21 min read
Creating a best selling product in your ecommerce store doesn’t have to feel like rocket science.
Maybe you’ve been wanting to dip your toes into the world of ecommerce business for a while, but you aren’t sure where you should start.
Perhaps you've tried a few different ideas, but none of them have taken off in the way you'd hoped.
Maybe you have a million ideas swirling in your head—but you don't know how to choose an idea to run with when it feels like every idea has been done before.
Yes, it might be harder to come up with something entirely original—but the great news is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to come up with a new product. There's still plenty of room for innovation and putting your unique touch on your products.
Rather than feel plagued by indecision, we want to share some examples of physical and digital products you can create and sell online—without sacrificing more than a few hours each week.
As you begin brainstorming ideas for the kinds of products you may want to sell in your shop, we want to share what items are “hot” right now along with a few key lessons you can take away from some of the top ecommerce sellers.
So without further ado, let's look at some ecommerce product ideas!
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Digital products are a great way to dip your toes into ecommerce:
The best part? There's no limit to the kinds of products you can create and sell. That makes them a great option for a wide variety of online creators, from freelancers and coaches to artists and educators.
Let's look at a few of the most popular digital product options for online creators, along with examples to inspire your own products.
Let's begin with the crowd favorite—the tried and true ebook.
Writing an ebook might feel overwhelming—but it's easier than you might think. Ebooks are great for sharing your expertise on almost any topic, or curating other peoples' knowledge in a central location. In fact, many ebooks you'll find online are just compilations of blog content and social media posts the author has already shared, only expanded to include more detail.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Can I really make a sustainable income online selling ebooks? Just ask Arvid Kahl, whose recent launch of his ebook Zero to Sold ended up selling nearly 1,000 copies in the first six days after launch. Or David Kadavy, who self-published three ebooks in only 6 months.
For those of you who want to take your book a step further, services like Blurb make it easy to self-publish a printed book, like Nancy Anne Harbord did with her cookbook How To Cook Halloumi.
If you're ready to get started creating your first ebook, we've put together a complete guide to creating your first ebook in 48 hours, along with a free template. Click here to check it out!
If you think ebooks are the only choice for creators selling digital products, think again. Selling design assets and tools for other creators to use in their work can be a great way to turn your creativity into profit.
Design assets can be as simple as a collection of icons or illustrations, or as complex as a custom typeface or a set of presets for common design programs like Photoshop or After Effects. You can even create and sell stock photos, videos, or music for other creators to use in their own work!
If you're selling your first design assets, consider selling directly from your own site or email list, like how our resident designer Charli Marie sells her hand-drawn font, Grayscale, on her site.
Or, you can scale your sales by partnering with an existing market, like YouWorkForThem or CreativeMarket. Once you have enough design assets to sell, you can even consider creating your own marketplace, like Dustin Lee of RetroSupply did with his vintage-themed assets.
Photographers, musicians and filmmakers should also consider selling licenses for their stock photos, videos, or music online. By offering licenses to use your assets, you can sell the same photo or music clip multiple times. Like other design assets, you can sell these directly, or partner with existing marketplaces who take a small cut in exchange for more exposure. Start with sites like MusicBed for selling music clips and songs, or ShutterStock for photos.
When selling design assets, remember you're actually selling time savings. Saving time can be worth a lot of money to busy creators—if you can create and sell something that saves even a few minutes of time each day, you'll end up earning a lot.
Downloadable planners, workbooks, and other printable assets are quick to create, easy to sell, affordable for your customers, and they don't take much effort to maintain once you've created them.
Printables can be as small as a single page or as large as a book-length PDF. The choice of topics is endless—everything from traditional organizers and homeschool planners to more esoteric niches like sheet music from video games, playhouse designs, and three-dimensional paper masks.
If you already have printable forms you provide to new clients, designs you use in your business, or even stuff you've created just for fun—there's probably a market for it online!
If you have templates, scripts, surveys, or other content you use in your client work, you can sell these separately to make your customers' lives easier— and provide a ton of value for a small investment.
For freelancers and consultants in particular, selling templates and scripts can be a great way to scale your business and break free of trading time for money. Customers can fill in the blanks and put them into action immediately—and once you've created a few templates for the same audience, you can bundle them and make even more money!
Freelance writer Kaleigh Moore, for example, sells templates to help other freelance writers scale their business. Megan Minns offers similar templates for content marketers, as does web designer Erin Flynn who sells email scripts and business templates for web designers on her site.
