Side Hustle #76: Selling “Printables” for Passive Income!

INSIDE: One of the newest and best side hustles is selling printables on Etsy. Learn how it works, how much you can make, and tons of other amazing tips from someone who’s done it.

[Welcome to another installment of our Side Hustle Series! Featuring blogger and podcaster, Julie “J” from Millennial Boss, who stops by the blog today to share her experience selling printables on Etsy… I’ll let her tell you just how much she’s made over the years (hint: it’s in the thousands!), but I love that it took her some experimenting to finally land on the perfect product to focus on, and even more so how she set it up to be more *passive* :) Unlike other hustles often touted in our community… Hope this sparks something for y’all today!]


My friend and I were out to eat at a nice restaurant overlooking the lake’s sunset in Seattle, when we heard the squeals of a rowdy group of girls on a bachelorette party seated next to us.

My friend sighed and noted, “I just wanted to have a nice dinner tonight! They’re so loud!” “Oh, I love it!” I told her. “Every time I look over I see dollar signs.” “Twenty, forty, sixty, one hundred!”

See, I love bachelorette parties, but not for the reasons one would expect – dancing, alcohol, the chance to wear cute matching outfits. Even though I actually didn’t have a bachelorette party of my own.

We did everything a little non-mainstream for our wedding starting with choosing a moissanite engagement ring instead of a diamond, skipping the bridal shower and bachelorette party, and using diy wedding flowers at our small winter ceremony. We were paying off over $100,000 of debt at the time, and it didn’t make sense to spend tons of money or subject our friends and family to do so on our behalf.

millennial boss wedding day

[Slightly freezing in this picture. Maybe a wedding in December in Boston wasn’t our brightest idea, even if we saved a bunch of money!]

I love bachelorette parties though because they are one of the most profitable niches on Etsy!

I stumbled into this discovery two years ago when I started my small Etsy shop as a side hustle. I started selling temporary tattoos for bachelorette parties with phrases such as “Bride Tribe,” and the Hangover movie inspired “Wolf Pack.”

I wasn’t a side hustler before this, but I had heard about the concept of selling on Etsy on a podcast and decided to go for it. I had been to enough bachelorette parties to know that cheap decor and accessories were what I wanted to sell. I’ve had to Venmo too many Maid of Honors in the past for bachelorette party supplies that I would never wear or use again.

After a quick google search, I found and had a box of 3,000 gold tattoos with bachelorette-related sayings manufactured and shipped to me. I put them on my wrists and then took a few pictures on my phone of my arms in bars, in front of flower bushes as I walked around my neighborhood, and in front of my apartment complex pool. I then created an Etsy shop and listed the product.

wolf pack tattoos

To my surprise, this side hustle worked and the margins on this product were crazy! Each tattoo cost me 20 cents and I could sell them on Etsy for at least $2 each. Since multiple girls attend a bachelorette party, I often sold bundles of 15 or 20 tattoos at one time. Every sale was at least $15 profit, and Etsy brought all of the customers to me. I barely had to do any marketing.

The problem, though, was that I hated it. The cha-chings of sales coming through wore off quickly when I realized I had to check my Etsy app for orders each morning, print out a shipping label, and then stop at the post office on my way home from work each time. I didn’t have sales every day, so it also became hard to predict my schedule. If I was even a day late with shipping out the order, I could get a nastygram from the customer and possibly a negative review.

By the fall of 2017 I decided that the work itself was easy, but it took up too much mental space in my day that I just didn’t want to allocate anymore. And while the money was good, it wasn’t life changing enough to make it worth it.

Around that time I learned about the concept of selling printables when I invited Laura of I Heart Planners on my podcast and fell in love.

Printables (or digital downloads) are items that you can sell passively on Etsy. You make the digital file on your computer, upload it to Etsy, and then thousands of customers can buy and download it with no further action from you.

I loved the idea of a passive product that would remove the steps I didn’t like about being an Etsy seller. I switched my product line from temporary tattoos to printable scavenger hunts. Bachelorette parties can print out my scavenger hunts and take them bar hopping, checking off activities such as “find someone with the groom’s name and take a picture,” “request Single Ladies by Beyonce,” or “buy the bride a shot.”

bachelorette scavenger hunt printable

These scavenger hunts sell for $7 each, and my top design that took under two hours to make has made me well over $1,000 in profits.

The best part is how low maintenance this side hustle is for me. I really focused in 2018 and made a bunch of listings over the course of a few weekends and have barely touched the shop since. I think I added one new listing in June of this year but zero others in 2019. I’ve still made thousands of dollars this year on my shop!

The reason that I am side hustling is that my husband and I are saving for financial independence. We were in the financial independence retire early camp, but I’ve realized since starting my side hustles (I blog too!) that I love to work. I just want to be able to control how I work, and for whom I work for, in the future. There is work that is creative and fun if you can find it!

Since learning about FIRE though, we’ve paid off over $100,000 of debt, owned and sold a rental property, learned how to manage investments, and are well on our path to financial independence.

One could even argue that we are already financially independent somewhere, but since we choose to live in a high cost of living area (Seattle), we still have some ways to go. Luckily, we both enjoy our jobs so we are in comfortable cruise mode.

millennial boss hiking

In August of this year we had our first baby and I’m currently on maternity leave. The “cruising to financial independence” part is a little more difficult with a newborn, I’m realizing, but we’re loving it! I’m also super glad I have my side hustles, because covering unexpected baby expenses and saving for her future becomes a lot easier when you have additional money coming in on top of the day job.

