The Quick Way to Passive Income: Selling Cut Files for Cricut or Silhouette
When I first heard these words, I didn't exactly know what they meant. At the time, I was hearing several scammy people trying to sell their online product that conveniently didn’t require any work. They would call it “easy money”. This is what I knew passive income to be, which I have now learned isn’t true. This was also back when Internet Marketing and Online Businesses were on the rise and still a new area. To top it off, just about all the people in these area were men. The Online Marketing meetup group I attended at the time didn't have a single woman who attended, just me. Can we say intimidating? I just sat in the back, said nothing, tried to blend in and absorb as much of the presentation as possible....of which 90% was going over my head!
It was here though that passive income took on a new meaning for me and where I learned that it true passive income still required a lot of work. However, even though I had several online business ideas, nothing ever seemed to fit me and the lifestyle I sought. For someone like me, I felt it was dang near impossible to earn money online. It wasn't until I started listening to podcast influencers like Pat Flynn that I realized it was not only possible, but passive income would be the perfect lifestyle for me. The more I learned the more I realized that passive income doesn’t mean “no work”, it means plenty of work to achieve a consistent income that reproduces over and over. Being a new stay at home parent who was seeking a flexible income that I could produce from home so I could be a mom first and work second....this appealed to me more than anything.
Passive income means 'flexible' income that is created once and earns money time and time again with minimal upkeep.
But the big question, could I actually make money doing it? Me. A scatter-brained, little country girl from the middle of nowhere. Online business, passive income was something I heard about from people I didn’t know. I never knew anyone personally who was doing this. Could I actually live a life that would allow me to be a Mom, have the flexibility that would allow me to stay home, and at the same time replace my corporate marketing income? Not only that but something that I would enjoy, that would also give back some "me" time, aside from Mommy time. All you stay at home Moms of littles know exactly what I'm talking about. I didn't have much confidence in myself. I wasn't sure if I had what it took but I kept looking.
A few different business ventures resulted in epic fail. I knew I didn't have the time to dedicate to blogging, which I knew could be successful but ain't nobody got time for that ;) or at least I didn't. I have always had a short attention span. I needed something that I could do in quick increments - something that would keep me engaged and return quick results.
I stumbled upon selling cut files on Etsy.
It wasn't like other passive income streams I had heard about. There was no email list needed, no social media posts, no blog, none of that! I put in some late nights and early mornings in the beginning, and within 8 months I was able to replace bi-weekly paychecks I had had at my past full-time job in marketing. Full disclosure, this does not include two months when I had some serious morning sickness going on. Did I mention I was prego during all this? Needless to say, I did not design or post any new products to my shop or put any effort whatsoever into my business during these two months - January and December (see the dip in my sales chart below). But...
I was still able to replace my full-time income through selling SVG files on Etsy within the 8 months..and TWO of those months I put in zero effort.
Now I will say, my job in marketing, in rural Idaho wasn't breaking the bank but it was around $1100 every two weeks. This was the income amount that was replaced through this new passive income stream.
Just wanting to be completely honest and transparent because this is what helped me when I was first starting out. Hearing what others were able to earn what amount of time gave me a ball park of all the figures and motivation to do it myself and I hope this information can do the same for you.
Anyways back to my story, in less than a year I was able to replace my income with a zero following and zero money invested. And since that first year (and so far), the business continues to double each year! Also worth mentioning, I can honestly say I have rarely worked more than part-time hours each week with this Etsy business. Currently I work less than 2 hours a week creating new designs for the shop, with more of my time dedicated to blogging and creating content to teach others through my course, the Designer’s Course to SVG Files. My virtual assistant who helps me works around 4 hours a week helping me keep up with posting listings, updating listings, and managing my other apparel shop. Adding up the hours, we currently dedicate around 6 hours a week to the shop that continues to produce more and more. I think this is just awesome!
Again, I don't say this to boast or to say "Wow, look at me" but I want others to know that it is possible. How neat that there’s an opportunity out there where you can work less than part time, but still receive a full-time income! It's honestly amazing and something I didn’t even know was possible I entered this field. The best part is: it isn’t that complicated to achieve. All that it requires is some time, consistent work, and a few tips and tricks of how to show up on Etsy. YOU can do it too. And I can help you.
You can live a happy, flexible lifestyle while earning passive income so you can spend your time focusing on what's most important.
For me this is time with my family, but whatever it may be for you, it is possible to quickly earn a passive income online.
Now, let's dive into this a bit further now that you know that its possible to make quick passive income through designing graphics.
Let's focus solely on cut files, since that is my area that I know, BUT I will say these points below can apply to many many different digital products you can sell on Etsy or other platforms for that matter.
So why is selling cut files on Etsy one of the quickest ways to earn passive income?
1) You don't need to have a following....at all
This is the number one thing I love about Etsy. You don't need to have a social following, an audience, or email list to make money. So this eliminates the time it would usually take to acquire an audience that trusts you in order to market your product.
With Etsy you have Instant access to a huge audience. Numbers that are far beyond what either of us can reach when first starting out = 35.8 million active buyers as of 2018.....Wowza!
Because we are able to immediately have access to this many buyers, it eliminates the need to have your own audience to market to - which also eliminates the amount of time it takes to build a following. Not to mention, Etsy is not slowing down at all. This number continues to grow each year so its definitely a win to go with Etsy!
