Dec 05, 2023
How to Sell Digital Products: The Most Profitable Products and the Best Platforms to Sell
If you want to sell digital products, now is the right time to start.
Selling digital products online is among the best side hustle ideas to earn extra income. Whether you’re a freelancer, an aspiring entrepreneur, or someone who enjoys monetizing digital content, the eCommerce industry offers numerous opportunities.
However, building a business is difficult when you don’t have digital product ideas to start with. Without enough knowledge and resources, generating passive income by selling digital products can be tricky.
This article offers a comprehensive guide to help you create and sell digital products. We will also explore today’s most popular digital products and the best online platforms to sell them, including the website builder.
What Are Digital Products?
Digital products, also known as eGoods, are intangible items for sale. These products are often provided as online services and digital downloads such as eBooks, stock photos, and mobile apps.
Why Sell Digital Products
Compared to selling physical products, digital goods offer several advantages. They don’t require physical inventory, letting you sell in unlimited quantities and maximize the potential for scaling the business.
Here are other benefits of selling digital goods to make money online:
- Reach global markets. Digital products are accessible worldwide. This eliminates the need to open physical stores overseas.
- Cost-effective. Sell digital products to reduce business operation costs, such as packaging, storing, and stock replenishing.
- High profitability. Digital products sell at a higher rate than physical products. One of the latest examples is from Arthur Trusov. The designer started selling digital products on a video game platform in 2019 and earned over $1 million.
- Easy to adjust. If sellers want to change any part of the digital product, they can do so with minimal effort.
- No shipping. Digital product vendors don’t have to deal with shipping. This eliminates shipping-related risks associated with selling physical products.
- Instant delivery. Unlike physical products, digital goods guarantee split-second delivery as customers only need to download their purchases.
10 Digital Products Ideas to Sell Online
With all the remarkable benefits of selling digital products, it’s no surprise that its popularity continues to grow. In fact, consumers spend more than $54 billion on digital goods annually.
If you haven’t decided on the perfect digital items to sell, we’ll share some of the best ideas to help you get started.
Creating a successful digital product business requires more than just knowledge and resources. Therefore, we’ll also dive into how to create digital products and sell them online.
You might need business licenses to sell certain digital products. Be sure to check our article on Do I Need a Business License to Sell Online? to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.
eBooks are digital publications that can be read on electronic devices such as tablets, phones, or computers. It’s one of the best-selling digital products, projected to reach a market volume of $15.33 billion by 2027.
Fortunately, eBooks are not hard to produce. Unlike regular books that need covers, papers, and ink, eBooks only require written content and software to create. Here are some other advantages of eBooks:
- Compatibility. eBooks can be read with most electronic devices due to their small file size and format compatibility.
- Easy marketing integration. Build an email list of interested readers and provide them with valuable content and updates about your eBook. Consider offering a free sample or exclusive discounts to incentivize sign-ups.
- Simple creation process. You can create eBooks using free online software, such as Canva, Visme, or Adobe Express.
To write a successful eBook, consider your passion or expertise. Then, research the target audience.
Choosing a niche or topic you’re interested in or excel at will make the process more enjoyable. It will also help you produce high-quality content that resonates with your audience.
If you don’t have the writing skills but want to share your expertise through eBooks, you can hire a writer to ghost-write for you.
Once your eBook is complete, explore various eCommerce platforms and strategies to sell digital products. They can help you reach a wider audience and monetize your valuable knowledge effectively.
You can also start a website and use it as your eCommerce platform. Rough Guides, a travel brand, is one of the best website examples for inspiration to sell eBooks. The website is easy to navigate, ensuring excellent user experience.
2. Video Courses
Video courses are a vital part of the eLearning industry. These educational courses typically require a lot of preparation – choosing the topic, coming up with the material, and recording the video itself. That said, here are some benefits of selling online courses:
- Popularity. Video content is growing in popularity, and the statistics show that the average person spends around 17 hours a week watching online videos.
- Attractiveness. The audiovisual aspect of videos makes them more engaging. Videos also make the learning process easier and more fun.
- Effectiveness. Video courses are usually short and informative, making them more effective for daily consumption than textbooks.
To successfully create video courses and sell them, you must possess expertise in the topic you’re going to cover. If that’s out of the question, hire an expert to teach the course in your place. However, keep in mind that this will increase the production cost.
