Add Etsy To Your List Of Places To Sell Public Domain Digital Products

If you have heard of and are skeptical that you should be using their services… Read On!

If you have never heard of… It was originally a website where you could buy and sell handmade products. The site built a community beyond what could ever imagine.

Today… you can buy and sell vintage products, patterns, tutorials, as well as thousands of wonderful handmade products. And… it’s not set up as an auction format. You sell the product for the price you set.

So what does have to do with Public Domain?

Okay… since you asked so nicely… :0)

I have been looking for places to sell digital download products as well as physical products. You must know by now that eBay no longer allows digital downloads of products… (I know there are ways around that rule – but I don’t want to go into the black hat uses of eBay).

Of course – you won’t get rich selling digital downloads on This is just another one of those multiple streams of income I am always “harping” about.

Some sellers are using the Stuart Turnbull (Prints Make Profits)  method of tearing up old books and selling the originals on Etsy.

Old Paper and Pages

One of the types of  products I am very interested in selling on are digital downloads. I have several ideas (including physical products):

  • Graphics -  Images I've created using Public Domain content (Download and Physical)
  • Tutorials - How to find and use Public Domain Images
  • Products that crafter's/artists  can use in their products/projects.  Little goodies that I find at the thrift store that I can't sell in my Amazon store.

This seller has digital graphic downloads for sale:


It looks like this seller lists scans ranging in price from 2.98 to $6.99.

If your interested in all the “how to” of selling on Etsy… they have a massive amount of helpful material here:

An Example:

  • The cost to have an Etsy store? Free
  • The cost to list an item (no matter what price is sells at)? .20 cents. If you gave the listing a quantity of three, it would cost $0.60. etc...
  • The percentage Etsy gets after sale? 3.5%
  • If you don’t live in the U.S. can you still sell on Etsy? yep
  • Don’t forget to add in the cost of PayPal fees. (Yuck) You should have a Paypal account to accept payment.

Can You Make Money Selling On Etsy?

Consider this scenario:

Sell 5 items per day

$3 per item

Total $15 per day

$450 per month.

Guestimate on costs $150

Potential profit – $300 per month.

I've seen some sellers with much higher sales in a month! And this could be all digital downloads - no shipping costs.

Are you interested in Selling Graphics or other "stuff" on Etsy? Is it worth the effort?

I’m curious to hear your thoughts… reply below.

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  1. says

    Brilliant idea. After your newsletter I go interested in p.d. graphics. It was like a message I had to heed because the same week my daughter in law and sister started buying old books to use the pages in scrapbooking. I love the concept of p.d. stuff but never really knew what to do with it.

    Joanne Reid´s last blog post ..Chaosing in Real Life

  2. Lucy Davis-Benzoni says

    Yes, Debra, I for one am interested in what you are saying here. I’ve been working on P.D. graphics for months, cleaning them up, modifying or re-inventing them and I need your sort of guidance to know what to do with them. I had not seriously considered Etsy as I thought it was useful only for U.S. residents. I will follow your link and do some reading up at their site. Thank you once more!

  3. says

    I have a shop on etsy and have a couple of children’s books on CD out there now as well as several refurbished prints for sale. I also have a Raggedy Ann and Andy rubber stamp made from a prnt to turned into a black and white line drawing. To date, I’ve sold one of the CD’s, one of the rubber stamps and none of the prints thus far.

    So, to be upfront and honest for everyone, etsy is not going to make most people either $400/month or anything per month. I have rare fabrics and authentic Nottingham lace out there that is not selling. I have crystals and minerals that sell sometimes, but not enough to help us much each month.

    So as for finding a gold mine of people looking for Public Domain stuff, etsy is not going to be it. Yes, you can put it out there, but be ready to drop prices and then drop them again until, like in my case, when I sell the PD items, I’m barely making enough money to cover materials much less my work involved in refurbishing these old books and pictures.

    Pictures in the old books are not going to bring in any money as most of them are yellow, smeared and really quite awful until a lot of work is done on each one. Of course, it’s an open market, so knock yourself out!

