Julie Berninger: How I Made $10,000 with My Etsy Printables Business

February 4, 2023

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We've all heard that passive income streams can be wealth-building powerhouses. But what does that actually look like in practice? Julie Berninger shares how she uses her Etsy printables business to cash in on passive income.

Julie is a work-at-home mom who left the corporate world after 10 years. She now spends part of her day helping people start side hustles selling on Etsy.

That's right! If you're looking for flexibility to work from home and want to bring in more money, Julie's got a plan for you. Let's explore why Etsy is the perfect platform for a printables business that can help anyone pull in passive side income or maybe even become your next career!

How Julie Got Started with Her Etsy Printables Business

Before she had a printables business, Julie started a different kind of Etsy shop. She explored product options and learned that temporary tattoos could be manufactured for her based on her designs. After that, she narrowed down her focus to the bachelorette party space. Julie quickly learned that people would spend good money on fun throwaway items.

As she found success in that Etsy space, she started to feel stretched thin between her side hustles and her corporate job. She realized that while her side hustle was becoming more and more successful, she wanted something more passive.

She met someone who was pulling in a six-figure income from an Etsy printables business and wondering why she couldn't do the same. The rest, as they say, is history.

Last year, Julie made over $11,000 while taking six months off to move. She didn't design or list any new products. The most work she did was to answer customer messages if they popped up. Most of her income was entirely passive!

Pivoting with a Printables Business

Julie worked to build her printables business before the pandemic. Then, with the lockdown and COVID-19, everything changed, including her Etsy sales.

She had originally built a business around scavenger hunt printables for bar crawls, but she says bachelorette parties were one of the first things to get axed during the pandemic. As a result, she re-imagined her shop. That means that she had to do more keyword research and explore other trends to achieve her goal of bringing in about $1,000 a month in revenue.

By offering both templates for small business owners and seasonal products for the holidays, she was able to restore her shop's income to a pre-pandemic level.

Once Julie successfully made this pivot, she pivoted again. She left her corporate career to pursue working from home. Though she already had a head start on the financial front from all of her saving and investing as part of the FIRE community, she credits the shop's success as well. This allowed her to focus on Gold City Ventures, the new company she co-founded, as she works from home.

Why Etsy is the Perfect Platform

With tons of platforms for selling online, why did Julie choose Etsy? She says it was a simple choice really.

Etsy is a special kind of online store. Julie says that she always thinks of Etsy when she wants something cute and personalized enough to make the receiver feel special. Julie isn't alone. There are 90 million shoppers on Etsy, and that number grows each year.

That's why Etsy is an easy choice for getting started with a new online business. If you are looking for a platform that will bring customers to you, you definitely want to consider Etsy. There are already millions of people searching Etsy every day, looking for their next gift. When you open your Etsy shop, you get to tap into the market.

That saves you the time and money of having to build your brand's reputation and grow your following. Instead, it frees up your time to create better products and serve your customers better.

Why Choose an Etsy Printables Business

Choosing Etsy makes sense from an audience standpoint. So why did Julie pursue an Etsy printables business specifically? It's a good question, especially if you've spent any time browsing on Etsy. They sell seemingly everything!

Julie says the purpose of selling printables specifically is its passive nature. When it comes to printables, the active labor is done upfront. You research and create your product. Afterward, you are ready to list! Then hundreds or even thousands of customers can shop your listings. All those weeks or months that people make purchases from your shop creates passive income for you. Julie points out that the most work you'll have to do is answer customer service questions occasionally.

Another reason that Julie loves printables is that you can change your mind at the drop of a hat. You can modify or reuse files, editing as you go without needing to start from scratch. Plus, it feels like a relaxing and creative outlet for her.

How to Get Started

Does an Etsy printables business sound good to you? Then, it's time to get started. Julie says that she's made a new career out of helping people get their first sale faster. She says that people are most motivated to continue side hustling when they see their dollars soonest.

So this is the condensed version of Julie's Etsy shop strategy:

  1. To start, look at upcoming holidays. Etsy is known for holiday celebrations and gift-giving, and there is a printable element to all of those things. So pick a holiday that is 1-2 months away.
  2. After you choose your holiday, you want to do some research to see other listings and keywords that people are using.
  3. Then, create your first design and list it!

You won't make a fortune right away, but Julie says it's not unrealistic to set a goal of earning a hundred dollars a month or more.

Once you get better at researching upfront, you'll be surprised at how quickly you can set a goal of a four-figure month. While Julie recommends that people commit 4-5 hours per week to the side hustle, she says a lot of people go all in. She knows of several instances where people spend 15-20 hours per week working on their Etsy printables business and pull in six-figure incomes.

That's the beauty of this kind of work. There's flexibility in your work environment: work from home, at a coffee shop, or in a co-working space. You can run your business anywhere you have internet access.

And there's also flexibility in the amount of time you spend on the shop. In seasons of life where time is tight, you can scale back. Then, when you have more time, you can always scale up and grow your shop listings.

What to Do if You're Not a Designer

Let's say you're really interested in an Etsy printables business. Hundreds or thousands of dollars of side income money sounds amazing. You love the idea of working from home. But you're not a graphic designer. That means you need to look elsewhere for a successful side hustle, right? Not so fast.

One of the biggest hesitations people have is they worry about not having a background in graphic design. Never fear, says Julie. While it's true that some spaces like wall art and weddings have a very high aesthetic standard sellers have to meet, that's not true for every niche.

Though she says a lot of people she coaches are really interested in designing wall art, she encourages them to start somewhere else. Designing something that will live on someone's wall for months or years is going to take a lot more time than something else. Julie says that when you are designing something that people use for one day, the bar is a lot lower.

Another thing to remember is that there are so many online tools that will support your Etsy printables business. Though Julie has access to Adobe Creative Cloud, a paid design software suite, she says she works almost exclusively with Canva.

Canva offers everything from stock photos and clip art to elements and fonts, most of which can be accessed for free. Of course, like most tools, you can upgrade to a paid version. But Julie says there is more than enough to get started with the free version.

Final Thoughts on Etsy Printables Business

What would an extra $100 or $1000 do to your budget? Would you be able to pay down debt? Find mortgage freedom? Ramp up your investing? In a lot of ways, that's a life-changing amount of money.

Oftentimes, the thing that stops people from getting started is feeling unsure of where to begin. It's true that you can absolutely DIY your way to a successful Etsy printables business. But if you don't want to start from zero, Julie's done a lot of the work for you. That's where her company Gold City Ventures comes in.

Are you ready to earn extra cash while flexing your creative muscle? Grab your free copy of The Seasonal Products Store, Julie's e-book that will help you get started with an Etsy printables business today!

Does an Etsy printables business sound like something you would enjoy? What's your favorite side hustle?

Please let us know in the comments below.

Andy Hill

Andy Hill, AFC® is the award-winning family finance coach behind Marriage Kids and Money - a platform dedicated to helping families build wealth and happiness. With millions of podcast downloads and video views, Andy’s message of family financial empowerment has resonated with listeners, readers and viewers across the world. When he's not "talking money", Andy enjoys being a Soccer Dad, singing karaoke with his wife and relaxing on his hammock.

One Comment

  • This is truly inspiring. It’s amazing to see how she turned your passion into a profitable venture. The tips on creating quality products, and marketing them effectively are invaluable for anyone looking to start their own business. Thank you for sharing this Andy!


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