Making Money Online

Profit with Printables: How to Make Passive Income Selling Digital Downloads

Earning passive income with digital downloads is an enticing idea. Who wouldn’t want to make money while they sleep? With the right strategy, you can build a business selling printable products online. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to create and sell digital downloads to make passive income.

Why Sell Digital Downloads?

Digital downloads offer multiple advantages over physical products:

  • Low overhead. No inventory, shipping or handling costs. Just upload files and start selling.
  • High margins. Earn up to 100% profit since your only costs are hosting and digital delivery.
  • Ease of production. Make products once then sell them countless times.
  • Passive income stream. Keep earning when a sale is made, even if you’re sleeping!
  • Global reach. Sell to anyone, anytime, anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Scalability. No physical product limitations. Sell to a few or millions with the same effort.
  • Creative fulfillment. Fun to keep designing new products.
  • Work from home. Enjoy the freedom and flexibility of being location independent.

With minimal startup costs, selling digital downloads is an attainable goal for solopreneurs. The passive income potential makes it a smart side hustle or full-time business.

Step 1: Pick a Niche

To maximize visibility and sales, it’s best to focus on a specific niche. Choose one aligned with your interests and expertise. Consider niches like:

  • Home organization
  • Teacher resources
  • Wedding planning
  • Fitness and health
  • Childcare
  • Personal finance
  • Meal planning

Conduct keyword research to assess demand and competition levels for niches you’re considering. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner help gauge search volume and suggested bid prices for keywords.

Select a niche with strong interest that isn’t overly saturated. You’ll have the best chance reaching and monetizing an engaged audience.

Step 2: Choose What to Sell

With a niche selected, determine your downloadable products. Bestsellers include:

  • Printables
  • Planners, trackers, logs, labels, bookmarks
  • Budget, savings, bill trackers
  • Meal, exercise, habit trackers
  • Cleaning schedules, chore charts
  • Goal setting worksheets
  • Grocery, medication, to-do lists
  • Calendars, agendas
  • Flashcards, binder covers
  • Stationery, wall art, bunting
  • Games, activities
  • Templates
  • Resumes, cover letters
  • Business cards, letterhead, invoices
  • Social media posts
  • Podcast show notes
  • Email newsletters
  • Worksheets, agreements
  • Educational Resources
  • Study guides, revision notes
  • Lesson plans, activity sheets
  • Coloring pages, workbooks
  • Teacher welcome packs
  • Classroom decor
  • Graphics
  • Icons, buttons, banners
  • Blog, web images
  • Logos, business card designs
  • Instagram highlights covers
  • YouTube thumbnails
  • Social media posts
  • Infographics

Study top sellers on marketplaces like Etsy. Use Google Trends to find rising searches. Make products people are seeking that align with your skills.

Step 3: Create Your Digital Goods

Next, it’s time to start creating! You don’t need design skills to make quality products. Basic computer programs like Word, Publisher and PowerPoint offer enough functionality for simple templates, trackers and printables.


For more advanced graphic creation, use:

  • Canva: Free graphic design tool with templates for social media, presentations, documents and more. Offers both free and paid items.
  • Creative Market: Marketplace with graphics, fonts, templates, add-ons and more. Products start at $2.
  • Graphic River: Massive collection of graphics, templates, photos, fonts and add-ons. Single item downloads start at $1.
  • Adobe Stock: Database with millions of assets. 10 free images per month or subscribe from $29/month.

Tools and Resources

Helpful creation tools and resources:

  • Microsoft Office: Word for documents, Excel for spreadsheets, Publisher for layout/design.
  • Google Suite: Docs, Sheets, Slides. Free alternative to Office.
  • Color scheme generators: Coolors, Adobe Color, Picular, Canva Color Palette Generator.
  • Image databases: Unsplash, Pexels, Pixabay. Free high quality photos.
  • Icon libraries: Flaticon, Icons8, Iconfinder. Free and premium icons.
  • Font sites: Google Fonts, Adobe Fonts, Creative Market, Font Squirrel. Free and low cost fonts.

Take time to create quality, visually appealing designs. Well-designed products help build your brand and credibility.

Step 4: Set Up Your Website

To sell downloads directly instead of through a marketplace, you need a website. Some options:

Ecommerce Platforms

All-in-one solutions for creating online stores like:

  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce
  • Squarespace
  • Wix

Offer themes, customization, and integrated payment processing. Easy to set up but monthly fees apply.

membership Plugins

Add members-only areas to WordPress sites with plugins like:

  • MemberPress
  • Memberful
  • PaidMembershipsPro

Sell access to downloads with recurring subscriptions.

LMS Platforms

Learning management systems like:

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Website Builders

Simple drag-and-drop site creation platforms:

  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • Squarespace

Lower cost options to build basic sites. Limited compared to self-hosted WordPress but usable for simple stores.

Consider hiring a web developer if you need a custom or advanced site.

Step 5: Configure Your Payment Processor

To get paid, integrate a payment gateway like:

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Square

Offer recurring billing for subscription options.

Use PayPal for marketplaces like Etsy and Creative Market.

Payment processing services typically charge 2-3% per transaction. Calculate costs when pricing products.

Step 6: Set Up Your Selling Accounts


Great places to sell digital downloads:

  • Etsy – Leading site for handmade, vintage and craft supplies including digital items.
  • Creative Market – Popular digital marketplace with global reach.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers – Thriving hub to sell teaching resources.
  • Gumroad – Streamlined platform just for digital products.

