How To Sell Digital Products Online

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Starting Over in 2024: Etsy Hybrid Shop

December 11, 20239 min read

Many of you know I am a top 0.1% Etsy seller who made over half a million dollars in revenue in six months after opening a new store. Today, I run digital product shops and teach others (like yourself) how to have similar success with my blog, digital course, and YouTube channel.

A common question I get is, “How would you start a new Etsy business in 2024?” 

And I completely understand why this is a frequent question! For starters, Etsy as a platform changes every year with new policies, trends, and changes to the algorithm. 

The platform has become more saturated with sellers, but it’s also been flooded with many more buyers (it’s definitely not too late to start, and the market is not oversaturated). 

I’m addressing this question in this article with the six steps I would take if I were completely starting over, so no established email list, social media, etc. Keep reading for my breakdown of these six steps, why I would make these critical changes to adapt to 2024 trends, and even new AI technology I would be taking advantage of today that wasn’t available when I first started. 

(This post contains affiliate links and you can read the full disclosure here)

Step 1: Find a Profitable Audience

A change I would make if I were starting over is researching for a profitable audience on Etsy rather than looking for a profitable niche or product. For example, research audiences that are deeply passionate about a topic or product, such as their hobby or occupation. 

A profitable audience could look like dog or horse owners who are invested in and spoiling their animals. They may even be interested in products, like a “Dog Mom” shirt, that showcase this part of their identity. 

Other examples include nurses or teachers - careers that people invest a lot of time, energy, and schooling to become, and often, a career that becomes a significant part of someone’s identity. In this case, you could look into making nurse or teacher mugs, printables, print-on-demand t-shirts, or planner stickers that celebrate this career path. 

Look at it from the audience perspective instead of the product perspective first. This step is against what most Etsy teachers share online, but it’s a critical shift that makes all the difference. 

Step 2: Research Products in the Niche

Next, delve into whether or not your product idea for your profitable audience is a strong moneymaker. 

Start by searching for the product on Etsy, then filter the search results by “Star Seller” to ensure you’re looking at the most highly-reviewed products in the category. 

Starting Over

Click “Star Seller” under Etsy’s Best to bring up the products with the most consistent 5-star reviews in your search results. 

After applying this filter, go to the top of the page and alter the URL to read “_best_seller” instead of “star_seller” to bring up the most profitable products. This distinction will help you see what is making the most revenue and allow you to plan your product better so that it’s the same quality or better than other best sellers in the category. 

Starting Over

Then, use an Etsy research tool like EverBee to delve into each product’s monthly revenue. I used EverBee to filter the best sellers for personalized dog bowls by monthly revenue. Many of the customized dog bowls on the first page of Etsy search results made $5,000+ a month, indicating that this product is profitable. 

Starting Over

Just a few of the first page examples and how much they are averaging each month. Many are making a healthy four figures, demonstrating this is a profitable product! 

Step 3: Create a Hybrid Store

One of the downfalls of Etsy stores with print-on-demand products is that the Etsy seller is stuck waiting for funds to be available. This may not be a problem for an established store, but it poses a dilemma for someone just starting out who doesn’t have excess funds to cushion them during this time. 

If I were starting an Etsy shop in 2024, I’d open a “hybrid” shop, aka an Etsy store selling print on demand (POD) and digital products. This setup allows immediate funds from the digital products to cover you while you wait for the POD products to be processed. 

In our POD dog bowl example, you could simultaneously sell some of the following products to cushion yourself: 

  • Weekly pet sitter checklist

  • Dog sitter instructions

  • Pet portrait

  • Dog sitter note

  • Pet profile info card for wallets

  • Dog illustration nursery prints

  • Puppy announcement template

  • Dog definition wall art

  • Personalized phone wallpaper 

  • Dog quotes

  • Dog lover greeting cards 

  • Printable dog birthday decorations

Step 4: Offer Customization

Customization is one of the most popular product types sought out on Etsy and can be applied to nearly any niche, from dog-lover products to customized POD journals or planner covers. 

