Transcript: E-Printables: Algorithm-Proof Success – Cody Berman – DS501

Doug: Hey, what’s going on? Welcome to the Doug show. My name’s Doug Cunnington, and in this episode, I talked to my buddy, Cody Berman. I’ve known Cody for a few years, and I met him at a few different personal finance conferences. So probably FinCon, probably at a Camp Fi, and over at the EconoMe Conference. So I’ve known Cody for a few years, and he’s, Kind of a serial entrepreneur.

So he has his hands in a few different areas. He’s a real estate investor. He has some online businesses. He has a podcast and he also works on Etsy with ePrintables. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. We’ve chatted, uh, several times, so we will link up to those other interviews and such, but I always want to get sort of a fresh update with what’s going on with the various business models.

It’s really important right now, as the time that I’m recording this is sort of like the March timeframe of 2024, and Google is rolling out a major core update. This core update, as many of us know, really flipped the niche and authority site world upside down. Anyone that was getting traffic from Google has seemingly been impacted.

I know not everyone, but so many websites have been impacted. That said, this business model using Etsy and digital printables is super interesting because it is independent of so many of the pieces of the puzzle, like Amazon affiliate or getting traffic. Traffic from Google, or maybe you’re getting traffic from social media.

It’s independent of all of those things. However, you can use skills from your. you know, your digital online marketing brain in the world that you’ve been in for a few years, and you could take those skills over to Etsy and perhaps be ahead of the competition because you’re just a more experienced digital marketer.

So I’m going to ask Cody a few questions here, and I’ll let you in on a secret. I had some travel and Cody was traveling a little bit too. So we had a difficult time scheduling. So what I’ve done, what I decided to do. Record some questions and then have Cody answer them. So this is not in real time and I want to be transparent about that.

So that’s why I’m not asking my normal follow up questions or going off on weird tangents. So. Some may find this as a large improvement to the show. Anyway, it’ll be more concise and I will ask these questions and then Cody will answer. And I want to let you know that Cody has a course out there as well.

If you want to learn more about ePrintables, enrollment is open. Uh, at the time when this episode goes live, but if you happen to catch this in the future, when the course is not open for enrollment, there should be a way to sign up for an email list and a workshop. So if you listen to this a few months from now or a few years from now, you should be able to find some helpful information from Cody and his business partner, uh, Julie.

I’ve actually interviewed Julie too, and I know her as well. So anyway, you could check out the course and like many courses. There’s a, uh, very generous, uh, you know, sort of refund policy. If you want to check it out, you can read all the details, but I’ll link up for it. I’m an affiliate. So if you buy it, I get a commission, which I greatly appreciate, but just have a look at the sales page.

If you’re interested, you’ll, you’ll know if it looks like something that you want to get into. So without further ado, let’s get into the questions here. What are the basics of the business model for people that don’t know anything about Etsy or digital printables?

Cody: So the basics of selling digital products on Etsy works like this.

I create a digital product in some kind of graphic design program. I personally like Canva, but we have other people who like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, even Microsoft Word, Google Slides, any program where you can create a digital file that is a viable program to sell digital products on Etsy. So once you create that digital file, you then upload it into your Etsy shop.

You put all the titles, the tags, the keywords, all the things that you want that product to be identified by. And then once the product is listed in your Etsy shop and someone buys it, it automatically gets sent to them. So I come from the physical product world. I had a disc golf manufacturing business and digital products are so much easier.

There’s so much better. You’d have to worry about packaging, shipping, inventory, all that fun stuff. Instead I just list the digital file in my Etsy shop. Once a person buys it, it automatically gets delivered to them via Etsy. And that’s the end of story. The only time it’s not completely passive income is the one in 20 customers who might have a question and might shoot me a message via the Etsy messenger, which takes me 20 seconds to respond to because I have all these canned responses.

If someone has trouble downloading their file or if someone has a question specific to a product, it usually takes me under a minute to respond. So that is the only. Non passive part of the side hustle people give me flack and say it’s not true passive income Well, like that’s fine, but it is 95 passive once you list those products in your shop

Doug: What are some of the results that you’ve seen from your students and let us know what’s maybe more typical and what are the outliers?

Cody: So we’ve seen some amazing results from our students. We had one woman who was featured for earning 130, 000 one year, 77, 000 another year. We had another woman who quit her job full time in the UK to sell printables. Now she’s just crushing it with her shop. We had another woman who actually quit her job as an accountant, came and started working for us and was making a full time living on Etsy.

We’ve also had people who are just covering the grocery money. People who are making 200, 300, 600 in passive income and just covering a little bit of the expenses for their household that month. So we like to market this as a side hustle. I don’t do this as my full time income. I do it as my side hustle income.

