You’re racking your brain, trying to come up with your next online product idea. You've read the best creator-friendly business books you could find -- or tried to -- but it hasn't helped.
You’re totally lost.
Should you sell an ebook or an online course?
What about selling your designs? You do love to create customizable templates. There’s also that bundle of digital downloads you’ve been thinking about creating...
With so many options to sort through, it’s easy to feel paralyzed about which direction to go.
But, here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be that way. Because although yes, there is a lot to cover when moving from idea to implementation, it can be simple.
In fact, with the right map, navigating from idea to implementation is a straight shot.
Today, we’re going to lay out that map. First, we’ll look at the benefits of selling digital products, check out some actionable brainstorming strategies, and then pivot to validating your idea. After that, we’ll top it all off with simple steps for creating and launching your digital product.
So, ready to tackle your next digital product venture?
Then let’s get started with the most important question of the day. Why sell a digital product in the first place?
What are the benefits of selling a digital product?
Digital products are a lucrative choice over physical products for three reasons. The first, of course, comes down to the state of the market for digital products.
More specifically, the great -- and enduring -- state of it.
#1. Digital products are sustainably profitable
By 2021, it’s expected 65.2% of the global population will consist of digital buyers.
It’s little wonder, too. Digital products provide customers with instant access -- something they pine for already and by 2026 will expect as the norm -- which means the market for digital products can only grow.
Conversely, the market for physical products, while certain to remain strong in its own right, will struggle to provide the same instantaneous satisfaction. In other words, digital products have some serious long-term staying power and easy sustainability over physical goods.
That’s not all digital product profits have going for them, though. The lack of overhead costs is another major financial advantage of selling digital goods.
After all, once your digital product is launched, you only have to worry about promotional and other low-maintenance costs.
Delivery fees, inventory maintenance, and insurance are never on your plate.
And if you’re selling your digital goods on your own website instead of on a marketplace, listing fees are never added to that plate, either.
For example, Rebekah Allan earns over $100,000 annually from her online business by selling directly from her site. Because she doesn’t need to pay a marketplace’s or outside platform’s miscellaneous fees, she keeps most of her revenue.
As you can see from the above, 60% of her revenue comes from her membership site, and 20% is generated from selling other digital products, like ebooks and online courses.
It’s nice knowing you can earn a substantial profit from your digital products, right?
Our next benefit explains why your profit potential is even higher than if you were selling physical goods.
#2. You have a limitless inventory with digital products
The beauty of offering a digital product to your audience is you can deliver a single file to endless customers.
You never have to fret about running out of stock, and your sales are never capped by your inventory capacity.
Animator McCoy Buck’s ebook How To: Pre Production in Moho/Anime Studio is a great example of a digital product with uncapped inventory and sales potential.
Just as McCoy’s audience can purchase his $7 ebook without him having to replenish stock for the next round of customers, you can sell your digital products to as many customers as you can reach.
In turn, this limitless selling capacity lets you focus on bigger things like scaling your business.
Incidentally, that’s our last major benefit of selling digital products.
#3. Digital products allow you to scale your business
Because digital product storefronts are simple to manage, you can spend your time scaling your business instead of burying your calendar in tedious administrative tasks.
After all, once your product is published for sale, the bulk of the work is done, leaving just marketing to maintain.
Unlike physical products where your hours are traded directly for your profits, your revenue can continue to scale without taking up your most valuable resource -- your time -- in the process.
OK. So you’re convinced: selling digital products is the way to go, and you’re on the right path. Now, it’s time to start ideating.
(Psst: If you're not convinced and think you may be better off with an offline side-hustle, check out this article on unconventional side-businesses anyone can start today.)
How do I come up with a digital product idea?
To come up with the best digital product idea, start by choosing a topic and listing out your interests, passions, and skill sets.
We like to recommend using a Passion/Profit Matrix, which maps out your various topic ideas, to make this easier to visualize. The idea is to land on something that strikes both your passion and profitability.
Simply plot out on the matrix the ideas from your list of topics. Then, conduct market research to whittle down your choices to a topic that lands in the top right quadrant. Pick the one that excites you and your potential audience the most.
After that, your next step is to choose a format for your digital product.
There are hundreds of options to choose from within the world of digital products, so it’s time to get creative. Everything from info products to membership sites is yours to sell.
Want to learn more about your options? You may find these popular digital products inspirational in guiding your decision.
But if you want the quick and skinny on formats, here’s what you need to know:
#1. Create digital products using the written word
Whether it’s an ebook, guide, template, or another digital document, digital products and the written word go together like peanut butter and jelly. That’s not to say that all of them are books, though. If it can accommodate copy, it can sell as a digital product.
For instance, check out Dewane Mutunga’s Solopreneur Business Tracker. Is it a long read? No, probably not. Does it sell? You bet.
It’s unsurprising that the written word is thriving (and the creators behind it are, too). All signs point to digital readership expanding with little to no cause for delay.
That said, if you’re not much of a writer but you’ve caught the music bug, our next format is worth considering. The audio format is also part of a growing market.
#2. Cut audio tracks to sell as digital products
If you’re someone who has an ear for melodies and sounds like Vincent Retg, creator of online course Melody Maker, you should consider selling digital products in audio format.
You can sell an online course about creating originals, like Vincent does, or explore other audio files, like songs, beats, jingles, samples, sounds effects, and other audio tracks.
Not the musical or writer type? No worries. We’ve got two more formats you can tackle, instead.
#3. Create design assets
Design assets include items like photography, graphic designs, illustrations, fonts, icons, logos, design templates, and printable products.
Looking for an example? Check out Vanessa Ryan’s Boho Chic Toolbox offer, where she sells a variety of Canva templates and graphic designs.
Her toolbox offer comes with a 10-page workbook, 20-page slide deck, planner, and over 20 social media graphics, among other design goodies.
Our next format also relies on visually appealing content with a dash of motion in the mix.
#4. Make video-based digital products
If you’re a filmmaker, selling digital products such as short films, stock videos, documentaries, and/or animations may be right up your alley.
Check out this example of a stock video for sale.
In this case, the video content caters to a more mature audience who’s musically inclined and enjoys the comfort of their own home.
You can create a stock video for nearly any audience covering a wide gamut of topics and set designs, so let your imagination go wild.
Stock videos are a profitable niche, too.
For instance, professional photographer, Daniele Carrer, makes about $3,000 per month selling real-time and time-lapse footage. Her best-seller time-lapse video pulled in $4,000 alone.