Other production costs include purchasing a high-quality video camera and editing software to create engaging and attractive videos.
To create professional video courses, you need a lesson plan determining the learning outcome. In addition, you should plan your video production timeline, which includes scripting, filming, editing, and publishing.
After finishing production, start selling online courses on eLearning platforms or your own online course website. A great example is Chef Das Gulas. The artisan culinary school sells online courses, including in video format, on its Hostinger-powered website.
3. Membership Sites
Membership sites provide exclusive access to content or services in exchange for paid subscriptions. They usually integrate with other eCommerce businesses, including those selling online courses, streaming services, and physical products.
Selling memberships can be a good business opportunity if you have a loyal following. Loyal followers are likely to sign up for a membership to access exclusive content.
Perks like special discounts, early access to new products, exclusive merchandise, or priority customer support are also attractive. Spotify Premium, for example, rewards customers with ad-free music listening and unlimited skips.
Offering tangible benefits enhances member experience and promotes brand loyalty. Here are some membership site perks:
- Establish yourself as an expert. By offering exclusive and valuable content through your membership website, you can position yourself as an industry expert. Sharing fresh insights, tips, and knowledge will help you gain credibility and establish authority.
- Foster a community. A membership website goes beyond providing access to content. It allows you to build a community of like-minded individuals. This sense of community fosters engagement, participation, and a supportive environment that adds value to their experience.
- Increase your value. Unlike traditional models that rely on one-off sales, membership sites accumulate value over time. This value growth leads to increased revenue and profitability for your business.
Decide on the models, pricing plans, and management tools when creating a membership site. If you use WordPress, you can create a membership site by integrating plugins like Paid Member Subscriptions and WP-Members.
4. Stock Photography and Video
From advertisements to website design, there is a great demand for stock photos and videos. If you like photography, consider turning your hobby into a profitable digital business. All you need to get started is a decent camera and editing software.
There are diverse interests in the stock photography and video market. Popular themes include nature, business, technology, lifestyle, and food. Niche subjects that cater to specific industries or hobbies also have their own audience.
Here are some factors to consider when preparing your stock photos or videos:
- Quality. When taking photos or videos, ensure you have good lighting and compose your shots well. Experiment with different angles, perspectives, and settings to create visually appealing content.
- Editing process. This stage is crucial in enhancing your photo or video quality. Use professional editing software to adjust brightness, contrast, colors, and other elements to make the product more visually appealing. You can also apply filters or add text overlays to create a unique style.
- Licensing options. Determine whether you want to offer royalty-free or rights-managed licenses. Royalty-free allows buyers to use the content multiple times with certain limitations. Rights-managed provides more control and customization options for a higher price.
When you are ready, start selling your photos or videos through your own website or online marketplaces such as iStock or Shutterstock.
Increase your stock media’s searchability by utilizing keywords and optimizing metadata. Include details such as the subject, location, emotions, and concepts. Moreover, proper tagging will make it easier for buyers to find your content on stock platforms.
5. Digital Art
In today’s creative market, bloggers and content creators often seek high-quality digital art to enhance their content’s visual appeal.
If you’re artistic and enjoy working in the creative industry, selling digital art online is a good idea. The products include fonts, illustrations, logos, and icons.
Develop a unique style to stand out in the competitive digital art market. Seek inspiration from diverse sources, experiment with techniques, and refine your skills to create your own distinct style.
Creating high-resolution print and digital files ensures that your art looks sharp and professional. This will ensure your digital art can be used on different platforms and mediums without compromising its visual appeal.
Important! When pricing your artwork, find a balance between affordability and fair compensation for your work. Consider factors such as the complexity of the artwork, licensing options, and the market demand for similar pieces.
Consider building your own website to have more control over your brand and sales process. Alternatively, Etsy, Creative Market, Society6, and Redbubble are popular eCommerce platforms for selling digital art.
Ine Agresta built her art portfolio website with Hostinger and is working on her online store. Agresta’s website successfully highlights her art style, reinforcing her overall branding and competitive edge. Check our tutorial to learn how you can build a website yourself.
6. Graphic Design Mockups and Templates
Mockups and templates are pre-made designs that users can customize to suit their needs. They work for various purposes, ranging from resumes and cover letters to social media posts, visual design, and posters.
