Are you a prolific notetaker or organizer looking to make some extra money? Then, study guides are the digital product for you! Etsy is a popular online marketplace perfect for selling digital products (I’d know, too — I’ve created multiple six-figure stores on Etsy)
If you have old notes sitting around or are the master of a particular subject, which could be anything from economics to nursing or a passion for the Bible, consider selling digital study guides.
Keep reading to learn how to sell study guide digital products successfully on Etsy.
Product Research (+ Examples!)
Keyword research is a critical part of creating any successful digital product. You want to find terms that are being searched often but don’t have significant competition on Etsy.
I recommend Etsy-specific tools for keyword research. Some of my favorites include EverBee and eRank.
Some good examples of in-demand but low-competition keywords I recently found include:
NCLEX study guide (medical exam)
Bible study guide
Digital study guide
CCRN study guide (nursing exam)
Nursing study guide
TEAS study guide (medical exam)
Economics study guide
Real estate study guide
As you can see, nursing and medical-related study guides are especially popular! However, don’t feel discouraged if you don’t have the background knowledge, interest, or experience to design a medical study guide.
I found many interesting topics not related to nursing when searching for digital study guides on Etsy. Consider creating guides about:
Starting a business or freelancing
Creating habits (One of the top study guide results was a habits guide based on the popular book “Atomic Habits)
Mental health (improving your own)
Studying the Bible
Common high school courses (think anatomy & physiology, chemistry, and even phonetics)
Take a less writing-intensive approach to creating study guides by creating a study guide that is part guide, part journaling. For example, check out this S.O.A.P Bible Study Guide.
This Etsy seller took a popular Bible study approach, S.O.A.P (Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer), and created a corresponding study guide that makes it easy to follow this method.
In addition to a journal page for customers to fill in, the seller has a simple explainer page on the method and then offers five different colors of the same questionnaire page. This addition is fantastic for several reasons:
More pages often equals more value to potential customers
Customers can mix and match their favorite colors and keep it interesting
The method is clearly explained, so even someone new to the concept can easily follow it using the explainer page and then the prompts on the page, which break it down once more.
Essentially, it’s a foolproof study guide that only requires commitment from the user to sit down and use the template. And, of course, convenience is one of the most attractive features you can offer to a potential buyer!
Tools for Creating Study Guides
While you may love academics or note-taking, creating a professional-looking study guide to sell will require you to step outside your comfort zone and take a more design-focused approach.
Now, don’t worry! I had no formal design training or background before starting my Etsy business, and you don’t need to either.
All you need to do is find the right tools to create your digital product and learn how to use them to make a polished product. The good news is that you can create many study guides in user-friendly programs like Google Docs, Canva, Microsoft Word, and Adobe InDesign.
I’m partial to Canva because of its AMAZING templates (including ebook templates), which can help you get started quickly! Remember, you’ll want to customize your template enough to make it stand out from others using the same template. Plus, I like that Canva Pro has many commercial-use, unique graphics you can use, even for niche topics like pharmacy, law, accounting, or Bible studies.
Designing Effective Study Guides
Study guides must pack a lot of information and value into a skimmable, easy-to-digest format that’ll have your customers coming back for more. So, how do you make an effective study guide? Consider the following features.
While the content must be accurate and high quality, you’ll also need to make the study guide visually appealing and easy to read. You can accomplish this by using headers, bullet points, and other formatting options to make the study guide easy to skim and read.
Put yourself in the shoes of a student. Would you want to spend precious time looking for the information or be able to skim through the topic you’re cramming for tomorrow’s exam quickly? Definitely the latter!
During my research, I noticed that many best-selling study guides included hyperlinked indexes to make it even easier to jump around. Remember, many of these study guides are over 50 pages long, so creating an easy navigation system and numbered pages is an excellent selling point.
Take a look at this example featuring a hyperlinked index for a nursing study guide:
Not only is this index thorough, but it’s visually appealing with the colorful icons and the lists under larger headers. I also like that the Etsy seller created this graphic to demonstrate how user-friendly the index is to potential buyers!
