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Selling digital downloads on Etsy

 
pollinator
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I've been an Etsy seller for a long time, about 5 years now. It's a great platform for handmade stuff but what many people do not know is that you can sell digital items on it.

So personally what I do is a form of graphic design - I create vector artwork for people with hobby craft vinyl cutters (like a Cricut or Silhouette Cameo) to use to make products such as vinyl decals, stencil for wood signs, t-shirts, etc. I didn't always do it this way - for most of my time on Etsy I've been selling the finished artwork but in february I started selling the downloads and it just blew up on me. I had NO idea how awesome it would be to be able to do this - I don't have deadlines hanging over my head for orders that have to go out. Etsy does all the work for me.

Etsy has an automatic delivery feature. If you have things listed and you've set up your shop well on Etsy (it's not really a "build it and they will buy" scenario, you DO have to put some work into branding, optimizing your items to be found in search, good photos, etc) you can very easily have some mostly passive income doing this.

I'm still doing some decals, but at this point about 60% of my income is all from digital item sales. And it's passive - so I can take a day off and make money. I can work out in the garden all day and make money. I can run errands in town and make money. I can sit with my sick kid and make money. You get the idea.

Here's a few of the things that people sell on Etsy:

Knitting and Crochet patterns
Clipart sets
watercolor graphics
photoshop brushes
stock photos
Resume templates
printable artwork
svg artwork for craft cutters
Printable bookmarks
printable gift tags
printable Invitations (weddings, birthdays, etc)
printable planner sheets
woodworking plans
embroidery patterns
printable photo booth props
Doll patterns
General sewing patterns
macrame patterns
fonts
calligraphy designs
digital scrapbook paper
product mockups for other businesses (usually photoshop files)
printable banners

And there's zillions more. Think creatively - do you have a skill or something you can make into a digital file that people might be interested in learning or using? Etsy has a lot of built in traffic and is a good incubator - I generally don't recommend depending on Etsy exclusively because they tend to monkey around with their search algorithm way too much but it's a fantastic starting point. The nice thing is the files are generally priced fairly low - between $2-10 depending on what it is - so it isn't like people have to shell out a ton of money but it all builds up and you get paid repeatedly and indefinitely on the same amount of work, if that makes sense. My bestselling item for example is something I don't even know how many times I've sold it but I know I've made at least $2k on it since March and I expect this trend to continue for at least a few years (although conversely, there are items I've made that have never sold as well).

And this post is brought to you by cooler weather today, which means I spent most of the day outside working, and then came in this evening after rooting 100+ cuttings at 9pm and checked my day's stats and saw I made pretty decent money today. And that was aside from the actual physical work I did. So I thought I'd share.
 
pollinator
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So, what was your big selling item?

I wonder if I could sell just a series of photographs that show me building certain things that everyone needs. I suppose it might be nice if they came with a set of plans as well. I have put together whole buildings, with a plan in my head, and nothing on paper. So I'm not the target market for this stuff.
 
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Dale,that sounds like a photographic version of good old "wordless workshop".
I wonder if the rocket stove builders sell plans on Etsy?
 
Bethany Dutch
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Dale Hodgins wrote:So, what was your big selling item?

I wonder if I could sell just a series of photographs that show me building certain things that everyone needs. I suppose it might be nice if they came with a set of plans as well. I have put together whole buildings, with a plan in my head, and nothing on paper. So I'm not the target market for this stuff.



My best seller is a design for a split monogram but most people sell similar ones and mine's kinda different, so it sells well A split monogram is basically where you take a big capital letter, split it in half, and write the full last name into the split. People use them for family signs and decorative stuff a lot. I sell the split letter artwork and then people add in the name themselves.

As far as your idea, what kinds of things do you mean? I think ebooks do well on Etsy. For example there's someone who has listed two chicken coop plans on there, $12.99 a pop and they have sold over 700 copies in two years. At least, if you can get what's in your head down on the computer

One way to kind of assess if there's a demand for something you want to sell is to go to Etsy and start playing around with the search bar. It will autopopulate certain keywords and those keywords mean there is a demand for that kind of product. Etsy keeps a "revolving door" of data in those keywords so if it comes up that means it's been frequently searched in the last month or two. You can also create your own demand by using social media and whatnot as well.

The nice thing is that most social media is "schedulable" so that you don't have to be on the computer constantly. There's tools that let you spend a few hours a month scheduling a month's worth of pinterest, facebook, and twitter posts at any given time. And the mailing lists are great too.

I mean - someone could come up with recipe cards for farmers to print off and use to help market their products at a market, stuff like that.
 
Bethany Dutch
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I think also one thing people tend to forget is that while we are all homesteading and permaculture goofballs, many of us have other hobbies and interests/skills that are not just directly related to homesteading. And it's important to note that today in 2017 we have the ability to make money online with something that doesn't relate at all to homesteading. My products don't relate to homesteading at all, except for some of my designs that are farm themed.

The key is I'm able to live out here remotely in a low income area, and market/sell digital products to people who have a lot more money than me all over the world. But I still consider myself making a living from the farm, in the sense that I've created income from my home independently. It's an option that didn't exist 20 years ago. I mean things change so fast - the very product I sell didn't even exist ten years ago. I'm not professionally trained, either, I just focus on learning as much as I can so I can stay ahead of the game and not be selling the same crap everyone else is.
 
gardener
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What are the fees for selling on Etsy? I'm looking into some options but I have not checked out Etsy yet.
 
Bethany Dutch
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Etsy charges $.20 per listing (and they last for 4 months before expiring). They also charge a 3.5% transaction fee on the selling price (equivalent to eBay's "Final value fee" and also there's a credit card processing fee of 3.5% or thereabouts. You can also pay extra to promote your items (like ads) within the search results which I do as well, although I've noticed the promoted items do better for me on physical items than my digital.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thank you, Bethany, you are a wealth of information. Even if all of our stuff isn't totally permaculture related, the money we put in their pockets can be used for all sorts of good things. Like you said, it allows you to live where you live and do what you do.
 
Daron Williams
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Thanks for the info!
 
Bethany Dutch
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No problem

I ask a LOT of questions around here but this is one area I can contribute! Also if anyone has an existing Etsy shop but it's not doing well I'd be happy to take a look and give constructive criticism... Just make sure you can take constructive criticism, of course
 
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