How to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy

Last Updated: December 16, 2023

Have you been checking out different passive income ideas and wondering how to sell digital downloads on Etsy?

One of the best side hustle opportunities today for moms is selling digital products on Etsy.

If you are wondering how to sell digital downloads on Etsy when you have no graphic design skills or experience, and you might also be working full time, then this is the guide for you. If you are planning on Opening a new Etsy shop, don’t forget to check out our post ‘Mistakes Etsy Seller Make‘ before you hit publish on your shop!

When you work full-time or even part-time, the only side business you can start and manage for the long run is the side business that will allow you  100% flexibility with your time.

That means that any business that requires you to be available for customers at certain hours every day is out of the question. When I discovered the idea of selling digital downloads, I absolutely fell in LOVE with this idea and, right away, started researching how to sell digital downloads on Etsy.

Once I started creating these Canva templates and publishing them on my Etsy shop, I found out that I am so passionate about creating these templates and once I start, it is tough to take me away from my laptop 🙂 So if I am that passionate about something, that means I am right where I need to be!

What are Digital Downloads on Etsy?

Digital downloads are any digital product that you can sell on Etsy – this could be a template of some kind that the customer can fill out their details, download and use on their computer or print out. Examples of these could be birthday party invitations, wedding invitations, business card templates, logo templates and more.


Another kind of digital download can be a digital product that the customer can download, print out and use (these are called ‘printables’). So, in this case, the customer can fill it out once it is printed. Examples can be weekly planners, calendars, meal prep planners and more.


The third type of digital download can be more of an informative product like eBooks, workbooks and checklists. Examples of these can be a guide on how to do Etsy SEO, a workbook on how to sell on Etsy or a checklist for creating a successful Etsy listing.

Can I Use Canva to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy?

When creating templates, the most popular design software to use is Canva. I have used Canva for years for all my social media graphics, and for the past year, I have been using Canva Pro because it is a HUGE time saver and has so many valuable features. If you would like to use Canva for creating templates to sell on Etsy, you would need a Canva Pro account, as the feature of sharing a template link with a customer is only available on the Pro version.

If you are creating printables or digital downloads that are not templates, you can use any kind of graphic design tools like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop and you can also use Canva (you could use the Canva free account for that).

So now that we know what is a digital download and what design software you can use to create it, here is a step-by-step guide on how to sell digital downloads on Etsy.

How to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy

  • Who is Your Customer?

    Deciding on your ideal customer right from the start and uploading products that are only relevant to this specific customer is the way to go if you want to become profitable on Etsy and build a brand.

    Think who is the type of customer that you would like to serve. Choose a customer type that you know very well and understand their challenges. That way, it would be much easier for you to solve their problems and come up with new product ideas.

  • Identify Customers Needs

    List all the problems that your ideal customer is facing and how you can solve these problems with your digital downloads. The more you are connected and engaged with your customer and understand their challenges, the more success you will have with selling your products.

    This is because your products if created specifically for your ideal customer, will solve your customer’s specific needs. Let’s take a bride-to-be, for example, her main challenge is to organize everything she needs for the wedding and on time. She would probably use a checklist of everything she needs to prepare for her wedding, like wedding invitations, wedding thank you cards, a wedding sign, table numbers, and so much more.

    If she can have all of them to match her wedding colors and instantly download them from Etsy -wouldn’t that save her an enormous amount of time and a lot of stress? Of course, it would. This is why we always start with the customer, because once you’ve figured out who is the customer that you want to serve – you will have no problem at all coming up with product ideas.

  • Validate your Product Idea

    This step is an absolute must! Even if you think you know your customer perfectly and what products they want, validating your product idea on Etsy is crucial.

    Validating your product idea means that by using Etsy research tools, you can have accurate data on these products –

    • are these products being sold on Etsy?

    • How many sales a month do the most successful shops make on Etsy when selling this product?

    • How many monthly searches this product has on Etsy?

      All of this data is so valuable and necessary before you put all this time and effort into creating a product, creating the perfect listing and marketing the product. It is a shame to invest a lot of time into a product that will eventually, once uploaded to Etsy, wouldn’t sell at all.

      To do your market research quickly and efficiently, you would need to use one of the Etsy SEO tools available in the market (check out our complete guide on the ‘Best Etsy SEO Tools‘), so you can identify which products are the best sellers in your niche so you can create something similar and add your own flair to it.

