How to Create and Sell Digital Downloads On Etsy

art business tip copyright etsy
How to create and sell digital downloads on Etsy

Before we get started, I want to be clear there are no solutions that will make your Etsy shop an overnight success.  Like any website and shopping solution, you will need to spend time optimizing your Etsy shop with the right keywords, target the right audience, and have great imagery to drive traffic to your shop. 

The purpose of this article is to give you tools and tips to begin implementing good Etsy Shop habits. If you want a deeper dive into Etsy, join the Positive Painters for Instant Access to Etsy Bootcamp.

A great way to generate passive income while waiting to sell a physical product is to offer digital art prints, and Etsy is a great place to sell digital items.

----------------- Have you created an Etsy Shop? -----------------

If not, take the Etsy Bootcamp course available in Positive Painters. The Etsy Bootcamp compiles 2 years' worth of findings like:

  • Everything you need BEFORE you create an Etsy Shop
  • How to create an Etsy listing, with pricing, product title, and description template
  • How to integrate with Print on Demand Vendors,
  • How to Research Keywords
  • How to Market your shop and items
  • How to create digital downloads, with templates

All are condensed into 4 weeks of actions for you to take each day to create an optimized shop that will be found on Etsy and Google.

----------------- If you do have an Etsy shop, let’s get started!----------------- 

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase by clicking on an affiliate link, Stephanie Weaver Fine Art Artist may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Affiliate relationships include, but are not limited to,, Sale Samurai, Amazon, EtsyMarketingTool, and more.

In this high-quality article, my hope is that you'll find the answers to the questions I know I had when I first started creating digital downloads:  like 

  • Can you sell digital downloads on Etsy?
  • How to sell digital downloads on Etsy?
  • Do digital downloads sell on Etsy?
  • How do I protect my copyright with a digital download?
  • What is a digital download?
  • What are the tools I need to create digital downloads?
  • And finally, how do I sell digital downloads on Etsy?

Ready!  Let's Get Started!!!

What is a Digital Download

Digital downloads are a brilliant addition to any Etsy shop! It is a fabulous way to offer your artwork at an affordable price and is a low-cost of entry for people to find out about you and your art.

Etsy listings for digital downloads range from patterns, recipes, artwork, templates, photoshop actions, ebooks, PDFs, and so much more - if you have a digital file, it can become a digital download. Consider the following list for the artwork you create:

  • Invitations
  • Clipart
  • Coloring Pages
  • Mockups
  • Photoshop Actions
  • Printable Artwork
  • Party Decorations
  • Collage Sheets
  • Iron on Transfers
  • Editable social media images
  • Printable Stickers 
  • Stationery Items
  • Printable/Digital Planners
  • Patterns
  • Recipes and More!

There are several advantages of selling digital downloads on Etsy to both the buyer and the artist:

Buyer advantages:

  • Low cost
  • Print in the size they need
  • Reuse for personal purposes

Artist advantages:

  • Low maintenance: create it once and let the listing work
  • Passive income
  • No shipping

Can You Sell Digital Downloads On Etsy?

Yes!!!  And it is super easy once you have the right steps!  In the remaining part of this article, you'll learn exactly how to sell digital downloads on Etsy.

Do Digital Downloads Sell On Etsy?


I use a tool called "Sale Samurai" to help me research keywords to use in Etsy and it also allows me to see my "competitor's" sales.  So when I see sites that solely sell digital downloads at $5.31 per download and they are selling 20 to 50 per day, I know they are making $100 to $250 per day!  Those numbers add up!  And all it takes is time.  

The #1 Concern From Artists About Digital Downloads

The #1 Question I get when teaching artists about digital downloads: Aren’t you worried about people stealing your art and using it for purposes other than personal use?

My answer is:

“the most I can do is copyright it, and make the copyright notices available in the digital download and informational sheets.

I pick and choose which pieces I want to make available digitally and which I would consider unique enough to warrant licensing and tighter restrictions.