And that’s kind of what I set out and what I started when I started selling printables on Etsy. But yeah, with, with students, it depends on kind of what their go getter ness is. If we have students who will power through our course, through our program, and then they’ll list their first product in a couple of days, and start making sales within that first week.

We’ve had that happen plenty of times. Other times, there’s students that, yeah, they take a little bit longer. They might be kind of, you know, doing a lesson here, doing a lesson there. Of course, it’s going to take them longer and it might take them, you know, four weeks, might take them two months. It might take them three months to get that first sale in their Etsy shop.

But what I will say is the, the harder you work, the harder, the more work and time and energy you put into your shop beforehand, the greater the fruits of your labor will be later on. So those who are just go getters, they crush it. They dedicate a ton of time and energy to at the beginning. Notice I didn’t say money because this is a pretty low cost house a little start, but they don’t, they dedicate a bunch of time and energy at the beginning.

They can really start to earn some serious sums of money. The cool thing is though, because they’re digital products. Once you list a digital product and it’s a hit digital product, it sells over and over and over again. That’s why I said, you’re front loading the work. It’s not like you’re freelance writing or your podcast editing or you’re building websites.

These are all things I did before, where once that invoice is sent out and the client pays you, that’s kind of the end of that money with digital products. If you create a hit digital product or. Several hit digital products. It’ll keep paying you over and over and over again. So it totally depends on the person.

It totally depends on the time they spend in the side hustle. It totally depends on the types of products that they’re selling. It depends how many products they have in their shop. We’ve noticed that having 100 products listed is kind of when the ball starts to really roll. That’s when students start to put up, you know, four figure months, some students putting up five figure months and it just keeps on going from there.

Doug: How do you brainstorm and then identify products that might be a winner in the Etsy marketplace?

Cody: For me, keyword research is everything. When I first started my Etsy shop, I would just create products because I felt like it. I didn’t know if they would sell. I wasn’t doing any keyword research or SEO search engine optimization. I would literally just think of a product idea in my head, create it on Canva, let’s sit in my shop and most of the time it was crickets because I wasn’t doing the legwork up front.

So if you want to be successful with digital products, please don’t make the same mistake that I did. Use keyword research to your advantage. I know. Keyword research. Many of you might be bloggers, but for those who aren’t, it can sound like a big scary word like SEO keyword research. Like this just sounds too complicated for me.

I don’t want to even try this out hustle, but it is very similar to blogging for those who are bloggers. You find a long tail keyword. You find like a long tail digital product that you can sell. You go and create that product in Canva. And if it has the right search volume and not a lot of competitors, you are probably going to be making sales on that thing.

So now I will not even start creating anything before I’ve done extensive keyword research. I have this like huge Excel file where I’m doing a bunch of keyword research. I’ll have like, kind of shorter tail keywords. And I’ll think of 10 to 20 or more long tail keyword ideas off of that keyword research.

And so that’s the beginning of my process every single time. Now I do not just create digital products willy nilly like I used to. Now I’ll make sure that the product is well researched. There’s actually a search demand for this thing. There’s not too much competition. I like to call those unicorns where there’s a lot of search demand and low competition.

They’re hard to find, but if you can find them, they can be extremely profitable. And that’s pretty much the formula. They’re not all going to hit. I don’t want people to go and start doing this process and creating digital products, listening about Etsy and getting upset because their first one doesn’t start sounding like crazy.

It is a numbers game. I remember when I first started, I think it took 20. different product ideas before I started making real sales. So don’t give up. Once you find that one product that continues to sell, you find a product that sells one or two copies every single day. If it’s a 5, 10 product, you just built a 200, 300, 500 little passive income machine.

And the more that you can do that, the more products you can add on, the more long tail keywords that you can find and Even if you’re getting 1 percent market share of that long tail keyword, it can lead to some serious passive income down the road.

Doug: What software or other tools do you find essential for creating digital printables that you will be selling on Etsy?

Cody: For my printable creation tech stack, it is literally just Canva. I used to use Adobe illustrator and Photoshop and a bunch of other ones. Cause I like the test. I’m a dabbler by trade. But no, it’s seriously just Canva. I have Canva pro because they have some features. Like I really liked the resize feature because on Etsy there might be someone searching for a letter size printable and then someone searching for that same printable in a four or a five or half letter.

So being able to resize quickly is a really cool one that I like. I like the background remover tool. I like having my own brand kit so I can upload fonts. I can have all these colors saved. So yeah, I. Literally just use Canva Pro. It has become such a valuable tool in my toolkit. I remember back when I first started using Canva in 2017, maybe even 2016.

