How To Sell PDFs Online: The Complete Guide

How To Sell PDFs Online

Looking for a simple way to monetize your blog or make some extra money online? Selling PDFs could be just the way to do it.

PDFs are extremely simple to create and are a great way to present a wide range of different resources. And, they’re super easy to sell as they’re quick to download and can be viewed on almost all devices.

In this article, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at how to sell PDFs online. You will learn everything from what types of PDFs you can sell, to how to sell and market them.

Let’s get started!

Types of PDFs you can sell online

PDF files are really versatile, and you can turn just about any document or resource into a PDF for sale. Here’s a list of some of the most common types of PDFs people sell online:

  • Course and how-to guides
  • Manuals
  • Digital Magazines
  • Knitting and sewing patterns
  • Templates for arts and crafts
  • White papers and industry reports
  • Manuscripts
  • Nutrition and workout plans
  • Artwork
  • Comics and Manga
  • Screenplays
  • Letterhead templates

Although PDFs are mainly used to create non-editable documents, you can also make them editable and sell products like:

  • Greeting cards
  • Resume templates
  • Calendars
  • Business cards
  • Event invitations
  • Powerpoint presentations

As you can see, there are tons of options for creating online PDF documents for sale. Now, let’s take a look at exactly how you can create and sell PDFs online from your own online store.

How to create PDFs – A simple step-by-step guide

Want to get started making your own PDFs? Here’s exactly what to do.

Step 1 – Choose a program and create your document

The first thing you need to do when creating a PDF file is select a program to use. You can create PDFs using everything from Microsoft Word and Google Docs to Adobe Acrobat. However, I’d recommend using an online tool like Canva.

With Canva, you can select from a wide range of free templates and layouts that can be saved in PDF format. The drag and drop interface makes it easy to quickly design interesting and professional documents. All you have to do is select a template and get started. Here’s an example of one I created:

Create a PDF using Canva

Next, you need to add your content, such as your images and text. When adding text, be sure to choose a font that is professional and readable.

Good content should be the main focus of your PDFs as this is ultimately what will help you to make the most sales. Your content ideas should be things that you think are valuable to customers and that they will be willing to pay for.

Step 2 – Add design elements

To make your PDFs more sellable, you should try to make them look more stylish and interesting for readers.

Add design elements

Whether you’re creating nutrition plans or sewing patterns, be sure to add pops of color and graphic elements where relevant to make your PDFs seem more high quality and professional.

Step 3 – Add your own branding elements

If you’re creating a full website for your PDFs, it’s a good idea to include your logos and brand name on each PDF you create.

Not only will this help to prevent people from duplicating and reselling your content, but it will also mean that the buyer will know exactly which seller they purchased it from.

If a customer purchased a PDF from you via a marketplace like Etsy, they may come to your website directly next time if your brand and website name are clearly visible on the PDF.

Step 4 – Proofread your PDFs before saving

It’s super easy to make spelling and grammar errors when creating written content, so be sure to proofread your PDFs before you save or download them. Consider using a browser extension like Grammarly that will help you to easily pick up on grammatical errors.

Use Grammarly to proofread

Also, if you’re creating PDFs for complicated documents such as whitepapers or reports, it may be a good idea to hire an editor or proofreader. You can hire proofreaders fairly cheaply on sites like Upwork and Fiverr. This can help you to ensure that all of your PDFs are of the highest quality, which will hopefully prevent customers from asking for refunds.

Step 5 – Save your PDF document

Then, to turn your document into a PDF, all you need to do is click Download or Save as, on whatever program you’re using and choose the Save as PDF option.

Save your PDF document

It’s as simple as that. Then you can upload it to your website, or whichever marketplace you choose in order to sell it.

How to sell PDFs online

Now you know how to create PDFs to sell, let’s take a look at exactly how you can sell them. The best way to sell your PDFs is via your own ecommerce website. There are tons of tools available that can help you to create an ecommerce site, but we recommend Sellfy.

Sellfy is a beginner-friendly ecommerce platform that is also super affordable. It’s extremely easy to use, and it takes no time at all to set up a site. And you can enjoy 0% transaction fees on all of your PDF sales.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to sell your PDFs using Sellfy.

Step 1 – Sign up for a Sellfy Subscription

To get started head over to Sellfy.com and take a look at the different pricing plans. Although Sellfy has a free forever plan available, it doesn’t support the selling of digital products.

So, we recommend the Starter plan which includes digital products, subscriptions, and unlimited products. The plan starts at $19/month and you’ll also get a 14-day free trial.

Once you’ve chosen the plan click Get started.

Sign up for a Sellfy subscription

Then, fill in your name, email address, and chosen password and click Create my store.  You’ll then be presented with a questionnaire about your store. If you don’t already have a website to make sales, then select the Create a Sellfy storefront on question number 3.

Create a Sellfy storefront

Then simply click Start 14-day free trial and you’ll be directed to your Sellfy store dashboard. You can upgrade your 14-day trial at any time by clicking Account > Billing in the sidebar of your Sellfy dashboard or by clicking Upgrade to Starter in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Step 2 – Add products

Next, you can start adding your digital products to your store to get them ready to sell. This step is really easy and just takes a few clicks. First, click Products in the sidebar menu, and select Digital Products. Then click the Add new product in the top right-hand corner of the page. You’ll then be presented with the Add new product page.

Add a new product to your Sellfy account

From here, you can upload your PDFs directly from your computer by dragging and dropping them, or clicking Browse on your computer.

After uploading your chosen PDFs, you can add a product name, product description, product preview, category, and price in your chosen currency.

