You bought a printable digital download. Now what?

I take it for granted that everyone else on the planet is as obsessed with the digital world as I am. I love nothing more than learning about a new platform or industry that lives entirely in the digital world. (However, I gave up on trying to crack the Facebook algorithm. I’m focusing on Pinterest and Instagram, saints preserve me.) So I’m always a little taken aback when a friend says, what’s a printable? Or something along those lines.

I don’t want to take it for granted that you know what a printable is, let alone what to do with it after you buy it. A printable = a digital file that you buy — for instance, in my Etsy shop — that you can print (over and over) after you download it. Printables can include graphics, greeting cards, business cards, planners, journals, diaries, wall art and essentially anything else that you can think of that’s made of paper.

One of the advantages of printables is that they’re generally cheaper than the final product you find in stores. Another is that you can print them as often as you like without buying it again. If you screw up a greeting card, just print another and start over. If you loved your yearly planner but the year is over, print another and keep going.

After you buy a printable, however, it’s a good idea to have the best products on hand for the printable. A printable only looks as good as the ink it’s printed with and the paper it’s printed on. For instance, I don’t have a great color printer. (The irony, right?) So sometimes I use the FedEx Office across the street to print something, especially product demos.

If your color printer is up to snuff (and there’s no way it’s as bad as mine) then all you need is paper, envelopes, binders and the other tools that the printable-obsessed love to use.

This blog post has affiliate links, which means I make a small commission when you order something using these links.

For Planners

Most people keep their printable planners in a three-ring binder. You’ll need:

A binder. I prefer white three-ring binders with a clear front pocket so I can customize the cover. They also come in a variety of sizes and colors, like pink.

Paper. You don’t have to go crazy with the highest quality available, but I also don’t recommend using the cheapest. This HP Printer Paper is affordable and good-looking.

Dividers. As you can imagine, you can buy dividers in a wide variety of colors and designs. I like Avery products, like these colorful dividers with pockets and tabs. If you prefer clean white, Avery has white tab dividers.

Label maker. I used to print the tiny slips for my dividers, then drive myself crazy cutting them and putting them into those tiny plastic slots. This label maker is much easier to use with this clear tape.

Printer. It goes without saying (I think) that if you buy a printable, you must be “able” to “print” it. If you don’t have a printer, you can use a print shop like FedEx Office, Office Max, Staples or likewise. Or, you can buy a reasonably priced printer, like this Canon all-in-one wireless printer.

For Greeting Cards

Greeting cards are a great printable to buy because they’re inexpensive and very useful. Buy a handful of cards for every occasion and you never have to buy one again!

Card stock. You can buy card stock for art prints or if you want to fold greeting cards yourself.

Half-fold greeting cards. Most printable greeting cards are 8.5 x 11, the same size as printer paper. Rather than use printer paper, however, you can use half-fold greeting cards that will be stiffer and thicker. These Avery cards come with envelopes. If you have card stock already, you can buy A9 envelopes alone.

For Iron-On Transfers

I’ve made Christmas gifts using designs I bought on Etsy, then printing them on iron-on transfer paper. Then, I ironed the design onto t-shirts and tote bags. Be sure to read the instructions carefully to find out which side to print on. Also, check to see if you need to prep the t-shirt or tote bag.

How do you use printables? Let me know in the comments!