Last year I made $40,000 with my side hustles all-in, so it’s no small change! Most of the income is from blogging which is where I put a majority of my hours into each week. The Etsy shop is my favorite, though, and I’ve made almost $6,000 and growing with just a few weeks of work last year. I’ve since learned a little more about Etsy SEO and increasing sales on Etsy that have also helped me dial up profits further.

etsy printable stats

When I have a free second, I plan to expand my product line to include baby shower and bridal shower printable decor and invitations. I think those niches, like bachelorette, will also sell well.

There are so many different printables outside of the wedding niche though that sell on Etsy. There are kitchen spice jar labels, holiday gift tags, place cards for Thanksgiving dinner, budgeting spreadsheets, kids first day of school signs, prom proposal posters, you name it. It’s just about coming up with a good idea and then finding the time to do it.

seasonal printables ideas

I recently gave away an ebook to my blog readers called “The Seasonal Products Secret” where I share 12 months of printable ideas you can sell on Etsy. With the holidays coming up, seasonal products are where you should look for profits, and I’m happy to share this ebook with Budgets are Sexy readers if you’re curious about it :) You can download the free ebook here.

My plan this year is to figure out how to be a Mom and enjoy my maternity leave as much as I can. Next year, my husband and I plan to step up our side hustling game even more to see if we can reach financial independence faster. My dream is to start my own tech startup, and his is to own his own weightlifting club!

We’re also getting into guitar, woodworking, and crafting so we want some type of “she shed” in our backyard where we can work on these projects. We’re counting on our side hustle dollars to help fund the cost of this shed, which we anticipate to be between $10,000 and $15,000. Now we just need to find the time! If anyone has built a structure like this on your property, please let me know.

Thanks to J. Money for the opportunity to share my story on Budgets are Sexy today! If you have any questions about Etsy, or want to follow along on my side hustle journey, follow me on Instagram @millennialboss. I promise I won’t post too many baby pics.

millennial boss w/ baby

About Julie: Julie is a 30-year old tech professional and new Mom living in Seattle, WA. She’s an East Coast person living on the West Coast because it chills her out a bit. She blogs, hosts a financial independence podcast, and sells bachelorette party printables on Etsy. She now teaches others how to sell printables on Etsy and blog through her courses at Gold City Ventures.

Previous Side Hustles featured:

*Links to her courses above are affiliate links

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  1. Angela Jean Pannkuk November 12, 2019 at 9:50 AM

    I still don’t understand how blogs make money. Yes, some people sell ebooks and do affiliate marketing. But Budgets are Sexy sells nothing and brings in a huge stream of income? I’d like to know how that works.

    1. J. Money November 12, 2019 at 10:24 AM

      We’ve got display ads here, as well as affiliate stuff when we share something we love or use :) Others also use their blog as more of a “resume” to get *other* high paying gigs/freelance projects, speaking engagements, etc…

      The more traffic/community you have, the better the shot for income… Though it’s not as easy (or fast!) as it may look ;)

  2. BC | FrugalWheels November 12, 2019 at 10:39 AM

    Oh man, I’ve been missing the side hustle series – nice to see another entry!

    I had an ebay flipping side hustle and I know what she means – it can be easy money in terms of time invested, but definitely adds extra stress in trying to get to the post office or find time to print off the mailing labels (my policy was I only sold items I could ship cheaply in a mailing envelope). My best flip was a mp3 player I bought for $3 and sold to a guy in Sweden for $40. When my job increases dramatically in pay and responsibility, I dropped most of my side hustles since I found I needed the recovery time more and wanted to value my time more. But I still do mTurk every once in a while (started because of this blog!) and the occasional photo job when I come across one. This seems like a good one though!

    1. J. Money November 12, 2019 at 11:10 AM

      mTurk!! Forgot about that one!

      Here it is for others new to the site – how Michael earned $20,000 through it:

      (And way too long of a pause for this series for sure.. hoping to ramp it up again! Always loved seeing how creative people get with this stuff :)

  3. Becky November 12, 2019 at 11:04 AM

    I think this sounds like a fun side hustle that can create some nice passive income (or more with more effort!) If I create a printable, how do I find backgrounds or decorations for the page that aren’t trademarked? I really don’t know much about creative commons, but I know that it is something to be aware of when selling things like this. Or does it only pertain to pictures? Her e-book didn’t discuss this aspect of selling, just ideas of items to sell and when in the year to sell them. Either way, I think this is something I will try to look into and maybe get a Christmas printable or something for the new year figured out! Thanks for the idea!

    1. Julie November 12, 2019 at 11:34 AM

      You need to make sure all fonts and graphics you use are okay for commercial use and specifically okay to use in a template. The safest approach is to buy the font or graphic you want to use on a site like Creative Market and check the licensing. There are free fonts on Font Squirrel and Da Font you can use too. We cover this subject in more detail in the course but it sounds more intimidating than it is. Good luck! I think your Christmas printable idea sounds great!

  4. Amelia @ TheUsefulRoot November 12, 2019 at 12:03 PM

    Great post! I am taking Julie’s blogging course at Gold City Ventures and it rocks so I bet her Etsy course is just as great. Highly recommend!

    1. J. Money November 12, 2019 at 2:19 PM

      Oh cool! Didn’t know she had a blogging course too :)

  5. Kara August 2, 2020 at 12:48 PM

    Great ideas for orginizing your perfect wedding! Thank you for these tips!
    And if you still haven’t find your soulmate you can try looking online for your love. Special for that we collected top dating sites in one place with the reviews and ratings of each online dating site!


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