:Money / Small business finance

6 things that I wish I knew when I started selling digital downloads

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When I started selling digital downloads more than 10 years ago it was a different experience than it is today. There were fewer examples of how to do things successfully. When I built my own knowledge business it was the definition of building the plane as I was flying it. Today, selling digital downloads is a core component of eCommerce businesses. And the tools out there make it easier than ever to become a successful business owner and creator online. 

As you are building your business there are a few tips that can help you sell digital downloads successfully. I’ve put a few of these tips together so that you can learn from my own experience. These are the things I wish I had known back then. Hopefully, it will help you find success on your business journey.

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1. The best place to market your digital downloads is your existing ecosystem

When you’re just starting out it can be intimidating to figure out where to start selling your products. I know initially felt like I had to promote my content across my social media accounts to my audience. But over time I learned that instead of relying on social media to post about what I was selling, I could utilize my blog to reach my audience.

So I started to use my blog to share free content that was valuable and helpful. Then I linked those readers to the digital downloads I was selling within that free content. If the free content on my blog was good enough, those most interested would convert and buy the digital download version. Using my blog this way I was able to show people the level of quality they could get free of charge. This got them excited about the high quality of my content that they actually had to pay for.

2. Digital downloads aren’t always the end goal of a sales process

I learned that digital downloads are great but they aren’t the end of the line in terms of business growth. They’re much closer to being just the beginning. Think of your digital download as something in between a free lead magnet and a premium offering. It should not be your best knowledge content available. Your free lead magnets can lead people to paid content, a digital download acts as a middle-ground piece of content.

It monetizes what you know more than a free resource might. But it’s also affordable and easily accessible to almost anyone who might be interested. It functions to help expand your audience and is used as a tool to both build your revenue and act as a lead magnet for larger-scale courses and coaching offerings at the same time. Don’t let the digital download be the goal of all your sales. After the digital download, take the emails of people purchasing and upsell something else, a premium knowledge experience with more interaction with you, the expert.

3. Creating a sales page early on is important

It might not seem like a priority when you’ve only got your first download ready to sell, but a sales page for your digital downloads is actually incredibly important to your success. A sales page is a dedicated page on your website where you can showcase your digital product, or products, and explain the features and benefits. It should include plenty of images and videos to help potential customers understand what they are buying.

When I first started selling digital downloads I was using tools that simply dropped a checkout link into a blog post. But I didn’t have a website landing page that could sell a visitor on the value of that digital download. So there was no way for me to ensure that if they were interested in the downloads that it would meet their needs. As a result, while my digital downloads did sell well, they didn’t sell as well as they could have if I’d completed this one extra step in the process.

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4. Spend your energy wisely

As a creator or a business owner, it’s so important to spend your energy wisely. Every minute and hour you spend creating and working on your business should be spent well. One thing I spent time on that I wish I hadn’t early on was worrying too much about copyright infringement. I spent too much time trying to watermark and prevent someone from re-sharing a download they purchased from me and not enough time building out a sales funnel, adding premium products to my offering, or ensuring the digital downloads provided a well-designed experience for my students. 

5. You can sell digital download access as a long-term investment

Making your digital download a long-term investment for the student makes it all the more valuable to them. One of my flagship digital downloads was a template that I updated frequently. My mistake was when I updated the download in my system but didn’t let previous purchasers know there was a new version they could access.

When I did finally figure out I could send out regular updates to the product to people who had already purchased that added a whole new level of value for my customers. They saw this digital download as something more than a simple transactional product they purchased. And instead, they saw it as an investment they relied on over the years. By sending out communications to that buyer list every time there was a new version, it was also an opportunity to market my latest products to my most loyal customers, providing large bumps in revenue for my business.

6. Make sure your download is mobile-friendly

The last lesson I wish I had learned earlier is to make everything mobile-friendly. More and more people accessing the internet on their smartphones, so it’s important to make sure your digital download is mobile-friendly. Chances are some of your students or audience will be looking at or using your download on their phone or tablet at some point. And making sure that experience is a good one is necessary. This will make it easy for people to purchase your digital product on the go, read it, access it, and use it from any device. And they’ll buy other products from you with the confidence that they’ll be able to access it the way they want to, when they want to.

Learning from creator experiences

These experiences I had while creating and selling digital downloads are just some of the things you’ll come across too if you choose to create and sell a digital product. But you’ll likely also learn many other lessons along the way. Each creator’s audience is different and has different needs. So keep that in mind when taking advice and when creating content for your students.

You might also find that you learn some lessons pretty quickly once you start selling your first download. But that’s okay, it’s all part of the process of being a creator and how we get better and grow.