In 2020, Forrester, a Forbes contributor, called 2020 the “Year of Digital Products”. As our lives become increasingly electronic, digital products to sell continue to be huge. But what products are the most profitable, and how do you get into them?
This article will go through the “why” and “how” of selling digital files to answer that question. By the end of this article, you’ll have some idea of where to begin as a digital eCommerce agent.
There’s a reason why Shopify is the most successful eCommerce platform.
Why Should You Sell Digital Products Over Physical Products?
eCommerce platforms weren’t originally set up to make these sorts of sales, so why should you even bother? We respond to that question with a resounding “why shouldn’t you?”
Digital files lack the inventory limitations that physical items do. While you might have to generate new license keys, you don’t have to restock your inventory.
As a result, digital inventory makes things easier to scale. It becomes something more of a passive income over an active management process. As a result, startup costs for selling digital items are relatively low.
It’s also far easier for you to reach an international market. You don’t have to worry about international shipping rates, choosing between air or sea, and dealing with those logistical problems. Learn more about what a digital product is here.
Quick Advice Before You Sell Any Digital Products
Before you get into any of these, your eventual goal must be to create a website. Why? Because relying on third parties to promote and advertise your products doesn’t go well.
Third-party online marketplaces should be seen as a stepping stone for you to establish a brand. This brand can be another online marketplace, but you shouldn’t be too reliant on those marketplaces.
That’s why creating a website should be an eventual goal. Shopify is one of the best options for an eCommerce starting point because it allows you to establish an online store alongside creating a website. We’ll go through specialised websites further down the list.
Why use Shopify for eCommerce?
Shopify is perfect for beginners and professionals. The reason is that it’s got everything you need to scale without hidden fees.
All-in-one solution for hosting & scalability
For example, if you used WordPress with WooCommerce, first off, it’s hard to learn and has a lot of things to be careful about. You need to host your own website in a hosting company, keep WordPress secure by yourself (it’s prone to hacking), find yourself fast CDNs (content delivery network), limited by your hosting company for bandwidth/storage so hard to scale, limited support by WordPress and much more.
Safety & fast CDNs
They are very secure and safe, one of the fastest CDN (content delivery networks) in the world; no need to find a good hosting company because it is one. It has its own app store with great regulated apps that do everything, great support, a very good copyright team, perfect tax and accounts tracking and much more.
Proven by big brands
You can literally host everything within Shopify, including your domain name. Huge brands like MVMT & GymShark use Shopify, the reason being that you can scale endlessly with large amounts of traffic with unlimited free bandwidth. Their systems are some of the most powerful in the world.
Best app integrations
Shopify has some of the best apps in the world that integrate seamlessly with their API. Without a doubt the most advanced library of plugins available. Featuring SEO apps on Shopify, Digital Downloads apps and even some of the best overall apps for Shopify stores.
Shopify has many unique features, such as Shopify Multi-Currency and International Pricing. See our blog on the best Shopify tips & Tricks to learn more.
If Shopify doesn’t take your fancy, there are other options, but they do require a lot more work and not as many features. You will end up paying more in time and money for other services you will need. You can also use the following alternative options:
15 Products You Can Sell (And How To Do It)
- Design templates (business cards, forms, etc.)
- Adobe Lightroom presets
- Poster designs
- Web designs
- Online courses
- WordPress themes
- Logo templates
- T-shirt designs
- Photoshop overlays
- Video Series
- Stock photos
- Sound Effects
1. Design Templates
Design templates are the foundation established for other artists. These templates can refer to crochets, craft guides, and pdfs.
Design templates are meant to make an artist’s life easier. If you are a creative who also wants to teach, this is an excellent start.
How To Sell Design Templates?
Design templates can refer to anything, so start by narrowing it to one particular niche. For example, your niche could be eBook templates, knitting guides, or the stuffed animal creation.
The point is to start by specializing in minimal but noticeable space. Check creative websites associated with your goals. These can include Canva, Etsy, and Pinterest.
For example, DreamworkshopCo has a design template available for the latest iPhone 12.
2. Adobe Lightroom Presets
Other graphic designs like Adobe Lightroom Presets are a great option. Lightroom presets are the “quick and dirty” way of improving photographs. They contain all the data needed to quickly touch up pictures with little effort.
How Do You Sell Lightroom Presets?
You’ll need to export them as DNG files under the “file” submenu on your Lightroom program. Look for “export as DNG” and upload that file to your desired marketplace.
If your DNG file is too big, you can choose “save for web” under the file -> export menu. Check out these other Lightroom presets to get some design inspiration.
3. Poster Designs or Flyer Designs
Well-selling digital content, and design projects are where you want to be. One example comes from providing excellent poster designs.
Poster designs work for any event. There will always be a need for eye-catching posters. But to make this into passive income, you’ll want to sell poster templates.
How Do You Sell Poster Templates?
To sell online poster templates, you’ll need to provide them in an accessible format. You can do this easily by selling them in photoshop format; this is a .psd.
