When most people think of selling on Etsy, they think of “handmade” which is difficult, if not impossible, to be a source of passive income. But there are three ways to sell passively on Etsy; I’m using all three, and let me tell you, it’s so fun to make money passively on Etsy!
(Just so you know, this article contains affiliate links. Not sure what that means? You can click here and a new tab will open with a full explanation.)
The first one is pretty obvious, and therefore there’s a lot of competition (but that’s kind of how the story goes on Etsy, am I right?!) And that’s printables! Etsy makes it easy to set up a product listing and instantly deliver any “printable” digital download.
Yes, there are tons of people selling printables on Etsy, which is why yours must stand out and be unique. So let’s brainstorm some things that could be sold as printables, to give you some ideas…
- Art (paintings, abstracts, photography, watercolor, prints)
- Calendars (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly)
- Chore Charts
- Coloring pages (for adults or children)
- Cross Stitch Patterns
- Envelope template
- Embroidery Patterns
- Games (bridal shower, baby shower, birthday)
- Gift cards (birthday, holiday, thank you)
- Gift wrap
- Graduation (invitations, announcements)
- Illustrations (for kids rooms, home décor, classrooms, office, kitchen art)
- Iron-on transfers
- Journal pages (dreams, prompts, bullet, personal)
- Luggage tags
- Motivational or inspirational quotes (with or without artwork)
- Note pages (to do, blank, colorful, shopping lists)
- Party related (signs, banners, table numbers, tags, props, cupcake toppers, invitations, favors, rsvp cards)
- Planners (wedding, meal, content, project, party, fitness)
- Quote art
- Recipes, recipe pages and books
- Scrapbook pages
- Social media planner/tracker
- Stationary (sets, pages, monogrammed, custom)
- Stickers (for planners, teachers, scrapbooking)
- Wedding related (invitations, programs, table numbers, signs, save the date, menus, rsvp)
The second of three ways to sell passively with Etsy is creating digital downloads. These are similar to printables, and there can be some crossover, but generally they’re intended to stay on the computer.
Here are some examples:
- Add-ons (actions, brushes, palettes, shapes)
- Clip art
- Digital planners
- Digital scrapbook images
- Digital wallpapers or backgrounds (for computers, phones, devices)
- Ebook Templates
- Logo templates
- PDF Patterns
- Stock images (icons, illustrations, patterns, textures)
- Stock Photographs
- Templates (business card, brochures, flyers, resumes)
- Website Templates
- Website themes
So if those lists haven’t given you enough ideas (or the right idea), let’s consider products.
I can hear you now: But Jules, how can you sell products passively on Etsy?
Well, I didn’t think it was possible myself until about two weeks ago when I discovered what ShipStation could do in conjunction with Printful. I’ve been using Printful for my art prints, mugs and posters on Etsy, as well as in my Shopify shops for some time now. With Shopify, it’s already set up to sell passively (you can learn how to do that in this post – will open in a new tab).
Anyway, Printful offers a variety of products I can design for and sell on Etsy (clothes – adult and children’s tee’s, dresses, hats, leggings, socks, skirts – phone cases, mugs, beach blankets, totes, pillows, wall art – posters, prints, framed or not, canvas, and they’re adding more all the time!) But when I sell those items on Etsy, I still have to manually enter each and every order into Printful (who then prints and ships the product), as well as let them know when their items have shipped with a tracking code.
Now, most handmade sellers will say, “Yeah, Jules, I have to do all that AND actually make and ship my products”! I feel your pain my friend. I still do the same thing with my original artwork.
But for those of us who want to build passive streams of income, we want them to be as passive as possible.
In comes ShipStation! I had heard of ShipStation before, but I didn’t realize I could use to sell on Etsy (nearly) 100% passively.
UPDATE! You no longer need to use Shipstation in order to sell physical items on Etsy! Check out this article for the latest (and most exciting!) information! You can also take my (very affodable!) course, Art Sales On AutoPilot.
Here’s how it works:
Once you have your Printful products listed in your Etsy shop, you sign up for a ShipStation account (you can try it free but after the free trial it does cost $9+ a month, depending on how many items you sell), then you connect that with your Etsy account, and then connect it to your Printful account.
The orders then go straight to Printful for printing and shipping automatically. Well, with one more step: the first time you sell a new item (through ShipStation) according to Printful:
“The first order for every new, unique product variant will not import as an order ready for fulfillment.
It will show up as an unsynced order with unsynced products in your Printful dashboard.
Subsequent orders from your ShipStation store (selling channel) will be ready fulfillment automatically, if you’ve done one of the following in Printful:
synced the new product;
or submitted that order manually.
Once the product has been synced, the next time an order with this product is submitted, it will begin awaiting fulfillment automatically. Keep in mind that each product variant is considered a unique product and needs to be synced to a Printful item and print file. You’ll have to keep track of your incoming orders to sync any unsynced products.”
So, for instance, I recently added a mug to my shop that was later featured on a Huff Post list and I sold a bunch! It was awesome! I have two size variations of that mug, so if I had ShipStation set up I would have had to manually put in the first 11 oz. mug and the first 15 oz. mug, but all subsequent orders would have been handled passively with ShipStation + Printful.
(The thing is, I figured this all out the same week I was featured! But I didn’t have the time to set up ShipStation that week, and the feature was a total surprise! You can bet I put it on my to do list ASAP after that!)
Like I mentioned before, ShipStation also works with Shopify. But if you’re selling other places (like Amazon, eBay, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, SquareSpace, Weebly, ecwid, Houzz, and tons more!) you can connect those shops, too. Pretty cool.
So there you have it: three ways to sell passively on Etsy! What do you think? Are you going to try any of these? Are you already selling any of these? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
So this passive posting is super interesting how hard would it be to start this ?
this sounds amazing. I already “try” to sell on Etsy, Shopify, Ebay, Social Media but am having no luck. This article helped me refocus my attention in the right direction. I will have to check out the links. Thank you SO much!
I’m so glad you found it helpful, Liz!
This is really helpful but when it comes to printed items like calendars do you buy in bulk or use a dropshipper? I can only find drop shippers for items like clothing and mugs.
Hi Sarah! Thanks for the feedback! I know someone who has her calendars printed locally, but that wouldn’t be passive. Gooten (gooten.com) does offer drop-shipping on calendars, maybe that would work for you?