Digital files are a popular product to sell on Etsy. They’re a terrific source of passive income, meaning you do the work to design and create the file once and then sell it infinitely, even while you sleep. Still, passive income is never really passive. Customers often need help and support, especially when it comes to figuring out how to download their digital file after purchase.

Paper artist Cecilia Louie realized she’s not the only one to experience the pain of upset Etsy customers who didn’t know how to download their digital files so she put together this helpful post for sellers with tips to make the process as smooth as possible. 

Cecelia’s popular Quilling Letters ebook available as a download in her Etsy shop.

“Thief! I’m reporting you to Etsy!”

These are not the words I was hoping to hear after selling my PDF e-book in my Etsy shop.

I had thought my follow-up email containing a polite thank you, a coupon for future purchase, and offer to help with any concerns would be a welcoming gesture of open communication.

Instead of taking her anger personally, I sent instructions on how to download, as well as a screen capture of the action required, because I knew she was obviously frustrated in not receiving her purchase immediately. Sure enough, she apologized and explained there were no instructions from Etsy.

A search on Etsy’s Help Center leads to a URL with helpful information. However, it’s only helpful if you know to look there. Some customers checkout as “Guests” and don’t have experience with online purchases or experience with Etsy. As a seller, I should not be putting the onus on my client to research how to access their purchase.

Now I include the message below in all my follow-up emails. This also helps clarify that the purchase is digital, and will not be physically shipped to them. Unfortunately, I’ve had buyers purchase e-books, expecting it would be shipped to them even though it’s stated in the heading, description, and on top of my photos.


  1. Log in to your Etsy account
  2. Click on “You” (top right)
  3. Choose “Purchases and reviews”
  4. Find the order. Click on “Download Files” (to the right of the order)
  5. The file will go to your “Downloads” folders

To make my response easier and faster, I use Gmail’s “canned responses“, which pastes a pre-typed message into the email. My canned response includes a screen capture with circled areas to ensure they know where to look – a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Etsy - How to Download

After digging a little further, I realized Etsy has a separate area called “Message to Buyers for Digital Items” under the “Settings > Info & Appearance” tab. This is completely separate from “Message to Buyers”, so I pasted the same download message there.
After preparing these two automatic responses, I’m thrilled to say I’m reading more pleasant emails from happy customers.
Cecelia Louie designs digital patterns for paper quilling and die cutting, available in her Etsy shop. Her quilling tutorials on YouTube have been helpful for new as well as advanced quillers. She is an author and Craftsy/Bluprint instructor and has been blogging at Paper Zen since 2006.

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