You can also consider offering alternative formats in popular editing platforms like GIMP, Photopea, and PhotoScape X. This increases the value of your offering.
4. Web Elements and Designs
The need for web design as a popular service cannot be understated. These web designs (sometimes called elements) can comprise almost anything.
Typically, these are a series of editable files with simple image replacements. Selling these templates is incredibly similar to selling poster templates, only on a grander scale.
How To Sell Web Elements
First, you need to specify how you plan on selling the web elements:
Option one delves into simple image editing. These are sleek images with a file type that simply involves replacing photos for the user’s needs.
Your other option, which is the more profitable, is to sell premade templates with code. These can be unique buttons, interesting scrolling features, or interactive website experiences.
Be sure that whatever you spend time creating that it has broad appeal.
5. Online Courses
Online courses are available on numerous websites, from Udemy to SkillShare. They are a profitable venture used by many companies who claim to have the magical “six-figure potion.”
Many websites encourage you to sell video courses. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when offering them:
How To Sell Online Courses
Compared to some of the other options on this list, online courses can be a bit tricky. Your first step is to learn from the masters.
Find some exciting subjects worth looking into. If they are popular, start taking notes on different elements of their course. See how they deliver educational content.
Next, focus on a niche you already have experience. For example, if you work in a specific industry of sales, you can focus on that. Since you’ve already been there, you already know the struggles.
You may be tempted to “go where the profit is,” trying to emulate some of these six-figure salespeople out there. But most courses hit the ground face-first, trying to steal other people’s ideas.
When filming your online course, you’ll want to do what you can to create as many graphics as possible. Infographics are visually engaging. This is a bit easier if you are teaching design.
You’ll also want to familiarise yourself with video software editing. Adobe Premiere Pro is the preferred software of choice for most editors. Check out our tutorials on Premiere for some help there. Otherwise, consider hiring a freelancer to help you out.
6. WordPress Themes
WordPress has a variety of built-in themes, but many business owners will seek out alternative options. Savvy consumers will buy preset themes on other websites, sometimes in bulk quantities.
How To Sell WordPress Themes
WordPress themes typically involve detailed design elements. So it’s similar to selling design elements in how you break them down into multiple images.
The main difference is that WordPress themes allow you to create templates for those images. So you’ll create a theme like you would for your own WordPress website.
Start by creating a WordPress account, go under the tools tab on your dashboard, and select “export” under tools. You can then upload the file to wherever you wish to make the sale.
7. Logo Templates
Logo templates are used in a way that’s similar to other design elements. A business owner who appreciates your design might buy it.
Logo templates include that log inserted into multiple designs. These can consist of forms, business cards, or other branding options.
How Do You Sell Logo Templates?
The key to the effective sale of logo templates is providing premade options for them to be applied to. Some should be for specific social media pages. Meanwhile, others are more appropriate to be in the signature of your email; some should be images for the app store.
By labelling these file packages appropriately, you can sell them as zip files. This allows you to increase the value of your logo templates, regardless of how you sell them.
8. T-Shirt Designs
Selling T-Shirt designs sets the foundation for other online businesses to sell and market your designs as their shirts. This is different from you going to printing companies, as you will be selling rights to your digital assets.
How To Sell T-Shirt Designs
First, be sure that you use appropriate marketplaces. The most straightforward example is buytshirtdesigns.net, but there are a few others. You can also sell digital designs on websites like Etsy.
Many providers sell these designs in bundle packs. That’s because they have an understanding that other people might buy these designs. The best-selling design might be on 300 different websites. You need to calm that fear by either selling designs per individual or in bulk quantities.
Also, when you eventually create your own website, be incredibly careful on ad campaigns and search engine optimization. It’s easy to get mixed in with printing companies in these cases.
Selling fonts is another way to meet that aspired passive income people keep talking about. It requires a particular type of graphic designer to sell fonts. That’s because fonts require incredible attention to detail.
How To Sell Fonts
When selling fonts, try and offer as many weights and styles as possible. This includes bolded, italicized, thin, thick, and everything in between. You’ll also want to pay attention to kerning (the space between letters).
The best way to show your fonts in action is by using them in graphic design. Either hire someone who can design for you or do it yourself. You should also consider offering the fonts in multiple formats, with Photoshop and Word formats being the most important.
You can also provide fonts in packs as a sort of a “bonus” for people who buy them. People like getting free stuff; that applies regardless of what you are selling.
10. Photoshop Overlays
Similar to Lightroom Presets, Adobe Photoshop Overlays allow people to take your preset designs and use them for their projects. Overlays are simply that extra layer on top to create artificial lighting, landscape, or other designs.
How To Sell Photoshop Overlays
You are going to want to sell these overlays in your standard .psd format. Offer high-quality and high-resolution formats as well. Customers won’t want a pixelated design in their shopping cart.
Ideally, you’ll want an image of about 300 dpi (dots per inch). This is considered “print quality,” often used for good photography.
