Are you ready to turn your love of digital planning into a profitable printable or digital planner business? With the rise of printable and digital planners, there’s never been a better time to start your own printable or digital planner business. But where do you begin? In this post, we’ll walk you through the 12 essential steps to launching your own printable or digital planner business, from researching your market to creating your product and promoting it to potential customers.
Ready to Launch Your Dream Printable or Digital Planner Business? Let’s Get Started!
Step 1: Identify Your Passion and Niche
In order to sell planners in bulk to people outside of your family and friends, you need to know to whom you’re selling them and what problem you’re solving for these wonderful people. Niching down can be scary but it’s important to stand out in a sea of digital planners.
We know niching down can be confusing, so let’s start off with an example.
Let’s look at those with a passion for fitness and wellness, consider creating a digital planner that specifically focuses on tracking workouts, meal planning, and self-care routines.
This niche is narrowed down based on your focus, you can establish yourself as an expert in your niche and attract a dedicated audience. Remember, the more specific your niche, the easier it is to create targeted content and reach the right audience for your digital planner business.
But we also want to talk about what happens when you want to build a business around planners as we have.
What if you want the entire printable or digital planner business to be built around creating planners as we did? You aren’t lost! But I want to warn you, this is more work and takes more time but it can be totally worth it. Just look at Passion Planner. It can be done!
Strategies for a Business Solely Focused on Building Printable and Digital Planners
Develop a unique brand: While the planner niche is crowded, you can stand out by developing a unique brand that speaks to your target audience. This includes developing a distinctive logo, brand voice, and visual aesthetic that sets you apart from other planner companies.
Expand your product line: Even if you specialize in planners, you can still offer a range of different planner products to appeal to various segments of the market. For example, you could offer daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly planners, as well as specialized planners for various niches, such as fitness or finance.
Partner with Affiliates: Affiliate marketing can be a great way to increase your reach and sales. As a digital planner business, you can partner with affiliates who have a similar audience or target market. These affiliates can promote your products to their audience in exchange for a commission on sales. There are some amazing affiliate programs out there that will help you make sales on even your first planner.
Offer customization: Many people who use planners want a product that is tailored to their specific needs. Consider offering customization options, such as the ability to add custom pages or choose from different cover designs.
Focus on customer service: Providing excellent customer service can help you build a loyal customer base. Be responsive to customer inquiries, offer a hassle-free return policy, and go above and beyond to ensure your customers are satisfied with their purchases.
This is the path I have taken with PrintablesBuzz. I also teach classes on how to make planners in Affinity Publisher, and I create tools to help other planner creators make planners like the PlanWizard for data import.
When creating your business there are options, the idea is to know what type of business you’re creating and build your plan around that. But some things just have to be done. Just keep reading to learn more.
Step 2: Research Your Market
Before you start creating your digital planner business, it’s important to research your market. Who is your target audience? What types of digital planners are they looking for? What are the pricing trends? By understanding your market, you can create a product that meets the needs of your potential customers and stands out from the competition.
If you are going to focus more on creating a brand, this is the time to start looking at different brands to determine how you are going to stand out and be different. This is not a one-and-done activity, so don’t focus on perfection here.
Step 3: Define Your Brand Identity
Branding is an evolution, sadly we don’t get to wake up one day and it’s perfect.
But to stand out in a crowded market, you need a clear brand identity that speaks to your target audience. This could be a fun and quirky brand 😉 Did you see that bumble bee that represents our princess Bee?
If you hang around with us long you’ll see our goal is to provide fun uplifting templates to people that are fun and scattered. Our colors are upbeat and fun, and our fonts are easy to read. Hopefully, this speaks to you on some level, if not hopefully you get some tips here that help you take your next steps.
By the way, you get to define the brand for your printable and digital planner business by choosing your color scheme, typography, and imagery as well as the words you use in anything your people read. Think about what sets your brand apart and what message you want to convey.
So set a timer and start looking at what you want your planner store to become and take steps each day to reach that next level.
Step 4: Create Your Product & Services
Now that you’ve researched your market and defined your brand, decided your niche (or not to niche), it’s time to create your product.
Use a program like Affinity Publisher to design your digital planner, or you can hire a designer if you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself.
The biggest advice I can share here is: Don’t try to create everything at once. Start with a single planner type, focused on one solution. This could be a weekly planner for moms. Determine what they need each week such as to-do lists, chore charts for the kids, meal planners, and even grocery lists.
In our course Affinity Publisher: Shortcuts to Create A Dated Planner, the very first module is a shortcut for planning your planner.
This process is hugely important because creating planners can take a long time if you don’t have a plan on what to include. We have a 5 step process we follow for every planner we create where the very first step is to decide what to include (Plan it out), and the very last step is to sell that puppy.
So make sure your product creation has a process to follow so that it leads you to success. Creating a printable and digital planner business depends on being able to create and modify quickly, and that is much easier to do with a plan.
Step 5: Test Your Product
Before you launch your digital planner business, it’s important to test your first product thoroughly. Share your planner with a focus group and get feedback on the layout, functionality, and design.
There are lots of Facebook groups where you can make friends in your target market who may be willing to test your planner. Don’t use “I don’t know anyone to test” as an excuse.
We always test a new planner idea with a group or as an entry in a bundle to see how it is received and get feedback.
Make any necessary changes before launching your product.
Step 6: Set Up Your Online Store (E-commerce Platform)
To sell your digital planner, you’ll need an online store. Platforms like Shopify or Etsy are great options for selling digital products but they aren’t the only ones.