In truth, there are so many dishonest people out there that if I worried about them my art would never see the light of day and my art was meant for the light. Let them live in the dark and worry about lawsuits - I’ll live in the light and do what is right.”

TIP: At the bottom of the Etsy listing description, be sure to include:

  • ✸KINDLY NOTE - This listing is for a digital download. No physical product will be shipped and the frame is not included. Colors may vary slightly due to viewing different monitor calibrations. This purchase is for PERSONAL USE ONLY, commercial use is prohibited.
  • ✸Copyright © XXXXXXX – All Rights Reserved – All copy, images and designs are copyrighted by XXXXX and protected by U.S. Copyright Laws. For personal use only, not to be copied, distributed, altered or sold. By purchasing this listing, you agree to the terms and conditions listed in our shop policies.

Top 2 Tools For Creating And Editing Digital Files

Although no special skills are required to list a digital download on Etsy, it is essential to edit the image size to ensure that the files are printed appropriately.

For example, if you want to offer a 5×7 print and an 8×10 print, you must adjust each digital file’s image size because these sizes are 2 different ratios which means you’ll want to create 2 separate files to include in the digital download.

The Top 2 Tools to edit the printing size are Canva and Photoshop. 

In the Etsy Bootcamp, I show you 2 ways of resizing your images using the following tools:

  • Adobe Photoshop – is a powerful graphics editing program that allows you to edit images, touch-ups, create graphics, digital drawings, resize pictures, etc.  In the Etsy Bootcamp course, you can download an Artboard template for 5 different image sizes and a video instruction that walks you through how to use the Artboard to generate the files you need.
  • Canva – is a free online designing software with drag-and-drop features.  In the Etsy Bootcamp course, I show you how you can resize images and download so that you can create the jpg or png files for your Etsy Digital Download Listing.



Getting Started With Digital Downloads

Listing a digital download on Etsy is just like creating a listing for a physical product, except you’ll upload the file your customers will receive when they make a purchase. After buyers purchase a digital file on Etsy, it’s immediately available on their downloads page. You can upload audio, image or text files to your listing.

For the complete details of the steps for creating Digital Download listings, check out Etsy's article for all the steps of listing a digital item.

Top 4 Tips for Success in Selling Digital Downloads on Etsy

If you're already familiar with the process of listing and selling on Etsy, listing your first digital item should feel familiar. But, there are some nuances to know about when photographing and pricing digital items, and shoppers might have different customer service expectations.

#1 Tip For Selling Digital Downloads: Have Great Images and Videos

Image of a Boston Cream Pie (cake) from Mother’s Recipes Etsy Shop

I know...I feel the eye roll too - this one gets a well, dah Stephanie....but it is the truth!!!

Great imagery is essential for any listing on Etsy, but photographing digital items and ensuring that shoppers understand exactly what they’re buying poses certain challenges.

Take for example Rachel from Mother’s Recipes.  Rachel sells scans of handwritten recipes and sells digital downloads of her mother’s recipes.  She can't share the ingredients or people would just right-click and save the image - right?  So instead she creates mouth-watering images of the finished recipe. (seriously look at that - YUM!).  For additional images, she obscures the handwritten recipe, again to prevent people from right-clicking and saving the image. 

In addition, adding a stylized photo of the artwork itself has dramatically cut down on the number of confused customers. Emphasizing in your titles and tags that the item is a digital download can also help.

LZBTHCreative did 2 things great with this image:

  1. She added language onto the picture that people will read (they'll read this before they ever read the description)
  2. She created an image with a neutral color palette that brings focus to her artwork so it is clear what the buyer is getting. Photo from Etsy shop LZBTHCreative

Put the same care into photographing your digital download items as would a physical item. Set up a frame for art prints with a few props and photograph it with natural light - or hit the easy button and use to create scenes in a few clicks (the below video is an excerpt from Etsy Bootcamp course)

Here is an example video of (game changer!!!)

Videos are a big focus with every platform and Etsy is right there with them. You can create a 15-second video that showcases your product in some way. Perhaps you hold the jewelry and shift it about to let the sparkle shine, zoom in on the detail of the brush strokes or you can hit another easy button and let create a video using the photos you created for the listing.

