But this blog post isn’t about that. I won’t talk about taking soul-sucking survey after survey or cleaning your neighbor’s yard for a few extra dollars either.
No. Instead, this blog post is for those who want to create a substantial and sustainable side income stream. It’s fun, enjoyable, makes a decent amount of money based on how much effort you’re putting in, and even poses a bit of challenge to keep things spicy and interesting.
But, don’t worry, it’s still a pretty easy side hustle compared to many other types of businesses out there. Especially so if you’re a solopreneur doing it all by yourself.
So, what is this side hustle, you ask?
In the rest of this post, let’s look at what makes selling digital templates such a great side hustle, what kind of digital templates you should be selling, what kind of money you could be making, and how to get started selling digital templates.
[FYI: The featured photo above is of one of my Canva templates: Minimalist Pricing Guide Canva Template – Dash]
In this post:
Why Sell Digital Templates
There’s never been a higher demand for templates than now!
We’re all side-hustlers these days running our respective solo shows. The days of just one 9-5 are long gone. That means we’re doing everything ourselves when running our business. Starting from setting up websites, creating brand identities, logos, writing privacy policies and disclaimers, creating social media graphics, writing emails, writing website copies, and OH MY GOD!
There’s just so, so, so much to do! But can one person really do all of that? From scratch?
For example, recently, I found myself trying to create a brand sponsorship contract, and I had no clue where to even begin! Go figure.
I did what most of us do in this scenario. I turned to Google. Within minutes I came across brand sponsorship contract templates ranging from 50 bucks to almost 300 dollars. Whew!
In any case, my problem was now solved.
So, again, why sell digital templates?
If you have a skill that can be converted into a template, then you should sell the template.
Think about it.
Let’s assume that you’re a copywriter. Maybe you work with brands and businesses to create website or sales copy for them. Yes, you could continue to offer your services for a premium price. But, plenty of new business owners out there do not have the funds for hiring an expensive freelancer. Your “cheap” template can help these folks.
If you’re already a copywriter, you should be able to whip up some templates quickly, and you could be making passive income from selling these templates for months and years to come!
Sure, you can continue to offer your bespoke services at a premium price, but why not help out the little guys also who cannot hire you? This way, they get what they want at an affordable price, and you create an additional income stream for your business.
It’s a win-win scenario, no matter how I look at it.
What Kind of Templates Can You Sell
One way to think about it is to see what skills you have and if those skills can be used to make templates.
For example, I spoke of copywriting above. Let’s say you write copy for websites. That can be easily converted into templates, no? It doesn’t have to be fancy, just think about what a copywriter would deliver to a bespoke client. Let’s say that a certain copywriter is writing copy for a dentist’s website, or a photographer’s website. You can easily make copy templates for those.
I also mentioned above that recently I was looking for brand sponsorship contract templates. I’ve found several of those. One such website selling various contracts and legal templates is Businessese.com (screenshot below.)
So, again, think about what skills you have and see if those are transferrable in a template format.
These are some templates you could consider selling, depending on your skill set:
- If you’re some kind of service provider, think about what contracts you use in your profession, and then think about selling templates to those to similar service providers. One example is Jenna Kutcher. She is a blogger and a photographer, and she sells digital document templates geared towards other photographers: Photography services and pricing sheets, wedding photography portfolios and magazines, canned email response templates for wedding photographers, social media planners for photographers, and much much! You can check out her template shop here.
- And then there’s moi. Unless you’re brand new around here, you probably know that I sell Canva templates in my shop. These templates are meant for bloggers and creators, and mostly include document and social media graphics templates that small business owners might need to grow their audience. I sell social media templates, eBook and workbook templates, lead magnet templates, etc., all made with Canva.
[Related: Do you know how to use Canva? Do you want to learn how to start selling Canva templates? If so, check out my online course — Side Income with Canva Templates!]
- Similar templates (graphics, documents, info product templates,) can also be made with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. It depends on what you’re comfortable with and what your audience wants.
- If you’re a copywriter, think about selling copy templates. If you’ve worked with clients before, then you have an idea if certain types of copy—be that website copy, landing page copy, or whatever, can be rinsed and repeated. If so, make a template out of them and sell to people who need these copy, but cannot afford bespoke services.
