I recently hit a milestone that I never could have imagined two years ago. As of October of this year, I hit over $10,000 in sales on my Etsy shop Modern Printable Shop selling printables (or digital products). The amazing thing about it is that I have made that money passively for the most part. There is some involvement and you have to make the items you sell, but compared to other side hustles, it takes drastically less work to make effective. To learn more, here is how I built my $10,000 passive side hustle on Etsy selling printables.
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My $10,000 Passive Side Hustle On Etsy Selling Printables
From March of 2018 to November 2019 I have a gross revenue of $10,708.46 on Etsy. Sometime in October 2019, about 19 months after starting my shop, I crossed the $10,000 mark. It was an amazing milestone to hit because it showed how significant this side hustle has become despite not having to pay constant attention to it.
I definitely put a lot of work into it, specifically in the beginning, but there have been many months where I have done nothing more than answer the occasional email, yet I earned hundreds per month.
Now, the $10,708.46 figure is my gross sales. My profit is $8,268.08.
This is all from items that I sell for $2 – $10.
To address the technicality police, I get that I haven’t made $10,000 in profit yet, but that is missing the point if you want to diminish it. When you sell over $10,000 in products that cost $2-$10 something is working.
The great thing is that the steps are generally repeatable. I admit though that selling printables on Etsy won’t work for everyone. Even if you only sell a quarter of that though it was probably worth the time you put into it because the income stream isn’t going to stop anytime soon. It will keep earning over the next few years at the very least. You can also keep growing and learning from it which is where the real value comes in.
How I Started
I feel like we all have those ordinary moments that are life changing at the same time. When doing ordinary things such as drinking coffee or listening to a radio show or podcast the most impactful things can happen.
There were two episodes of the Fire Drill podcast that got me started on this. The first was an episode with Laura from I Heart Planners. When I heard she was making PDFs and selling them, I thought, “hey, I could do that, and I already am doing it!” I had an item on this very site that I give away for free, but I figured I could sell it in a different marketplace.
The second episode that led me to starting the shop was when the hosts Julie and Gwen announced that they were going to be holding a mastermind with listeners of the show and they would all start and build an Etsy shop. Because of my past experience making PDFs and hearing that previous episode, I knew that this was something I should do. The timing was right.
So, I paid $199 and joined the mastermind. I took it serious right from the beginning because wasting $199 wasn’t an option. In hindsight, it was a minimal cost for such a large payoff.
What that $199 bought me was the ability to develop my shop with a group of people and get real time feedback and accountability.
That was critical.
Honestly, if I hadn’t done it, I’m not sure if would have started it. Actually, I know it wouldn’t have. At least not in the same timeframe with the same urgency that I did. I planned to start one, but if I wasn’t interacting with others with the same goal then I know I would have put it off or delayed it.
How I Built My Shop
I incrementally built my shop. Weekend by weekend, I added more items or made adjustments over the first three months. At that point, I had built a shop that would earn me a few hundred dollars a month at least and let it ride.
I probably put in around 10 hours a week while developing it. Sometimes more and sometimes less, but once I had it going, I put maybe one or two hours a week if that. You get questions every once in a while that might need attention. Otherwise, it is pretty hands off unless you want to keep developing more items to sell.
I based it off what I knew. I took the spreadsheets and debt thermometer that I used to track and aide our previous $107K debt payoff. I figured that if it helped us, it could help others and hoped that our success with debt payoff would help convince buyers that our printables would be better than other shops. I’m not sure how much of a factor that is but it couldn’t hurt.
I also spent time improving my products and how people find them in Etsy. I studied other successful shops and looked for ways I could differentiate myself or just do better.
I won’t get into too much detail, but it is important to know that to have success with any side hustle, particularly passive ones, is that you must get the formula right before you let it work passively or give up.
I am not a graphic designer, but I am an Architect and know and have access to the Adobe suite software that I use to make my products. Honestly, that gives me a leg up, but It is by far a requirement to making printables.
Modern Printable Shop
I named my shop Modern Printable Shop because I planned to sell Modern looking printables. It’s as simple as that. No need to overthink it. I wanted it to be flexible in what I sold and be in a style that was me and not someone else.
In all honesty, I think it looks good, and I have paid attention to detail to make it consistent, but it could look better. My products aren’t perfect, but they are more than good enough and if my product is what you are looking for it will help you achieve your goals.
I mention all of this because if I tried to make it perfect it wouldn’t have happened. Maybe someday it would have seen the light of day, but I would have missed out on not only the revenue but also the personal growth with pursuing a side hustle.
