The Ultimate Guide to Creating and Selling Printables Online
Hey there, content creatives! Are you looking to turn your skills to design and expand your creative ventures? Well, you're in the right place! In this ultimate guide, I'll take you through everything you need to know about creating and selling printables online - that’s right they are more than just free incentives to get an email on your list.
An Introduction to Printables
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let's quickly cover the basics. What are printables? Simply put, printables are digital files that your customers can download and print at home. They can be anything from planners, calendars, wall art, coloring pages, and more!
Who Are Printables For?
Printables are perfect for anyone who wants to add a touch of creativity to their life. They're particularly popular among bloggers, content creators, online marketers, craft and DIY people. But really, anyone can benefit from the convenience of having access to beautifully designed printables!
How to Make Printables to Sell
Ready to start creating your own printables? It's easier than you might think! All you need is a design software such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Fresco or Canva, and some creativity. Choose a theme, create a layout, add your own unique flair, and voila! You're well on your way to making some serious cash.
Introduction to Designing Printables
Welcome to the vast and ever changing world of designing printables! This is a fun and creative way to make your own personalized items, from planners and calendars to wall art and so much more. In this section, we'll cover the basics of designing printables, including why you should create your own, what kinds of printables you can make, and what programs you can use to design them.
Why Should You Create Your Own Printables
Creating your own printables is not only incredibly fun and creative, but it can also be a great way to make some extra cash. By designing your own printables, you have complete control over the look and feel of your products, allowing you to create unique and personalized items that stand out from the crowd.
What Kinds of Printables Can You Make
The possibilities are endless when it comes to designing printables! Some popular options include planners, calendars, wall art, worksheets, and invitations. You can also create digital products like templates and design assets. Check out my post on top selling digital products for etsy to help give you some ideas.
What Programs I Use to Design My Printables
Now that you know what you can create, let's talk about the tools you'll need to bring your designs to life. Before we jump into my workflow please remember that you should start where you are and use what you already have. Okay, here are some of the programs I use to design my printables:
This is my go-to program for creating design assets, seamless repeating patterns, and the bulk of my workflow happens in this powerhouse program. Illustrator and Astropad have definitely 10x my output over the past few weeks.
I use this as a first point of touch-up editing, to remove backgrounds, and make general quality improvements before I move over to Illustrator. That being said I know many people to prefer to create amazing printables completely in photoshop.
I use this to help automate the more technical repetitive aspects of creating digital and printable products. This helps create interactive and customizable PDFs.
Adobe Acrobat Pro
The PDF reader, final edits, review, and quality checks are done here. Most customers will be using the free version of this app to use your printable, so it's the best way to see what most of them will be seeing in the end.
Google Sheets plays a huge role in my workflow for helping me automate certain tasks. I create templates and CSV files for data merge techniques with Google Sheets. Alternatives here are Excel and Numbers.
I mostly use Google Docs to save theme topics and design ideas. However, depending on the type of printable you want to make, you could totally use Google Docs to create your printables or even digital templates. Same goes actually for Google Sheets above. Alternatives to Google Docs are, of course, Word, Pages, Powerpoint, Slideshow, etc.
Adobe's answer to combining Photoshop and Illustrator. It's a drawing program on the iPad (and Desktop now) that can allow you to create both raster images and vector graphics. I have only scratched the surface of this application but when I get the time I’m going to learn all the things about it.
One of many AI tools that are now available to us. An amazing resource for Graphic designers. Quickly generate graphics and design elements to jumpstart your design process and combine with your own ideas and skills.
Alternative programs you could use
Canva has a free and a paid option and is an online app, Inkscape is an alternative to Illustrator, Gimp is an alternative to Photoshop. You can use these to get started and when you are serious about making printables and digital products, you can upgrade.
Where to Find Fonts for Printables
If you're creating printables and looking for some awesome fonts that aren’t your basic out of the box fonts, I’ve got you! There are many online resources where you can find the perfect font for your project. Here are some popular options we love:
- Dafont: A free resource with a huge selection of fonts.
- Creative Market: A paid resource, but with a great selection of high-quality fonts.
- Font Squirrel: A free resource with a focus on commercial-use fonts.
- Adobe Fonts: Comes with the Creative Cloud subscription!
Please make sure you check with each font if it is able to be used in commercial use and respect the terms and conditions.
Where do you find Graphics and Design Assets for printables
Looking for graphics to get you started creating your first printables? Here are some great places to start:
- Etsy: Not just for handmade goods, Etsy also has a fantastic selection of design assets to take your printables to the next level.
- Creative Fabrica: Another great resource for design assets, with plenty of options to choose from.
Keep in mind, you'll want to add your own unique flair to make your printables stand out from the crowd. But if you're feeling adventurous, why not try creating your own graphics from scratch? You can even use AI tools like Midjourney to help you along the way.
