How to Sell Digital Products & Downloads

Digital products are awesome and they are becoming one of the most popular types of products to sell online as they offer some advantages over their physical counterparts because:

  • There are no issues with inventory
  • You don’t need a warehouse to store your inventory
  • You don’t have to ship the product to the customer
  • The whole process can be automated
  • Profit margins can be high

It is also one of the few ecommerce businesses that’s easily scalable due to the reasons mentioned above, which makes selling digital products a very attractive proposition.

But how do you get started selling digital products? Well, that is what we are going to cover in this guide.

Step 1: Finding a Pain Point

Many people who want to start selling digital products often draw a blank as to what they are going to sell and even if you do have an idea for a digital product, you want to do some planning before diving head first into creating your first digital product.

We aren’t talking about literal pain here (hopefully not anyway) but if you look at many of the successful digital products that are out there, they all have one thing in common in that they help people solve a problem.

And this is something that you want to focus on for your product as the reason why many people fail with digital products is that they focus on finding a profitable product rather than one that provides value.

But how do you find pain points?

It is often best to look at yourself or those around you, for example:

  • Is there something in your profession or a hobby that is a cause of pain for yourself or others?
  • Are there common problems talked about in the community but there is no good solution?
  • Do you have skills that others would like to learn?

This is where being involved with communities on Facebook, Reddit and Quora can be a great source of information.

Step 2: Choose a Digital Product Type

Once you know what the problem is, you can then begin to start figuring out how to solve it and what type of digital product is going to be best to do that.

When it comes to digital products, they usually fall under a main category and we’ll break these down more below…

Downloadable Products

The first type is the downloadable product, which works in a very simple way in that the customer purchases the product, downloads it onto their device and then starts using it, either directly on their device or by printing it off.

There are lots of products that fall into this category, such as:

  • Ebooks
  • Documents
  • Templates
  • Plugins or extensions for offline software
  • Printables (calendars, coloring books, workbooks etc)
  • Graphics (logos, banners etc)

Some of these may be pre-made products that people can download and use such as Ebooks and Documents but others may be made to order such as some graphics like Logos and Banners where the customer places the order, provides some details and you then make their design.

E-learning (Online Courses)

The second type of digital product is E-learning or online courses, which is an area that has grown a lot over the last few years and is becoming a more widely accepted method of learning new skills.

A great thing about online courses is that you can create them around pretty much any niche you can think of as there are always people looking to either get started or improve their skills around a particular subject, whether it be a professional or hobby-based skill.

When it comes to creating an online course, there are a few different ways you can go about it, such as:

  • Creating a text-based course
  • Creating a video-based course
  • Live-streaming classes

And it is down to you as the creator as to which method you choose or you could combine a couple of these methods.

You can also sell your course in different ways by either:

  • Having a one-off fee that students pay before getting access to your course
  • Offering a monthly subscription, which can be good if you a regularly adding classes

Once again, it is down to you as to which method you choose.

Software

The third type of digital product is software and this covers many different products, such as:

  • Standalone software such as Ahrefs for SEO or Shopify for Ecommerce
  • Plugins or apps for existing software such as WordPress, Shopify or CAD software

These can also be sold in different ways with a popular option being Software as a Service or SaaS and this is where customers pay a monthly or annual fee in order to be able to use the software.

Another way is that the customer pays a one-off fee in order to either access or download the software.

And even though software can be very profitable, it does require ongoing work to maintain and improve the software along with providing support to your customers.

Step 3: Validating Your Idea

It can be very tempting at this point to just go ahead and start creating your digital product but you first want to validate your idea to give you an idea as to whether people will actually buy your product or not.

One of the best ways to do this is by asking your community directly by putting a post or poll in a group and if you can do this in multiple groups, it will provide you with much more feedback.

This will not only give you an idea as to whether there is demand for your product but can also provide valuable info about:

  • What kind of things they would like from your digital product
  • How much they would be willing to pay for it
  • If there is any competition that you aren’t aware of

And when it comes to creating a product, the more information you can get before sitting down and making it the better!

