Have you ever dreamed of creating a side business on the internet? Maybe you’d like to take it even one step further and create a full-time income so you can finally work from home.
One internet-based business model that’s risen in popularity is digital download products. Once reserved only for hardcore software developers, digital products aren’t just software anymore and can be made by just about anyone.
In this article, you’ll learn what digital products are, how to sell them, and tips for succeeding.
What are Digital Products?
When most people hear the phrase “digital product,” they think of software that gets installed on a computer. Products like Microsoft Office, Skype, and others may come to mind. But digital doesn’t have to mean just software.
The Merriam-Webster definition of digital:
: of or relating to information that is stored in the form of the numbers 0 and 1
In other words, anything that can be stored, viewed, or run on a computer.
There are many other digital products that you can create and sell. Here are a few non-software examples.
Creating an eBook is one of the quickest ways to make a digital product. You don’t have to be a novelist, you just need to share what you know.
Even if you feel like others might already know the same thing, keep in mind that you have a unique perspective that is worth sharing.
- Keep it simple. Use tools like Word, PowerPoint and others to create your eBook PDF.
- Use photos and images. It not only looks nice, but helps increase the page count.
- Repurpose content. Choose your old blog posts and rewrite them. Curate content by creating a resource list pointing to other websites (using only a summary and with full attribution).
2. Audio files
Are you a musician, singer, DJ, or speaker? If your passion can be recorded in audio format, there’s a chance you can sell it as a digital download.
Types of audio:
- Music: Whether it’s original songs, remixes, or even simple loops, you can sell access to it.
- Audiobooks: Read a blog post or eBook you’ve written previously.
- Podcasts: Make most of your podcast audio free, but require payment for premium episodes.
- Ringtones: Yes, you can make ringtones and sell them 🙂
- Audacity: An Open Source audio editing software.
- Zencastr: An awesome podcast recording tool. There’s no software to download; it uses the microphone capabilities of your browser to record.
- GarageBand: Audio editing and visualization for Mac.
- Screencast Software: Whether you use ScreenFlow, Camtasia or any other screen record tool, you can always extract just the audio.
3. Video files
Many of us are visual learners, myself included. If I see a process or explanation, I’m much more likely to retain that information and put it into practice. The popularity of sites like YouTube, Vimeo and others are proof of this.
Creating video is also easier than ever before. You don’t need to use professional video cameras or editing software. You can even create compelling video using just your smartphone.
Types of video:
- Tutorials: Create a video of you cooking, using a website or other software. Tutorials are hugely popular and people are willing to pay to be shown exactly how to accomplish something.
- Interviews: You could interview business owners or another “influencer” in your niche.
- Music videos: Create original or satirical videos set to music.
- Short films: Are you a budding filmmaker? Why not sell access to your original work?
- Event recordings: There are many conferences and events that people can’t attend in person. You can easily sell access to these videos too.
- ScreenFlow (Mac): This is a screencasting software (records your computer screen) and works great for creating tutorials. This is also a great piece of software for editing your other types of video.
- Camtasia (Mac or PC): Another screencasting software that allows for more advanced editing without being over-complicated.
These are products that have seen a huge increase in popularity, especially in the blogging niche and can easily be printed at home by your customers.
Types of Printables:
- Digital art
- Day planners
- Clothing patterns
- Inspiration quotes posters
How to Sell
In order to be successful at selling anything online, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Have a plan: Creating a full-blown business plan is always a good idea. However, creating a plan can be as simple as having an outline of the steps needed to accomplish your goal. The key is to write it down somewhere. Whether that’s in a Google doc or on a piece of paper, make sure you can easily refer to it when needed.
- Hosting: This is an obvious one for a digital business, you’ll need a domain name and a web hosting account. My simple advice is not to go cheap. Pay a little extra for a host for the peace of mind that when your product page gets traffic, your site will continue to load…and fast.
- Security: Along with a good host, you need to make sure your site is secure. Having an SSL certificate not only builds trust but adding malware scanning and other security measures will ensure that you don’t lose sales due to a hacked website.
- Contact: This is another one that seems obvious, but I’ve seen eCommerce businesses with o way to contact them for pre-sales and support questions. At the very least, include a contact form.
What eCommerce Platform Should You Use?
There are many platforms to choose from, including hosted services, marketplaces and of course, the complete do-it-yourself option of using WordPress and an eCommerce plugin.
Because our focus on this site is WordPress, you’ll find my two favorite digital download solutions below.
- Easy Digital Downloads: As known as EDD, this free plugin was specifically made for running a digital downloads store. It’s very actively developed and offers dozens of add-ons to enhance your offerings.
- WooCommerce: This is also free and the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress. It was originally designed for selling physical products but with the addition of a couple add-ons, you can easily create a digital downloads marketplace.
“Shortcuts” to Success
Spoiler alert; there are no shortcuts. However, there are tactics and processes you can put in place that will steer you in the direction of success from the start.
- Design: Choose a theme for your site that’s clean and minimal. All the “bells and whistles” that many themes include aren’t something that your visitors are coming to see. They want to know about your products. Make sure you show them front and center.
- Product pages: Consider using any of the popular page builder plugins for WordPress. Many come with pre-built product page templates that allow you to “fill-in-the-blanks,” streamlining your time spent on site building. My personal favorite is Beaver Builder. You should also focus on the benefits of your products over the features. Ask yourself “What is the outcome of using my product for the customer?”
- Visuals: Use quality images of your products. If you don’t have design skills, look to places like Fiverr to get them made. You can also use animated gifs to show your customers how your product works.
- Tutorials: Like animated gifs, you can create tutorial videos and include them right on the product page. This is an easy way to show your customers exactly how your product works.
- Email marketing: If nothing else, offer an email subscription. Whether this is for people just looking or during checkout, having a list of interested people allows you to send emails with updates or special offers any time you want.
- Reduce cart abandonment: This is similar to email marketing but you can use a service like CartHook to automatically send a series of follow-up emails to people who have added something to their cart and then left before the purchase.
- Affiliate program: Offering an affiliate program for your products is a simple way to get others promoting for you. Many times bloggers and internet marketers will write articles showing the benefits of your products.
- Content marketing: This is a longer-term strategy and one that many digital download businesses fall short on. Creating articles on a regular basis around the subject of your products is a great way to get natural search results and bring in more traffic.
The Most Important Thing?
Have a bias for action. In other words, don’t wait until everything is perfect. It never will be and if you wait, you’re delaying your chances to earn a passive part-time income and perhaps, to even accomplish your goal of running a full-time digital download business.