While there is no doubt that digital products are one of the best ways to make money online, figuring out how to create digital downloads to sell can be tricky without help. There are thousands of different digital downloads you can create and as many ways to sell them.
If you’re ready to diversify your creator income and start building multiple passive income streams, then you’ve come to the right place! Let’s go over everything you need to know about how to create digital products to sell, what are the best products to sell, and where to sell them when you’re ready.
What are digital downloads?
Digital downloads or digital products are goods that exist in a digital form, online or offline. There are many different types of digital products:
- Online courses
- Digital prints and artwork
- Stock photos
- Graphic design elements
- And many more!
Digital products have an advantage over physical products because they’re much easier to distribute, produce, and sell. To start an online store selling digital downloads, you need very little upfront investment (in some cases, it only requires your time), and you get to keep most of the revenue.
How to create digital downloads to sell
Step 1: Brainstorm product ideas
The very first step you want to take is to brainstorm your product ideas. Because there are so many digital product options, you have plenty of product types to choose from. So, make a list of products you would want to create and what types would work best for what you’re interested in.
While it might be tempting to create unique products that people haven’t seen before, always try to keep your potential target audience in mind. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are my customers lacking something in their lives?
- What are the things they are struggling with?
- How does my product help my customers?
- What is the transformation my product offers?
You want to invest your time and effort into creating a product that you are proud of, and one that helps people transform their lives or solve a particular issue they have. Your product has to have value to people, no matter what niche you’re in.
Step 2: Validate your product idea
Once you know what products you might want to create, it’s time to validate your idea. The best way to do that is by researching your competitors and seeing what’s already out there on the market.
Let’s say you decided to sell custom Squarespace website templates. It’s a smaller niche that will target a small group of people who use or want to use Squarespace to build their website. Before you spend hours coding, it’s smart to see if there is even a demand for such templates.
So, first, you’ll want to Google “Squarespace website templates” to see if there are other businesses that offer the digital product you’re interested in selling. You might even want to use Google Keyword planner to check what is the search volume for Squarespace website templates and what the competition is for the keyword.
If the competition is too high, you’ll know that it’ll be harder to stand out amongst the competitors. Then you might need to work harder and niche down even further to stand out and establish your online business.
Using content buckets to keep all your content in order is a great management tool.
Step 3: Utilize your skills
You might be tempted to go after a big digital download idea for which you might not have the technical skills. But before you set your sights on such a download, consider what skills you do have at your disposal.
What skill set do you have that would help you create your first digital download? Surely there is something you’re good at, whether it’s photography, illustration, website building, or something else entirely. Make a list of skills you already have, and are good at. And then map those skills to match the products you brainstormed earlier.
The most successful digital download business idea will be the one that matches your current skill set and allows you to do something you enjoy.
Step 4: Get creative
Once you have your product idea validated and ready to go, it’s time to create digital downloads for your business. How you’ll create them will depend on what type of product you decide to create. However, here are some of the best tools you might want to consider to make creating digital products effortless:
- Audacity – Free, open-source software for audio editing.
- iMovie – Video editing tool free for all Mac users.
- Canva – A free online graphic design tool that is perfect for templates, workbooks, and ebooks.
- Adobe Illustrator – If you’re a graphic designer selling graphic design elements, then this is the best tool to use.
- Teachable – An online course creation platform that makes it easy to create and host your online course.
- Google Sheets or Excel – Great free tools to use if you want to create and sell habit or budget trackers.
- Notion – A free productivity tool that allows you to create a huge variety of templates and trackers.
If you decide to create an online course or produce audio files in the form of a podcast or music, then you’ll also need tools like microphones, lighting kits, and professional cameras to produce high-quality video and audio.
How to sell digital downloads
Let’s go over a few tips for selling digital downloads. First, you’ll want to find the best platform to sell your digital products. Teachable is a great platform for this, especially if you’ve already got other Teachable products and a school.
To set up your product listings, you’ll need to create product graphics. Just like you would take pictures of physical products, you’ll want to create mockups with your digital downloads. So, utilize graphic design tools like Canva and free stock photography to showcase what people are getting when they purchase your product.
Next, you’ll want to spend time writing product descriptions. SEO is crucial here, and your product descriptions in your online store will be a way for people to discover them. So, optimize your keywords within the descriptions to rank higher in search.
Once your products are up, and your online shop is running, the last step will be to market. Your job here is to get your amazing products in front of as many people as possible. So, use social media, your blog, and your email newsletter to let people know that you have an online store.