  • Create Digital Downloads

    The easiest way to create your digital download is using Canva. Canva is a super user-friendly software that will allow you to create all kinds of digital downloads without any design skills.

    If you are new to Canva or if you want to become an advanced Canva user so you can save time when creating your design and also be able to create a variety of products to sell on Etsy, I would absolutely recommend taking a course and investing the time to sharpen your skills, it will be so worth it at the end and will speed up the process of creating and publishing new products.

  • Create Your Product Listings

    Once your products are ready, it is time to create your product’s listing images. Etsy allows you to upload up to 10 product listing images, and it is very recommended to use all of them.

    To increase your listing’s conversion rate, it is important to take the time and create the perfect listing images. If you are selling digital downloads, you wouldn’t need to take photos of your products (which is a huge advantage!).

    All you need to do is to have beautiful mockups for your products (you can create these mockups yourself or buy mockups online and save a lot of time). Another important thing to note when creating a new product listing is writing a great title and description for your product that will not only provide all the product’s details but also describe how this product can help your customer solve their problem.

    Another important thing to include in the title and description of the product is keywords. Your listing should be fully optimized for Etsy SEO, so you can rank high on Etsy search when your customer is searching for the kind of product you sell.

  • Open an Etsy Shop

    Is it important to have at least 10 – 20 products to list on Etsy when you first open your shop so that when a potential customer land on your shop, it doesn’t look a bit empty.

    Your shop page should be complete with enough products to make the customer more confident buying from you. To open your Etsy shop, all you would need to do is head over to Etsy and go through the process of registering your shop (you would need your billing information, your residential address, identification documents and, of course, your chosen name for your Etsy store).

    For your Etsy shop name – the limit is 20 characters, and there can’t be any spaces, so make sure to think ahead and decide on a name that will fit these limits. Once you have opened your Etsy seller account, you can now start uploading all your listings.

    Until you complete uploading all your listings, it is recommended that you don’t publish these listings but rather save them as drafts. That way, you can set up everything in your shop with no stress and only when everything is ready – publish your shop and announce it to the world.

  • Complete your Etsy Shop Profile

    A complete shop profile is one of the most important things in your shop. Etsy emphasises that a complete profile will help your rankings on Etsy and will help with your score.

    Aside from Etsy’s recommendations, I would say that having a complete shop profile is essential to increase your conversion rate. If a customer lands on your shop and sees very little or no details at all about your shop, about you as a seller, the ‘Why’ behind your shop and your products and even some photos of you. In that case, it will decrease the chances of them buying anything from you because they are not engaged.

    The Etsy platform, unlike Amazon, for example, is based a lot on a personal connection with the customers. This is why you can see a lot of small business sellers, family businesses and freelancers selling on the platform. If you want to succeed on Etsy – it is better to invest time in building this trust and connection with your customers right from the start.

  • Publish your Digital Downloads Shop on Etsy

    The most exciting day has arrived. All your listings are ready to be published, your store profile is complete, and you are ready to get your first sale! To increase your chances, it is great to start a grand opening sale for a few days, a few weeks or even a month to increase the chances of customers buying your products and leaving a 5-star review.

    Before you do that, make sure you have calculated all Etsy’s fees and factored them into your price so you won’t lose any money. The second thing that will set you up for success is downloading the Etsy app on your phone – so you can reply to any customers queries as soon as possible – this will help you make more sales and increase your ‘message response rate’ that is one of the factors needed to get the Star Seller badge.

    The third thing to do is not to sit quietly and wait for the sales to come through but to post on social media daily and start driving traffic to your store. Etsy loves sellers that consistently drive traffic to Etsy from external sources, and when you do that, you will not only increase your chance of getting sales (from the traffic that you brought), but it will also result in Etsy ranking you higher in their search results – which means more traffic to your listings.

How to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy and Be Successful Doing That? One Last Piece of Advice

Not to be a perfectionist when creating your products! It is better to upload your products as soon as they are ready and test the market to see if it sells, and if it does – then you can always go back and make them a bit better But don’t waste time keeping all your products on your computer and perfecting them again and again. Every week that goes by is a week where you could get your first sale, and there is no better feeling than seeing your first sale comes in! So just go for it!

If you are starting your side hustle and want to save precious time, check out the Busy Mom Side Hustle shop on Etsy for all your small business template needs.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through one of my links at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our blog!

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