Here is a quick video of how I use the EtsyMarketingTool to create a short video that I can use on Etsy and other social media platforms.

Regardless of HOW you do the photos and videos, they must be impressive because this is the 1st thing people look at BEFORE they read or click.

#2 Tip For Selling Digital Downloads: Prepare for Customer Service Questions

Digital products will save you storage space and trips to the post office, but they can sometimes require extra customer service effort. The key is to identify all the potential questions and place the questions and answers into another digital download file for “printing instructions”.

Take for example Jules McCullough’s Digital Planner - she offers video guides and instructions with her digital download of the JMA planner to assist with a number of planning tasks. Check out JMADesign Youtube Channel for examples of the fabulous customer experience Jules provides for her buyers. 

Here are a few additional options to address customer questions:

  • Create blog posts that feature questions and the answers
  • Invite the buyers to a private Facebook group to share how they are using your digital downloads with fellow buyers (great for clip art buyers, svg buyers, digital planners, scrapbookers etc.)
  • Ask the buyers to hashtag you with an image of the result
  • Create a video and share it on your youtube channel to show exactly how to print the pattern, cut a printable, fold an origami craft, etc.

Creating these resources allows you to reply with a link for more info instead of repeatedly answering the same questions via Messages.

Also note, the questions and comments you receive from customers are a great opportunity to think about how you can improve your pattern or download to make things clearer for future customers—saving you time and improving your customers’ overall experience.

Within the course “Etsy Bootcamp” you receive 2 sample digital download file instructions geared towards creating prints from the artwork.

#3 Tip For Selling Digital Downloads: Pricing Digital Downloads

How do you place value on a digital item? That question can be difficult to answer if you’re just getting started selling downloads. Frankly, you can take all the guesswork out of it by doing 1 thing:

Use Sale Samurai and research what your competitors are doing.

Here is a short video on how I research pricing for digital downloads, specifically.

As an FYI - I use Sale Samurai for keyword research, pricing research, name, title, description research AND to see what competitors are doing.

#4 Tip For Selling Digital Downloads: Etsy Keywords for Digital Downloads

Add ALL 13 Tags.

What are Tags?

Tags are like keywords, and they help Etsy understand what you are selling so they can promote your products to the right people in Etsy and on Google. Etsy is an SEO-based search engine so having good Keywords is integral to being found on Etsy and Google. Think about what words a potential buyer will use in Etsy’s search to purchase your product - what would they type in the box to find you. For Example:

  • Digital art
  • Printable Wall Art
  • Digital download
  • Printable
  • Etsy printables
  • Instant download

Again, I use the powerful tool Sale Samurai and their Chrome Extension to research keywords.

In the Etsy Bootcamp, I go into great detail on how many long-tail keywords, high-traffic keywords, seasonal, and so on keywords so that your listings can be optimized to be found on Etsy and in Google searches. Click here to register now.

Final Thoughts On Digital Downloads For Etsy

Digital downloads are low-cost to entry for buyers to get to know-like-and trust you AND find your art. As a result, this option is a fabulous way for you to reach a new, wider audience so they can become familiar with you. In addition, offering digital downloads can help you add more listings to your shop, reach different audiences, explore new sales channels AND create passive income. 

For a deeper dive Register for the Etsy Bootcamp today. 

The Etsy Bootcamp compiles 2 years' worth of findings like:

  • Everything you need BEFORE you create an Etsy Shop
  • How to create an Etsy listing to optimize SEO and you'll be provided with pricing, product title, and description template
  • How to integrate with Print on Demand Vendors, with a special link to Gooten for small businesses, and exclusive interview
  • How to Research keywords to optimize SEO and see what your competitors are doing
  • How to Market your shop and items through timeless tactics
  • How to create digital downloads, with templates

All are condensed into 4 weeks of actions for you to take each day to create an optimized shop that will be found on Etsy and Google.  This course is only available to Art Business Program Members.  Click here to learn more. 

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