2) No social or blog posts needed.
No need to spend countless hours staring at a screen writing blog or social posts. No need to stress about posting the next Facebook post, especially if you’re an introvert like me. No podcasts, no videos, no need to build a social following, and no need to create a ton of content. A big bonus.
Instead, put hours in to setting up your shop and building products to sell which directly will make you money. Just open an Etsy shop, put some very simple SEO keywords in the right places, watch current trends in your product area and watch what happens. Of course there’s some details in between each of these steps but for the most part, that’s it! Not having to produce a ton of content also saves a lot of time which enables you to spend your time producing more items to sell.
3) No upfront costs.
When selling cut files on Etsy there are no upfront costs, as there are in many other startup businesses. For instance, you will not be spending money on materials such as vinyl, fabric, clothing, etc. There’s no inventory to house. There’s no franchise costs. When selling on a platform such as Etsy, you don’t even need to put money into a website.
The best part of Etsy, you only pay when you sell....for the most part.
That’s right. Etsy charges you after you make a sale. Other than that its only $0.20 per listing every 4 months. So next to zero costs to get your business up and running! Woohoo! I appreciated this when I first started out because extra money at that time was purdy tight. With a baby on the way and me planning on quitting my job after Kasey junior arrived, there was no way we had extra money to put into something......especially something that wasn’t proven, let alone expensive. Another huge plus!
4) With all the extra time you can focus on product creation.
I kinda of already mentioned this one but I felt this one needed more attention because this is huge as well. Instead of spending time building a following or into a website, you can instead focus directly on the thing that will produce income which makes it possible to earn money faster than other businesses.
Brainstorming new designs, researching what is trending, and actually designing products to sell which directly is putting money into your pocket. The time it takes to go from concept to the end product being ready to sell is a little as 5 minutes (for a super simple design....but still, that is crazy regardless!).
I have seen some wildly successful shops cranking out 20+ original designs a day. While I don’t have the time to do this, I can definitely see the benefit to this and wanted to let you know the magnitude some shops are able to go with this!
5) Own a cutting business? Are you a cutting machine enthusiasts? Then this is a no brainer.
Selling cut files could be low-hanging fruit for you if you’re in the right position. Are you already creating cut files on a regular basis? Are you consistently purchasing or seeking out free cut files? Then this could be for you! You can be selling these cut files on the side. And if you own a cutting business then the easy solution is to sell not only physical products but your digital designs as well. You can kill two birds with one stone by using the same design and sell both the digital and physical version of it!
Plus, if you purchase designs right now, you can actually be saving hundreds if not thousands a year by designing your own instead. Instead of putting that money into buying designs every time you need a new product, you can simply create your own. Another plus, once you learn how to use Adobe Illustrator to design cut files. You will then be able to create any design you want, not limited to cut files either! Plus plus plus you can take comfort knowing your designs are original and not in violation of copyright infringement.
6) No need to market to friends and family.
Okay, so this one I included because I know this is an uncomfortable area for many. With other businesses or multi-level marketing businesses, you start by going to those you know. I am not criticizing these types of businesses or belittling them in any way. BUT if this makes you uncomfortable, as it does for me (remember, introvert here!), then you will appreciate this one.
Since you are relying on Etsy for your traffic, this eliminates the need to self-promote to those close to you. Not to mention, if you’re selling cut files, you may be like me and have like zero friends who even use cut files!
I hope this helps...
If you are on the fence about designing cut files and trying to figure out if this is for you, then I hope this article helped. These are things that I have learned and pros to selling cut files. I sincerely love doing it so much that I think its perfect for everyone.....which I know is not true but that’s the passion I have for this area.
Which one of these points appeals to you the most and why? Post in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
Great question Nikki. I’m a fan of getting things started immediately so I would start with what you have and go for it! I didn’t start with very many.
Thank you for sharing great advice for selling SVGs. I wanted to know what would be a good amount of files to start selling on Etsy. I have like 10-15 unique files made, and I was wondering should I wait till I have a certain amount before I start an Etsy account, or is it okay to start with what you have and add more as you go?
Good question. I wonder if this is the initial setup closure that Etsy does on new shops. For instance one of my students opened an Etsy shop and it was immediately shut down (momentarily) while they were validating her payment method. Have they re-opened your shop by now? I am curious what their support says. There are other places such as the Hungry JPG, Creative Market, etc. but I have see the most profit from shops selling on Etsy. I hope that helps!
I have had an etsy account for months. Recently I set up a shop and listed the first digital file for stencil cutting. Within hours my account was deactivated without any warning mail or even a mail intimating me of the account closure. It just doesn’t let me sign in anymore. I have written a mail to etsy but no reply yet. I wonder how can one do business selling on a market place like that. Having said this I also admit its probably the best known place to sell digital products. I would like to sell on etsy provided I am able to reinstate the account and told of the errors I made. Is there any way around. Is etsy the only place I can such digital files.?
Your help is much appreciated.
Thank you for the detailed explanation! I am considering between selling a printed t-shirt or sag files. But I’m so new to online selling and this really helps Question if you don’t mind, where did you upload your files for people to purchase and download? Like should i be getting a dropbox account? And would you do both printed products and digital or just focus on one?
Thanks in advance for your insights!