Think about the work you're already doing, and the templates and scripts you're already using in your business and life. How could you turn those assets into digital products you could sell?
There's no better way to share your expertise than with an online course. Yes, they might be more work to create than some of the other digital products we've listed, but once you've created your course you can sell it for a higher price than most other digital products.
You can create an online course for almost any topic, from the business of freelancing (Paul Jarvis's course The Creative Class has helped over 2,500 freelancers), learning a foreign language (Benjamin Houy has sold nearly 5,000 copies of his course French Together), or even fashion design (Belinda Jacobs sells Tech Packs to help budding fashion designers improve production and limit waste).
Remember, your first online course doesn't have to be polished to perfection—you can always start small and scale up later. One example might be a 14-day email course on copywriting, where customers receive a sequence of educational emails walking them through improving the copy on their website. As you scale up, you can add additional value, like recorded video lessons or access to a forum or private Facebook group for students.
No matter how simple or complex you make your course, keep your students' success in mind first and foremost. How will their lives or businesses be improved after taking your course?
If you're a coder by trade, you can create endless products to sell online—without needing to build a full software product. Apps, themes, snippets, templates, and plugins are all easy to develop and easy to sell.
Take Björn Forsberg, for example. After starting his first Shopify app as a side project while working full-time, his app development company FORSBERG+two is now making more than $275,000 in profit each year selling to Shopify store owners through their app store. Not bad for a side project!
Do you have collections of code or libraries you use frequently that you could sell? How about creating a plugin or extension for an existing platform like Shopify?
Memberships let you charge a monthly fee for your content and ideas, direct access to your knowledge and experience, or access to a community of peers. Selling memberships gives you a ton of freedom around how you create and deliver value—you can sell as many memberships as you want, and generate consistent revenue over time.
Check out Brittany Berger's membership community Work Brighter. Each week, she shares new content around productivity and self-care with over 2,500 independent creators and “productive unicorns.” It's a great way for her to work with the audience she loves, while also creating a sustainable income.
Another option for memberships is to deliver your content to members via a paid weekly newsletter. By sending unique content to members via email in exchange for a monthly or annual fee, it's entirely possible to generate a full-time income as a solo creator through a paid newsletter. Craig Mod's Explorers Club or Hot Pod News, a newsletter for podcasters, are both great examples of small businesses making big income from premium newsletters. The opportunities for membership sites and subscriptions are endless!
If you're the kind of person who'd rather sell products you can actually hold, starting an ecommerce business that sells physical products is a great way to earn an income online:
Let's check out a few ideas for popular physical products you can start selling in 2020.
Are you tired of digital calendars? You’re not the only one! Many professionals are trading Google Calendar and iCalendar for a paper planner alternative. These paper products are usually beautifully designed and give their customers a chance to unplug from technology to plan their day, week, month, or even year.
Many planners have their own social media presence to help people learn how to get the most out of their product. Because planners are so visual, video content does extremely well. For example, Passion Planner is known for how they utilize YouTube to showcase their product’s features.
Another way Passion Planner has differentiated themselves is that for every planner they make, they give a portion of their funds to plant a tree. Since younger generations are especially interested in supporting socially conscious brands, this is a smart move.
Other planner companies worth following include Best Self Co., Day Designer, Simplified Planner, PowerSheets, Happiness Planner, and beyond. Many of them use Instagram to show how others are using their products, so it might be worth following along with what they do if you are looking for product ideas.
When looking at the Amazon best sellers for facial products, it’s probably not surprising to see acne reducing creams, cleansers, and gels at the very top. CeraVe and Differin Gel are among the most popular, but other facial products are disrupting the market.
Since the facial product industry is already extremely saturated with several long-time brands taking most of the market share, NERD Skincare decided to market their product differently. They invested in a highly entertaining social media video commercial which talks about the relationship their consumers have with acne.
The video went viral and has since generated over 23 million views on Facebook and another 700,000 views on YouTube. It helped the company go from unknown to a new competitor almost overnight. How might you use viral marketing techniques to grow your ecommerce brand product idea?
When you’re ready to buy a protective (or decorative) phone case or new pair of headphones, you’ll most likely look to Amazon first.
