Desktop with pink manilla folders cup of tea laptop and scissors

Equipment Needed For Designing Printables

What Are Printables?

Printables can mean anything that you print. They are pieces of artwork, drawings, graphic designs, images and more. When you purchase a printable they will most often come in a PDF format. The planner world is filled with printables. Any type of planner that you can imagine has most likely been made into a printable. This article will cover the equipment needed for designing printables.


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From a consumers perspective, if you have the tools to print your printables, they are a cheaper option than purchasing physical items. Firstly, they are simply cheaper to buy. Secondly, you have access to them for as long as you need them so you can reprint as often as you need to.

My two favourite characteristics of printables are:

  1. Instant access – no more waiting for your items to be created then posted.
  2. Cost effective – they are much cheaper than purchasing physical items.

If you are lucky, you will find a resource of free printables that you can use to help you organise your life or decorate your walls. 

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Types of Printables

I’ve mentioned some different types of printables above. Here are a few more ideas for items that you can create.

  • Quotes & inspirational sayings
  • All types of planners
  • Trackers
  • Workbooks
  • Lesson plans
  • Checklists
  • Artwork
  • Cupcake toppers
  • Bookmarks
  • Business cards
  • Postcards
  • Photos

Basically if it can be designed on a computer, downloaded & printed then it’s a printable.

Benefits of Designing Your Own Printables

There are some significant benefits of designing your own printables. Here are the most significant benefits:

Control

Control of my designs is very important to me. I love the control I have designing printables that are suitable for my needs. I love the ability to redesign my printables as my needs or style changes. The ability to control the style, the colours and layout of my printables brings me peace of mind. I like the control that comes with having the knowledge and skills required to design anything that I can imagine.

Freedom

Having the skills and equipment necessary to design your own printables brings you more freedom than you might think. Once you are competent designing your own printables, you will notice the freedom from constantly searching for the right printables. I’m a planner girl at heart and for years I was searching for exactly the right planner. There were some that were close but nothing was perfect. The ability to design your own planner using the dimensions, style & paper you need you will be free from that constant struggle. If you like spiral bound planners, you can take your planner to the local stationery store and they will bind it for you.

You will also discover a financial freedom from the expense of constantly purchasing printables or planners that don’t work for you.

Creativity Outlet

Do you have a creative heart and do you love to design? Do you enjoy learning new skills? You will be able to utilise your creative talent to design perfect printables. Designing printables is one of my two favourite tasks running Blue Gum Lane (the other being teaching others how to create their own printables). Microsoft Publisher is not the most advanced program for design, however if you can imagine something, you’ll get pretty close using it. If you already design using other programs, you will be able to save as an image and import it into your Microsoft Publisher design.

Learn Something New

This could be just me, but I love to learn new things. Not all new things – I have no interest in learning how to fly an aeroplane – but I do love learning. Learning how to design using any software program is something that can be fun. You can get whatever is in your head onto the canvas on your computer screen. Of course it doesn’t hurt that you can multitask and drink a cup of tea and eat a biscuit at the same time if you need to.

For me, once I become comfortable with my current skill level in any software program, I’ll find something else to learn. I never use the full potential that technology has to offer and I love exploring new possibilities in the platforms that I’m already familiar with.

If you are looking for a course on how to design your own printables please check out my BGL Planning School

Saving Money

You have got to love this benefit of designing printables. With the knowledge and skills that come with learning how to design your own printables using Microsoft Publisher, you will be free from spending money on designs that don’t meet your needs. It is cheaper to design and print your own printables than to purchase them. Your initial costs might add up. For example, you may purchase a course on how to design using a particular program, you might purchase a new printer or some pretty special paper. Once you’ve made that initial investment, DIY printables is the most cost effective way to go.

Making Money

Once you are a printables design champion, you can create a passive income selling your printables online. It’s worth some serious consideration.

Woman at desk with laptop and open planner

What Do I Need to Design My Own Printables

These things don’t just happen by magic. There are a few things that you will require in order to design your printables. Below is my list of equipment needed for designing printables.

Idea

This is the best place to start. The idea could come from anywhere. My catalyst was the inability to find planners that worked for me. They were either the wrong binding, wrong paper, wrong size or wrong layout. It’s very difficult to get exactly what you need (me fussy – um, maybe a little).

Software Program (and of course a computer)

When considering the equipment needed for designing printables, the software program you choose to use will become the foundation or your designs. If you are completely new to this, start simple & cheap – or free. Canva is where many people begin.

