Platform Reviews

How To Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy: A Beginner’s Guide

by Kelsey McLellan · Updated Sep 13, 2023

Since being founded in 2005, Etsy has become the internet’s largest market for crafts and vintage finds. But did you know it’s also a bustling marketplace for digital downloads?

From sewing pattern PDFs and ebooks, to digital art and Procreate brushes, creators now use the platform to sell all kinds of digital products — and customers are lining up to purchase them. The e-commerce platform’s digital media market is blowing up, and now’s the time to cash in!

Want to get in? Then, you’re probably wondering how to sell digital downloads on Etsy. And we’re here to help. Read on as we show you how to sell digital downloads on Etsy in just four steps, as well as tips and tricks to boost your sales, and deets on some of the platform’s most profitable products.

Why sell digital downloads on Etsy?

Today, Etsy is one of the most popular platforms for selling digital downloads online. And for good reason!

The main reason Etsy is a great place to sell digital products comes down to its marketplace functionality. An online marketplace is an e-commerce website where multiple users can upload and sell products and services. In addition to sellers, these marketplaces also have a user base of active buyers. As it stands, Etsy has a market of over 96 million active buyers — aka potential customers for your digital downloads.

What’s even better is Etsy’s powerful search engine. This tool automatically connects Etsy’s 96 million buyers with your products, essentially delivering paying customers to your shop with zero marketing effort on your part.

But wait, there’s more: Etsy is also a great place to sell your digital downloads because it supports a ton of different file formats (like .doc, .pdf, .zip, .ePUB, etc.). This means you’re able to sell pretty much any digital product you desire, from printables like invitations and digital art, to tools like Lightroom presets and Procreate brushes.

how to sell digital downloads on etsy

What kind of digital downloads can you sell on Etsy? 

Because Etsy supports such a wide variety of file formats, there’s almost no limit to the kinds of digital products you can sell on the platform, making it a great place for a variety of creators to set up shop.

That being said, certain categories of digital products perform better than others on the platform. This is because Etsy caters primarily to a specific set of niches, including arts and crafts, design, and wellness. It almost goes without saying that Etsy sellers — and digital downloads — within these areas tend to make more sales compared to others.

Best-selling digital products on Etsy

With all that in mind, let’s dive into some of the most sought-after digital products on Etsy.

Sewing patterns

Etsy is the internet’s #1 marketplace for crafts, so it comes as no surprise that some of the platform’s best-selling digital downloads cater to the arts and crafts niche. Among them, printable sewing patterns perform particularly well.

Sewing patterns show users how to sew fabrics into soft goods with step-by-step instructions and paper templates for pattern-cutting. Printable sewing patterns can be created in design programs like Adobe Illustrator and, as their name suggests, are intended to be printed off for use at home.

From clothing and housewares to toys, sewing patterns exist for a wide variety of soft goods categories. On Etsy, digital sewing patterns for clothing tend to sell the best. For example, Aura Patterns, one of the platform’s most popular purveyors of digital sewing patterns, has made over 66,000 sales.

Printable stationery

Printable stationery is one of Etsy’s most lucrative digital download markets, with some of the niche’s most popular boutiques, like Willow Lane Paperie and A Wild Bloom Designs, boasting over 300,000 sales.

In addition to being hugely profitable, the category is large and wide-ranging, encompassing cards, invitations, labels, gift tags, and more, giving creators plenty of opportunity to flex their design skills — and to rake it in.

Pushing 390,000 digital product sales, Minty Paperie Shop is one of the category’s top performers and corners Etsy’s booming bridal niche. Some of the shop’s best-selling digital downloads include a printable baby shower bundle, a bridesmaids info card, and an event welcome letter-slash-itinerary.

Digital planners and journals

Have experience in graphic design and a knack for organization? Then you’ll want to consider cashing in on Etsy’s booming digital planners and journals market.

As their name suggests, digital planners and journals are organizational tools designed to be used on digital devices, like computers and smartphones via PDF annotation apps like Goodnotes or Notability. That being said, many digital planners and journals double as printable products, and can be printed off for analogue use.

Digital planner templates typically include sections for calendars, daily to-do lists, and goal trackers, but they can also include more niche tools. For example, this all-inclusive planner by Creative Dreamers Co features an additional meal planner and expenses tracker. Digital journals, on the other hand, include lined or grid pages for long-form or bullet journalling, alongside organizational extras like to-do lists or daily affirmations.

Printable wall art

Is Etsy the new art market? With over 2.5 million digital prints currently available on the platform, it sure seems like it.

Today, Etsy is the go-to for savvy consumers looking to spruce up their homes or office spaces. And artsy creators are cashing in, transforming their paintings, illustrations, and photographs into digital art.

Illustrator Emilie Muggleton has cashed in by creating a series of digital posters that can be printed off, framed, and hung up at home. Her best-selling styles include her popular zodiac series as well as this adorable Japanese cat poster, which all start at $12. To date, Emilie has made over 7,000 sales of her digital illustrations.

Want more digital product ideas? Discover 34 of the best-selling digital products on Etsy.

how to sell digital downloads on etsy

How much can you make selling digital products on Etsy?

Etsy’s digital downloads game is incredibly lucrative. How much you can earn, however, depends on a number of factors, including the size of your following, the niche you’re catering to, and the amount of effort you put into your Etsy shop. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can definitely earn a living off of digital downloads.

Take it from Rachel Jimenez, owner of successful Etsy shop Prosperous Printables. With her store, Rachel has cornered the market on Etsy’s printable templates category, offering digital downloads of business contracts and forms, puzzles and games, and income trackers. In May 2023, just over a year after launching her Etsy shop, Rachel told Business Insider that she was earning $9,500 per month on average in digital product sales alone.

From January to December 2020, Etsy shop Amma Rose Designs earned its owner Kayla over $93K in revenue. The graphic designer-slash-creator uses the platform to sell digital and printable notebooks, planners, and journals. Currently, Kayla’s best-selling digital downloads are her business planner bundles, which sell for $28.

Elsewhere on the platform, Brian Timothy earns over $70K in income by selling digital art through his shop Neptune Art Prints. The graphic designer and creator sells his digital art for $7.99 to $35.99 per print and, to date, has made over 39,000 sales. That’s a pretty penny!

4 Steps to sell digital downloads on Etsy

So you wanna know how to sell digital downloads on Etsy? Here, we break down the process into four simple steps, from market research to marketing.

1. Research

how to sell digital downloads on etsy

Don’t know what kind of digital downloads to sell on Etsy? Don’t sweat it! That’s exactly what the market research stage is for.

The goal of market research is to pinpoint holes in existing markets that aren’t being adequately filled. This will help you determine which products will provide real solutions, and ultimately earn you sales and cash.

Determine your audience’s needs

To come up with digital product ideas, you’ll want to determine your audience’s needs. For this step, creators have it pretty easy, as the majority of social media platforms provide many tools for them to connect directly with their audience. We suggest using your platform’s community and polling features to ask your audience what kinds of products and solutions they’re looking for.

Do some keyword research

Now that you have digital product ideas, it’s time to conduct some Etsy keyword research. By playing around with the Etsy search bar and paying close attention to auto-populated keywords, you can get a a good idea of what products are being sought after within your niche and precisely what to call them.

Sure, you might be selling “printable wrapping paper,” but did you know that “digital wrapping paper” actually gets more hits? You can also perform keywords research with tools like Google Trends to help target traffic outside of Etsy.

Scope out your competitors

Now that you have a solid product idea, you need to perfect the details. This means performing some product research by scoping out the competition.

Search for similar digital downloads on Etsy and take notes on pricing, listing assets, and product details. This will give you an idea of how much you should be selling your products for (you want to be competitive but shouldn’t be underselling), and what details to include in your listing images and description.

Product research will also guide you in fleshing out your own product idea. Note what competitors’ products might be lacking, and then build a better product!

5 Reason Why You Need To Do Competitor Research #erank #marketingstrategy #sellonetsy #etsysellertips #etsytips #etsybeginnertips #makemoneyonline #etsytiktok #etsysmallbusiness #etsy2023 #etsy how to successfully sell on Etsy, how to improve your sales on Etsy, how to improve your shop through erank

♬ Cake – Soft boy

Plan the process

Once you’ve finished all that valuable research, you’re ready to start plotting out the production process. This means planning out everything from ideation to launch, including your budget, your resources, your timeline, and of course your go-live date.