However, customized products take a long time to fulfill. One of the reasons I got out of print-on-demand, customized products years ago was how time-consuming and tedious it was to fulfill personalized orders. At the time, I only offered customized orders, so I spent most days copying and pasting to fulfill orders day in and day out - not an ideal situation. 

Customization AI apps, like HelloCustom, take this tedious task away, making it easy to fulfill personalized POD orders. With one click of a button, you can automatically personalize Etsy product graphics rather than manually copying and pasting names, dates, or other customization details. With HelloCustom, you can connect the app to your preferred print-on-demand company, and it will automatically make the custom orders for you, saving you a massive amount of time.

AI fills the order for you and customizes it, so I strongly recommend this for anyone interested in selling POD products. You’ll also be able to fulfill your orders much faster than any Etsy sellers doing this manually, which gives you an advantage over them with shipping time. 

25 digital products

Step 5: Etsy Ads or Pinterest Ads

I recommend running Etsy or Pinterest ads as soon as possible. If you don’t have the budget for these ads, start organic marketing efforts on social media that your profitable audience is active on, such as Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. 

I strongly recommend using Pinterest in your marketing strategy, whether paid or organic. 

Pinterest is a search engine, so people are looking for products and inspiration while scrolling through Pinterest. This is in stark contrast to other social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram, where people often scroll through content for entertainment, and ads may come across as an interruption. 

While this doesn’t mean you can’t use other social media platforms if your audience is on those platforms, prioritize Pinterest because it’s a search engine, and people want to discover new products. 

Etsy ads can also jumpstart your store because Etsy is all about sales. Individuals on Etsy are looking for products, and the quicker you can get sales on Etsy, the faster you can rack up 5-star reviews and be pushed out to more people. 

If you don’t have the money or time to invest in marketing, prepare for your organic SEO to take some time. If you’re not racking up many sales, this may be due to low interest in this product or the design. 

Step 6: Start Your Email List Immediately

One of my biggest mistakes was waiting over six months before I started my social media, Facebook group, and email list. This mistake cost me customers whom I could have engaged more with my social media or made repeat customers with my email list where I share product launches.

Having an email list and social media makes you less reliant on Etsy search results because you have a way to directly contact past customers who (hopefully) already liked the first product they tried from you and are interested in the types of products you make. 

Suffice it to say, I would have immediately started my email list opt-in and social media as soon as I launched my shop. I recommend using tools like Everbee to create an email sent and an email opt-in page to start building your list sin integrates seamlessly with Etsy shops and everything can be set up to send and grow your email list automatically!

Final Thoughts

A final tip I’d like to add is mindset work. The right mindset is critical for any small business owner or entrepreneur, and I recommend starting mindset work as soon as possible. 

Take time to address limiting beliefs you may have about your business’ success. 

You’ll know you have a limiting belief about yourself or your business if you have a core negative opinion about why you can’t do something, whether external (blaming the Etsy platform) or internal (I’m not good enough).

Common limiting beliefs I see in my students include: 

  • Believing that the Etsy platform is oversaturated, too competitive, and it’s too late to start a successful business there. (New shops become successful on Etsy all the time, so it's definitely not true.)

  • I need digital design experience to create 5-star-worthy, best-selling digital products (I had no experience, and technology only continues to improve, making design easier)

  • I can’t make it on Etsy because I don’t have an existing social media presence (most of us, myself included, didn’t)

  • Believing that because you have no marketing experience, you won’t be able to attract customers (this is a skill set that can be learned) 

  • I have to work myself to the bone to see results. (Hard work is a must, but as a busy mom myself, I believe in working smarter, not harder. Success can absolutely be achieved this way)

Interested in tackling these limiting beliefs and following a clear-cut strategy to help you launch your Etsy business? 

Our community, Digitally Purposed, is different from anything out there. Not only does it lay out a step-by-step guide to launching and marketing your digital products business and helping you overcome common misconceptions, it also has one of the best private support communities dedicated to helping you every step of the way.

Plus, we have weekly training on the most requested topics like marketing, design tutorials, niche research, along with live Q&A calls and new PLR products!

Just need some feedback? Personalized shop audits are also included!

Selling digital products online requires constant learning and we'd love to support you!

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