These handle marketing, traffic, secure transactions, and delivery. Easy to start but limited customization and seller fees apply.

Direct Sales

Sell downloads directly from your site for higher margins and control. Requires driving your own traffic through:

  • SEO
  • Pinterest
  • Social media
  • Email lists
  • Partnerships
  • Advertising

Allows custom branding, packaging and sales funnels.

Utilize both marketplaces and direct sales to maximize reach.

Step 7: Upload Your Products

Follow each platform’s process to upload products, enter information, add images and set pricing.

Important listing details:

  • Titles – Include main keywords and benefits
  • Descriptions – Explain usefulness, contents, requirements
  • Tags/keywords – Maximize visibility
  • Images – Show it in use, mockups, previews
  • Pricing – Consider value offered, competition, production costs

Having clear, consistent product information builds trust.

Step 8: Market Your Business

With products live, it’s go time! Now focus on getting found by buyers.

Optimize Your Website

  • Create SEO-friendly content like articles, guides and email autoresponders.
  • Update site copy, page titles and descriptions to highlight keywords.
  • Write alt text for all images including keywords where relevant.
  • Create an SEO-optimized blog and link internally to products.
  • Build backlinks through guest posts, interviews and directories like Help a Reporter.
  • Add schema markup to enrich how your site appears in SERPs.

Promote on Social Media

  • Share your products and content on relevant social platforms.
  • Create reels and videos to showcase products attractively.
  • Run Facebook and Instagram ads targeting ideal buyers.
  • Develop an authentic brand voice that connects with your audience.
  • Collaborate with influencers in your niche to expand reach.

Utilize Pinterest

  • Create eye-catching product pin images.
  • Share pins prominently linking to products in your store.
  • Create Pinterest Story pins to increase engagement.
  • Tailor boards, profiles and pins to ranking keywords.
  • Collaborate on group boards related to your niche.

Pinterest is a top referral source for ecommerce sites. Lean into their powerful visual search.

Build Email Lists

  • Offer lead magnets in exchange for emails like coupons or freebies.
  • Send regular updates with valuable content to nurture leads.
  • Promote sales, new products, bundles, limited-time offers.
  • Segment and personalize messages based on interests and activity.

Email converts at high rates with relatively low costs.

Run Sales and Promotions

  • Offer limited-time discounts on new product launches.
  • Provide exclusive discounts or bonuses to email subscribers.
  • Create tiered pricing packages like get 3 for the price of 2.
  • Partner with related brands for joint promotions.
  • Consider free plus shipping offers to build your list.

Special offers encourage sales and help acquire new customers.

Step 9: Deliver Products Efficiently

Digital products require no shipping or handling. Instant delivery improves customer satisfaction.

Digital Marketplaces

Platforms like Etsy and Creative Market handle fulfillment. Customers access purchases from their account dashboard.

Direct Sales Sites

Use plugins like SendOwl or Easy Digital Downloads which integrate with payment processors.

After checkout, customers gain access through links on purchase confirmation pages and their account.

For restricted access sites, provide login details after purchase.

Automate wherever possible to reduce administrative tasks.

Step 10: Develop Passive Income Streams

Building multiple income streams results in overall higher revenues. Consider options like:

  • Memberships – Offer subscriptions for unlimited access to your entire catalog of downloads.
  • Affiliate marketing – Earn commissions promoting complementary products.
  • Advertising – Monetize site traffic through ads. Display, native and CPM networks available.
  • Sponsorships – Get paid by relevant brands to co-create products or run joint promotions.
  • Consulting/coaching – Sell your expertise through calls, videos sessions or in-depth programs.
  • Physical merchandise – Complement digital products with printed items like planners, notebooks and wall art.

A diversified income stream portfolio adds up to far more earnings over time with hands-off cash flow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

What skills do I need to make digital downloads?

Basic computer skills are sufficient to create most templates, printables and graphics using tools like Canva, Microsoft Office or Google Docs. No coding or design expertise required!

Do I need to be artistic or creative?

Creativity helps make attractive products but isn’t mandatory. Leverage the thousands of beautiful template options available. Focus more on market demand.

What does passive income really mean?

Passive income refers to earnings from work you do once that continue generating revenue over time with minimal ongoing effort. Digital downloads are passive since they can be sold repeatedly with no extra work after initial creation.

How much can I earn selling digital downloads?

Income potential is unlimited. Many successful download businesses earn 6 figures or more in passive revenue per year. Results depend on your niche, marketing reach, quality and volume of products.

How much should I charge for digital products?

Consider your production time, perceived value, competitor pricing and platform fees. Test different price points. Products $5-$50 tend to convert well. Offer bundled packages for higher order values.

Should I sell on my own site or use a marketplace?

Utilize both! Marketplaces provide built-in traffic which is great for testing and validating product ideas. Direct sales earn higher margins and allow custom branding.

What’s better – pay per download or memberships?

Memberships provide predictable recurring revenue. Pay per download offers flexibility for one-time purchases. Offer both options to maximize income.


Selling digital downloads is a smart, lucrative business model. With minimal startup costs and effort, it’s an accessible passive income stream. Choose a niche you’re passionate about then create helpful products people want. With the right marketing and automation, you can enjoy hands-off income while making a positive impact.

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