Design Basics for Creating Printables
Creating printables is a lot of fun, but it's important to keep some basic design concepts in mind.
Keep your first designs simple and easy to read. Use plenty of white space and make sure your fonts and graphics are legible. Don’t over complicate the simple things. Research what is working for others and replicate the basics in your own style. Here are some tips to help you make sure your printables look their best:
The Colors You Choose for Printables Matters
Choosing the right colors can make or break your printable design, they need to look good together and print well. Make sure to pick colors that complement each other and fit the overall theme of your printable. Spend a little time to learn and understand the basics of color theory. Get help with composing color palettes with online sites such as Adobe Color and colorhunt.
Make sure to choose the right document size for your printable, the size of a wall art printable will not be the same as an erin condren planner printable. Getting this right will ensure that your design looks great and functional when printed.
Get familiar with your audiences stand sizing for example Australia’s Standard Paper sizes are A3, A4 & A5 while the for the US an A4 size would be Letter (which as slightly different dimensions just enough to be a problem) and their A5 would be you guessed it a Half-Letter size.
Function Over Fancy
Remember, the purpose of your printable is to be useful to your customers.Your product should be the solution to their problem so make sure the design doesn't get in the way of that.
Maintain Proportions and Know Your Aspect Ratios
Make sure your design is proportionate and doesn't look stretched or distorted. Learn how to resize without distorting the proportions and if you need your design in another aspect ratio learn how to crop or make clipping masks.
Keep an Eye on Alignment
Make sure your text and graphics are aligned properly. This will make your design look more professional.
Use Repetition to your Advantage
Repeating elements in your design can create a cohesive look and tie everything together. Did someone say seamless repeating pattern designs?
Watch the Printer Ink
Consider the amount of ink your printable will use when designing. You don't want your customers to use up all their ink printing your design! On a related note, make sure what you see on your screen translates well in the real world once printed.
Best practice is if your customers are going to print your product you should too. While everyone's printers will be different and give varying results you should know what your designs can look like once printed.
Create Your Own Templates
Save time by creating your own templates for future printables. This will ensure a consistent look and feel across your designs and save you so much time. This goes for creating systems and processes for your designing workflow. If it takes you an hour to create one design collection or printable set, how can you make variations of it to double or 10x your output?
Give Instructions With Your Printables
Make sure to include instructions for your customers on how to use and print your printable. Write your instructions as if the person using it has never used a printable before.
How to Sell Printables Online
Now, onto the fun part - show me the money - selling your printables! There are a few different ways you can do this, but we'll cover three of the most popular methods:
Add a Plugin to Your Site
If you already have a website, simply adding a plugin that allows you to sell digital products is an easy way to get started. Some popular options include WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, and SendOwl.
Set Up a Shopify Storefront
Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform that allows you to create your own online store. It's easy to use, has great customer support, and offers plenty of customization options. Plus, it integrates with a variety of apps and plugins to help you sell your printables. It’s how you are seeing this article as I am using Shopify to run this site and shop.
Sell Your Printables on Etsy
Etsy is a popular marketplace for handmade and vintage items, but did you know you can sell digital products there too? It's a great platform if you're just starting out and don't want to invest in your own website just yet. Plus, you'll have access to a large audience of potential customers.
Creating and Selling Specific Types of Printables
When you are starting out it can be super tempting to do ALL the things but try to resist the urge. To help with this I keep a list of all the best selling ideas that I “can do next” after I have FOCUSED [followed one course until successful or educated]. As someone who is easily tempted down the rabbit hole I have to remind myself daily to focus - I will admit to being barely successful at being focused.
Get Started with Printable Products Checklist
- Decide on a Platform: Etsy, Plugin or Shopify
- Name your shop name: Remember to be relevant with the ability to pivot if needed
- Choose a starting niche: Choose one idea and become an authority in it before moving on to the next idea.
- Research, Review and Improve: Research what others are doing and do it better. Also do the same to your own printables after you have been doing it for a month or so if you feel you have improved a lot since you started you probably have so go back and review and improve those earlier ones.
- Create a list of themes and design ideas: Work through this list until you have created them all and then repeat the process
- Create a template and Automate: Take the time upfront to create yourself a template for everything, the product itself and the listing images, the Pinterest images, the listing descriptions etc. Automate as much as possible, anything that is tedious and repetitive find a way to automate it.
- Create the designs: this will be the biggest chunk of time in the beginning and ongoing but it’s the fun part right?
- Combine Bundle and Price: Combine your PDFs, Zip all the elements together like the printable, instructions and anything else that you are providing your customers.
- Create listings: Hopefully you have created templates already for this step and this is a matter of a few clicks. If not, go back a few steps and make it so your future self will thank you for it.
- Marketing to your audience: Find your people and go be active, share your knowledge and your listings.