How to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy – The Complete Beginner’s Guide

I’m writing this piece in December when Etsy’s holiday-themed sales are in full swing. During this time, you can find many handmade items to fill your heart. Handmade items might b the driving force behind Etsy, but few people talk about digital downloads (despite their incredible product potential).

There are many reasons to sell digital products on Etsy. Below, we will show you the complete process of how and why you should participate.

etsy home

Why Sell Digital Products on Etsy?

Digital products might not be the draw for Etsy, but many products you can find under this category. Below are some compelling reasons to make digital sales on Etsy:

  • Digital items have no overhead, meaning you can spend little and earn a lot
  • It is easy to become an authority in the space if you are a skilled digital artisan
  • Etsy has a low listing fee compared to most eCommerce marketplaces
  • Etsy commands a lot of traffic and sales potential for talented artists
  • It has more specialized traffic compared to larger marketplaces

Despite not being as big as Amazon, Etsy commands a lot of attention. Because of this, you can hit a specialized target, dealing with less competition.

How to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy

Below, I will go through a five-step process you can use to attract prospective customers.

Step 1: Do Market Research


As a fantastic seller, your first goal is to do your homework. If you don’t know what is happening in the marketplace, you won’t find a tempting target.

The idea is to find underserved portions of the Etsy marketplace. You can do this by using the following tools:

  • Google Trends – Google Trends enables you to see breakout topics related to your target niche. You can also see historical data to see if it has long-term potential.
  • The Etsy Search Bar – The Etsy search bar will autocomplete long-tail keywords you can target. Using these autocomplete keywords can better fulfill the buyer’s needs.
  • Social Media – Social Media (like Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook) will contain many trending topics extending to eCommerce providers. Check the digital files available on these sites and see how you can improve upon them using your editing skills.
  • Third-Party Analytical Tools – Third-Party Analytical tools are available to allow you to see the search volume. Keywords Everywhere is a good starting point, as it enables you to spend $10 for a large quantity of search information.

If you do not have the skills with image editing software, you can learn how through online courses on sites like Udemy or Skillshare. Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are the two most popular examples.

You can also hire freelance talent on Freelancer, Upwork, and Fiverr to resell their creations. However, you will want to be honest with where you source your content on your shop.

Stating that you are a reseller upfront will ensure you don’t violate the trust of your shoppers. This admittance will be necessary for the future, especially if you want to establish a following.

Step 2: Set up Your Etsy Shop

etsy shop

First-time shop owners should work on establishing an engaging brand name, product description, and a short biography of your shop. Before Etsy allows you to create your first shop, you will need to produce a product listing.

We’ll discuss that shortly, but you will want a shop name that makes sense and sticks out. Here’s an example from one of the top sellers of digital planners:

etsy digital product

Astute observers might wonder how big of a fan of Steven Universe they are. However, the creators behind this brand have turned it into something of theirs.

You want to create a memorable brand, which the creators above have done. You don’t want to duplicate their strategy by creating your own Steven Universe-esque name, but being easy to remember is how you turn one sale into many.

Step 3: Create the Product and Set Prices

create your listing

Keep your inspiration up when it comes to product creation, looking at the potential competition of your target niche. If you want to dominate in any field, you’ll want to see how the big dogs do it.

When you create a listing, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Up to ten product photos (at least one)
  • (Maybe) a product video
  • A product title
  • The who, what, and when of your listing creation
  • Renewal options – whether the listing stays alive after a given period or automatically renews every four months)
  • Type – This dictates whether your product is physical or digital (do not forget this)
  • Description – this is the meta description that will show up for your item in Google search
  • Production Partner – If you work with someone who needs a cut of your profits
  • Sections – a way you can categorize items in your shop
  • Tags – keywords people might use to find your listing
  • Price – the cost you want to set
  • Quantity – the number you wish to sell. (not important)
  • SKU – Stands for stock keeping unit. (not important)
  • Personalization – Great if you would like to provide for a custom planner
  • Digital files – The last section where you can upload what you are selling

You’ll find that you can maximize quantity given that there is no such thing as “limited digital assets.” Those who have incredible success in the digital field need to have some customer service presence. However, this presence is smaller than what you need with physical items.

For product images, you’ll want to take inspiration from other providers. Showing the advantages of the product planner and seeing it in use on popular technology is often a good approach.

