2021 is the best time to be an ambitious creator. But that ambition sometimes has a dark side: we’re spending too much time chained to our laptops and working, with little balance in our lives.
When I polled my audience on Instagram and asked how their work/life balance was, an alarming 81% said they had no work/life balance!
I asked my audience how their work/life balance was with options to vote: “good” and “no balance at the moment”.
Can you relate? As a creator, you’re likely doing all-the-things: building and launching new products, marketing, customer service, content creation, accounting…
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
But it’s not only tiring, it’s limiting. There will come a time when you can no longer juggle all your tasks on your own while growing your business.
So what’s the ambitious and burnt-out creator supposed to do?
You need to sell digital downloads. It’s the perfect solution for the creator who wants to stop trading time for money!
What is a digital download?
Unlike physical products that you can touch, see, smell, and hold in your hands, digital products are intangible items.
They’re electronic files like software, templates, PDFs or MP3s, that you sell and deliver online. And you don’t need to make them from scratch each time an order comes through, which means you can grow your income without growing your to-do list.
What are the benefits of selling digital downloads?
Aside from the potential to make loads of money, here’s why you should consider selling digital products in 2021:
- Low cost: Digital products have low overhead (and a high-profit margin). You don’t need a warehouse to store them (just a computer!), and you don’t need to assemble and deliver each product.
- Simple distribution: Shipping physical products can be a nightmare. You have to deal with returns, tariffs, duties, taxes, and product regulations. Luckily, digital products don’t require any shipping.
- Access to a large audience: Since you have no shipping constraints, you can sell your digital products to anybody in the world, no matter where they live.
- Passive income: By selling digital products, you can finally disconnect your income from your time, and who wouldn’t want to earn more while working less?
- Low barriers to entry: Do you have a computer with internet access? Great! You (likely) have all you need to create and sell digital products.
- Ecommerce is rapidly growing: The amount consumers will spend while shopping online is estimated to grow 8.8% annually until 2025. The easiest way to take advantage of that growth is by selling digital products.
Now that you know why digital products are so lucrative, it’s time you come up with your own digital product to sell!
What types of digital products can I sell?
Here are some ideas to get you thinking. We also have an entire post dedicated to over 60 digital product ideas to give you even more inspiration.
1. Design bundles
Elements like brushes, patterns, and icons can really vamp up your designs, but making these elements from scratch can take hours. Premade elements in design bundles help people make eye-catching designs without needing to create each element.
Dann Petty sells digital brush strokes for designers who want to emulate a marker in Figma:
And if you have a blog, you probably already have the material you need.
Take all those blog posts you’ve spent hours writing and re-package them into an ebook!
Template receive a whopping 550,000 monthly searches on Etsy alone:
In a world where time equals money, people turn to templates to help them save time.
These lead magnet templates by Leslie Carissa are the perfect solution for creators who aren’t savvy designers but want a visually-appealing lead magnet.
Fonts are a great digital product to sell, especially because 66% of people surveyed say they prefer to purchase fonts in packages (hello, upsells!).
You can offer individual fonts, just like Charli Marie has done, or bundle them together for higher sales.
The obvious digital product to sell as a musician would be your songs, but beyond selling your music, you can sell beats, jingles, samples, and stock music.
Take Greg Hung, who sells beat packs for people to use in their own music:
6. WordPress templates
If you’re a web developer, your skills are in high demand via cost-friendly websites. Premade website themes give people a chance to DIY a visually-appealing website.
Sarah Eggers sells WordPress themes for those who want to forgo the headache of trying to code their own website and don’t want to hire a web designer.
You digital products aren’t limited to one-time purchases! Jese Gary has a membership where students pay a monthly fee to remain part of her mastermind.
Subscriptions can go beyond courses; as long as you’re delivering fresh content you can turn your digital product into a subscription.
Where can I sell digital downloads?
Once you’ve figured out what to sell, it’s time to find a digital products delivery system to get your products into the (virtual) hands of your customers. Here’s what we recommend.
1. Use online marketplaces
Online marketplaces are specifically for physical and digital goods. A few marketplaces we see creators using include:
But marketplaces all share a couple of drawbacks. If you choose to sell on an online marketplace, your products are always next to other creators, making it easy for potential customers to miss your products.
When I browse products on Etsy, Etsy recommends other products I may like right on someone else’s shop page…far from ideal if you want to capture as many sales as possible!
Online marketplaces also charge transaction fees, which can eat into your profits.
2. Sell digital products on your website
Another option is to sell digital products directly on your website. You can set up your own digital goods store on:
While you may not have to worry about your competition popping up alongside your products, managing a full ecommerce platform can be cumbersome, and many aren’t built for selling digital downloads. Plus, when technical issues arise, they often fall on you to fix (and we’re trying to get you away from working 24/7, not add more to your plate).
The solution? ConvertKit Commerce. ConvertKit Commerce is a simple tool to help sell digital products and subscriptions without an ecommerce website. You can:
- start selling right away (no need to pull any all-nighters trying to code and design a website)
- quickly integrate payment processors so you know you’ll be paid
- upload as many different products as you want; ConvertKit Commerce grows with your business and offerings
connect your branded domain or use the domain ConvertKit provides
ConvertKit Commerce is the best way to sell digital products because you own your platform and don’t need to worry about your competition interrupting your customers while they browse!
The best part: You can use ConvertKit Commerce in tandem with different online marketplaces to expand your reach as much as possible!