    So, etsy IS a place where PD can be sold, but hard copy items are going to sell slowly if at all. I’m going to keep trying with it because I feel what I’m doing is worthwhile and will bring these very old books to people who cannot afford to buy the originals which can be very expensive.

    I have two old Raggedy Ann and Andy books on CD out there now and am working on 3 more of Johnny Gruelle’s books from 1917 to 1919. Also have some 8×10 prints for framing done on bright white matte photo paper that I’ve refurbished.

    Have a great week everybody!

    Linda´s last blog post ..Raggedy Ann and Andy at the Beach from 1920 Raggedy Andy Stories by Johnny Gruelle

  4. says

    hi Debra
    Well thanks again for another really great post I have signed up withetsy through your link
    Do you sell info products through them yourself
    regards peter mcgrath

  5. Cindi says

    Another place to look into as far as selling prints is I haven’t done it yet, but I have heard a lot of good things about it!


  6. Blair says

    Debra thank you and bless you for being so generous with your information. I knew of esty and have friends on esty but I was lazy. I think the fact that you sent an email newsletter about esty was the universe’s way of working through you to get through to my hard head. LOL. Thanks for all you do and I hope you have the greatest success with all your endeavors.

  7. says

    Yes, Etsy is worth it, but people need to realize it’s not a ‘easy money’ system. Selling ditigal downloads takes as much work as any other site. You still have to build a following and build a good foundation. :0)
    crystal´s last blog post ..Networking Goals

  8. says

    I have been selling vintage/antiques on Etsy for a few years now & actually supplement my income by app. $600-$1000 a month. I have a few sites that focus on different things. 1- vintage & antiques 1- my own designs 1- reproductions (just getting started)

    There is definitely a market her for PD items.
    The issue is that etsy buyers have a particular sense of style & taste. It is tough to explore because you cannot track past sales like on eBay.

    I would explore Digital downloads or collage sheets to really see how well some sellers are doing in this realm. It is staggering how many they sell.

    When I sell prints I sell originals from the books & magazines. They sell well at a hood price.
    My plan is to now scan the PD items & sell reprints on my non-vintage store.

    I personally have a friend who has latched on to some wonderful items that people love. She sells reprints for $21 a piece (cost her 50 cents to print at kinkos). She has been selling $1500-2k a month on these for months running.
    No joke! She found a group of items that people love.

    I am hoping to find some some similar successful items!
    On Etsy- people like the aged look!
    Yellowed & aged is preferred- please do not spend too much time cleaning the images up.
    Artists use these images in their own work to create things with an old look,

    I could go on & on but am waiting in the school car line-up for my daughter.

    Feel free to email me with mire questions on Etsy.

  9. says

    I have about 35 items listed on Etsy. Most of which come from PD with my changes into different kinds of products. I’ve have my account less than a month and haven’t made any sales yet, but I have lots of people looking and adding me to their favorites, so I figure it is just a matter of time. Like anything, it takes time and work.

    Beth´s last blog post ..Custom Birthday Card with Knights of the Round Table Theme Digital Download You Print Boy Birthday

  10. says

    I think it says something about your website that, although I’ve heard of Etsy before, I’d never really considered it worth looking at until I read this post. Now I’m seeing some of the possiblitiesl. Thanks for once again nudging the ol’ brain cells into gear.
    Magpie´s last blog post ..Phantom Lady Coffee Mug

  11. says

    Hey Magpie – You are doing some fantastic things with Comic Books… call me impressed! Etsy looks like a fun place to sell… like a giant craft fair. I love craft fairs! :)