Step Four: Market your Products

digital product planner etsy

When you market your products, you’ll have a choice to choose off-platform or on-platform advertisements. In this case, you will have to deal with the CPC rates of your target keyword.

CPC, or cost per click (or PPC), is an advertising method where someone must click your ad for you to payout. This way, you pay less than other standard advertising methods.

You can find the latest PPC rates for target advertising using the Etsy Shop Manager. Your daily budget depends on the number of exposures you want to gain.

I use Keyword Everywhere to find the CPC in the example above, but you will want to confirm this on Etsy’s ad management platform. Advertising costs can change regularly as target keywords become competitive.

Eventually, you will gain enough customer reviews to gain exposure through Etsy SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This enables you to rank higher for both long-tail and short-tail keywords.

Eventually, you can build this into a platform of loyal shoppers. This involves asking them to follow you on social media or getting them on your email list.

Just be careful not to direct them to your Shopify eCommerce site. It is against Etsy’s terms of service to require shoppers to buy away from the platform.

Best Selling Digital Downloads On Etsy

Whether you sell educational materials or life improvement tips, Etsy has many options for selling products. Here are some of the most valuable items you can sell:

  • Etsy Shop Assets – Etsy sellers who love the platform like to keep things inside. Shop assets can also include planners, consulting services, and SEO tips.
  • eBooks And Guides – Digital eBooks and guides are both excellent options. You can do anything from providing how-to steps to allowing people to print your custom adult coloring books.
  • Resume Templates – Etsy is known as a place for good, giving a decent marketplace for resume templates. Make sure the templates you share are easy to edit.
  • Website Templates – WordPress themes and other CSS-inspired graphics are great for sale on Etsy.
  • Business Cards – Business cards are an easy method to provide physical contact information. Despite being in the digital nomad age, you can still use them.
  • Logos – If you want to sell personalized items, logos are a great start. Providing your expertise will be important here.
  • Digital Planners – Given that we’ve talked about them throughout this blog, it feels important to mention them as a product idea here.

If none of these appeals to you, try and search for digital products on Etsy to see what does. Just make sure there is a market for it before you start selling. You can also read this guide on the best digital products to sell & how you can sell them.

Selling Digital Products on Etsy – FAQs

Do I Need A License To Sell on Etsy?

No, Etsy does not require you to have a business license to use its services. Many self-employed sellers use this as another side hustle.

Starting a business entity does come with specific tax benefits.

What Size Should my Files be on Etsy?

Etsy has a 20MB file size limit, unfortunately. But if you have a larger file, it’s best to upload to a platform such as WeTransfer and add the download link into a text file.

If you upload image files for your product, make them at least 2000 px and 72 dpi to ensure image quality.

What Size Should My Prints Be on Etsy?

When selling products intended to be used on a large-scale printer, you should work with inches. This means that you should sell prints in numerous sizes, typically starting at 16×20 for standard paper.

When selling prints for larger posters, your image should match the average size of whatever you are producing.

What are the Best File Formats for Etsy?

Stick to JPGs or PNGs; both offer the highest possible image quality for selling images. For text-heavy content, use PDFs that have custom editing to them. You should also use PDFs if selling planners.

Offer business cards in an editable format (like a Canva file or Photoshop file). You can also offer to personalize the business card if you don’t want to rely on software.

How Do I Know Someone Won’t Resell My Files?

If you want to protect your files, your best method is to copyright and trademark your branding. By applying your branding to the planner, you can protect yourself against copyright infringement.

In this case, it will be essential to differentiate your digital item. This will ensure your potential buyers do not turn into unwanted resellers.

Conclusion – Should You Sell Digital Products on Etsy?

The digital sellers on Etsy are making a good deal of money. This is because many of them joined the platform during the early days, where Etsy was still building its customer base.

Today, Etsy is still a comparatively weaker eCommerce site but has great potential for people looking at specialized services. Using Etsy can be lucrative, provided you keep trying.

But I would still highly recommend Shopify for selling digital products. The reason is that Shopify doesn’t take a cut of your sales like Etsy, you only have a subscription fee and payment processor fees.

You will also have complete control over having your own store. Etsy does provide you with a public marketplace to gain starting traffic though, whereas Shopify you don’t. You are in control of bringing all the traffic to your Shopify store.

If you are interested in selling on Shopify, you can create a Shopify account and use our digital downloads app that we created.

If you want to learn more, please take a look at this guide on how to sell digital products on Shopify.