Printables 101: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

What are printables?

Simply put, a printable is a document that can be printed out on a printer. More specifically, printables are digital downloads that come in many forms, such as word documents, PDFs, Jpegs, and spreadsheets.

a handful of misc printables

(I sometimes include affiliate links, which means I might make a small commission off any purchases you make, at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.)

What are printables used for?

Although printables’ origins were pretty basic; most of us were using them before we even realized it. Every time you printed out a list you created, a recipe, or even a resume you drafted, those were all printables. Now, printables are so much more! Printables can be anything from worksheets, stationery sets, jar labels, gift tags, stickers, etc.

Printables are so versatile, the sky’s the limit. Although the concept of printables is still relatively new, they have grown in popularity in the last few years, and the more people learn about them and realize how useful they are, the more they fall in love with them.

Printables are great for personal use when you want a custom list, to print out your own journal pages, or for use in things like chore charts and planners. But printables can also be a source of income for those of us who create and sell them on platforms like Etsy, Shopify, or Creative Market.

I have two printable Etsy shops: EveryMomPrintables is geared toward moms and has a growing selection of printables that moms can use to make their jobs easier and InAGirlsWorld, a fun shop full of whimsical printables for girls, such as stationery, wall art decor, and more.

But as a blogger, I use printables in other ways, too. Printables allow me to offer something of value to my readers while also growing my newsletter audience. As you see here:

I also have dozens of free printables that I offer on my website that help brings in traffic so I can earn an income through other means like ads or affiliate links. You can check out my collections in my Free Printables Section here if you are wanting some printable ideas. (Think seasonal printables!)

As you can see, printables are a big part of my life and business model. But you don’t have to sell printables to find use in them. Many, many people use printables daily and never sell or create any themselves. It really all comes down to your needs and how printables can benefit you best.

What are the different types of printables?

The sky is the limit when it comes to printables. Really. There are the more common types of printables like planners, calendars, party decorations, and to-do lists, but then there are the not-so-common ones like wrapping paper, yard signs, and printable heat transfer vinyl.

printable home binder

If you can design it and print it, then you have yourself a printable.

You can even buy printable templates with a commercial use license to customize to your own brand and then sell them as your own. This is a really great way for early creators to get an understanding of how successful printables look and feel. When I first started my Etsy printables business, I just trial and errored it until I got the hang of things. You don’t have to if you use templates.

I have grown quite passionate about teaching others about printables and how to make them. I want others to know the money-saving benefit of making their own printables and the options available for creating them for a passive income stream. That’s why I teach tips and techniques through blog posts like this one as well as on my YouTube channel, Everything Printables.

What are the benefits of Printables?

Printables have exploded in the e-commerce world thanks to customers seeing the organizational value and convenience of printables. If you Google something you can buy at the store that is in paper form, you can probably find it in a printable.

This is really nice for those who don’t always have the time to look for what they need at a retailer. In fact, in most cases, there won’t be a big enough selection to find exactly what you’re looking for. Usually, you end up settling with what comes closest to your needs.

But with printables, especially in places like Etsy, you are able to find a massive selection that you can narrow down until you find something that meets your needs exactly (or make your own). There are so many options available when it comes to printables, options that weren’t available just five years ago.

For example, I sell printable stationery in my Etsy shops. Many of my customers are looking for a specific design; if I don’t have it, I can usually make it for them in no time. I have several repeat customers who love my stationery sets and recommend things they would like to see in the shop. I love this kind of feedback as it provides me with a new printable to list that gets sold right off the bat, one that I can also sell to other customers, again and again.

What Program do you use to make printables?

I make all of my printables using Powerpoint but there are countless programs out there that you can use to make your printables. If you are wanting to make printable art or create graphic designs, then you might use something more robust like adobe illustrator or photoshop. But if you don’t need high-quality prints, then most programs will work. You can even make printables in Microsoft Word or Excel!

comparison of two printables

One resource that many Etsy sellers use for making printables is Canva. Canva has become quite valuable to online creators as they make designing easy and is incredibly intuitive. They offer a wide range of options to enhance your designs, and they have templates if you need a bit of inspiration or want to streamline your creative process to save time. (Canva is free to use but the added benefits of upgrading to Canva Pro are totally worth it!)

Let’s break down the basics of how to make printables:

  1. You need to start with a printable idea. What do you need this printable for? Is it for you? Do you want to sell it?
  2. Find some graphics or clipart. (This will also help you come up with some printable ideas.) My favorite place to get graphics is here.
  3. Create your printable in your program of choice. If you hit a wall at this part, I have some ideas and how-to’s on my YouTube channel.
  4. Save your design as a digital file. (PDFs are great for documents, while PNGs and Jpegs are best used for prints and graphics.)
  5. Print your new printable or upload it onto an e-commerce platform to sell.

Do printables Make Money?

Absolutely! As I mentioned, I sell hundreds of printables online in my Etsy shops. It’s my absolute favorite way to earn money because once you make your digital product and list it, it’s completely passive and there is no cap on how much you can earn from that one product.

I love selling printables because it allows me to work within my own timeframe. I can design when I want, how I want and I don’t have to worry about fulfilling orders or hassle with shipping like I would with a physical product.

As a busy mom with other jobs, running a printables business on the side has been a Godsend, providing me with both a creative outlet and a means to earn money.

prayer printable

How to print printables

Another thing I love about printables is their ease of use. Meaning that most printable designs can be printed right in your own home. Your child decided last minute she wants a certain character-themed party? No problem! You can download the party supplies you want, click print on your computer, then assemble your new party decorations. No last-minute run to a dozen stores looking for what you need.

Ok, let’s break down how to print printables:

  1. Let’s say you found a printable wall art you love in an Etsy shop and want to display it in your home. The first thing you’re going to do is purchase the digital file.
  2. Etsy will send you an email with your digital download(s) or you can locate them in your “purchases” portal. You will then download the file(s) to your computer.
  3. Determine your paper medium. Depending on what kind of printable you want to print will determine what printer paper you are going to want to use. (ie If you are printing something with graphics, you might want cardstock, whereas if you are printing stickers, you’ll need sticker paper.)
  4. Select your file and click print. (Check your printer settings to make sure you aren’t getting unwanted borders, etc.)
  5. Enjoy your new printable!

Keep in mind, an inkjet printer is best for high-quality prints and you don’t even have to worry about expensive cartridges anymore if you use InstantInk. However, if you want to print out an ebook, for example, laser printers work best for that. But whether you have a top-of-the-line printer or an ancient one that refuses to give out, your results may vary, including the colors of your print.

If you want the best results, you can always use a local print shop.

pinterest pin for the blog post what are printables


Hopefully, I have removed some of the mystery around Printables, what they are and how they can benefit you. There is an entire world of printables out there, I hope I have made you a bit more aware of them and maybe piqued your interest in trying your hand at making some of your own.

Related Articles:

Create Wall Art to Sell Using Only PowerPoint

Learn how to make a Daily Planner

Design Note Cards Easily in PowerPoint

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