- If you’re a web designer, you can sell website templates. If you know how to design WordPress or Squarespace templates, you can make pretty good money selling these templates.
- Are you a teacher? Are there specific templates that teachers need? I know a few teachers who sell Canva-made templates to their colleagues.
- If you know how contracts work, you could make templates out of them.
- If you know how to write policy and disclaimer pages, then make templates for those too!
These are just a few options for templates. You can see how easy it would be to make templates out of almost anything, right? And the fun part is that people need templates because not everyone has every skill. For example, I’m pretty decent at designing websites or creating graphics and documents, but when it comes to writing policies and other things, I need help.
It may be that someone else who is really great at writing website copy, privacy policies, or disclaimers, is really bad at designing business collaterals for growing their audience.
So, no matter what kind of skills you have, chances are that somebody else out there is lacking that skill, and you could help them with your templates, saving them the trouble of hiring a freelancer for bespoke work.
Now, sure, bespoke is always better and higher quality. But remember, you’re making templates for those who’re not quite ready to invest that much in their business. So why not help them out and help yourself out too, by making things you already know how to make, and then selling them as “cheap” templates? (The word cheap is inside quotation marks because the term is relative, but still, they’re way cheaper than bespoke services.)
In this course, I've shared everything I know about selling Canva templates on the side, so that you too could start making at least $1,000 per month doing the same.
The Difference between Templates and Printables and Which Should You Sell?
Printables are another type of digital product, but they’re not templates.
Let’s talk about the difference between the two for a minute.
The difference between printables and templates:
A printable is just that—a digital product that you can print out and start using right away. There are printable daily and weekly planners, calendars, meal planners, social media planners, business planners, etc. These are often sold as PDF documents and you’re not expected to make changes to these.
A template, on the other hand, is something that is meant to be edited before use. For example, I have wordbook templates that I sell on my Canva template shop. These are not workbooks that you buy, print out, and start using right away. These templates are meant for business owners who will customize the colors, images, and texts to meet their unique business needs and aesthetics (branding colors, brand images, business-specific text copy, etc.) before using the document.
Should you sell printables or templates?
Well, that depends on you. Both printable and template businesses are great side-hustles, but I personally prefer templates because of their versatility. For example, I can sell social media templates, and all anyone has to do is change out the text on the graphics and/or the images, maybe the colors too, and voila! They’ll have totally unique social media graphics, on-brand!
Now, consider a business planner template vs a planner printable. All businesses are unique. With a template, you’ll give people a way to customize it to perfection based on what they need, and not what you think they need. But of course, just by creating the template itself, you’re giving them guidance and a starting point, so that they won’t have to make it from scratch. And that’s precisely what people are paying for: A well-formed skeleton.
So, which one should you sell?
Again, that depends on what you want to do, what you like to do, and, in case you have an existing audience, then what they would rather receive from you. But personally, I find templates to be more versatile, and thus, I believe they have a larger audience than printables, making it easier to sell and make more money.
How to Create Templates to Sell
Digital templates are mostly some form of documents or graphics, so ideally you’d use Adobe products (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, etc.) or another program like Canva.
I love Canva because it’s easy to use, the learning curve isn’t as steep as Adobe, and a LOT of people use it for a wide range of things—social media graphics, PDF documents, eBooks, workbooks, magazines, flyers, restaurant menus, resume, etc. You can even make videos with Canva now! Canva is also a lot cheaper than Adobe programs, and one platform does it all.
Sure, Canva isn’t as sophisticated as the Adobe products, but let’s face it, most people do not need that level of sophistication anyway, especially not when you’re designing a resume or Instagram posts, for example.
Easy and simple is much more appealing to the mass, and therein lies Canva’s charm.
But, if you’re a seasoned Photoshop, or Illustrator, or InDesign user and that’s where your comfort zone is, then feel free to use those as well.
Aside from that, depending on what kind of templates you’re making, you can use other programs too. For example, if you’re selling fillable form templates, you’ll likely want to make those templates with Adobe Acrobat.
If you’re selling website copy templates, maybe Google Doc would be the way to go.
For legal documents and such, Google Docs or MS Word would likely be best.
Software people use to create templates:
- Photoshop (presets for photographers, social media graphics, etc.)
- Illustrator (for graphics, logos, vector graphics, etc.)
