Digital product ideas and tips for creators in need of inspiration
If you're looking to launch your next digital product, here’s what you need to know for generating, validating, and implementing your ideas (plus tons of examples).
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 websites 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. Monetizing your music is simpler than it's ever been before.
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.
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All in all, these four formats are profitable digital products to sell.
But most importantly, each of these formats transitions naturally into creating high-ticket info products like online courses and/or membership sites.
His course comes with a mix of written, audio, and video formats including 80 videos, one digital document, and one text file.
Regardless of the format you decide on, your primary focus should be on your customers and offering them what they want and need.
In other words, deliver a specific result that solves their biggest problem, just like creator Sally Twellman’s Clean Eating, Healthy Eating - 7 Day Clean Eating ebook, where her readers walk away with seven days of clean eating, plus 34 recipes, health guidelines, and 20 snack ideas.
Pretty clear results, right?
Follow Sally’s strategy -- focusing on results irrespective of format -- to gain and retain the most important part of your business:
The next step, validating your product idea, also helps to that end.
How do I validate my digital product idea?
It’s vital to discover what makes your customers tick so you can create and deliver exactly what they want. That’s where validating your product idea comes in.
And validating your idea means doing your homework. More specifically, it means doing your research.
What are some ways to gather your research? You can collect both primary (first-hand) data and secondary (second-hand) data during your market research.
Let’s dig into some tips for each method.
Tip #1. Conduct primary research by reaching out to your audience members
Three ways to tackle gathering primary research include:
#1. Interview your audience - Set up interviews with your customers and prospective customers to discover their pain points for yourself.
#2. Poll your audience using surveys - If you have an email list, email your subscribers and link to your online survey asking about their struggles. On social media sites, simply send links to your survey with the same questions.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Some key questions to ask your audience members are demographic questions (like age, gender, education, location, and profession) and psychographic questions (such as hobbies, interests, biggest challenges, primary goals, and resources for new information.)
Wondering how long a survey should take? As a best practice, market research surveys shouldn’t take your respondents more than 15 minutes to complete.
#3. Search for relevant online communities - You can use social platform communities, like Facebook Groups, and online forums to join relevant conversations and answer thread questions.
For example, if you’re in the healthy eating category, you can join a Facebook group like Skinnytaste Community: What’s Cooking Tonight? and strike up a conversation with 212,433 members.
As you build rapport and relationships among folks in these online communities, ask members individually if you can send a survey or set up a one-on-one interview. Not everyone will say yes, but not everyone needs to, either.
That said, if you’re unable to gather data directly from your audience or source a relevant community, secondary research can provide a wealth of insights, too.
Tip #2. Conduct secondary research by observing online communities
We recommend two methods for gleaning secondary research about your target audience:
#1. Search for popular hashtags on your topic - Use tools like HashAtIt to look up your topic category. By searching every major platform for trending conversations on your subject area, you can find the gist of people’s challenges and triumphs in it.
#2. Search for relevant books on the topic - You can easily use Amazon to find books written about your digital product topic and scope out the market for your niche.
The larger that scope is, the better. If there’s a large number of reviews and products in your market, that’s a good thing. Rather than competition, it indicates there’s a significant market need for your topic.
For instance, based on author Michael Matthews’s best-seller, you can tell there’s a significant market demand for male fitness.
With over 3,500 reviews, this topic might be worth pursuing if you’re in the health and fitness industry.
But don’t stop at finding a popular book. Dive deeper into your Amazon search by perusing the reviews because there’s potential gold to be found.
By reading written reviews and comments, you’ll uncover the root of people’s problems. Typically, the longer the comments, the more depth you can reveal about your audience’s problems, emotions, and desires, like in this review of the same book here.
You can pick up on finer details about the target audience’s problem, what’s missing in resolving the problem, and what’s lacking in the market.
Again, pay attention to how you can solve your prospective client’s biggest problem and deliver a specific result in your digital product -- if you’re doing that, your product is on the right track.
OK. With a validated digital product idea in hand, you’re ready to create and launch your next digital product. You can do it in three easy steps.
3 simple steps for creating and launching a digital product
Step #1. Once you’ve settled on your digital product idea, it’s time to create
Although this is where the bulk of your work takes place, creating your digital product is simple with free tools like this online digital download generator.
For example, using the digital download generator tool, all you need to do is choose your product type, fill out some form fields, and upload your brand assets to create a custom checklist, numbered list, or compilation of text and images.
Once the form is filled out, the generator pops out a customized PDF file delivered straight to your inbox.
To help you along in the creation process, here are some tips for:
Productivity - To work productively, especially from home, don’t multitask, work in a designated office space, take breaks, and prioritize your tasks.
Writing - To overcome writer’s block, try going for a walk, listening to music, changing your environment, or calling a friend.
This first step is the heaviest lift. Once it’s out of the way, the rest is simple. How simple? Let’s find out.
Step #2. Set up your website
You can manage your website and product pages, and sell digital products from your site seamlessly with an all-in-one platform.
In a few simple clicks, everything from uploading your digital product to linking your subdomain and payment system is handled using a streamlined platform.
For instance, to design a sales page on Podia, you navigate to your “sales page” under the “products” menu and enter your product name and description. Then, add your product image by dragging and dropping into the form field.
Told you it was simple.
When you’re all finished up, here’s a glimpse of what a live website can look like from Mackenzie Child:
Once your site is published and live for all to see, it’s time for our final step -- promoting your product.
Step #3. Launch your digital product
The only thing left to do is launch your digital product by promoting it to your target audience.
With numerous marketing strategies at your fingertips, choose the tactics that best suit your business.
Regardless of the promotional ideas you implement, keep in mind your earlier market researching findings and use your audience’s exact words in your marketing messaging. This is a powerful way to speak to their needs and in a way that resonates with them.
Plus, testing and tweaking your message to fit your audience is crucial for your conversion rates. For example, a simple updated headline netted Fitness World 38% more conversions.
As you can see, a simple messaging treatment makes all the difference.
Another quick copywriting tip is to keep your landing page copy brief and within 100 words.
Why? You’ll likely score 50% more conversions than pages with over 500 words.
(If you’re not familiar with landing pages, they’re simply standalone web pages designed for your marketing or ad campaign. Typically, you want to have one CTA as the page’s goal.)
This is the gist of it:
Whether it’s an email sequence, live webinar, or social media campaign, the messaging in your launch plan needs to match the market research insights you uncovered earlier.
The more you learn about your audience, the more you can tailor your offer to them.
Pursue your next digital product idea with confidence
With all these ideas at your disposal, the world of digital products is yours to leverage.
All you need to get from start to finish is the right roadmap.
Here’s what the lay of the land looks like:
The three main benefits of a digital product are profitability, limitless inventory, and the chance to scale your business.
To come up with a digital product idea, list out your passions and skills and use a Passion/Profit Matrix to select the most exciting idea. Then choose your digital product format from written, visual, audio, and hybrid options.
Don’t miss the vital step of validating your digital product idea, however. You can do this by gathering primary and secondary data from your target audience.
Once you’ve validated your idea, create your digital product, set up your website, and then promote and launch. That’s all there is to it.
The only thing that’s left for you to do is to kickstart your next journey -- so, happy trails. We’re cheering you on.