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How to Create Digital Products: 5 Profitable Ideas to Make Money While You Sleep (2021)

It’s a little odd that digital products still seem like such a new idea. eBooks, online courses, music, and video downloads have been around for decades.

You know, the first song to hit number one on digital downloads alone was Gnarles Barkley’s “Crazy” and that came out all the way back in 2006.

So, the evidence is clear that digital products are part of the very fabric of modern eCommerce and have been for some time. If you’re not selling digital products, then you have to ask yourself why not?

Selling digital products isn’t just a viable business model, it can also be massively profitable and here’s why:

  • Digital products generate a viable passive income stream
  • You can sell online with low startup costs and high profit margins
  • Business owners can automate the selling process as orders can be delivered instantly
  • You can sell digital products of any kind, offering more flexibility than a traditional product business
  • Your digital product business has a worldwide audience of potential customers
  • It is easy to create and sell digital products on any eCommerce platform
  • eLearning, online courses, and video content are the future 

So, if that wasn’t enough reason for you to want to think about digital product ideas for profitable digital products to sell then let’s talk numbers, big numbers.

In eLearning alone – that’s eBook sales, video courses, teaching people around the world, and publishing an online guide or online course – digital product ideas generated 144 billion dollars in 2019, and the field is expected to reach 374.3 billion dollars by 2026.

Now, let’s talk about how you can get yourself a slice of that pie.

What are digital products and why sell them? 

A digital product is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what it sounds like. 

In contrast to physical products, digital products are intangible and often take the form of media such as audio products, stock photos, eBooks, templates. Digital products could also be software or pay-to-access content like an online course or digital services such as virtual training sessions.

One of the huge advantages of digital products is that they are something that brands and businesses can sell, publish, or distribute over and over again to a vast customer base without ever having to renew their stock.

You don’t need to hire a place to store them and you won’t have to pay to post them to your customers, unlike a traditional service business.

There are practically no overheads. All you need is an online store and if you want to know how to start an online store then the good news is that it has never been easier or more affordable than it is right now.

Examples of digital products

With that in mind, let’s look at some popular examples of digital product ideas that customers love and businesses can easily create and sell:

  • Podcast
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Newsletter 
  • NFTs
  • Subscription news content 
  • eBook 
  • Online course 
  • Premium video content  
  • Streaming audio content 

Why should you sell digital products?

The question remains, why do these products make so much money and why is every successful brand out there looking for ways to cash on this type of thing?

Well, it all comes down to the 3 golden rules:

  • Scalability. Selling digital products online with an eCommerce website allows brands and businesses to scale all the way to the top, if your business can bring in new customers then your brand will never stop growing.
  • Passive income. Customers can buy a digital product at any part of the day or night, you’ll never run out of items and your audience is endless.
  • Start-up costs. A digital business only needs a website and an email address, you won’t have to pay rent on a place to store products and the whole process is much more affordable.

Sounds good, right? Let’s learn how you can create digital products the people will love and will revolutionize the ways you do business on your website.

How to create digital products 

Sure, you could wait for the perfect digital product idea to strike, but just like any other business, selling a digital product is something that can be broken down into a logical process.

This isn’t the only way to make your own products, but our guide to creating products is as simple as following this list and it’s a tried and tested process to find the type of product that customers want to spend money on.

We will cover specific things such as software usage later on in the individual product guide but for now, let’s nail down the ways that you can create a digital product to sell on your website and make some real money.

Brainstorm an idea

Brainstorm until you have a solid list of ideas that identifies the pain points of the people that will be signing up to your courses and paying for your digital product services and answers those pain points effectively.

Your digital product doesn’t have to be an eBook. Think about the thing that makes your business stand out in its niche.

Those values could be the thing to turn people into a paying customer and get your business off on the right foot.

Here are some great ideas of ways to think about your audience and start brainstorming: 

  • What problems do your products solve? 
  • What do your customers need? 
  • What are the core values of your business? 
  • Can your digital product do something a physical product cannot? 
  • What are your strengths? 

