- With over 5 billion internet users in 2022, demand for digital products is growing. In particular, the global market for online courses is expected to grow at over 9% a year between 2023 and 2027
- Digital products can easily be scaled without the fulfillment issues that can limit physical goods
- Easyship can help you simplify the fulfillment of shipped goods, creating a delivery experience customers love and driving sales
Looking for digital products to sell that can scale on your online store? This article breaks down why you should start selling digital products, how to create scalable products customers love and the top sales channels for growing your store.
Table of Contents
What Are Digital Products?
Digital products are any products that your customers will never be able to hold, touch or taste. Because these products are consumed digitally, they are delivered electronically and anyone with a computer and internet connection can access them.
Digital products can be sold online, or in traditional brick and mortar locations. Anything that can be downloaded or streamed can be sold as a digital product, but what sets a product apart from other forms of freely available content is the value it delivers.
Why Sell Digital Products?
Fun fact: In 2022 there were over 5 billion internet users worldwide, according to this Statista study. With this usage growing year-on-year, digital products have the potential to reach and be consumed by more people than ever before. Checkout this quick breakdown of why you should start selling digital products on your online store today:
1. Never Out of Stock
When you sell physical products, you have to take into consideration potential supply chain challenges that can lead to inventory running out. However, if you sell digital products online, they are limitless. You never have to worry about replenishing stock to meet demand.
2. Generate a Passive Income
Successful digital products have a one time production cost. Once you have created a winner, you can focus your energy on marketing and scaling the product. Once fulfillment is automated, the product can continue to generate income after it has been created and won't require new stock once it's been released.
3. Simpler to Scale
Once the product has been released, you won't have to consider common issues such as shipping. As customers anywhere in the world can access the product instantly, digital products can be scaled without having to focus on specific shipping rules.
4. Low Start up Costs
An eCommerce store offering digital products can be started up anywhere and can require very low investment. No need to search for extra investment or shareholders, entrepreneurs can create and sell digital products with potentially high returns.
5. More Profitable
Unlike physical products, digital products are increasingly profitable over time. The margin you make can continuously improve as you don't need to continue spending to increase production and meet demand.
6. Flexible Products
There are a wide range of options to leverage digital products for your online store. Once created, you can offer digital products for free to increase newsletter signups, or give customers the option to subscribe for access to content. You can also license your digital product, generating income each time it's used.
What Are the Easiest Digital Products to Sell?
There are a wide range of potential digital products available for every type of online store, no matter your niche. Checkout this quick breakdown to get inspired and start researching a potential scalable digital product that can help your store grow today:
- Licensing Digital Assets
- Graphic Design Work
- Digital Templates
- Downloadable Prints
- Music and audio
- Digital Games
- Educational courses
Related post: 9 Trending Products for eCommerce in 2022
How to Start a Digital Product
Are looking for digital products to sell on your store? We have broken down and detailed the process for three top sellers. Create and scale a digital product for your online store today.
A classic digital product idea. The worldwide e-book annual market is expected to grow to over $14 Billion in 2023, according to a Statista study. While there are a wide range of online stores that sell ebooks in this growing market, Amazon Kindle is a clear market leader. If you are looking for inspiration, below are the 10 most popular 2021 Kindle Store Categories:
- Romance > Contemporary
- Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Women
- Romance > New Adult & College
- Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Romance
- Literature & Fiction > Women > Romance
- Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Coming of Age
- Romance > Mystery & Suspense > Suspense
- Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban
- Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Erotica
- Literature & Fiction > Women > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Women Sleuths
A quick analysis of this list indicates that the best categories to potentially sell into are all fiction, with no non-fiction categories present in the top 21 and only representing 12 out of the top 100. This makes sense with the fiction market so large.
eBooks can come in a range of file formats, which one you pick will depend on the needs of your end user:
- PDF. The most well known file format, the abbreviation stands for Portable Document Format. Best for ebooks that are going to be read on a computer
- EPUB. This file format stands for Electronic Publication and is more flexible, offering a format that fits to different devices like smartphones and tablets
- MOBI. This format originated from the Mobipocket Reader Software and has some limitations like not supporting audio or video. However, it supports DRM, which protects copyrighted material
- AZW. This file type was designed for the Amazon Kindle, however users can open this file format on other devices like smartphones, tablets and computers
- ODF. This stands for Open Document Format. A file type primarily designed for OpenOffice, an open-source program similar to Microsoft Office
- IBA. The proprietary ebook format for apple ibooks author app, IBA supports sound, images, video and other interactive elements. However, it can only be used for books written in ibooks and won't work with other e-readers
Demonstrate your expertise in your field by creating and selling online courses. According to this Statista study, the US online education market alone is predicated to reach over $74 Billion in 2023. While recent years have seen an explosion in popularity for online courses, the global market is still predicted to grow at over 9% a year until 2027.
One of the most effective ways to get your personal knowledge and passionate out into the digital marketplace is to upload the knowledge in your brain. Turn it into a sales scoring, value adding online course your customers will love. To get started today, checkout this quick 10 step breakdown:
- Pick the perfect topic. Look for something you are passionate about, good at, have plenty of experience in and fulfills a need for someone. A topic that ticks all these boxes can be monetized with your expertise engaging the audience and delivering value
- Validate demand. Start conducting market research to check the strength of demand. A few questions to explore are: Are people searching for your topic on Google trends? Is there a gap in the market for your online course? Will customers be willing to pay for the solution your course offers?