It was, it was clunky. It was, uh, a lot tougher to use than it is now. So for those who are starting there, selling printables on Etsy journey, now you have such a leg up on Cody, back when he first started using Canva. So. Yeah. Canva is an amazing tool for those who haven’t used it before. I used to use like illustrator and Photoshop for certain things.

Like for example, the layer tool was something that canva didn’t have. Now canva has added the layer tool. It is just continually kept up with Adobe and these other really deep pocket competitors. And it’s just, it’s, it’s amazing. Probably the most useful tool in my arsenal when it comes to creating printables.

Doug: How do you use keywords and tags to effectively reach your target market on Etsy?

Cody: Keywords and tags are everything. Having the correct keywords in your listing description and your title, even in your listing images and making sure that those 13 tags that Etsy allows you to have, making sure you’re using all 13 of them and that those tags are going to help people reach Find your printable and your digital product and it’s going to be the right one that they’re searching for I remember here’s an example of one where before I understood keyword research, I created a meal planner and it was kind of a had a grocery list as part of it.

But it was a meal planner. It had every day of the week. It had all your meals planned out. You could write like your macros, your calories, your Your fats, your carbs, your protein, all that stuff. It was pretty comprehensive. I think it was like a three or four page printable. And then I found out that the like search demand for grocery lists was out of this world.

So what did I do? I changed the beginning of the title, like instead of starting the thing with meal planner, I started with grocery list. I changed a lot of the tags to grocery list. I changed the description to primarily focus on the grocery list. I even made the grocery list the first page of that printable and you know what?

My sales increased just because I made those small tweaks with the exact same product except for rearranging page one and two. It was the exact same product. And just understanding keywords and tags and where to put them and what buyers were searching for made all the difference. So for me, I am always making sure that I am using the most effective tags and keywords.

Now there’s a top, there’s a couple of different ways you can do this. I use a software called E rank. There’s also a bunch of other keyword research tools out there. There’s there’s insight factory, there’s marmalade. If you don’t want to get too crazy, if you’re just getting started out in your journey and you don’t feel like shelling out the money, even though it’s like e ranks basic program, I think is 6 a month.

They also have a free version and that’s the one I use and recommend most. But even if you, so if you don’t want to shell out the money for that, you can even use free tools like. Etsy auto populate and you’re like, what the heck are you talking about? So a great way to figure out what people are searching for is to just start typing things into the Etsy search bar.

Very similar to Google, very similar to any search engine where it’s going to auto complete. You’ve probably seen this on Google a million times, like how many, and then it’ll just complete and you’ll be like, what the heck, why are people searching for that? Like, you know, you look at number three and it’s like the craziest search ever.

But the same thing on Etsy, if you go and just type stuff into the Etsy search bar, you have a really good idea of what people are searching for and you can use That data to then kind of plug that research into your keyword research or into your keywords and into your tags for your listing. So that’s a kind of free hack that I like to use.

I also like to use Google trends, Pinterest trends. That’s a great way to see what people are searching for, or you can use one of these paid, uh, keyword research tools like an e rank.

Doug: What are the other costs for software or other considerations that people need to think about?

Cody: So basically for my Etsy tech stack, I have Canva Pro and it’s 12 a month. I have Cordial, which is an editable printable software. So for example, I had an editable letter from Santa. So I was selling this thing and someone could buy it. And then via cordial they could then edit it on their computer quick and print it out.

You wouldn’t believe on Christmas morning, I think I had something like 20 or 21 sales. So this is like the last minute parents freaking out printing this thing at 3am changing the text, you know, signed off, Hey Johnny, like you had such a great year. So proud of you, whatever. It was amazing. But yeah, so cordial, that one is the, it’s nine 99 per month and then it’s plus a month.

65 cents per listing sold. So basically they get a cut of each of those editable products that I sell. Then I have E Rank Pro and E Rank Pro is I believe 10 per month as of this recording. And I honestly think that’s it. I have messed around with a bunch of other keyword research tools. And at this point, it’s just easier for me to stick with one.

I have used ever be in the past. Love it. Recommend it. I’ve used marmalade before sale. Samurai has a cool Chrome extension, but I think in terms of tech stack, I stopped using Adobe. So that was not, that was probably 22 a month, but I stopped using that because Canva has just become so robust in recent years.

And so, yeah, my tech stack, let’s just do some mental math is. What? 12 bucks plus my cordial subscription, 10 bucks plus whatever. Let’s just assume that I don’t make any sales. Just base tech stack. Uh, 12 bucks plus 10 bucks plus 10 bucks. So we’re looking at 32 a month. Not too shabby.

Doug: Are there any issues with building on Etsy’s platform? For example, maybe the payment structure changes, maybe there’s an algorithm change, maybe there’s other stuff that is sort of external from what we control and we all know the danger of building on someone else’s platform or relying on Google for search engine traffic or relying on Amazon for commission rates.