Add name and description

Once your product listing is complete, simply click Save product, and your product will be ready to sell in your Sellfy online store. Also, make sure that the Visible on store page toggle below the Save product button is set to on so that your customers will be able to view and purchase your PDFs.

Step 3 – Customize your store settings

The last thing you need to do to get your online store up and running is to customize your store settings. To do this, click on Store Settings in the sidebar. You can first customize the design of your store using the Store Customizer tool. Select a theme you like and then make any edits to the layout that you want to.

Customize your store settings

Next, you’ll need to set up your store name and domain. You can purchase a domain name from a site like Namecheap, and then point to your Sellfy store by adding it into the Custom domain field.

Purchase a domain name from Namecheap

After that, set up your payment terminals by clicking Payment settings in the sidebar. You can connect Stripe or PayPal to receive payments from customers and choose a currency.

Set up payment settings

You can also set up things like product categories and customize email templates in the Store settings.

Once all the steps above are complete, you can turn your focus to marketing your PDFs and making sales. Read on for more info about how to market your PDFs.

And if you’d like to learn more about Sellfy, check out our Sellfy review.

How to market your PDFs

Once you’ve created your PDF store, you will then need to spend some time marketing your PDFs to build up your web traffic and increase sales.

Here are some of the best ways you can market your PDFs.

List your PDFs on marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy

One of the best ways you can generate traffic for your site, and increase your sales figures is to list your PDF products on popular marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy. This can be a great way to gain some initial exposure for your products, and many people will only shop for digital downloads on established platforms such as these.

Using Amazon, Etsy and other marketplace platforms can be an easy way to sell digital downloads, however, it’s important to note that there are also some drawbacks to using this method.

For example, large sales platforms are known for taking a big cut of your sales profits, and some platforms like Etsy will even charge a small fee for every product you list.

In addition to this, relying on larger platforms to get all your sales means that you don’t have full control of your business. If the platforms decide to change their terms or fees, it can cause big problems for established businesses.

So what’s the solution? Well, our advice is to use major platforms as a marketing tool, as opposed to a consistent sales source.

When customers purchase from your listing on Amazon and Etsy, be sure to reach out to them with an email. Thank them for their purchase and let them know that you have your own website should they want to make any further purchases.

You can even offer discounts and promotions to customers that purchase directly from your ecommerce store.

Another good idea is to put branding elements and your website details on every PDF you sell. Then, customers will be more likely to go directly to your site if they decide to make a follow-up purchase.

Create a free product to generate interest

If you want to entice site visitors into making a purchase, it can sometimes be a good idea to offer a free product to get them into your sales funnel. For example, if you’re selling an online PDF course, offer the first lesson as a freebie. If the customers like the course and want to learn more, they’ll need to purchase additional lessons at the full sale price.

Offering free products can lead to more purchases and it also provides a way to gather email contacts from site visitors. You can then use these details to market further products via email.

Run giveaways on social media

If you have an established following on social media, and you want to direct them towards your PDF store, then it’s a good idea to run a social media giveaway.

You can use a giveaway app like SweepWidget to create giveaways that encourage users to visit your site and interact with your social media posts. This can help to increase traffic and could inspire people who didn’t win the competition to purchase the prize from your website instead.

Selling PDFs online FAQs

Still, have more questions about selling PDFs online? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about selling PDFs online.

How do I make a PDF sellable?

Any PDF you create that contains your own original content can be sold. However, you should try to make it professional and useful to consumers in order to make it more sellable.

Creating products, templates and other materials that are in high demand is the best way to make your PDFs sell well. You should also make them look professional by using attractive fonts, graphics, and color schemes.

Is it illegal to sell PDFs?

No, there are lots of ways to sell PDFs legally. The main legal aspect you need to consider when selling PDFs is copyright. Make sure that all the PDFs you are selling contain your own original content, and that any fonts or graphics you use are suitable for commercial use.

If you follow these guidelines, you shouldn’t run into any legal issues. However, here at Blogging Wizard, we are experts in blogging, not law, so be sure to check local laws and regulations in your country before you start selling PDFs.

Can I sell PDFs on Amazon?

Yes, you can sell PDFs on Amazon. In particular, PDFs of e-books and short stories sell well in the Amazon Kindle store.

However, be aware that Amazon takes a cut of your sales, so it’s much better to sell directly through your own product website. This means you get 100% of the profits, and you are in control of every aspect of your e-commerce business.

Can I sell PDFs on Etsy?

Yes, like Amazon, Etsy is a reliable marketplace for selling PDFs. In particular, PDFs relating to arts and crafts such as sewing patterns and children’s printables sell well on Etsy. However, just like Amazon, Etsy also takes a cut of your sales.

Transaction fees on Etsy are 6.5% plus postage, packing, and gift-wrapping fees. You’ll also be charged a fee for each product you list.  If you want to maximize profits and have full control of your sales, then the best option is to sell through your own website.

How much money can you make selling PDFs?

It really depends on what PDFs you sell and how much you charge for them. If you’re selling high-value resources such as white papers and industry reports, you could make upwards of $1000 per month.

Similarly, crafting templates, and sewing patterns sell well on sites like Etsy, and if you have enough templates available on your site, you can easily make a full-time income. How much you earn will depend mostly on how well you market your PDF and the quality of your resources.

Final thoughts

So there you have it – a full breakdown of exactly how to sell PDF files online. Selling PDFs can be a great choice for making an online income, and it can also be used to monetize the traffic you already get on your websites or blogs.

If you’re curious about how to get started selling other types of digital products, be sure to check out our other guides:

Alternatively, you might find our article on side hustle ideas useful, if you’d like to start a different kind of business.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.