- Create a compelling outcome. Your course should clearly offer a transformative process to the customer. Stating the outcomes can help ensure the right customers take your course, increasing completion rates and satisfaction
- Create a course plan structure. Start creating an instructional roadmap, ensuring you hit all the important points in the learning journey you are offering. Mapping themes into clearly defined chapters or modules can help you deliver your content in a structured way, layering knowledge as the course progresses.
- Create lesson plans. Developing a lesson plan template can help you save time when it comes to content creation, plus ensuring consistency. Make sure to include a learning objective and a breakdown of the topics covered. There are a wide range available online, look for one that clicks with your lessons.
- Compile your content. Focusing your content to specific learning objectives can help you keep focus and save time. Make sure all content answers customer's potential questions and fills gaps not already filled by competitors. If you already have content available and a target audience, you can streamline the process by packaging the most popular content into a learning journey.
- Start filming. Popular styles include a green screen talking head, screen recordings with a webcam shot of yourself on top or recording a voice-over of a presentation. Once you find out which one you are most comfortable with, you can find quality editing software that fits your needs for free online.
- Set up your online school. There are two main types of course platforms, self-hosted and course marketplaces. They both have their pros and cons, so an effective method can be a hybrid approach. Look at starting on a marketplace and transitioning to a self hosted platform once sales and demand is validated.
- Choose a price. As pricing is specific to each product and market conditions, you can start researching competitor prices, however be aware not to start competing in a race to the bottom. Trial and analyze your pricing success and continuously optimize over time.
- Launch and start marketing. Once the course has been created and launched, an effective and sustainable marketing strategy is essential. Once customers start enrolling, continuous optimization can help your course scale.
If photography is something you love, then generating additional income from stock photography can be a straightforward way to monetize your passion. If you are not familiar with stock photography, or want to get started today, checkout this quick breakdown below.
Stock photography sites are online marketplaces where designers, photographers and other creatives can sell visual content. Customers purchase these images for commercial or editorial use through licenses, allowing them to use the copyrighted image.
This content can be purchased an unlimited number of times by a wide range of customers, however the uploader of the image will remain the owner and keep the profits. Typical customers include graphic designers, social media managers and content writers.
The success of stock images can depend heavily on your understanding of a topic and the demand for the digital files associated with that niche. For portfolio inspiration, checkout this quick breakdown of the top 15 most searched for types of images on Shutterstock, the market leading site:
- Landscapes Images that Inspire Wanderlust
- Modern Work Environments and Office Spaces
- Candid moments of family and friends
- A representative world, with diversity and inclusion at the forefront
- Top-down food images and videos
- Model-released travel images
- Everyday moments with disabilities
- Color as the focus
- Naturally-edited images
- All ages welcome (and represented)
- Powerful portrait imagery
- Aerial photography
- Property-released images of architecture and homes
- Macro images of texture and closeups
- Collections of images that tell a full story
There are a few key steps to become a contributor to stock photography platforms. While the first is usually to fill in your details, it can be a better strategy to prepare a few images in advance. Some sites require sample images as part of the registration process, to ensure the content meets the platform's requirements.
Once accepted, you can start uploading images for sale. However, with some sites hosting millions of images, understanding tags and descriptions is essential. There are a few key areas to focus on that can help your work rank higher in search results:
- Focus on a particular niche
- Learn how to edit images for stock use
- Research keywords and descriptions
- Think like a customer
- Analyze visual trends
Top Sales Channels for Digital Products
Once you have finished creating your digital products, you will need to select which sales channels will help your online business scale. The most popular eCommerce sales channels can be broken down into two types:
An eCommerce platform is a service that allows you to create and customize your own online store and start selling digital products. This is perfect if you have a strong brand in place, however every entrepreneur is responsible for driving their own traffic. Popular examples of eCommerce platforms to sell digital products online include:
ECommerce marketplaces allow you to list your product and start selling different types of digital products immediately. While you won't have to generate site traffic, you have limited customization and influence over branding. Popular marketplaces to sell digital downloads and membership sites include:
- Creative Fabrica
- Digital Product Delivery (DPD)
- Creative Market
- Easy Digital Downloads
While both eCommerce marketplaces and platforms have their different pro and cons, a sustainable strategy can be to offer your digital products on both. Compare and contrast the various sales channels and pick the combination you are most comfortable with and offers long term success.
Potential Challenges of Selling Digital Products
To fully evaluate if digital products are the right fit for your store, there are a few potential downsides to watch out for:
- Free content. Potential customers may be able to find free alternatives of the digital goods you are offering
- Risk of piracy. While an order of a physical good can be at risk of theft once, digital products can be replicated an unlimited number of times
- Restrictions on selling digital products. Most sales channels will have policies restricting certain types of digital goods. As this will be site specific, always factor this into your research
- Perceived lower value. Customers may perceive digital products different to physical products because they are tangible goods they can handle themselves
- Competition. With low barriers to entry, automated fulfillment and potentially high profits, digital products can be a competitive market
Simplify Fulfillment of Physical Goods With Easyship
From ebooks and online courses, to stock photos and podcasts, digital products can be successfully be scaled without having to face everyday fulfillment issues. However, if your online store is offering physical goods, Easyship can help you create a delivery experience that customers love.
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