Research your part of the market

Research, research, research. 

There are no end of resources and statistics online to help you find the information that you need.

But, of course, with so many places to look it can be hard to find the data that you need to really understand your audience.

With that in mind, here are a few things that all people should know when it comes to researching the market:

  • Blogs. Read the same content that your audience is reading and you’ll get an insight into the kind of services that people need. Check to see what the top bloggers are promoting through affiliate links and you’ll get a good idea of what people want.
  • Emails. Your email list is a treasure trove for ideas. All the messages you have received from people on your email list are people that you can count on to become an engaged customer if you can find a product that provides a solution to the most commonly asked questions about your business. 
  • Facebook groups and forums. There are masses of groups on Facebook and forums across the web full of content that is focused on any and every audience of people and the services they need. Take the time to find the people in your niche and use the content they post on these groups to get the basis for your product idea.
  • Reviews. Something you can do straightaway to find out the way that the people in your audience feel about a product is to read the reviews from your competitors. It’s probably the most simple and effective way to build a comprehensive list of which ideas work and which don’t.

Plan and format your content

Now that you’ve got all your ideas in one place and the use case is clear in your head you’ve still got to answer the big question:

What sort of digital product are you actually going to create?

It could be any of the following:

  • An online course 
  • eBooks 
  • Workshops 
  • Printable templates
  • Email courses
  • Domain names
  • A custom email address 

Of course, it could be something completely different, but the key to a successful digital product lies in finding the right format for your idea.

Ideas are templates for products. While online courses may be in vogue right now, your idea might well have lasting success as an eBook. Or you could equivalently use that knowledge to market yourself as an expert podcaster – and reap huge rewards in the long run.

When it comes to making the decision about which form your content should take, you should always concentrate on the needs of your audience. 

What kind of content will make your product more effective, how can you have the widest reach,  and why do your customers need it?

In almost all cases, the choice will be obvious – but a lot of the appeal of digital products is that they can be more flexible.

You might even be able to break your idea down into different formats and expand your product appeal through multiple channels.

Test your product

A B Testing

So, now you have the prototype ready (the first version of your very own digital product), but you can’t deliver it into the world before you test, test, and test again.

For that, you’re going to need some feedback, and ideally, that feedback should be coming from the people that you want to sell your product – your target audience.

Testing can be a tricky process, especially finding people that are engaged enough to give real, critical feedback.

If you’re struggling to find testers, here are a few ideas:

  • Send out emails to everyone on your list
  • Make a post, or even a campaign on social media
  • Headhunt specific people or specialists in your field and request their advice
  • Incentivize users with a free version of the product if they help with testing

Now you have your testers, but you need to think carefully about what kind of questions you’re going to ask in your surveys.

Think about the things that you actually need to know about your product.

A good testing session should help you find out:

  • How well the user felt that the product solved a problem 
  • If the product makes sense (can a first time user understand what to do?)
  • How well the product is received in general
  • How much value does the user perceive in the product (is it worth the price?)

It’s important when you write these questions that you’re not leading the user towards the answer you want to hear. 

Remember, every criticism is something that you can improve and make your product better and more saleable in the long term.

Create an online store and publish your product

eCommerce website shop

These days, you don’t have to be a web designer to create an online store and start publishing your new eBook.

In fact, it has never been easier to learn how to start an online store and with Zyro it has never been more affordable either.

Since your website cost is one of the only things that you’ll have to pay for, it makes sense to find the website builder with the best price-to-productivity ratio. We might be biased but Zyro does an excellent job in that.

You can publish an online store in a matter of hours and get your digital product range found on Google by customers immediately thanks to Zyro’s built-in SEO-optimized website templates and AI tools.

5 simple ideas for your digital product creation

What kinds of digital products sell best? Good question. 

Luckily, we’re confident that we have all the answers you need to transform your eCommerce website templates into thriving digital product online stores.