  12. says

    Bonjour, Debra! Thank you for the totally unexpected publicity:) I would like to alert your readers to another new and upcoming site with less fees than Etsy and it’s called Zibbet. IF you go to the Etsy forums, it’s overflowing with angst and vitroil against Etsy. Many sellers are saying that businesses are dead in the water and they attribute it to Etsy’s new search method. Etsy seems as responsive to sellers as eBay:) Anway, I don’t get anything for promoting Zibbet, but I do want to see it succeed. I truly see it as the ‘next’ big thing. AND since my store fees are less there, the cost of my digital downloads are too:)
    I have literally thousands of dollars invested in my antique postcards and I lived at the poverty level for 2 years to amass them:) So I have strong feelings about “public domain” items. I haven’t read all of your web site here but somewhere I hope you do stress that just because a person can ‘right click copy’ doesn’t mean it’s ethical!ha! These items that are “copyright free” wouldn’t be finding new life and being preserved if someone didn’t buy them in the first place. It’s like the chicken and the egg. Which comes first? Yes, the item is in public domain. But how do you get the item? Someone has to have an actual copy, the real thing, to scan, restore, list and put out there. All of which costs money. So anytime I see an Internet image, I always strive to honor and acknowledge the rights of the person who posted it — as you’ve done here. So again, thanks for linking to my store!

  13. says

    Wow – looks very much like Etsy. Thanks for sharing.

    Your comment’s on ethical has some “honest’ ring to it. Just because a person can “right click copy” may not feel ethical to you… but it’s perfectly legal. (as long as it’s Public Domain content.) It’s all up to the individual – does it
    make you feel creepy to use a public domain work that you don’t give credit to the scanner? Then don’t do it.

    On the other hand… if you feel that following the law is perfectly fine – then go for it.

    I don’t try to teach ethics to much here… but I have:

  14. says

    With respect to Tricia, while I agree that the work involved in briing public domain images online can be immense and it’s not unreasonable to expect some gratitude in the form of a credit. However. there are no “rights” to be respected here. Buying PD material confers no rights. Scanning and restoring them creates no rights. Putting them online gives the to poster no rights as far as other people downloading them or using them in any way.
    Magie´s last blog post ..Phantom Lady Coffee Mug

  15. says

    @Magie, It may be a matter of semantics or I may be misunderstanding what you are saying — Public Domain is one thing, but if an image is on my blog — it’s not free for the copying just because it’s on the Internet. Blog material, text and photos, are copyrighted.

  16. says

    Trishia. Perhaps I misunderstood your original post, but you seemed to be suggesting that if you purchase an antique photo (for instance), scan it, restore it, and post it on the internet, that your rights are being violated if someone then downloads it and uses it for themselves, which is simply not the case. If that’s not what you were saying, I offer my humblest apologies.
    Magpie´s last blog post ..Phantom Lady Coffee Mug

  17. Stephanie Mason says

    I am new to all of this and I am trying to follow what you are doing on Etsy. I really like the idea of the digital PD prints on the vintage book pages, but when I have try to print the image on the vintage book page it does not come out looking like yours or the ones on Encores site. The vintage page soaks up to much ink and the digital image seems to be completely covering the writing on the vintage page. I know I must be doing something wrong. My husband and I have worked all day Saturday trying to get it right, but still no luck. Is there any instructions or step-by-step guide to do this right, or are you in the process of writing one for us?

  18. says

    I hear you Stephanie… Printing is one of those things I’m working on myself (and improving) and I’ll share what I learn ASAP.

  19. Tammy says

    Tricia, here is a helpful idea for you. When you prepare your images, place a watermark or other “stamp” on the image you are posting on your blog. For example, a large font of your name, your monogram, the words “SAMPLE ONLY” or another symbol that basically “ruins” the image for the person who lifts it from your blog. If you use Photoshop to edit your images, it’s as simple as typing your name on a separate layer and then reduce the opacity to about 40% or so so that the image shows through your typing. Put the watermark in the middle of the picture, or in an area that is not easy for someone to simply crop out.
    WARNING: be sure you save the original file WITHOUT the watermark first! Then you will have it all ready to sell to your customers with no mark. I have accidentally merged my layers and ruined my original before.

    Watermarking will almost completely stop blog lifters from using your labors for resale as it is too much work to clone out your name. Good luck!

  20. says

    Great tip Tammy… I’m glad you gave the waning about saving the original. Not that it will keep me from messing up LOL. I tend to work to quickly for my own good.

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