Be realistic with your deadlines (templates don’t just fall into place, and an ebook doesn’t write itself in a day!) And don’t forget to factor in post-launch endeavors like marketing initiatives to get your product’s name out there.

Pro tip: Download the Leap’s free Digital Product Launch Checklist for more tips on how to go from planning your digital product to making your first sale!

The 6-Step Checklist for Selling Your First Digital Product

How to go from an initial idea to your first sale!

2. Create your digital product

how to sell digital downloads on etsy

Now, it’s time to create your digital product. This is definitely the toughest part of the process, but if you put in the effort to create a high-value digital download, the payoff can be enormous. So keep your eyes on the prize!

Start small

It’s easy to bite off more than we can chew. While you might have an idea for the most amazing — and elaborate — digital product, it pays to start small.

We suggest creating smaller and simpler digital products in the beginning. This will help you get your business up and running faster, while helping you avoid burnout. Once you’ve got one simple digital product under your belt (and in your Etsy shop), you can then expand your offering with more complex products or monetize by creating 2.0 versions of existing products.

Choose your digital tools

Next, you’ll want to get your digital toolkit ready. From the popular Adobe Creative Cloud to options like Canva, there are tons of digital tools you can use to create your digital downloads. The ones you choose to use will be determined by the kind of product you’re looking to make, and how much you’re willing to spend on them.

Different digital products require different digital tools to create. For example, digital art, digital wallpapers, and decorative printables are made with design programs like Adobe Illustrator or Procreate. If you’re looking to sell Lightroom presets, you’ll need to purchase Adobe Lightroom. The same goes for creating Procreate brushes on Procreate. Want to create beautiful templates and event printables, then you’ll want to consider purchasing fonts and design assets from Creative Market or subscribing to Envato Elements.

One of the perks of creating and selling digital products is the low production costs. This is because the digital tools used to make them are generally less expensive than their real-world counterparts. We suggest you take full advantage of this perk by using free and open-source tools when you can. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Canva (freemium app for creating templates, printables, and other digital designs)
  • Affinity Photo and Editor (free alternative to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom)
  • Gimp (free alternative to Adobe Photoshop)
  • Inkscape (free alternative to Adobe Illustrator)
  • Apple KeyNote (free Mac app for creating digital planners and journals on Goodnotes and other PDF readers)

3. Set up your Etsy shop

how to sell digital downloads on etsy

Phew, your digital product is finally finished and ready to be unleashed upon the world. To do that, you’ll need to set up your Etsy shop.

Open your storefront

Before you can get your shop up and running, you’ll need to create an Etsy account. Once that’s done, you’re able to open your Etsy shop.

The process is relatively short: you’ll need to provide some information about where you’re selling from and your business experience, select your shop’s language and currency, and, finally, choose a name for your Etsy shop.

Be sure to give this last step some serious thought. Your shop’s name will feature heavily in your products’ branding and marketing assets, so it should be reflective of their design, purpose, and specific niche.

Finally, you’ll need to set up your payment and billing details so you can get, you know, paid!

Spruce up your storefront

Etsy functions as a marketplace, which means that creators of all kinds set up their own storefront within the platform’s infrastructure. Unfortunately, that means Etsy doesn’t provide creators with as many customization features as website-building platforms like Shopify. That being said, there are still tons of ways to make your Etsy shop your own.

Your shop’s banner is the first things customers will see when they visit your page, so you’ll want to make sure it’s on-brand and extra eye-catching. Once you’ve expanded your digital product offering, you can begin creating categories of products in your shop’s main grid and side bar. Etsy also allows you to merchandise your shop by arranging your products into the order you see fit and by selecting “featured” items, which will be served to your customers at the top of the page.

List your digital downloads

Now, it’s time to list your digital products. Remember that your product listing page functions like a sales associate. This page is where you’ll provide potential customers with all the information they need to know about your product. This includes highlighting all your product’s amazing selling features, posting eye-catching imagery and videos, and writing descriptive, easy-to-read product descriptions.


