform for selling printables. This means you can easily see the types of printables that others have created. Not only that, you can see which designs and layouts are proving to be very popular because of the stars allocated by customers.
There are small fees for listing items on Etsy for sale and then a percentage commission once something sells.
I do not have a shop on Etsy, nor do I sell items on Etsy but browsing the site’s printables does allow you to see what others have created. This can springboard into some of your own ideas on what you might like to create for customers to download and print.
For example, I quite like looking through the daily planners for ideas on both design as well as purpose:
But I especially like browsing through Pinterest for some motivating ideas:
The bottom line with printables is the perceived value. In other words, what paper-based idea would someone really have a use for? What paper-based idea would someone be willing to purchase?
A good approach is to think about a problem that someone has, a problem with respect to managing their daily lives. Then, see if you can think of a printable idea that could help them manage that problem or even solve it.
Alternatively, you could consider occasions or seasonal celebrations. Some people, for example, have directed all of their printable efforts towards the wedding niche. Others, towards milestone birthdays.
At the end of step 1, you would aim to have a good idea about who your target customer is. You would also list your customer’s need or problem that could be addressed or solved with a printable.
I was recently asked to design (and of course print out) a multiple choice quiz that could be used on a long bus trip to break the monotony and thus add some light-hearted entertainment. It didn’t dawn on me until later just what an opportunity that one request presented. It demonstrated a need and came with a built-in target audience. Any organised bus trip could do with some light levity to break the journey.
Step 2 – Collect the Tools Needed to Make Printables
With printables, we are creating a digital file that customers can download and print themselves. I love the fact that I can create one concept, one digital file, that can be downloaded again and again. One file, multiple downloads.
Before starting to make printables, it’s a good idea to decide which designing software you prefer and to source both fonts and graphics:
- Stylish fonts – those that are free and allowed for commercial use
- Graphics – again the licence must allow commercial use
- Software – you only need one program but here are some choices to consider:
- Adobe Photoshop (affiliate link) – Photoshop is my personal favourite, probably because I am so used to it
- Microsoft Word
- Canva – has a free program and is very popular among designers
50 Things to Know About Canva: How to Create Beautiful Custom Images (Affiliate Link)
- Adobe Illustrator
- GIMP – a free alternative
Step 3 – Design Your Printable
You could always do a rough sketch on paper or use a designing software tool to map out where you want to position your headings, tables, text etc.
The layout of course will depend on which printable you have decided to create. Each of these would have a different presentation:
- Stylised Bookmarks
- Baby Shower Games
- Wedding Shower Games
- Weekly Planners
- Monthly Planners
- Personalised Cake Decorators
- Appreciation Posters
- Treasure Maps
Step 4 – Create Your Printable
Then, use your graphic design tool, such as Photoshop or Word, and create your printable. The beauty of digital creations is that you can create your idea, scrutinise it and then change it repeatedly until it looks just the way you want it to look.
It’s a good idea to ‘try out’ your printable idea on a friend or family member before loading it on your blog or on Etsy for sale. They can always point out features that they either did not understand or features that they wish had been included.
Step 5 – Prepare Your Printable for Download
Once you are happy with your printable, save it as a pdf. It will be a pdf file that the customer downloads to print on his/her own printer. Sometimes, depending on the purpose of your printable, you might save it as a graphic file with a png or jpg extension.
You might also design a printable that can be edited by the customer. An edible pdf is the answer here.
Books About Creating and Selling Printables
How to Make Printables to Sell on Etsy
Do you feel inclined to try this creative outlet yourself? It can be lots of fun, not to mention lucrative, at least for those who have found enough time to devote to this pursuit. If you do decide to make printables yourself, post a link to your products in the comments section below so that others can see your creations.