Many entrepreneurs build entire businesses around these intangible goods, due to their popularity and ease of distribution, or launch digital product lines to complement the physical items or services they offer.
What makes digital products especially appealing, however, is they can be created once and sold repeatedly to different customers without having to replenish inventory, making them ideal for creatives, artists, educators, and freelancers looking for new income streams that require less effort to maintain.
Table Of Contents:
- What Are Digital Products?
- The Benefits of Creating Digital Products?
- 6 Digital Product Ideas
- How To Find Digital Product Ideas That Sell
What are digital products? The Benefits of Selling Digital Products
A digital product is an intangible asset or piece of media that can be sold and distributed repeatedly online without the need to replenish inventory. These products often come in the form of downloadable or streamable files, such as MP3s, PDFs, videos, plug-ins, and templates.
The benefits of creating digital products
Digital products have many advantages that make them uniquely attractive to sell:
- Low overhead costs. You don’t have to hold inventory or incur any shipping charges.
- Extremely high profit margins. There’s no recurring cost of goods, so you retain the majority of your sales in profits.
- Potential to automate. Orders can be delivered instantly, letting you be relatively hands-off with fulfillment.
- Flexible products. You can offer free products to build your email list, monthly paid subscriptions for access to exclusive digital content, or licenses to use your digital products. You have a lot of options as to how you incorporate digital products into your business.
- E-learning is the future of education. You have a massive opportunity to expand your business and impact with e-learning, an industry expected to be worth $331 billion by 2025.
6 digital product ideas
1. Sell educational products like ebooks or courses
Online courses are best suited for in-depth content. They require some effort up front, from creating a presentation to recording a video walk-through. When creating courses, start with learner outcomes: what do you want the learner to know or be able to do at the end of your course?
If you consider yourself an expert on a particular topic, digital products are a great way to package that information and sell it to others looking to learn.
If there’s an abundance of free blog posts or tutorials on YouTube about what you’d like to teach, you can compete by delivering content that promises not education but transformation. In other words, don’t sell the product—sell the customer’s own potential after buying your product.
You can leverage an existing reputation as an expert to garner attention for your products, or if you’re starting from scratch, you can create and give away free content to generate interest and leads for your paid digital products.
2. Sell licenses to use your digital assets
From stock photos to video footage to music and sound effects, there’s a global ecosystem of licensable digital assets uploaded by creatives for other creatives to use in their work.
By offering licenses to individuals and businesses, you can charge for the use of your photos, videos, music, software, and more.
When coming up with assets to create, it helps to work backward from the needs of your intended audience. Start by thinking about what kind of assets they’d want to use in order to create products that are actually in demand (and thus easier to sell).
Also, be sure to protect your digital products with watermarks and other security measures, especially if you’re selling photos.
4. Sell digital templates and tools
Digital products can also come in the form of intangible tools that equip professionals to do tasks that either fall outside of their skillset or take up a lot of time. You can sell digital solutions to the common pain points and needs of a specific audience.
Some examples include:
- Product mockup files for entrepreneurs
- Resume templates for job-seekers
- Software for businesses
- Adobe After Effects plugins for video editors
- Icons, fonts etc…
If you already have a freelance business, it might be worth considering how you can turn your skills and services into digital products to create passive streams of revenue.
5. Sell music or art
If you’re a musician or an artist, chances are you’ve explored ways you can monetize your talents or the audience you’re building.
A musician can sell ringtones of their best songs alongside their merch. Or a cartoonist could turn their art into purchasable phone wallpapers. Since you don’t have to hold any inventory, you can experiment with different formats to see what your audience wants without much risk.
How to find digital product ideas that sell
While it’s easy to get stuck waiting around for a eureka moment, finding a good business idea is more of a process. It’s great to have an idea that excites you, but if you want an idea that sells, you’ll want to follow a process of brainstorming, research, and validation.
Generate ideas to start with and write them all down. Don’t be too critical. Bad ideas can lead to good ideas and vice versa. The key to brainstorming is to avoid over thinking things.
If you’re looking for a spark, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Can you teach customers how to use your products? For example, if you sell knitting products, you could offer appointments to teach advanced knitting techniques.
- Are there things you can help your customers with related to your overall industry? For example, if you sell surfboards, you could create a workout program to help your customers stay in surf shape at home.
- Think about the values you’ve built your business on. What are topics related to that? For example, if you sell sustainable apparel, you could create a course teaching your customers how to live a more sustainable life.
- In what ways could you bring your community of customers together? For example, if you sell kitchen supplies, you could run a virtual guided wine tasting event.
- What are you good at? For example, if you’re really great at product photography, you could teach other people how to get better at product photography too.
Do some research to add to your list of ideas. Look for pain points your customers have related to your product, industry, or values, as well as topics they love or get excited about. Both present great opportunities to provide value in the form of an educational product.
Here are some good places to get started doing research:
- Facebook groups. There are Facebook groups dedicated to every niche and audience imaginable, making them a great place to learn what your potential customers care about.
- Industry forums. Forums dedicated to hobbies and communities in your industry can help you learn more about what people want and need in your broader industry.
- Product reviews. Read both the reviews for your products and competitors’ products to get ideas. These could come from the reviews on product pages as well as stand-alone reviews on blogs and other websites.
- Blog posts and comments. Read the blog content your community might be reading, as well as the comments, to get even more ideas. For example, if you sell auto parts, dig around on automotive blogs.
- Emails from customers. Finally, don’t forget to go back and reread any emails or messages you have gotten from customers over the years. The people who took the time to contact you with thoughts and concerns are usually “high intent” customers and they might have shared some really useful insights.
Before committing too much time to an idea, you want to validate it and make sure your idea is solid before you spend time building it. The last thing you want to do is invest a lot of time or money in a new venture without knowing it will be successful.
There are a couple of ways to validate your idea:
- Keyword research. Use a keyword tool to see how many people are searching for your topics. This will give you an idea of the opportunity size of each one.
- Google Trends. Search your topics on Google Trends. Look for topics that are growing in interest. This means the opportunity size will keep growing.
- Ask for feedback. Contact your customers directly, either through email or social media. A poll or survey is a great way to collect customer feedback.
- Start small and iterate. Sometimes, the easiest way to validate an idea is to experiment with a smaller version of the idea with room for growth. The goal is to get something out into the world as soon as possible so you can put your idea to the test and improve from it from there.
No matter what industry you’re in, you have unique strengths and knowledge that would be valuable to your customers.
Get creative with your own digital products
Without the need to hold inventory or the overhead associated with selling physical products, businesses based on digital products can be launched and tested with little risk.