Skip to content

Now is the perfect time to sell PDFs online.

PDFs are a quick and secure way to share original and useful ideas. 

A PDF is compatible with almost any smart device, so it’s a versatile format to sell patterns, templates and more! You can reach hundreds of interested buyers online if you learn how to sell a PDF online. 

Selling PDFs online is incredibly simple, and this guide will walk you through the process step-by-step. 

Sell PDFs on Your Website: The Complete Guide

1. Figuring Out How to Sell PDFs Online
2. Create Your PDF
3. PDF Formatting
4. Sell Your PDF from a Website
5. Promote Your PDFs

Figuring Out How to Sell PDFs Online 

You can absolutely sell your PDFs on a marketplace like Etsy, but there are benefits that come with selling your work from your own website.

If you’re looking for independence and more profit per sale, you’ll want to sell independently. You’ll have more control over how customers see your PDFs and less chance that someone will copy and sell your original content. 

A man and woman show each other PDFs on their tablets as they discuss how to sell PDFs online

A PDF is not an eBook

Before we get too far into talking about PDFs, we want to clarify that PDfs and eBooks are not exactly the same. While you can find many eBooks in PDF format, PDFs aren’t the easiest format for reading online.

A PDF is more like an exact digital copy of a physical book or pattern, kind of like a photocopy. You can read it on a screen, but you can’t change the size of the text or the formatting. If you’re writing an eBook and want some tips, this article and the video below have everything you need.

What kind of PDFs do you want to sell?

To sell PDFs online successfully, you’ll need to create a PDF that appeals to a niche, a specific group of people with similar interests. It needs to solve a problem or offer some knowledge that people are already looking for. You also need to create something original.

Once you’ve completed that step, do some research on the demand for what you want to sell. Are there potential competitors who already sell PDFs? Where are they failing that you can succeed? 

A serious business woman looks at her computer as she determines how to sell PDFs with targeted advertising

Think about how your story and experience can help you sell PDFs. Have fun with it! If you’re still not sure what to sell, check out these ideas!

PDF ideas to sell online

Editable PDFs are also a great way to sell PDFs. This video has great instructions on how to make an editable PDF.

Editable PDF ideas to sell online:

  • Invitations
  • Card designs
  • Powerpoint presentation templates
  • Resumes and CV templates
  • Calendar templates
  • Business cards
  • Proposals

More digital product ideas: 40 Small Business Ideas for Digital Products to Diversify Your Business Income

A woman hard at work on her growing business looks into selling PDFs with Selz ecommerce

Create Your PDF

The key to selling PDFs is to make something that is simple and clear. People will usually buy your PDF because they want to learn how to do something or do something in a specific way. Start with the end result (like a perfect wedding invitation) and then work backward.

Create a structure and then organize your final PDF around it. Set specific goals for each PDF and deadlines for each step to keep yourself on track. 

PDF Formatting

There are so many ways to format a PDF, and you should use the best tool for your audience. If customers in your niche are visual learners, advanced graphics software is a good idea. If your niche wants to get right to the point, it’s fine to use a tool like Google Docs or MS Word. 

As you set up your document, think about where your customers live. Customers may want to print your PDF, so you’ll want to set the page size to the most standard size for printing in their respective countries or sell your PDF in multiple sizes.  This article has a list of the most common page sizes around the world.

Proofread your PDF

Infographic proofreading in 7 simple steps from selz ecommerce for growing businesses

A PDF is forever, so you want it to be perfect. Print out a test copy and give it a careful scan.

Check for any readability issues and think about how the text and images work together. Tiny fonts or unexpected spaces or gaps in your layout can be distracting and impact your user experience.

Be sure to check your spelling and to carefully edit your PDF. It’s always a good idea to get a second pair of eyes on your PDF.

If you don’t have the budget for professional help right away, this proofreading infographic has some tips to make sure you get your PDF right before you start selling:

Remember: Make something attractive and engaging to set your PDF apart. 

Details are important

As you create your PDF, you’ll also want to work on the image, product description, and price. Those details may seem like an afterthought, but they are what will help you sell PDFs online.

When you’re creating an image for your product:

  • If you add text to the product image, make sure it is easy to read
  • Use professional images that stand out and if you need to use stock photography, make changes that make your image unique with a tool like Visme, Gimp or Photoshop

Draft a short description of your PDF. Think about the keywords that people searching online will be using to find your PDFs, then. Use those terms to write something approachable and human that shows potential customers how your PDF can solve a problem or offer a benefit!

A woman takes photos in preparation for creating a great PDF to sell online for business growth and stability

Sell Your PDF from a Website

Next, it’s time to create a website and add your PDF. 

With the Selz store builder it’s simple to upload your PDF with your product image. Add your PDF description, set your price, and add your PDF to your new online store.

This video shows how to sell PDFs and other products online using Selz:

Selz offers powerful features to sell PDFs from your website:

  • Quick set up and powerful features
  • Instant and automatic delivery
  • Secure download links
  • Easily upload PDF files
  • Customers receive an automated order confirmation with a link to your PDF
  • Customizable buy buttons to easily sell from other sites
  • Clear payment processing with credit cards, PayPal and Stripe 
  • Simple and secure checkout 
  • PDF stamping to personalize each copy with your buyer’s name, making your files more secure
  • Integrates with Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, and more for easy customer communications
  • Download to Dropbox option for your customers
  • Automatically invoice from your online store with direct accounting integrations

Sign up for your free 14-day trial yourself and start selling from your website with Selz.

PDFs can be a form of promotion, or they can be a digital product to sell. Selz is the best ecommerce solution for digital downloads

Promote Your PDFs

Marketing is essential if you want to make money selling PDFs. The price point for a PDF is usually low, so to grow your business you’ll need to get the attention of a lot of people. This means you’ll need a smart marketing strategy.

As you start to sell PDFs, think short term AND long term. Targeted advertising is the best way to boost initial awareness and sales of your PDF.

For more long-term awareness, create a blog that includes your top keywords and add to it once a week. Add a button or widget to your blog posts to make it easy for your blog readers to purchase directly from your blog!

Guest blogging is also a great idea for long-term SEO and to build relationships with complementary businesses. 

More ideas to sell your PDF online

Consider creating an initial PDF that you can give away for free. You can use this free product to drive interest in your other PDFs in online communities, on social media, and with influencers in your niche.

Figure out which social media channels are the best audience to sell your PDF to and focus on those platforms. Instagram is the place to be for fashion and Pinterest is hot for events like weddings and parties. If you’re selling PDFs for business, you may want to focus on LinkedIn. 

Another reason to sell from a website instead of a marketplace is the chance to build a dedicated email list. Segment your list to send the most personal and useful messages to your audience. Check out this post for more ideas on how to use email effectively.

As you start to sell your PDF you may notice little tweaks you want to make to your PDFs or your marketing. 

If you’re using our platform to sell PDFs, you can see what affect those changes are making on your sales from your Selz dashboard. You can also connect your Selz store directly to popular accounting platforms like Quickbooks Online, Sage, and MYOB.

Our integration with Google Analytics can help you figure out where your most loyal customers are coming from.

Final thoughts

Creating PDFs is hard work, but it’s also an exciting way to share your knowledge and earn income. PDFs are also passive income- once you’re done, all you need to do is focus on sales! 

Ready to start selling PDFs from your website, but don’t want to do it on your own? We can help

About the author

Jana Rumberger

Jana is a writer and Content Manager at Selz. She has expertise in ecommerce strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, design, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.

In addition to her writing, she is a visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.