If you are more advanced, or are considering designing printables to sell you might want to move into more advanced software. If money and steep learning curves are not an issue, Adobe Indesign is the best, in my humble opinion.

Before deciding which software program will be the right one for you consider the points below:

  • Your technological abilities
  • Your finances
  • Will you be doing this for personal use only or are you planning to sell your printables?
  • Check out some tutorials on YouTube to see what resonates with you.

I have an article on the different design software programs available that you can read here. This will help you to make the decision.

Paper

Yep, you’ll need something to print your printables onto. You could simply use your average, everyday photocopy paper. But I would not recommend it. Step one will be to visit your local stationery store to purchase paper to try. My favourites for ring or spiral bound planners is 100gsm. My preference for discbound planners is 120gsm. If you are going to be printing wall art or similar, you might want to consider a printable cardstock. Try a few different ones out. Over time, you will develop your favourites.

I love my local stationery store. The best thing about them is that they often have free delivery specials. 

Printer

This is an important piece of equipment needed for designing printables. You will need to test your designs by printing them. The printer you chose is a controversial subject and very personal. You will find people who swear by their inkjet and others who just love their laser printer. I have a colour laser printer that takes ridiculously expensive toner cartridges that last ages. Some people love their inkjet printer, either the eco tank or cartridge variety. I’ve seen many people refer to their Canon printer if you’re interested in brands. I’ve never used Canon, so can’t offer an opinion on that.

It comes down to finances, personal preference and how often you’ll be printing.

Blue Vector Printer

Good Fonts

You will need some good fonts that you love. Again this is personal. Start with the free fonts that come installed on your computer. Once you settle into designing printables you can branch out and find some fonts to download. Here are some sites for both free and paid fonts:

  • Myfonts.com
  • Fontbundles.net
  • Fontshop.com
  • Fontsquirrel.com
  • Thehungryjpeg.com
  • Creativemarket.com
  • Fonts.google.com
  • Dafont.com

Be careful of seller requirements if you plan to sell your printables. More on this below.

Images

This could include clipart, vectors, backgrounds or stock photos. My favourite sources of images include:

  • Etsy
  • Thehungryjpeg
  • Creativemarket

Commercial Licenses

Any item that you purchase that will go on to be sold will need to come with a commercial license. Any time you purchase a font or graphic that you will be using in any item you wish to sell will need to have a commercial license. More detailed information on this below.

Other Tools

For some tasks you will need some specific tools:

  • Hole punch to suit your needs
  • Laminator for printables such as covers, dashboards and tab dividers
  • Cutting machine – if you are going to be printing die cuts or stickers you will need a cutting machine. I’ve dabbled in this area and loved Silhouette Studio and the Cameo cutting machine. But this is a rabbit hole that I won’t go into here.
  • Sticker paper for printable stickers – getting the right sticker sheets is another rabbit hole that will give you headaches.

Commercial vs Personal

Personal Use

If you are simply using your work for personal use, then you really don’t need to read the following. You can use images that you find without purchasing a commercial license or seeking permission from the owner.

Be aware that if you are going to use them on any form of pamphlet or advertising, this is considered commercial use and you will need to follow the appropriate steps.

How to Use Graphics For Commercial Use

Every seller will have their own way of dealing with this. Some will have the commercial license included in the price, others will require that you purchase a separate license. Check the details regarding how you are permitted to use their work. Some artists will limit the amount of items you can sell, others might limit the way in which their work can be used. Some will request that you give them credit wherever you use their work. 

As an example, Disney doesn’t offer permission for people to use their work. Any Mickey Mouse planner stickers that you see for sale on Etsy, are most likely doing so against Disney’s wishes. The same goes for other popular brands such as Harry Potter & any TV shows.

Be very careful with this area. If you do intend to sell any printables that includes the work of others, it is illegal to sell without following the appropriate guidelines. It is morally and ethically wrong – and it’s stealing. Don’t do it.

Grab Your FREE Checklist for Designing Printables Below.

Printables Checklist PDF - 4 pages spread across image

Final Thoughts About the Equipment Needed for Designing Printables

Practice, practice, practice. It’s as simple as that. You will make mistakes and this is good. It means that you are learning what works and what doesn’t. It means that you are learning what you like and what you don’t. Just keep practicing.


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Happy Planning x

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