The statistics show thousands of monthly searches for website templates. Tap into this opportunity and build your authority in website development.
Digital templates and mockups usually include a combination of existing generated content, layout, and structure. Since hundreds of free mockups and templates are available, make sure your creations are unique.
If you are a graphic designer, you can use these digital products to make money online. Here are some tips to remember when creating them:
- Provide versatility. Create mockups and templates that can be easily adapted for different purposes. To enable personalization, let users edit elements such as colors, fonts, and layouts.
- Design with customization in mind. Ensure your mockups and templates have editable layers or smart objects. This lets users easily modify the content.
Using appropriate design software and implementing effective marketing strategies will help you establish a strong presence in the graphic design industry.
Adobe Photoshop and Figma are two of the most popular design software and digital tools in the market.
Regarding marketing, offering free mockups or templates is a great way to introduce your work to potential customers. This approach can entice users to try your designs and build trust in your brand.
Platform-wise, you can sell your graphic design mockups and templates on your own website, like House of Mockups.
7. Music and Audio Products
If you are passionate about creating music, consider selling digital products in audio form. While it requires investment in equipment and software, music can be profitable once you gain popularity or secure a deal.
Selling your composition as stock music is also a good money maker. Artists and content creators are always looking for the right music to use in their projects.
When creating and selling music, there are various genres and styles to explore. Some popular genres include pop, rock, hip-hop, and electronic. During your music creation process, follow these tips:
- Invest in quality equipment. Choose a good microphone, audio interface, headphones, and monitors to accurately capture and monitor your music.
- Create a conducive recording environment. Set up a dedicated soundproofed space to ensure good acoustics and minimize background noise.
- Pay attention to mic placement. Experiment with microphone placement to achieve the desired sound. For example, control proximity effects and use pop filters.
- Use professional mixing techniques. Equalize, compress, and add reverb with care. Balance different elements of your music and create a cohesive sound.
- Mastering for a polished sound. This final step involves optimizing the overall sound, enhancing dynamics, and preparing the tracks for distribution. Consider hiring a professional mastering engineer or using a mastering plugin to achieve a commercially viable sound.
You can sell your audio products on stock music websites and online music marketplaces. Build a portfolio website to introduce your expertise, showcase your music tracks, and provide samples.
Allison Leyton-Brown, a pianist, composer, producer, and musical director, uploads her work on a portfolio website. Leyton-Brown embeds her email address and social links for those interested in making music with her.
8. Web Themes and Plugins
If you’re into website development and have ideas to simplify it, consider selling themes or plugins. Themes change a website’s overall look and feel, while plugins help website owners extend their sites’ functionality.
Important! Don’t confuse website themes with templates.
Website themes offer a complete design package for your website, changing its looks. They take care of everything, from page layouts to colors and typography. Website templates affect the layout of specific pages within a website, like landing pages.
A website theme might come with templates included, but it can’t be the other way around.
- Prioritize simplicity. Ensure your themes and plugins have intuitive user interfaces and are easy to set up and customize.
- Offer customization options. Provide options to customize the appearance and functionality of your WordPress themes and plugins. Incorporate settings panels, color schemes, and flexible layouts to cater to different user preferences.
- Follow the best coding practices. Write clean, well-structured code that follows standards and conventions. Use proper documentation and add comments to make your code easily understandable and maintainable.
- Test extensively. Thoroughly test your themes and plugins across different browsers, devices, and operating systems to ensure compatibility and responsiveness.
By choosing the right programming languages and frameworks, following the best practices for development, and promoting your products on appropriate marketplaces, you can build a successful business in the web development industry.
9. Mobile Apps and Games
In-depth coding and programming language knowledge are essential when creating apps and games. Here’s a general breakdown of the app and game development process:
- Coding. App and game development typically start with writing code. Java, Kotlin, and Swift are popular programming languages for developing app functionalities and logic. Consider the platform you’re targeting before choosing a language.
- User interface (UI) development. UI design is crucial for creating an engaging and intuitive experience. In this stage, you’ll develop screens, layouts, and graphics that users interact with.
- Testing. This critical phase ensures your app or game functions correctly. Functional, usability, and compatibility testing are crucial for effective evaluation.