Target and Best Buy used to be the hot spots for smartphone accessories, but ecommerce stores give you so many more options. They’ve taken over much of the market. Why limit yourself to only a dozen designs in stores when you can access thousands over the internet?
If you are a designer but don’t want to worry about shipping and fulfilling orders, you may want to look into Society6. You can simply upload your artistic design and use it to create iPhone cases, pillows, art prints, coasters, tapestries, and more.
The possibilities are endless! This is a great way to run an ecommerce shop if you want it to be hands-off so you can focus on the part you love: designing.
You can get a subscription box for virtually any kind of popular product today. Want the best in beauty products? Look at Birchbox. Need curated items for pet care? Purchase BarkBox. Want to plant a garden? Invest in My Garden Box. Interested in saving yourself time in the kitchen with pre-prepared meals? Enter in HelloFresh.
You can even get themed subscription boxes for different stages of your life like moving into a new home, giving gifts to your bridal party, welcoming a new pet into your family, and so much more. The most popular subscription boxes either have a specific niche or a central theme.
Some subscription boxes rely heavily on influencer marketing. FabFitFun, which offers a collection of beauty and wellness products every month, is one of these brands. It’s not uncommon to see a past Bachelorette contestant or a lifestyle influencer repping the brand on Instagram.
Micro-influencer marketing is also starting to pick up speed so if you have a lower budget when you start your subscription box, this may be something worth looking into.
With so many highly manufactured products on the market, many consumers are interested in owning handcrafted goods. Millennials highly value artistry, making the demand for handmade products higher than ever before. Anything from wood sunglasses to custom carved cutting boards to wooden watches can be bought through ecommerce shops.
JORD is a great example of a brand that not only has a unique design with dozens of wood options but also focuses on customer service. Each of their watches comes with a hand carved wooden keepsake box with extra wooden cufflinks. You can even completely customize the design through their website.
And JORD is known for partnering with bloggers and influencers of all sizes. They have a thriving influencer marketing program and many of their sales are generated from their partners. It has helped them become the leading wood watch product on the market.
Many eco-friendly feminine care product companies have been founded within the last decade or two. This is because Millennial women have become more aware of how much waste they contribute during their monthly cycle. Products can come in the form of biodegradable panty liners, washable underwear, and reusable menstrual cups.
THINX, founded in 2014, sells a unique design for period-proof underwear that allows their customers to pick a style depending on their level of flow. They’ve been strategic about partnering with bloggers who care about women’s issues and aren’t afraid to open up this kind of conversation to the masses.
It only makes sense that an environmentally conscious brand like THINX would also be socially conscious. They allocate a portion of their proceeds to fund a feminine care educational program for girls who are between ten and thirteen years old. They also have given away almost 6,000 pairs of their period-proof underwear to those in poverty.
When reading this title, you might have thought we were referencing high-end, salon-quality shampoos and conditioners, but there are many more cutting edge hair products that are taking over the market.
With the rise of “hipsters” and the Movember movement (where men grow facial hair for the entire month of November), more men are looking for luxury beard care products. This can include beard oil, conditioner, and other grooming and clipping tools.
There are many specialty beard care products on Amazon but Honest Amish Premium is considered to be at the top. Not only are they the first result on Amazon when searching for beard grooming items but they are also highly reviewed.
To get ideas for how to market your own hair product, we recommend looking at Beardbrand, a men’s brand turned beard oil product company that has created educational YouTube content since 2012.
Eric, Beardbrand’s founder and primary YouTube content creator, has been using YouTube among other marketing platforms to sell his products since 2014. You can learn more about his journey here.
Because the market is so saturated, coffee and tea products have to find a way to differentiate themselves beyond their taste and the region it comes from. Knowing that they had many competitors, Baetea set out to create a different marketing plan.
Instead of trying to appeal to all audiences, Baetea creates all of their content around the theme of overall health and wellness. They believe tea should be a part of their customer’s active and balanced lifestyle.
Because of this focus, they work with fitness and nutrition influencers to market their list of products. You can learn a lot about niching down your product from their example.
We’ve only scratched the surface of all the kinds of products you can create. You may not feel like beard oil or day planners are the perfect fit, but we hope that by looking at what some of these best selling brands have gotten right, you can find inspiration for your own product idea.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you continue brainstorming product ideas:
And when you're ready to share your product with your audience, it's time to start selling. And with ConvertKit Commerce, you can have a fully customized product page live and ready to share in just minutes.