You can even take this a step further and create what is known as a Minimal Value Product (MVP), which is a very basic version of what your full product is going to be, for example:

Rather than creating a full-blown 3-month online course, create a simple beginner course that is a couple of hours long and put this out there to see:

  1. How well it is received
  2. Ask for feedback to help you towards creating your final product

This will also give you an idea as to what will go into creating your product.

Step 4: Creating Your Product

Once you have validated your idea, it is time to start creating your product and the process for this is going to depend on the type of product you are creating as they all have their own creative processes.

Downloadable Products

Some downloadable products are quite simple to make and tools such as:

  • Canva
  • Adobe Express
  • Microsoft Word (for documents)
  • Excel

Are going to be enough to make your product but some other products may require either more advanced software or knowledge, especially if you are creating a piece of downloadable software.

E-learning

Creating an online course is some ways is a more straightforward process as it involves:

  • Planning out the course content
  • Creating either the written or video content
  • Editing it
  • Creating any additional resources such as product list, downloadables etc

Once all of the content has been created, edited and checked (always double or triple-check before going live), you are ready to upload your course, which we will cover more in step 5.

Software

Of all the digital products that you can create, software can have the longest time from concept to market as building and testing it can take time.

It also depends on how the software is being built, if you are creating the software yourself then you may be able to shorten the process as you will be able to work on it as much as you can but if you are outsourcing the building of the software to a developer, then the timeframes can be longer.

Software may also be the most expensive digital product to make due to the time required to develop and test the software before launching it in the marketplace as you want to ensure as many bugs have been ironed out as possible before you get any paying customers.

Step 5: Choosing Where to Sell

You actually want to be thinking about where to sell your product before you have finished creating it as you don’t want to have this awesome product but have nowhere to sell it and there are a couple of options to consider:

  1. Your own website – everyone who sells digital products should start their own online store as not only is it a sales channel for your product but it can also be a resource for your business and in most cases it is better to market your own site than someone elses
  2. Marketplaces – putting your digital products on a marketplace or marketplaces can be a great way to get it in front of as many eyes as possible, this can be general marketplaces such as Etsy, more niche-specific ones such as Udemy for online courses or platform-specific ones such Shopify’s App Store

Once you have decided on where you are going to sell your products, you want to set up your branding at this point, which will include:

  • Business name
  • Domain name
  • Social media accounts
  • Logo

Once all this is done, you can find the best platform for selling digital products in order to create your own online store and/or get your account set up with the marketplace you want to sell through.

Step 6: Marketing Your Digital Product

The final step is to market your product and this is hugely important because if you don’t get this part right, you probably won’t get any sales!

When it comes to marketing, there are many different options out there, including:

  • Running ads on Google, Facebook or other social media platforms
  • SEO
  • Direct to community (Facebook groups, forums etc)
  • Affiliate Marketing

Which marketing method is best can sometimes be product dependent, for example with software a combination of Influencer and Affiliate Marketing can help get your product in front of your target audience quicker than may be possible with other methods.

Additionally, if you are selling your products via a marketplace, they will also do some marketing for you as it is in their best interest to generate as many sales as possible.

It can also be helpful to start planning on how to market your product and in many cases even start marketing it before it is ready to be launched as this can help you hit the ground running in terms of sales.

Conclusion

Digital products are an area that will continue to see growth as we become a more digital society and while there is a lot of competition in the space, there is also plenty of opportunity out there as well.

To help improve your chances of success, you want to have a good plan in place to ensure:

  • You are creating the right product for the right audience
  • You know how you are going to create the product
  • You know how to market the product

Creating a plan will also make your life easier as you can plan when and what you are going to do, which gives you a timeline for your business.

Hi, I'm Paul, the Owner and Founder of EcommerceGold.
I ran my own Ecommerce Business for over 7 years and now help others start their own online retail empires!

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