Android Studio, Xcode, Unity, and Unreal Engine are some of the most popular app and game development platforms. Appery.io is another great solution that lets you create an app without knowing how to code.
Implement app store optimization (ASO), in-app purchases, advertising, and sponsorships as part of your mobile apps and games’ marketing strategies. Don’t forget to utilize user feedback for continuous improvements.
10. Coaching and Consulting Services
If you have a remote-friendly occupation or valuable knowledge to share, sell your services online. You can offer coaching, consulting, or other service types:
- Life coaching. Helps individuals set and achieve goals, improve relationships, and overcome obstacles. Coaches offer guidance, support, and accountability to help clients reach their full potential.
- Business consulting. Offers expertise and advice to businesses looking to improve operations, solve problems, or achieve specific goals. Business consultants may specialize in marketing, strategy, finance, or human resources.
- Career coaching. Helps individuals navigate their careers, explore options, and develop growth strategies. They assist with resume writing, job search strategies, interview preparation, and career transitions.
- Health coaching. Working with clients to improve overall well-being, health coaches help them set health goals, develop healthy habits, and manage stress. They may focus on nutrition, fitness, weight management, or stress reduction.
Targeting specific niches or industries is crucial for positioning yourself as an expert and attracting the right clients. It lets you tailor your services to meet that market’s unique needs and differentiate yourself from generalists.
For example, you can specialize in career coaching for fresh graduates or business consulting for startups.
How to Select Profitable Digital Products to Sell Online
Venturing into the eCommerce sphere and selecting digital products to sell takes time and effort. In general, here are some tips for how to choose profitable digital downloads:
Research Keywords and Trends
Start by researching top-ranking keywords for digital products to sell. This will help you identify trending and in-demand product ideas. Make a list of possibilities and narrow it down until you reach a conclusion.
Google Trends allows you to explore, identify, and analyze the popularity of search terms over time. It provides data on the search interest for specific keywords, related topics, and geographic locations.
Using Google Trends, you can identify trending topics, seasonal patterns, and the rising popularity of online digital products. Visit the Google Trends website to explore and research keywords related to your digital product ideas.
In addition, utilize Google Ads Keyword Planner to discover new keywords, analyze their search volume, and get bid estimates for advertising campaigns. The tool also provides data on keyword competition and helps you plan your advertising budget effectively.
Analyze Market Trends
Stay updated on the newest market trends in the digital items industry and explore what types of products are currently in high demand. This will give you insights into consumer preferences and help you align your product selection with market trends.
For easier market research on digital products to sell, gather valuable information from these websites:
- Exploding Topics. Providing an AI-assisted database of thousands of trending topics, this tool helps you discover emerging eCommerce trends.
- Statista. Gain insights into industry trends, market share, and consumer behavior. They help you tailor your marketing strategies and make data-driven decisions.
- Pew Research Center. This non-profit organization conducts market research and analysis across various areas, including US politics, public opinion, demographics, and technology. Generally, its reports provide insights regarding communication strategies and market analysis.
Evaluate Profitability and Demand
Profitability examines how a product or service can sustain profits. It encompasses the profit earned after subtracting all costs related to development, production, marketing, and support.
Reviewing the success of similar products can help gauge potential profitability. Here are some metrics to assess:
- Gross profit margin. This metric calculates the percentage of revenue after subtracting the cost of goods sold. A higher gross profit margin indicates higher profitability.
- Net profit margin. This metric represents the percentage of revenue remaining after deducting all expenses, including operating expenses, taxes, and interest. It provides insight into the overall profitability.
- Return on investment. ROI measures the product’s profitability and the capital allocation’s efficiency by comparing the net profit to the investment cost.
Demand is the number of products or services customers request. Understanding customer demand is crucial for identifying needs and offering optimal solutions.
When conducting the demand analysis, here are some important metrics to look at:
- Sales revenue. This metric measures the total amount of revenue generated from the sales of a product over a specific period.
- Unit sales. Represent the number of products sold during a given period.
- Customer acquisition rate. This metric calculates the rate at which new customers are acquired. A higher acquisition rate indicates growing demand for the product and an expanding customer base.
- Customer lifetime value. Often called CLV, this metric estimates the total revenue you can expect from customers over their lifetime.
