For those with a knack for graphic design who have wondered how to convert their talents into an online business, creating and selling printables may be just the way to go. In today’s printables market, print on demand (POD) services are a lucrative resource for creative entrepreneurs looking to offer printable products across various sales channels cost-effectively (and profitably).
Of course, like any labor of love, selling printables is not an overnight success. Even with natural talent, it will require a bit of work to convert a passion for design into a stable stream of passive income. From determining the optimal product niche and POD service provider to launching an online storefront, here are the six steps you need to know about how to make printables to sell.
Printables are a variety of digital products customers can buy, download, and print at home.
To understand how to make printables to sell, creators must decide on a specific product niche, develop product designs, and effectively set up and market their online storefront.
The print on demand (POD) business model allows sellers to offer their printable designs across a wide range of products while never needing to hold or manage inventory.
Printables are a type of digital product customers can purchase and download to either print at home or pay a premium to have it converted into a physical product via print on demand services. Digital printables, like event invitations, wall art, and daily planner templates, can be offered across many sales channels, including social platforms like Instagram and ecommerce storefronts on Shopify and Etsy.
While selling digital downloads can be a profitable operation in itself, print on demand services act as a strong upsell opportunity by offering customers a way to convert these digital products into physical products for a premium price. The Gelato+ subscription offers sellers top-tier POD resources — including millions of high-quality graphics, fonts, and premium stock photos — to help create a wide variety of printable products that match any customer's every need.
Absolutely! Creating and selling printables is an excellent way to earn passive income and in some cases, a full-time income. Keep in mind that the profitability of your printables will depend on your design quality, price point, and the overall unique selling points (USP) that differentiate your items from competitors. Likewise, you will need to consider operational costs, such as marketing efforts, product listing optimizations, and the selected POD service, which can impact overall profitability.
The amount of money a seller can make offering printable products on sales channels such as Instagram, Etsy, and Shopify can vary. Generally speaking, those new to the space and just getting their storefront off the ground can earn upwards of $400 a month. In contrast, those with well-established shops with high customer traffic can drive over $4,000 a month in profitability.
While using print on demand services to help design and print a wide variety of printable products seems pretty straightforward, this is only part of the equation. To obtain a profitable operation with long-term growth, ecommerce entrepreneurs must follow these six steps on how to make printables to sell.
Determining your product niche is a key step when building a profitable printables online business. When brainstorming which designs and product types to offer, first consider your own personal design skills and passions. For example, if you have experience within the education sector, consider designing educational printables like worksheets and classroom posters. If you’re a foodie or a home cook, you may want to create meal-planning templates and simple recipe cards.
When narrowing in on a product niche, conducting a few general searches on popular sales channels, like Amazon and Etsy printables, can also be helpful. These searches will reveal the types of products available on the market today, including a vast collection of popular printables such as:
Event-related printables, including invitations, planner templates, and brochures.
Children's printables, including coloring pages, educational worksheets, and wall art.
Organizational printables, including monthly calendars, daily planner pages, and meal-planning templates.
Seasonal printables, including gift tags and holiday greeting cards.
Research on current printable product listings helps sellers understand what product niches are trending or rising in popularity and the general price points and demand they hold. Once you settle on a niche, use search engines like Google and social media platforms like Instagram to research competitors that offer similar products and assess the available prices and designs.
Now that you’ve locked in on a product niche, it’s time to start on the star of the show: designing your products! Assess the various printable ideas you browsed across social media and ecommerce marketplaces to understand which design styles, fonts, and color selections are most popular.
Once you begin to select basic design components, be sure to keep your end consumer in mind. While you might like the look of certain fonts or color combinations, your printables need to be easy to read and visually appealing to your customers. As a general rule of thumb, stick to two or three fonts and color combinations in your designs to avoid cluttered-looking printables.
Speaking of cluttered-looking designs, remember to choose wisely if you plan to incorporate images or graphics when creating printables. The quality of your imagery will directly translate to the quality of your printables design. Stock photo tools such as Shutterstock and Getty Images offer an enormous image collection that can be used within your designs without copyright concerns.
With all this being said, if product design isn’t your strong suit, but you still have an idea of what you want, it may be easier to seek the assistance of a professional instead. Graphic designers are equipped with the tools and knowledge you may need to finalize and produce your designs.
(Tip: The Gelato+ subscription unlocks user access to millions of Shutterstock and Getty Images stock photos as well as free graphics and premium fonts!)
With your printable designs ready, you must select a sales channel(s) that best meets your preferences. Your first sales channel option could be to develop a website and domain for your printables brand. This option offers complete design and functionality control but requires more marketing and technical skills than popular ecommerce platforms and marketplaces.