Another aspect this seller nailed is how comprehensive their study guide is and the UPDATES every customer can access.
Access to future updates is critical when you have a constantly changing topic, like nursing, medical coding, real estate, CPA exam information, and more. However, feel free to skip this feature if you’re creating a study guide for a more stagnant topic, say a history study guide.
This nursing study guide includes over 2,500 pages! I also love how colorful and well-organized these slides are.
You want to make your study guide pop with color, graphics, and other helpful formatting to make your guide skimmable.
While not strictly necessary for the organization, I appreciate the following seller’s topic pages, which have nice-looking graphics (you can easily find graphics like these on Canva!) and colorful pages.
The bright colors and graphics make this an attractive listing, helping this seller reach more people interested in purchasing NCLEX study guides. Don’t underestimate the power of strong product mockups and visuals! People make purchase decisions with their eyes, not with what your product description states.
Complete A Test Run
Once you’ve finished your study guide, sit back for a couple of days without looking at it. Then, give it one more critical look and edit it before sending it to a trusted friend or family member. Ask them for feedback on the organization, topics covered, and if they feel anything is missing from the guide.
A test run allows you to catch typos or gaps in your study guide. Your friend can also test the link to see if they can easily follow the instructions you sent with your digital product. I recommend creating a PDF with instructions so customers know exactly what steps to take to access and use your guide).
Take any feedback you receive gracefully and make edits where needed to improve your product before listing it.
Listing and Optimization
Once you’ve perfected your study guide, list your digital product for sale. You’ll want to include the keywords you previously researched in your listing title, description, and tags to help your product come up in search results on Etsy.
Creating strong product mockups and listing photos is extremely important, especially for digital products! Take time to showcase your product, its benefits, everything it includes, and more. If you created an index or attractive title pages, have a slide dedicated to those too! You want your customers to be immediately drawn to your product and the obvious value it provides with these photos.
It’s not a bad idea to add a page like this to the end of your photo mockups. This slide immediately tells customers they won’t receive a physical product, clearing up any confusion and reinforces the infinite reprints perk!
You’ll also want to stress that your study guide is a digital product in your description. Include steps for download so that customers can refer to the product description and your included instructions for the best results.
Lastly, don’t underprice your product. Remember, this is a HIGH-value product. You are packing tons of value for your customers with a product they can use forever. It may help them pass critical exams, nursing school, CPA tests, or simply become the person they’ve always wanted to be (whether that’s someone who is a journaler, freelancer, or devout individual).
Regardless of your study guide’s topic, this is a product with significant value. Research what similar products are going for and price accordingly, but don’t try to underprice your product to attract customers. For a high-ticket product like a study guide, selling it for a lower price can actually turn off customers who may think your product lacks value compared to other products based on the lower price.
Marketing Your Study Guide
In addition to building out your store with related products (you really want to carve out a niche for your shop to stand out!), marketing yourself is SO important.
Optimizing your Etsy shop with the right keywords helps you appear in search results faster, attracting more customers. But, to build a long-term audience, you’ll want to create an email list and use social media to your advantage.
Many Etsy shop owners love using Pinterest and Instagram in particular because they are such visual platforms that lend themselves nicely to digital products. However, depending on your target audience and niche, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube can all be great ways to market your business.
I recommend choosing one or two social media platforms to start with rather than spreading yourself too thin across multiple platforms and failing to post consistently.
The other benefit of marketing yourself outside of Etsy is that you don’t have to rely on the platform for sales. So, if the algorithm changes or your store is suddenly banned, you’re not cut off from customers. You still have control over your sales because you can reach customers externally through emails and social media posts.
I hope this guide helps you build an additional income stream on Etsy! Etsy has truly been a life-changing experience and business for me, so I wish you all the best. If you’re interested in learning more, check out my blog, YouTube channel, or community for all the best-kept secrets on starting and building a successful digital products business.
Grab this free list of 25 digital products (+ the 6-step AI process to 10x your digital product business income) and where to create and sell them here.