@beyond_jewels answer to your question about how to make Etsy listing videos even if you sell digital products 😊. #Tiktoketsyshopowner #etsymom #etsyusa #etsyshopowners #etsytak #etsyseo #etsycoach

♬ I’M FEELING LUCKY – Ellen Once Again

4. Promote your digital downloads

how to sell digital downloads on etsy

Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to start selling digital downloads!

Etsy’s search engine does a great job at connecting your digital products with the customers who want them. However, if you want to truly max out your sales, you’ll definitely want to engage in some marketing endeavors.

Promote your digital downloads through content

As a creator, content is your wheelhouse, and one you’ll definitely want to leverage to market your digital product. By promoting through content, you’ll get your digital download in front of your audience’s eyes — they are your target market, after all! With effective marketing content, those views are sure to turn into sales.

There are a few different ways you can use content as a promotional tool. First, you can create content about your digital products. This means posts dedicated to promoting your digital download and talking about its selling features. However, you don’t want to turn all your posts into advertisements, so just one or two per product will do.

Next are the links! It almost goes without saying, but be sure to include a link to your product listings in your content’s captions or link buttons in your videos. Also, don’t forget to leverage that link in bio. Add links to your newest product listings to your social channel’s profile page or to your link in bio tool.

Use Etsy Ads

Got a bigger budget for marketing? Why not give paid advertising a go? Etsy Ads is the platform’s in-app paid advertising program, which allows sellers to advertise their products in Etsy search results and other pages on the platform.

Etsy Ads helps your products stand out from the rest, placing them at the top of Etsy search results to get your products in front of as many potential customers as possible.

Simply set up your budget, and Etsy does the rest, optimizing your campaigns to advertise your product listings in the places where they perform best, including category pages and market pages on and the Etsy app.

Send out newsletters (or Etsy direct messages)

In the world of social media, emails might seem outdated. But, truth is, newsletters are still some of the most effective marketing tools around.

Etsy doesn’t offer sellers a way to collect customers’ email addresses or send out newsletters, so you’ll need to subscribe to a third-party newsletter service like Mailchimp to run your campaigns and collect those emails. Once you’ve signed up, you can include links to your email capture landing page in your Etsy shop’s bio, on your product listing pages, and even in your “thank you” notes to customers.

A way some thrifty Etsy sellers get around the platform’s lack of email marketing support is to send direct messages to their shop’s followers through the platform itself. Essentially, these messages serve as your newsletter, a space where you can inform your customers about new products, offer them exclusive discounts, and more. Unfortunately, Etsy’s in-app messaging doesn’t allow sellers to send the same message to more than one buyer at a time. But if you’re willing to put in a little elbow grease (and smash that Ctrl+V), you can definitely make this method work for you.

Tips for maximizing your digital download sales on Etsy

Marketing initiatives are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to maximizing your digital download sales on Etsy. From amping up your branding to polishing up your product pictures, there are many other ways you can increase your sales.

1. Run a sale

how to sell digital downloads on etsy

A great way to boost your sales is to, well, run a sale! Luckily, Etsy makes setting up a sale easy — everything can be done through your Shop Manager in just a few clicks.

Etsy’s user-friendly “Run a Sale” page allows sellers to create their custom sale by filling in a few parameters including discount percentages, length of sale, and free shipping. Once your sale starts, the app will automatically display your products’ discounted prices on their listing pages, your store’s home page, and in Etsy search results.

From there, it’s up to you how you choose to promote your sale, through content, newsletter, or Etsy direct messages.

2. Upload high quality images (and videos)

how to sell digital downloads on etsy

Want to make your digital products pop? Create eye-catching product images!

Your digital product’s hero image is the first (and only) thing a potential customer sees while browsing Etsy search results. So it’s important that this image is eye-catching enough to warrant a click.

Unlike IRL products like vintage clothes or housewares, digital products can’t be photographed. Instead, digital products are captured and displayed through graphics, like digital collages. This means that, if you haven’t already, you’ll need brush up on your design skills in apps like InDesign or Canva to make the most of your product listings.