Review these metrics to make informed decisions, maximize revenue, and minimize risks. Use frameworks like SWOT analysis to simplify evaluation.
Focus on Value and Unique Proposition
A compelling value and unique proposition helps attract customers and boost sales. Highlighting your digital products’ distinct qualities help set them apart from competitors. For example, emphasize their exceptional quality, functionality, or customer experience.
Ensure that your value proposition clearly communicates what your digital products bring to potential customers and how they address the customers’ pain points. Let’s consider a hypothetical company that offers personalized online courses. Their value proposition could be:
‘Our online course allows you to get a personalized eLearning experience.
You can tailor the course content to your interests and learning goals, ensuring a highly relevant and engaging learning journey. Our expert instructors provide individualized feedback and support, guiding you through the course material at your own pace.
By personalizing your learning experience, we empower you to achieve your educational objectives efficiently and effectively. Say goodbye to one-size-fits-all courses and embrace the power of customized learning with our personalized online courses.’
In the value proposition above, the company highlights the key benefits of its personalized online courses.
It offers customized courses that cater to learners’ interests and goals. The mention of expert instructors provides personalized feedback and support, ensuring individualized guidance throughout the learning process.
Finally, by differentiating its services from the generic, one-size-fits-all courses, the company appeals to customers seeking a more effective learning journey.
Where to Sell Digital Products Online
Selecting the ideal eCommerce platform is crucial for a successful eGood business.
Many eCommerce platforms allow sellers to sell digital goods. However, not every platform can cater to your specific business needs. Let’s look at the best eCommerce platforms for selling digital products online.
1. Online Store
Among the best platforms for selling digital products is your own online store. You can sell any digital product idea from your website, from eBooks to WordPress themes or online courses.
Unlike selling digital products on eCommerce platforms, having an online store grants you full control over your store’s functionality and looks. It offers the freedom to customize and scale your online business as needed.
Having your own online store is also good for your brand’s reputation, as it will make you appear more professional. It also reduces competition if other vendors in your niche don’t have an online store.
You can build an online store using a content management system and an eCommerce plugin. For example, WordPress users can use WooCommerce.
The CMS option is ideal for those with experience and expertise in website building. It’s also great for those who don’t mind a learning curve. But if you’re not comfortable with the technical aspect of using a CMS, setting up your online store by yourself can be tricky.
If you’re a beginner, we recommend using easy-to-use solutions like an online shop builder.
Hostinger also has an AI website maker, among its suite of AI tools available through Hostinger Website Builder. This innovative feature allows you to generate a website with AI simply by providing a brief description. Then, you can activate the online store feature at no extra cost.
Hostinger’s builder has a range of eCommerce functionalities that make it easy to sell digital products online. This eCommerce platform lets you upload up to 500 products, efficiently manage orders, and accept payments through multiple processors, including .kevin and Stripe.
The appointment booking feature is also perfect if you want to sell courses. You can easily enable and track bookings for your online courses, making it convenient for your customers to schedule and pay for classes.
With your own online store, it takes time to build a sizable following for your brand. Some knowledge regarding lead and traffic generation is vital to optimize your store’s performance and reel in more customers.
Gumroad is a platform that enables artists and creators to sell digital products online. It provides a beginner-friendly interface that allows you to set up an eCommerce store without coding or technical expertise.
To sell digital products, simply upload them to Gumroad and add the auto-generated link anywhere on your website. It will turn the section into a storefront where customers can directly purchase your digital goods.
Gumroad lets you sell digital products in unlimited quantities. Its analytics tool lets you track views and keep tabs on sales and where they come from. If you’re selling software like mobile apps or games, Gumroad enables you to generate license keys.
However, this platform lists products by the upload time and doesn’t offer a categorization feature.
Fortunately, Gumroad doesn’t charge monthly fees. Rather, it takes a 10% cut for each sale.
Easy Digital Downloads is a WordPress plugin that lets you sell downloadable products. Simply embed the shortcodes the plugin generates anywhere on your website to display and sell digital products.
This plugin features discount codes, download activity tracking, and a built-in reporting tool. You can also set download limits and link expiration to avoid piracy and duplication. It has various free and paid extensions available if you need extra features.
To use this plugin, you will need a WordPress website. While you can use this plugin for free, you will only get basic features.