If you have the budget, you might also want to consider paid advertising. Depending on the niche and the product, it might be a great way to get your products in front of a larger audience.
Best place to sell digital downloads
Here are the best places where to sell digital downloads when you’re first getting started:
With Teachable you can create your first digital download and sell it online with no commitment to the platform and it costs you nothing. This is great for those just starting out or who want to test the waters with their first digital download. Then as you decide to grow you can start to sell more, or grow into online courses or coaching too.
Plus if you enroll in a plan and teachable:pay the taxes taken care of for you, and you can offer tax-inclusive pricing so the price your customers see is what they pay.
Etsy is an open marketplace that has tens of thousands of small business owners selling various items, from digital downloads to vintage clothing. Selling your digital products on Etsy is easy, even for beginners.
Anyone can open a store on Etsy, which means that there are no upfront costs, and you can start selling your digital downloads almost immediately. There is a small fee to put up a listing, but apart from that, there is no monthly fee like with some other platforms.
Etsy also has a pretty good system to optimize your listings for search, which helps maximize your chances of your products getting in front of more potential customers.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows you to create a website to sell your digital products with ease. They have three different plans for different size businesses with different needs:
- Basic – $29/month, best for new businesses who are just getting started.
- Shopify – $79/month, best for growing businesses.
- Advanced – $299/month for, best for bigger, advanced businesses who need advanced tools to run their stores.
Shopify has some fantastic features that allow you to operate your digital download business in an effortless way. It also allows you to create a professional-looking storefront, which might be a good option if you want something in between an online marketplace like Etsy and your own website. Plus, if you also sell physical goods this could be a good option.
Shopify also handles payments. So you don’t have to worry about managing costs like you might have to if you have your own online store hosted on WordPress.
Best digital downloads to sell
Online courses are digital products with the biggest upfront investment to create. You’ll need equipment to film professional videos, and creating a course curriculum might take longer than writing an ebook. However, online courses are extremely rewarding.
They are digital products that can sell for years to come, and the price of an online course can be much higher than many other digital products. Depending on your experience, you can charge anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to a few thousand dollars for an online course.
So, reaching a certain income goal might be easier with an online course business than it is with selling digital templates on Etsy. There are many online course creators who have built a seven-figure business selling online courses alone.
Templates, like those found on Notion, are a bit of a niche digital product, but they can be a very lucrative venture. Notion is a very popular free productivity tool that people use for personal planning and businesses use to manage their teams and projects.
You can create all the templates within the software yourself. If you use Notion and have custom-made templates that could offer value to other people, consider selling your Notion templates. You can also sell templates on platforms like Teachable to go along with online courses or coaching products.
Every business needs a website. Most entrepreneurs also need a website. Some people choose to hire agencies or web developers who build their websites from scratch, while others choose to DIY their websites with the help of custom templates.
If you have coding knowledge, building Shopify, WordPress, and Squarespace templates can be a great way to make money. Depending on which platform you choose to design templates for, you can charge up to a few hundred dollars per template. And some of the more prominent designers charge up to $10,000 for templates.
Digital planners are a great digital product to sell because they’re always in demand. People who love planning are always on the lookout for the next best planner, and they usually go through multiple planners a year.
What’s awesome is that digital planners are easy to create. You can create templates in Canva, which is a tool that’s easy to use, even for beginners. Unique digital designs can be made on Canva even with the free version.
How to create digital downloads to sell FAQ
Let’s answer some of the most popular frequently asked questions creators have about digital downloads:
Why do people buy digital downloads?
Digital downloads or products are a huge part of people’s lives, with so much of our lives being online. Online courses are just as popular as in-person classes, access to online workshops allows people to connect with people from all over the world, and some people prefer planning their days in digital format rather than on paper.
All these changes create a demand for digital products that so many creators work to fulfill.
How do I sell digital downloads on my website?
You can easily sell digital downloads on your website with the help of a few tools. If you have a WordPress website, then you’ll want to use the WooCommerce plugin to help you upload digital products and set up a store inside your website. Or you can simply add your downloads to your Teachable site.
If you use Squarespace or Wix, these hosting companies have built-in online store options that allow you to easily set up your online store by using their drag-and-drop design tool.
How do you make money selling digital downloads?
Making money with digital products is the same as making money with physical products. You create a product, upload the digital files and sell it. The buyer receives it immediately because the product is digital, and they can be happy with their purchase.
All the revenue you get from the sale covers the production cost (which is usually lower for digital products) and shipping costs (which are usually zero) and what’s left after is yours.