Here are a few pointers to make your product images pop:

  • Use white or light colored backgrounds so your products stand out.
  • Create clean, uncluttered layouts.
  • Don’t be afraid of high contrast or bright colours.

Etsy also allows sellers to add videos to their listings alongside images. You can leverage these engaging sales tools by taking screen captures that walk users through your product’s functionality.


A/B testing your listing images can be a great way to get extra eyes on your product. Because sometimes its not the product it’s self that is the issue but the way it’s being presented. #sellingcanvatemplates #etsysellerforbeginners #canvatemplatestosellonetsy #etsysellertips #howtomakepassiveincomeonline

♬ original sound – Des | Income Online Tips

3. Sell bundles

Everyone loves a deal! Sell your customers more for less with bundles. On Etsy, a bundle is a set of digital products that are being sold at one discount price, under one listing. In the platform’s digital media market, bundles are incredibly popular among sellers and buyers.

Bundles entice customers to spend more money in your shop, offering them the opportunity to buy multiple products at a discounted rate. On the flip side, this means more sales — and profits — for you.

When it comes to selling bundles, you should sell products that make sense together. You wouldn’t want to bundle pantry labels with gift tags, for example. However, if you’re cornering the market on event printables, you’d likely want to bundle all your wedding-related products together, so your customers can purchase everything they need for the big day in one fell swoop — and at bundle pricing.


My best selling SUKI menu and name card bundle is every minimalist bride’s dream 🥰 Elegant, refined and modern, find the SUKI menu digital template on my Etsy store, SHE IS EVERLI, or DM me for a fast printing quote 🤍 Various colours and textures of paper available to suit your theme! . . . #wedding #weddingtiktok #weddingday #weddingvibes #weddingstationery #menu #menusimple #minimalist #minimalism #sydneywedding #printery #bride #bridetobe #bridetok #weddingplanning

♬ only love can hurt like this – favsoundds

Is it worth selling digital downloads on Etsy?

So now you know how to sell digital downloads on Etsy. After reading this guide, you might now be wondering whether it’s worth it. Take it from us: the answer is yes!

Because of its massive global user base, powerful search engine, and built-in marketing features, Etsy has become one of the most lucrative places to sell digital downloads online. Want to cash in? The first place to start is by creating your first digital product — oh, and signing up for an Etsy account!

Ready to start earning? Download the Leap’s free (that’s right, free!) Digital Product Launch Checklist for more useful tips on how to unlock your passive income potential.

how to sell digital downloads on etsy


Is it worth it to sell digital downloads on Etsy?

Yes! Selling digital downloads on Etsy is absolutely worth it. Selling digital downloads allows creators to earn a passive income (which is the best kind, if you ask us!) When you sell products on Etsy, you don’t only save time and money producing your products (since digital downloads only need to be produced once before being sold ad infinitum), you also save time and money on your marketing efforts. That’s because Etsy’s marketplace functionality and powerful search engine connects your products with a market of over 96 million potential customers.

Can you make a lot of money selling digital downloads on Etsy?

Absolutely! If you’re willing to put the time and effort into creating high-value digital downloads, you stand to earn a good living by selling them on Etsy.

Etsy is an incredibly lucrative market for digital products, especially categories like sewing patterns, printable stationery, website templates, digital journals and planners, digital art, and Lightroom presets. A successful Etsy seller can sell multiple digital downloads and earn five-figure salaries per year, while top performers can sell hundreds of digital products..

What tools do I need to create digital products to sell on Etsy?

There are plenty of digital tools you can use to create digital products to sell on Etsy. The tools you’ll need depend on the digital downloads you’re looking to make. Popular tools for digital printables and templates include Adobe InDesign and Canva, while creators making digital art might turn to Adobe Illustrator or Procreate. Other popular digital tools include Adobe Lightroom for Lightroom presets, and Apple KeyNote for digital journals and planners.

Follow The Leap on TikTokInstagram, and YouTube for more creator platform walk-throughs. We also make a newsletter.

Further reading

kelsey mclellan
About the author

Kelsey McLellan

Kelsey McLellan is a writer and editor based in Toronto.
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