- InDesign (infographics, documents, magazines, etc.)
- Lightroom (presets for photographers)
- Canva (social media graphics, infographics, documents, info products, etc. This blog post specifies how to start selling Canva templates.)
- Adobe Acrobat (documents, forms, etc.)
- Microsoft Word (documents, legal contracts, website copy, etc.)
- Microsoft Excel (planners and trackers)
- Google Spreadsheet (planners and trackers)
- Google Doc (documents, copy, etc.)
And then there are specific templates like WordPress templates, or Squarespace templates, that require knowledge of website design and platform-specific coding.
Where to Sell Your Templates
There are many places to sell templates, but I always recommend selling on multiple platforms to diversify sales and income. Different platforms bring in different audiences, so the more platforms you sell on, the wider you’re casting your net.
Start selling on your website:
If you already have a website, that’s the first place where you’d want to start selling. You likely have an audience already, so why not leverage that? I’ve shared how I sell Canva templates on my website here if you want to take a look.
My website is on WordPress, so I use WooCommerce—an eCommerce platform specifically for WordPress users—to sell my templates. You could also use Shopify; I hear it’s an easy-to-use platform and great for selling digital products.
If your website is on Squarespace, then you can use Squarespace’s built-in eCommerce platform to sell your products too.
Sell on Etsy or Creative Market or Design Bundle:
If you sell graphics or document templates, you could use third-party marketplaces such as Etsy, Creative Market, Design Bundle, etc.
I sell my Canva templates on all these platforms, aside from selling on my website, and it brings in much more than $500 every month. Around $2K+ to be specific.
Setting up shop on Etsy or Design Bundle is fairly easy: Just open an account, set up a payment method, and you’re good to go.
Creative Market is a bit more complicated because it requires you to go through an application process. They ask for your portfolio link (you can use an existing shop on Etsy or on your website to use as a portfolio) and are really picky about who they let sell on their platform. But once you get in, they bring in a lot of traffic internally, which can be great for selling more products.
Some other third-party selling platforms include:
Here’s something you should remember about selling digital templates:
Most online platforms are similar in that the more you show up (add new products or create engagement in other ways) the best chance of you gaining traction.
It does take some time in the beginning, so it’s crucial that you do not lose hope and keep creating more templates and adding more products to your shops.
The more you do this, the more you’ll sell. It will be slow-going in the beginning, so give yourself at least six months to see any significant income. But once you do start making some money, it will grow much faster, as long as you continue to show up and keep adding new products.
In this course, I've shared everything I know about selling Canva templates on the side, so that you too could start making at least $1,000 per month doing the same.
How to Market Your Products
If you’re selling on your website, the chances are that you’ll be doing your own marketing and promos. My favorite way to market templates is to an existing audience, such as an email list of subscribers. You could also use Pinterest and social media to promote your templates.
But if you do not already have a website or an audience, no worries, set up your shops on third-party marketplaces, and the platforms will do the bulk of the work of driving traffic (again, as long as you keep showing up and adding new products regularly, at least once or twice a month, more frequently if you’re trying to grow your income faster.)
There’s also the option of running ads on social media or Google, but I have never used those ads to sell my templates. But those are also viable options to potentially make more sales, so you may want to keep that in mind. If you have the budget and you want to start selling more templates faster, instead of growing things organically, then ads can boose those numbers.
How Much Money Can You Make Selling Templates?
I mentioned in the title that you should be able to make at least $500 per month. Give yourself six to eight months before you expect those numbers, however. As I’ve said, things can be slow-moving in the beginning. If you continue to make more templates and add new products, the traffic and sales will come eventually.
And once they do, I presume you have a chance to make not just $500 per month, but much more than that! I, for example, make well over $2,000 per month with my Canva templates with minimal work.
Jenna Kutcher, whom I’ve mentioned above, wrote that she makes well over 200K in a year from her shop (she does sell more than templates, including some physical products too, so keep that in mind.)
Gone are the days when one 9–5 job could afford all of us a decent lifestyle. Most of us are looking to make extra cash nowadays, and selling digital templates can be a viable method for making at least $500 per month, and potentially, much more than that.
Over to you now. If you could sell templates, would you? If so, what kind of templates would you sell? Share in the comments below.
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