We have our opinions, and you get to form yours. Let’s look at why we don’t just go with what everyone else is using.
Shopify is the standard, and it is wonderful. But I’m of the opinion that you should be making money before you spend it on tools to make money when there are free options available that work to test to see if you’re going to be making some money.
So I want to give you 3 options that work in place of Shopify:
- Payhip (We have one of these)
- WooCommerce (We also have one of these)
- GumRoad (We do not have one)
Each of these is a free option. They do have drawbacks, Payhip and GumRoad take a percentage of each sale, but the amount is much less than the fees that Etsy charge.
We don’t have a GumRoad account because we don’t like the look of the cart. It’s as simple as that. But there are reasons to choose GumRoad that we won’t go into here.
The draw to Etsy is appealing because it has its own built-in traffic source. But Etsy charges a lot of fees, and your customers are not your customers, they belong to Etsy.
That being said a lot of successful planner creators use Etsy to get started with their printable and digital planner businesses, and this is a personal choice you get to make.
Don’t get stuck in indecision. Choose one, set up your store, and create product listings that highlight the unique features of your planner and go sell them.
Step 7: Define The Marketing Strategies That Work for You
A marketing strategy is basically how you are going to get customers to see your planner. As we discussed in the last step some people want to rely on Etsy to get customers. And as a major introvert, I understand that!
Reaching out to people as an introvert is painful. So let me share a few different methods to grow your digital planner business, that work for everyone, but will work well for an introvert.
- Blogging – write blogs to attract your target customer and link your planner as the solution
- Affiliate Programs – Use tools like ThriveCart that have an affiliate program to sell your planner.
- Pinterest – Create Pins for your products and Blog posts to attract people to your planner
- Bundles – Join other creators and give away products to grow your email list
- Email Marketing – Share your planner solution to your email list for sales.
Using each of the above works for introverts and extroverts alike. Using these tools (which all have strategies of their own), can be a strategy for bringing people into your inner purchasing circle.
Step 8: Create Your Marketing Plan
Once your online store is set up, you know which strategy you’re going to start with it’s time to create a marketing plan.
You can start with the strategy that works for you and then use can use social media, and email marketing, and you can even add paid advertising to promote your product to your target audience.
It’s important to test your marketing message to make sure your products will sell before dumping money into ads in our opinion. But there are people that skip right to ads.
Or try collaborating with influencers or others in your niche to reach a wider audience, one way you can create a win/win for yourself and the people you work with is to create an affiliate program.
Step 9: Launch Your Product
It’s time to launch your digital planner! Announce your launch on social media and through your email list. Consider offering a launch discount or freebie to entice customers to buy.
But what happens if this is your very first planner, your shop looks lonely with a single planner and you don’t have an email list? Is your digital planner business doomed before it even starts?
Definitely not! This is where we all start, but the advice is limited on how to get to that next step.
I want to break this cycle. If you are starting at step 0 and have no one to share with (other than the people on your personal Facebook page) I would suggest starting with a simple free item.
Maybe a step-by-step checklist that will help the very same person that may want your planner. And then link the thank you page to your planner.
This is called a sales funnel. And just like a funnel at the top a lot more people will want the free offer, but they may not be willing to buy your planner yet.
When they sign up for the free offer they will be added to your email list, and then you will email them the item. This type of funnel will help you build your digital planner business from the ground up.
Step 10: Track Your Sales
Once your product is live, it’s important to track your sales. Tracking your sales is how you know you actually have a digital planner business and not an expensive hobby.
You should use tools like Google Analytics (note you will need to be signed into google to set this up) to track your website traffic, conversion rates, and customer demographics. But it’s also useful to set up your own tracking spreadsheet of some kind.
Use this information to make informed decisions about your marketing strategy and product development.
Step 11: Expand Your Product Line
Once you have a successful digital planner, consider expanding your product line. Create new planners for different niches or create printable planner inserts to sell alongside your digital product.
This is the fun part! Keep building out planners for your niche, or add more designs for your signature planner. If you started with a weekly planner, now may be the time to add a daily version or more planner covers, or add stickers to your planner lineup.
We recently added courses on how to make GoodNote sticker books and Easily create stickers in Canva to sell with your planners. Sometimes, it’s just about learning a new trick to add value to what you already have.
Step 12: Keep Your Customers Happy
The key to a successful digital planner business is happy customers. Respond promptly to customer inquiries and feedback, and use their feedback to improve your product.
Consider creating a community around your brand through social media or a private Facebook group to connect with your customers and build loyalty. This is one we haven’t tackled yet as introverted entrepreneurs. But it is a step we are considering for our planner creators.
Launching your own digital planner business can be an exciting and profitable venture. By following these 12 essential steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a successful business that helps people stay organized and productive.
Let us know in the comments what your biggest takeaway is! And would you be interested in a Facebook group just for planner creators building their printable and digital planner business?
For years I blogged giving away everything for free. But now, as I face retirement, I’m trying my hand at creating planners and printables as an income. I haven’t made a digital planner, but now I’d like to learn.
Thanks so much for writing out these steps clearly so I can use them as a guide. It’s just what I needed. No fluff, just the steps in a sensible order. (I tend to get excited and ahead of myself. lol)
Teresa I’m so glad this helped! You might find our free checklist helpful as well! You can find that here. Have you chosen the platform you will use for planner creation? My two favorites are Affinity Publisher and Keynote. :). Let’s retire together! After next week, I have 1 more child to graduate high school, and that happens next year. Hahaha.