When you don’t control the full relationship, a lot of times we’re just left out. To the whims of a large corporation. So do you have any concerns around that? And actually a secondary part of that question is, is Etsy cracking down on e printables and the fact that they are more popular now?

Cody: Some people get nervous building on top of someone else’s platform, but here’s why I like selling on Etsy so much. If I were to sell in a Shopify store or on my own website using a plugin like WooCommerce, I would have to drum up all of my own buyers. I would have to either have a big social media following or to have to get affiliates and hit up other people’s audiences with Etsy.

If I understand keyword research and SEO, I can just get people to buy my products because they’re, you know, they type the whatever they’re searching for into the search bar. I have created the perfect product for them because I’ve already done the keyword research to know what they’re going to type into that search bar.

And that’s the whole game. All you got to do, figure out what people are typing into the search bar, Create that product. Make sure it’s titled. Descripted. Is that even the word? Make sure it’s titled. The description is as accurate as possible. The listing images are as good as they can be and it’s priced appropriately and you will start making sales because it’s literally just solving A search intent problem if someone’s searching for something and they can’t find it and you Offer the solution.

You are going to make sales. So I love building on top of Etsy’s platform. Plus Etsy is plowing so much money into marketing. If you just saw recently, we, the Superbowl happened a couple of weeks ago. Etsy just spent God knows how much money on a Superbowl ad millions and millions of dollars. They’re spending million and millions of dollars on offsite on offsite ads.

So they’re advertising. Like Etsy sellers products on other platforms like Google and Pinterest and Bing and other places. So Etsy is spending a ton getting people onto their platform. So that’s why I like selling on Etsy so much. Like, yes, if you do have a platform already and you want to sell on Shopify or WooCommerce, my God, go for it.

And you can also sell on those platforms and on Etsy, but Etsy is giving you customers. It’s like the equivalent to selling on your own website and trying to drum up a bunch of traffic or just putting your product on Amazon. Yes. Amazon’s going to get a cut. Yes. Etsy is going to get a cut. Amazon actually takes a much bigger cut than Etsy.

Etsy charges 6. 5 percent fee. They’re both bringing you traffic without you having to drum up all those customers. So I’m a huge fan of selling on Etsy, very bullish on what they’re doing with their marketing spend and bringing new buyers on the platform. And they’re making it much easier for a digital product sellers in today’s market.

Doug: What’s the one piece of advice that you would give someone that’s getting started on Etsy selling digital printables?

Cody: My best piece of advice for people just starting out on Etsy is to not give up because I remember how discouraged I was. I created three or four printables and crickets. I wasn’t even getting views, my printables, cause it was so bad. I wasn’t doing the keyboard research. I didn’t understand search intent.

I didn’t understand marketing. I didn’t understand. How to create an attractive listing image or titles or descriptions or tech. I didn’t understand any of it. And so if I were to just, and I spent hours and hours and hours on these designs, mind you, it wasn’t like I spent 10 minutes and I’m like, Oh, whatever.

That was fun. No, I spent hours on these designs and I didn’t make any sales. So to some people that might be really discouraging. But to me, I was like, you know what? I keep getting knocked down. I’m going to get back up. I’m going to figure this out. And after many products later, like 20 products later, I started to see some success.

So. I know this is such cliche advice, but just don’t give up because once the snowball starts rolling, especially with a side hustle like this, where all you need is one successful product and that becomes a little passive income machine and the more little passive income machines that you can build within your Etsy shop, then this becomes a serious side hustle.

You go from making, you know, a couple hundred bucks a month to a thousand bucks a month to 5, 000 to 10, 000 and it keeps on going and going and going as long as you keep iterating and creating new products.

Doug: All right. Thanks a lot to Cody. Be sure to check out his stuff. Like I said, he has the ePrintables course. So I’ll link up to that and you should take advantage of it while it’s open for enrollment. There’s always bonuses and offers that you can’t get otherwise. So do check it out. If this sounds like an interesting business model for you, especially if you’ve been hit recently with the Google update, this business model is, seems a lot more, uh, user friendly than the affiliate model that we’ve been working with for a few years here.

Cody also has a personal finance podcast, which I listened to. It’s called the five show, the financial independence show. So you can check it out. It’s on all the major players out there. And if I remember right, I’ve been on the show, but funny enough, it was a few years ago and it was when I was a lot more.

engulfed in the Amazon affiliate business model. So a lot of this stuff on there, I think is no longer relevant since it was like four years ago when we recorded it. But anyway, Cody has a pretty awesome show out there. So do check it out. He covers all sorts of stuff with his, his cohost, Justin. So anyway, thanks to Cody and I’ll catch up with him soon.

0 comments… add one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *