Many Etsy sellers are not aware of it, but Etsy is also a great place for selling digital files, not only physical handmade crafts.
And with the quarantine making post services unreliable in an increasing number of countries, digital sales are a lot safer way to build your shop.
As long as the internet works, you can still sell the same. You will also never have to worry about lost packages or items damaged in transportation.
Not all digital items are created equal. Some are a LOT more popular with buyers. Some niches are also almost completely saturated, with too many people selling the same things. Other niches are popular, but so not so competitive.
I used Etsy SEO “Keywords” Tool by seller-way.com to find what niche is getting a lot of attention from buyers, but is not completely saturated on the seller side. This way, I could not only check the designs and digital items that were already on Etsy and selling but also that there was a decent number of views per listing.
So here is my list of the 10 best-selling digital items on Etsy. I have split the list into 2, depending if you want to sell to other sellers and professionals or “normal” consumers. Consumers, spend time on original designs and a niche that people have strong feelings about (loved ones, hobbies, etc…)
B2C / Digital items for Etsy buyers
1. Document templates
Not everybody is a skilled designer, but everybody wants a unique design that fits their personality for their wedding invitation, birthday cards, baby announcement, business card, etc… You can help them to make these moments and documents even more unique by creating special designs with customizable fields like date, address, names, etc… to be filled by your buyers.
Be prepared to also receive custom requests, from people who loved your work but are looking for a small tweak here and there.
People in the modern world are living very busy lives. They need to organize their time almost to perfection if they want to go through the day and do everything they need to do. Simple calendar apps and sticky notes are simply not cutting it anymore. It is also an item that will be consulted several times per day, so why not have cute or beautiful, in addition to practical?
Neat design and attention to detail are a must in this niche. Countless variations to fit each client’s specific needs will allow you to create tens or hundreds of product variations. You can create a different planner design for busy moms, nurses, executives, teachers, and so many others.
3. Digital caricatures, personalized drawing
Are you an experienced artist skilled with a pencil or a graphic tablet? Then you might want to show your awesome talents to the world through Etsy. And it will be a lot easier to sell digital files than having to figure out how to ship them to the clients and handle the physical part of the sale. It will also shorten the time of delivery, something crucial for items that are most often gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, etc…
You can offer digital caricatures, family and pet drawings, outlines of cherished photography, or personalized drawings. Just see what style fits your art best, and you can get to work with clients all over the world.
4. Posters and wall decors
Creative designers can help their clients find unique decorations for their homes. It can be an artsy poster of a famous place or wall stickers with unique patterns or anything else crossing your mind. This category is especially good for the artistic creators able to present a place or an idea with a unique visual twist.
Do not forget the sarcastic or comical designs and statements, which always make great gifts for a housewarming party.
5. Art and landscape photography
You might already be a photographer with a massive portfolio of art photography on your hard drive. Why not make it accessible to the world through Etsy?
I must however warn you that this can be a very competitive niche, and you would better aim for great Etsy SEO to be visible. For this, I would recommend the “Trends plus” Tool from Seller Way to understand which photography styles are actually selling well and the “Keywords” Tool to find efficient titles and tags.
6. Tattoo designs
A tattoo design is a very permanent decision for its wearer. So they are perfectly willing to search for a long time before finding THE perfect idea to show to their local tattoo artist. No reasonable buyer will be looking for a cheap low quality design to use on himself, especially considering that the tattoo work itself is rather expensive anyway.
If you are an artist able to design great tattoo concepts, look for a style in which you can be uniquely good. Or maybe try to be the best offer for the more mainstream designs, it’s up to you.
Of course, you may also offer design packs for tattoo shops and tattoo artists, so this niche can be both B2B and B2C.
B2B / Digital items for business
Other sellers need the right tools for their business. With business clients, you need to be cost-efficient and know the trends. A great advantage of this niche is that the clients are very active. Once they found a good supplier to help them grow their own business, they will likely turn into repeat buyers, sometimes for years.
7. Mockups for online shops
This a product for talented photographers, and masters in the art of composition and lighting.
Many online shops are focused on creating designs that they later sell on T-shirts, mugs, etc… Instead of having to get the new design physically delivered and then take it in pictures themselves, most will prefer to have a ready-made mockup blank image and edit it.
Each mockup will need to be easy to modify in a photo editor with the buyer’s design, but must also carry a strong ambiance. Possibilities are almost infinite: family or nature-focused, country or rock theme, job-related, etc…
8. Photoshop overlay and elements
Not all photographers have also experienced designers, and there is only so much time in a day to learn new crafts. You can create special overlays designed especially by you or cut out from existing pictures to be used by other designers and photo editors.
Your clients will mostly fit into 2 categories: one group will be the beginners or people missing one key technique and looking for help in their work. The other will be busy professionals looking to optimize their workload and focus on what they are the best at, relying on you to save time.
9. Fonts and caligraphy
Remember when we talked about document templates in Etsy shops? Well, some of these sellers might be great designers, but they are not necessarily experts at calligraphy. Or one of their clients has come up with a custom request for a very specific type of font. This is where you can build your own Etsy digital item shop. If you know how to design fonts, there is a strong demand for custom or out-of-the-ordinary fonts and lettering styles.
10. Designs for printing
In our article on The BEST Selling Items on Etsy, a very common type of best selling items were T-shirt, mugs, bags and other custom items. Not all sellers of these items are expert designers, and many are ready to invest into cool ideas to use and modify in their own shop. This is where a talented designer can step in, and provide valuable digital files to other sellers. Be ready to receive a lot of custom orders and special requests.
One last word
Copyright for digital items is a complicated beast. But here are some guidelines to help you:
Taking of screenshot of someone else’s design is not making it copyright free. Nor is saving the file and changing its name. Be creative and do not steal from other artists and designers. The world is big, come up with your own beautiful design.
Also, it does not matter if you design it yourself, any design which copies or takes inspiration from a known brand will infringe on their trademark. Etsy is getting really touchy about it and it can get a life-long ban. This means that you cannot incorporate quotes, drawings, or any creation referencing or directly inspired by Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc… Yes, some other shops do it and get away with it, but you’d better not try your luck.
I hope this has given you a few ideas on how to go digital on Etsy. Do not hesitate to use SEO tools to find in each category THE keywords or theme with which you could do a killing. I remember multiplying our turnover by 10 when changing the SEO, and I hope it will happen to you too.
Have a great time selling on Etsy!
Long time Etsy seller,
now providing dropshipping service
for engraved jewelry and accessories
and helping other sellers
to build solid businesses online.