11. eBooks & PDFs
eBooks have been sold for quite a while. You could say Amazon had a big hand in that with Kindle. As you might expect, they continue to be sold because of their low barrier of entry.
When selling eBooks online, you have one of two options:
- eBook marketplace (you sell other author’s content)
- Sell your personal writings
In case you want an eBook marketplace, most of these steps won’t apply to you. You just need to reach out to a series of authors and ask them if they would like to be featured on your website.
If you are selling your eBooks, the following steps also depend on whether you want to be a fiction or non-fiction writer. Because fiction writing involves creating stories and universes, you should start by reading authors you respect.
Find the techniques that appeal to you and write down ideas and potential stories. Try and set aside time for writing each day to put those ideas down with further details.
For young non-fiction writers, many provide sets of instructions using skills they already have. They look for incredibly narrow problems in a niche that they belong to and answer that question through those eBooks.
After creating any eBooks, apply to online marketplaces like Amazon, Nook Press, or Google Play. Follow this up with a website on Shopify to sell your eBooks with a download link to your art.
12. Video Series
Video content is quickly becoming the norm on social media websites like Facebook or Twitter. To offer direct creation of videos can be done as a professional service. However, selling easy-to-access premade videos can also be effective.
How To Sell Video Content Online
As always, your first goal is to find a target niche for your videos. Your niche in creating video series content typically should have some purpose:
- To entertain
For example, you can create video courses to sell to other people as Private Label Rights content. PLR content is “white label” or “resale rights” content. It’s sold at high capacities and given to marketers who are effective at using this content.
The problem is that if your content gains popularity through the marketer, it will become ineffective for other marketers. So you’ll need to have a high number of videos in this case.
13. Stock Photography
Stock images are used in blogging constantly. As long as websites exist, there will be a massive market for stock photos. These are essential and generic photos that can be used on a general license:
How To Sell Stock Photography (and Make Money)
To sell stock photos, they need to be high quality and generic enough to work. Pay attention to how other stock photos are mostly harmless. You can also sell artistic shots.
Offering a combination of free and “paid” stock images allows you to gain exposure. People are more likely to click on high-quality free photos. You can use that opportunity to plug your name and website.
Find online marketplaces like Pexels, Unsplash, and Shutterstock. Consider how much you want to charge for your photos based on how others do it. You can also sell the same stock on your personal website.
Whether you have a band (or know other bands), music is life. Among downloadable products, selling music is among the more exciting options.
How To Sell Your Music (or Other People’s Music) Online
If you run your own band, websites like TuneCore and CDBaby can help you get published on major digital labels. Spotify is a crucial place where you want to sell your music.
Of course, you can use these third-party platforms to plug your own website and social media pages. The idea is to get big enough that people’s first stop isn’t somewhere else but your direct sites.
You’ll likely have several devoted fans willing to pay top dollar for physical merch. These physical buyers come with digital nomads ready to download everything your brand puts out.
If you want to sell other people’s music, start talking to many bands and offer them a split. If they have pre-existing deals with record labels, chat with them. Either way, the music industry is very competitive, so prepare for a lot of negotiation.
15. Sound Effects
As more people join the YouTube Creators programs, the demand for digital assets continues to grow. Exciting sound effects meant to evoke specific reactions will always be popular as a result.
How To Sell Sound Effects Online?
We won’t get into the whole creation of sound effects, but marketing them can be tricky. Of course, you’ll want to go ahead with the “find a marketplace and use it to grow your brand” strategy that applies anywhere here.
Websites like Filtergrade, Innergrade and Envato can be used as marketplaces. You’ll also want to provide a variety of file options like MP3, WAV, and FLAC. Audio quality is crucial (which comes from FLAC files), but the widespread appeal is just as important (MP3s).
What is the best way to sell Digital Products?
Regardless of what digital products you want to sell, the process for those sales is almost entirely the same:
- Create things
- Create your own website or publish them on marketplaces
Each area has different marketplaces to focus on, but a personal website makes that sale and customer yours.
My recommendation – use Shopify & the DDA app
So you have probably decided on what digital products to sell now. If so, this is your next step. Major selling sites, like Shopify and WordPress/WooCommerce, have powerful distribution platforms. But Shopify is proven in the eCommerce space. From experience in creating eCommerce stores for many years, I know the best way to sell digital products is to:
- Create your digital products/files
- Sign up to Shopify
- Create the products in Shopify
- Install the DDA (Downloadable Digital Assets) app (highly recommended)
- Upload your digital files to DDA and attach them to your Shopify products
- Design your storefront
- Set up some ads and work on marketing
To make your digital products genuinely secure, you’ll want to get this app. This app combines fraud protection, personalised file delivery and robust customer management.
Whether you’re selling personalised files or a digital product, you can deliver those files easily & safely. I’ve tried tons of apps, and this has done me wonders for my stores.
With the protection of digital assets in mind, we hope this article helps you out. For more tips on selling digital products on Shopify, check out our sister article on how to sell digital products on Shopify. Thanks for reading!