1. Musician

Yes, vinyl is back in vogue and people always love a good band t-shirt. But it should come as no surprise that the digital download market is thriving, too.

There are numerous platforms such as Bandcamp where artists can sell digital downloads of their songs.

If you’re looking to maximize the money you make from selling digital downloads, then it helps to find a platform with a low rate of commission. This way, as much of the money from your music lands in your pocket as possible.

If you create an online store with Zyro, there are no hidden fees on anything you want to sell and the only commission comes from the payment provider themselves.

2. Personal trainer

Yes, you might be more familiar with the idea of a personal trainer helping you to sweat it out in the gym, but this is actually one of the best jobs for offering digital products.

And we’re not just talking about Zoom workouts either (though they are a great option.)

You could create a downloadable workout routine, a diet plan, or even an eBook along the lines of “How To Get In Shape In 1 Month.”

And that’s not all.

How about a tailored workout calendar for individual clients or even a podcast for daily motivation to get your customers all pumped up?

As a personal trainer, you have plenty of options available to you when it comes to digital products.

3. Photography / Video

If you are a photographer then there’s no doubt that you’ve wrestled with the problem of how to effectively copyright your images. After all, you want to make sure that you get paid when your images are used in an article, an advert, or anywhere at all.

Stock photography websites like Shutterstock ensure that you will always get paid whenever anyone downloads your photos from their platform.

Of course, that’s the regular answer but by now you might well have heard about NFTs.

NFT stands for “Non-Fungible Tokens” and a lot of artists are starting to take them seriously. And rightly so, because this image-based element of the Ethereum blockchain is making a lot of money for a lot of artists.

So, disclaimer:

NFTs can actually be anything that is digital (illustrations, music, videos), but right now the big hype is around using them to sell digital art.

At some level, it’s almost like digital art collecting. If you need any evidence, just think about the fact that the original Nyan Cat GIF just sold for 580,000 US dollars.

If you can create an image that gets big online, you could be looking at a major payday.

4. Membership sites

Why sell just one digital product when you can sell them all at once?

That’s the logic behind creating a membership website such as Skillshare where a huge amount of digital content in the form of video tutorials and online courses have been put in one place.

If you have access to a lot of content, you might consider setting up a subscription-based model for access to all of your digital content.

Essentially, you are creating a paywall for your content. 

If, for example, you have a dedicated audience on your blog, you might find that a lot of your readers would actually be willing to subscribe to support your work.

Be careful though, you could lose a lot of traffic if you transition an existing free website into a membership site overnight.

5. Templates

Okay, so this might not seem like the most exciting prospect but you would be surprised at the size of the market for premium, professional, document templates.

Think about it for a second: you’ve probably read a blog post about how to design a professional resumé that will stand out from the crowd, right?

You could be creating unique presentation templates for Google Slides or Powerpoint.

Or, let’s go one step further and think about the market for designing WordPress themes, or even mobile app templates.

If you’ve got the eye for design, then creating stylish templates could be a big winner for a reasonably small time investment.

Not to mention, of course, that it’s a perfect example of how to make passive revenue by selling them again and again and again.

Creating the very best digital products for your business

Since digital products don’t require any actual, physical inventory, you can save a lot of money selling digital products simply on overhead costs alone.

When you’re just starting out, turning an idea into a profitable business is always difficult because all the time that leads up to a sustainable model is time that you are losing money.

Digital products don’t hold the same risk factor as physical products and as such they are a great option for anyone looking to open an online store and start selling online. 

There is no end to ways you can add digital products to your portfolio, and if you do it right, you’ll be looking at a timeless source of passive income and profit.

Written by

Author avatar

Damien

Damien is a self-professed, semi-obsessed word-freak that wants nothing more than to tell small-business stories in a big way. Always scouring the market to find the right tools for the job, he is focused on finding creative ways to bring them to the people. When not writing, Damien is known to be a massive music bore, amateur radio enthusiast, and woodland wanderer.

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