One by one I added products and refined my approach. I didn’t know it all in the beginning or even have a clear vision for what I wanted to do. I had a general idea, but It just took me diving in and doing it. Paying off debt or saving for retirement is similar. Our biggest obstacle usually is just starting. Once you start though it is easy to get discouraged but if you hang in there you will find something that works for you.
My first side hustle, which is this very blog, hasn’t been profitable. Slowly, we tried other side hustles and earned some money, but Etsy was the first one to actually make money. Now, I didn’t start this blog to make money, but I did learn a ton that helped inform why Etsy was something that could work.
The Big Takeaway
It has been five years since we paid off our debt. When we completed our debt payoff, we said that because of having done that we felt we could do anything. Now, we didn’t know how that would materialize at the time when saying it. Obviously, we could directly relate that to other savings goals, but it doesn’t stop there.
What it taught us was that we could be successful in doing something that seems so out of reach. Hitting $10,000 in sales on a side hustle was something that felt out of reach two years ago.
I know what it is like to think that good or fortunate things only happen to other people.
For years, even after our debt payoff, the idea of entrepreneurship didn’t seem like something that applied to me. It didn’t really interest me, but I also thought that people like me couldn’t start a small business or make money outside of my traditional job. But, just like in paying off debt, even a massive amount, you just take it one step at a time. Seriously, that is all you do.
If I listened and gave in to my doubts though, I wouldn’t be here.
So, instead of thinking there is no way that I could pay off $107K or sell over $10,000 in printables, I just focused on what I could do next weekend. It is good to know you goal, but you have to break it down into realistic actionable steps that reward you along the way.
I’m still figuring things out with my store. After many months of not spending much time on it I am finally investing more time into it to help it realize its potential.
This includes starting to hire out tasks that I struggle to find time to do. This is a big step and one that I couldn’t have imagined when I started my shop.
I plan to add more products and diversify a bit and make digital planners too. It won’t be overnight, but weekend by weekend I will work to get new products out there and hopefully take it to the next level.
That means in the short term it won’t be quite as passive as I make new items, but the old ones are earning me money and making it possible to hire tasks out.
It is all about bundles though. My finance planner bundle has earned half of my money so if I keep adding bundles, I will be in a good position for growth.
Gold City Ventures Etsy Printables Course
One fun thing that has emerged in this is that I was able to join back up with Julie from Fire Drill and be an Etsy expert in her Facebook group for her and Cody Berman’s Etsy Printables Course. It has allowed me to share a lot of what I have learned, back from when we did the mastermind together, but also see others develop a shop of their own and start earning money.
When launching the course, Julie reached out to me to be a beta tester for it and it was fun to see all the things that we learned in the mastermind in the course materials as well as a lot of new stuff since then. Even while participating in the Facebook group, I have seen changes occur and they have added course materials as needed to address new topics or adjust.
I really can’t say enough good things about Julie and Cody as I have gotten to know them both through Etsy and just personally. They are the most hands on that I have ever seen course creators be in a course and I have taken a few.
Since the mastermind that I participated in is no longer available, this Etsy course is the best way to learn how to make your own Etsy shop selling printables. I actually think this course is better than the mastermind because there is much more embedded knowledge in it that we didn’t have before.
If you are interested in starting your own Etsy shop, take the Gold City Ventures Etsy Printable Course.
To learn more about it here is my review of it.
The course is not always open for joining though, but if you sign up for the waitlist that is the best way of getting the opportunity to join.
Full Speed Ahead
I am so thankful that I took the chance to start my Etsy shop. Frankly, it is kind of goofy when I tell people about it because it seems so out of left field and even more crazy when I tell people I sell PDFs and have sold over $10,000 worth selling $2-$10 items.
But I saw an opportunity and went with it. I didn’t listen to others that might have said I was wasting my time. In fact, I feel like when I have listened to others that don’t know me it has hurt more than helped.
Having faith though that we could be debt free or that this Etsy shop just might work is what has gotten us to this point. But it is not a place for me to be alone. It is my desire for all of you to hit your goals whether it be to be debt free or find a successful side hustle.
So, I hope that you are willing to search for the next thing that can take you to your next level. If it is Etsy, great, I’ll be there with you and help however I can. If not, you have my full support in finding something else.
If there is anything I want you to get from this, it is that you can achieve what feels out of reach. It is only out of reach because of our limiting beliefs and if I can get over mine then you can too.