Check out the video below to see how easy it is to set up your digital products in ConvertKit Commerce:
How to sell digital downloads
Getting started with selling your first digital download is easy. Here’s four easy steps to help you start growing your income:
1. Decide what you’re going to sell
Before you pick a digital product to sell, you need to research your audience to uncover their pain points so you can develop an irresistible offer.
You want to understand your audience the same way you understand your best friend; get to know what they like and dislike and what problems they face. In turn, you’ll be able to figure out what product you can create to make their life easier.
If you skip this step, you might end up creating a product that is useful but not essential to your audience, and you want the latter. Doing some digging to uncover what digital product your audience wants will give your product the best chance at being profitable.
You can get to know your audience by:
- Doing work for them: The easiest way to understand your future customers is to provide a service and work for them. You’ll get paid to understand them and will have money to fund your digital product venture.
- Speaking with them directly: Discovery calls and surveys (via platforms like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey) can help you ask your audience questions.
- Joining relevant Facebook groups: Did you know there’s a Facebook group for people pretending to be ants in a colony? No niche is too niche for Facebook! There’s a good chance you’ll find a group (or several) specifically related to your audience. Join those groups to see what people are talking about.
- Reading forums: Forums like Reddit and Quora can give you insight into your audience. Just search for topics related to your niche to see what people are asking.
- Joining Slack channels: Slack is an instant messaging platform. Google “Slack communities for X” to find any Slack channels for your niche. Once you join the channel, you can view questions and conversations that your audience is having!
- Reading product reviews: Head to Amazon or any big ecommerce site and search for products in your niche to see what people like (and don’t like) about the product. This can help you identify what’s missing in the market and what gap you can fill.
Once you have a strong grasp of your audience, you can brainstorm different product ideas and select the one you want to sell.
2. Make your digital product
It’s time to bring your digital product to life! As you’re creating your product, ask yourself these questions:
- What format will you deliver the product? Beyond your digital product’s file type, you’ll need to decide whether you want your product to be a one-time purchase or a subscription.
- What can your buyer expect from your product? Understanding the end-goal will help you create a digital product that meets your customers’ expectations.
- Can you integrate this product with other products down the road for upsells, cross-sells or other big-ticket items? It’s ok if you don’t currently have other products to use as upsells or cross-sells; you can create this digital product with upselling in mind so that down the road, you can increase your profit with more product sales.
3. Price your digital product
Pricing your product feels as easy as trying to hit a bullseye with a blindfold…luckily, these steps will point you in the right direction:
- Research other similar digital products to see their price points: There’s a good chance you aren’t the first person to come up with your product idea, and that’s a good thing! You can use your competitors to see what price point your audience is willing to pay for a particular product, and use that information to guide your pricing.
- Ask your audience, but not outright: You don’t want to ask, “Hey! What would you pay for my latest ebook?” The secret to finding out how much your audience will pay for your product is to uncover what they’ve already paid in the past for similar products. Don’t forget to leave enough room in your price to account for any promotions and discounts you plan to run throughout the year.
- Focus on the value your product provides: Value-based pricing is essential for digital products. Unlike physical products, where price is based on the cost to produce, digital products are passive. They don’t require many (if any) costs to maintain after your initial investment. Instead, focus on what your customer gains from your product. Will they earn more money? Reach their goals faster? Save time? Uncovering the value will help you price your product!
4. Launch your digital product to the world
By this stage, you’re eager and excited to launch your product. Haphazardly throwing together some social media posts won’t get you the attention (and sales) your hard work deserves.
Instead, follow the below steps for running a well-planned launch; your bank account will thank you later 😊
1. Beta test
Want a quick way to get feedback, testimonials, and even paying customers? Try beta testing your product with a small number of prospective buyers.
When AnnMarie started her new business coaching entrepreneurs with ADHD, she didn’t have an existing audience to promote to. Instead, she used a free beta test to launch a new program she put together. AnnMarie says, “I LOVE beta testing because it allows you to really put your product out there and get an idea for what people love.”
Her beta test resulted in a five-figure launch! The lesson? A beta test can help you have a profitable launch without a large audience.
2. Create your sales funnel
A sales funnel is a series of emails that guide your subscriber from potential customer (top of the funnel) to paying customer (bottom of the funnel).
Email marketing is a powerful way to sell your products. And since you can automate your sales funnel, you can sell more without working more.
3. Develop a landing page
Your landing page is the salesperson for your digital product. It’s where you’ll direct your audience so they can get more information, sign up for a waitlist (if you haven’t launched quite yet), and purchase your product when it’s ready to go!
High-converting landing pages contain these elements:
- A bold headline
- High-quality imagery of your product (since you’re selling a digital product, you can use digital product mockups)
- A description of the benefits of your digital product
- Social proof and testimonials
- A strong call-to-action and pricing information
4. Share your products with the world
After beta testing, collecting emails, building your sales funnel, and putting together a landing page, it’s finally time to launch your digital product!
Here are some quick tips for promoting your launch:
- Use your sales funnel to send multiple targeted emails
- Share your new product on your social channels
- Host a webinar to tease your new product
- Go live to answer any questions your audience might have
You can (and should) post multiple times about your digital product to reach as many potential customers as possible (just be careful not to spam your audience).
Make money selling digital products
Now that you know how to create digital downloads to sell, it’s time to take back your freedom without sacrificing your profits. To start, sign up for your free ConvertKit account.
Next, watch our free workshop below to learn how you can make money by digital products!