Its premium plans start at $99.50/month. This plugin is more suitable for an established digital product company due to its higher price range.
As a popular WordPress extension, there’s plenty of support available, including forums, customer support teams, and tutorials.
If you plan to sell online courses and coaching, Teachable is an excellent digital selling platform. It comes with an intuitive and straightforward interface to make it easier for users to navigate the site.
Teachable has multiple features to support eLearning, such as numerous teaching media support, quizzes, course completion certificates, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited courses, and unlimited students for all paid plans.
As for store development, you can access in-depth customization options, such as customizable pages and built-in affiliate programs. It also supports multiple third-party integrations like Google Analytics and MailChimp.
Teachable has a free plan. To unlock more features, opt for the premium plans starting at $39/month, billed annually.
Note that Teachable applies different transaction fees based on the plan you choose. The Basic plan, Teachable’s most affordable option, has a transaction fee of 5%. Meanwhile, the Pro and Pro+ plans don’t charge transaction fees.
MemberPress is a WordPress plugin used to create, manage, and track membership subscriptions. With this plugin, you can restrict access to specific posts, pages, videos, digital files, or sections of your website. Only members will be able to access the exclusive content.
This plugin offers various features essential for a membership website:
- Content dripping. MemberPress lets you schedule content publishing over a specified period.
- Content expiration. This feature lets you set access limits to certain content within a specified period.
- Coupon creation. You can create unlimited numbers of coupons to encourage customer loyalty. This feature also lets you set the coupons’ expiration dates and the number of uses.
- Community building. Through integrations with forum plugins, MemberPress lets you provide an environment where members can interact with each other.
In addition, MemberPress comes with multiple payment gateway support, including Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Considering the plans start at $179.50/year, this plugin is more suitable for big eCommerce businesses.
Digital Product Delivery is another excellent digital selling platform to consider. This PCI-compliant platform allows you to securely sell digital products like eBooks and online courses.
This platform lets you easily set up your online business profile, upload digital products, and generate HTML buttons to embed on your website. It also has an intuitive interface and various features, such as membership management and marketing tools.
Additionally, the platform incorporates a responsive checkout process, enabling customers to purchase products from desktop and mobile devices. It supports multiple payment processors, including popular options like PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net.
Digital Product Delivery’s plans start at $10/month with the pay-as-you-go pricing model. You can also register for a 30-day free trial to see if the platform can cater to your needs.
Many benefits come with selling digital downloads online. Reduced business startup costs, high profits, and instant delivery are just some of them. Although navigating the digital products industry can be challenging, you can make it work with thorough research and careful planning.
In this article, we’ve explored why digital products are a great way to make money, along with the best digital product ideas, creation tools, and the best platforms to sell them.
Let’s have a short recap of the top three profitable digital product ideas to consider:
- eBooks. Aside from their compatibility across different devices, eBooks are simple to create and easy to market.
- Video courses. The attractive visuals, relatively short duration, and informativeness make video courses more engaging and effective than textbooks.
- Membership sites. If you offer online courses or services, develop a membership program to ensure recurring revenue streams.
We hope this article helps you overcome the initial hurdles of setting up a digital product business and pave the way to success. If you have any questions about selling digital goods, please let us know in the comment section below.
Sell Digital Products FAQ
We’ve compiled answers to four frequently asked questions about selling digital products online.
Are There Any Downsides to Selling Digital Products?
While selling digital products guarantees cost-effectiveness and instant delivery, fierce competition is one of the major challenges, as the digital market has a lower barrier to entry. You should also choose your platform carefully, as not all are ideal for selling your products.
How Can I Keep My Digital Products Safe From Piracy?
Several measures to enhance digital product security include watermarking your digital products, using secure download links, utilizing limited-access platforms, and regularly updating your security measures.
How Do I Price My Digital Products?
Consider factors such as product value, market demand, and competition when setting your prices. Then, test different price points, offer tiered pricing options or bundling products, and gather feedback from your target audience.
Do I Need Technical Knowledge to Sell Digital Products?
You don’t have to possess extensive technical knowledge to sell digital products online. There are platforms with intuitive interfaces and comprehensive support to simplify the experience for first-timers. With Hostinger AI Website Builder, you can set up your website in just a few minutes and start selling digital products.