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How Do Printables WorK?

How Do Printables Work?

Printables are digital files that get printed (or not) after the customer receives the file. For this reason, they are often referred to as digital downloads. Although, they can be printed, it is also common to offer a fillable PDF that allows the user to interact with the document and enter information. You might also want to create a template that people can edit in a graphic design software tool or in PowerPoint or Word before printing.

To get started with selling printables, you will need a few things.

A marketplace: A printable marketplace is anywhere that you can list your product and make sales. Some popular marketplaces include Etsy and Creative Market.

However, you can also sell your printables on your own website. Some popular options include WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace and Wix.

A host: In order for your customer to download your printable, it needs to be hosted somewhere. On Etsy, you will upload your file so that it can be downloaded instantly. However, if you decide to sell on your own website, you may need to upload it to:

  • Your website
  • Your shopping cart software
  • A digital storage area such as Google Drive or Dropbox

Sometimes, the files are compressed into a ZIP file for quicker downloading. This is also helpful if your product contains multiple documents. However, if it is a small file, you can offer it as is.

Promotion: If you have created a listing on Etsy, you may get some traffic organically (that means without paid ads). However, as a new store, you may need to spend some time and effort promoting your product. This is true whether you choose to sell on a marketplace like Etsy or on your own website.

Some of the most popular ways to promote printables are:

  • Paid ads (on social media platforms or search engines)
  • Social media (Posting regularly about your products in order to drive traffic to your listings)
  • Your website (Blog about your products and topics related to your products and include links)
  • Email (Incentivize people to sign up for your email list and use your emails to promote your products)

Some ways that you can incentivize people to sign up for your email list or visit your store are to provide discounts or to provide a simple free printable and encourage them to buy the more advanced version on your store.

How Do Customers Print Their Printables?

Most printables can be printed on home printers. For high quality art, invitations, marketing materials or other products where quality matters, purchasers might prefer to contact a local print shop or send the file to an online service that prints and sends. Professional printing might also be required for custom or large-size materials like posters.

Some printables are designed to be used more than once. For example, I purchased some photography cheat sheets for use in the field. In this case, I could get them laminated to last longer.

Daily or weekly planners on the other hand are intended to last for a short period, and home printing would be fine. Although images and graphics can make your planner design stand out, consider that they also require more ink for printing.

Printable Sizing

Many printable sellers choose to offer their printables in more than one size. For example, a customer might want a standard 8.5 x 11-inch letter or they might be looking for a 7 x 9-inch page size to fit a agenda binder that they already have.

Printable art might come in different aspect ratios such as 1:1 (square), 3:2 (landscape) or 5:7 (portrait). Many artists offer multiple sizes based on common frame sizes.

In reality any size is acceptable because the customer can trim their paper, but consider the end use of the item. Invitations will need to fit in standard envelopes (or you might provide a matching foldable envelope). Maybe you are selling recipe cards, in which case they need to fit in a card box. The more practical your item, the more people will want to purchase it.

The resolution affects the sharpness of an image. The higher the resolution, the sharper your printable will appear when the customer prints it out. If you use a low resolution, the design may appear pixelated, which means you will see tiny squares when you look closely. For digital art, 300 dpi is recommended.

How Many Times Can Printables Be Printed?

There are very technical ways to prevent people from printing multiple times. For example, sites that sell sheet music are often strict about limiting prints. However, for most of us, it is fine for the customer to simply download the file and use it as many times as they want.

As you are the creator of printable, you own the copyright. However, it is important to make it clear that customers cannot sell it or share it in the terms and conditions.

Are Printables Passive Income?

To get started with printables, you will need to put some time into:

  • Creating the printables
  • Deciding your business brand and niche
  • Researching keywords
  • Marketing your business

Setting up your store on Etsy may be easy, but if you sell offline, you will need some technical skills.

Another issue to consider is how many printables you should sell. Unlike a signature digital program, which addresses one specific need and could sell for as much as $5,000, printables sell for a low price point. This makes it more of a numbers game. You need to have many different printables to satisfy the needs of a high number of people.  

If you get everything right, it’s true that you may see sales coming in “while you sleep,” but no passive income opportunity is truly passive. It takes some effort to design and market printables that sell and, depending on your niche, prices may be low. Be prepared to dedicate time to make your business successful.

However, compared to other digital marketing products out there, printables can be created to serve a simple need, such as planning a party or a week of meals. There is a low barrier to entry, and you don’t need any software that you probably don’t already have. Therefore, it makes sense to add printables as a side hustle or an additional service to your online business.

Download the list of printable ideas today.