Unlike personal business websites, ecommerce platforms such as WooCommerce and Shopify offer a custom domain for your business but also come equipped with pre-developed website templates and technical support. Ecommerce platforms are ideal for sellers without website-building experience, but they may limit specific customization options and incur monthly platform fees.
Ecommerce marketplaces, including Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, are an additional option. Rather than a single domain, sellers manage their storefront directly inside the marketplace, which helps access a broad audience of potential customers. But like ecommerce platforms, sellers are much more limited when it comes to storefront personalization and will be subjected to purchase fees.
Lastly, those wondering how to make printables sell should also consider social media platforms, including Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. These social networks turned sales channels are great for building a community around your brand and targeting a specific audience. However, these platforms are most limited in terms of store customization and overall selling features.
Whether you settled on an Etsy shop, developed a Shopify website, or have started from scratch, now is the time to set up your storefront. You will start by creating an account on your chosen platform(s) and begin building your storefront. Remember to integrate any ecommerce plug-ins, such as your accounting and POD software, to streamline operations later.
The setup phase will also require creating a memorable and catchy store name that aligns with your brand and product niche. Design a store logo that complements your store name through the help of a professional designer or design tools such as Canva or Adobe Illustrator. As you work through the design and customization process, adhere to the same color palettes and fonts for consistent branding.
Once your visuals are ready to launch, you must complete a few administrative tasks to finalize the store setup process. These include laying out your various store policies concerning product returns, exchanges, and cancellations. Likewise, you'll need to take the time to select a preferred shipping method and provide general information, such as time frames and shipping rates.
With your own printables on hand and an ecommerce storefront ready to go, let's now add the digital printables to your store. When uploading printables, you’ll need to provide high-quality photos for each of your product listings. It’s best to provide multiple photos for each product with varying angles and depths to help give potential customers a detailed view of your items.
Next, you must write compelling product descriptions to help support product discoverability. A quality description will include product features, dimensions, and materials — but it will also use relevant keywords, like “elementary school homework planner.” Keywords are integral to help optimize your listings so users can easily find your products on search engines and marketplaces.
With product listings laid out, setting your prices is the final step to complete product listing optimization. To align with your desired profit margin, you'll need to price your printables according to the level of effort and overall costs required to produce the item. Competitor research is also helpful during the pricing process as it lets you see how comparable products are priced.
When figuring out how to make printables sell, the last thing you should do is slack on your marketing efforts. To support long-term business growth, start by addressing your brand's social media pages and begin sharing organic posts to gain followers' attention. You can also run paid ads through platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to reach prospective customers who have not yet followed your pages.
Once you build a decent following, leveraging those users to craft an email marketing list is crucial. This can be done by guiding existing social media followers to a company website or a general sign-up form where willing customers can provide their email addresses. It may be helpful to run promotions or offer discount codes to those who sign up for your email marketing initiatives.
With a strong email list, you should begin sharing product promotions and other interesting information regarding your printables business. Emails can include details regarding newly released printables and upcoming design plans. Likewise, sending follow-up emails after purchase is an effective way of collecting customer feedback that can improve operations.
To direct attention to your brand and encourage sales, offering a free version of your products to interested social media followers and email list subscribers in the early days of your business may also be helpful. If profitability is a concern, printable brands can instead opt for giveaways that gain the attention of followers but only issue a free printable product to a select few winners.
When learning how to make printables to sell, the above six steps are integral for an online business that can generate consistent revenue. Remember to start by selecting your product niche and establishing your online storefront through your preferred platform. From here, you can begin designing and uploading your printables and jumpstart your long-term marketing efforts.
For those wishing to enhance their printables business and offer digital items and physical products, now is the time to join forces with a reputable print on demand (POD) service provider. Gelato is an industry-leading POD provider that offers a robust collection of printable products, including but surely not limited to calendars, wall art, business cards, and flyers.
Partnering with a quality POD service like Gelato eliminates the need to hold and manage product inventory, as we handle the entirety of the order fulfillment process — from product production to worldwide shipping and delivery — saving you significant time and costs. And with our sustainable business model, which leverages a global network of production partners across 32 countries, printables are produced closer to your customers for faster delivery and a smaller carbon footprint.
To streamline your operations as much as possible, Gelato can also be integrated with various ecommerce platforms, including Etsy, Shopify, and WooCommerce, so your orders are always processed quickly and efficiently. If you’re looking to build an ecommerce printables store with physical products but never manage inventory, discover the services Gelato has to offer.