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The appeal of selling digital products rather than physical ones is obvious. You don’t need to worry about warehousing products, shipping orders, or handling returns – everything is managed online.
While the proposition might sound simple and attractive, there are some unique challenges you’ll need to address if you plan to sell digital products yourself.
To give you a nudge in the right direction, we’ll explore some digital products you might sell online, and explain some of the key differences between selling physical products and selling digital products.
Then, we’ll advise on the best approach to selling digital goods and signpost you to the best places to sell digital downloads and products.
The key to success for any business is novelty and uniqueness, and setting yourself apart from the competition.
With the digital products you decide to sell, there’s no difference. You should try and find a product that meets a niche that is currently underserved.
That said, there are generally a number of categories under which your product or products are likely to fall. Understanding these categories and who the broad audience is will inform how to create effective marketing messaging and where you sell them.
Sales of eBooks have almost doubled between 2015 and 2020, and online publishing remains one of the most profitable digital businesses online. Capitalizing on the decline of print and the rise in self-publishing, the industry is estimated to be worth around $18 billion annually.
There are plenty of ways to cash in on eBooks, from writing your own or acting as an editor for other authors, to starting a platform to publish eBooks or even producing audio versions.
If you’re interested in writing eBooks, top-selling genres you might consider include:
Selling online courses as an online seminar or a digital download isn’t a quick cash option.
Since this type of digital product takes a long time to set up, requires real expertise to execute properly, and is relatively slow to produce income, it should only be undertaken if you’re passionate about what you want to teach.
That said, this is a sector that will be worth an estimated $325 billion by 2025, meaning that if you can put together a solid course and put in the time to make it work, there is real money to be made in the long run.
Profitable niches for online courses include:
If you have coding experience or the budget to hire developers and have spotted a gap in the market for a software solution to a problem lots of people face, then monetizing software can be a great basis for a company.
SaaS can either be sold as digital downloads or as an online subscription service. In most cases, your customers are more likely to be business owners than end consumers, so you must be sure to angle your marketing appropriately.
Great examples of exiting SaaS services include:
There are a number of different ways you might start selling your music, photography, art, and videos online. You could sell them to end-consumers who want them for their own use, or you could license them for commercial use instead.
You’ve no doubt heard of stock photography, but the fact is there’s a commercial demand for everything from photos and music to videos and sound effects.
While selling to individual users can be lucrative, selling commercial licenses could be your way of making real money.
If you’re interested in selling licenses to your work, your target audiences might include:
Everyone online is looking for a quick-fix or readymade solution to a problem they have. You can cash in on being the person to provide it.
Themes and templates for documents, websites, or graphics can make their creators thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, the demand for patterns, logos, wallpapers, and brushes remains high too.
You can either create these products for yourself if you have the skills or buy the rights to others’ creations to sell them.
Here are some examples of digital products you might sell within this niche include:
While not a product in itself, offering a membership program or keeping some premium content behind a paywall can be an effective way to monetize content, capitalize on an existing following, and improve your other digital marketing efforts.
As well as offering digital downloads, having a subscription model means that you are also able to stream content to paying users.
Types of content and digital products that work particularly well with this model include:
So, you already have a digital product in mind what you wanted to sell, or have used the information above to start thinking about what to sell in your online store.
Next, your approach to marketing and selling your digital downloads will decide your success.
Here, we’ll lay out the things to consider when marketing and selling digital products for the first time.
First up, it’s worth reflecting on how selling digital downloads and products will differ from physical ones.
There are relative benefits and drawbacks to selling digital products or digital downloads over physical products. If you’re used to traditional retail, it might be a learning curve establishing yourself in the digital space.
Each product has unique selling points which you should be center-stage in your messaging.
However, there are some general steps you should take if you’re hoping for success when selling digital goods.
It might sound like Retail-101, but as with physical products, you have to make sure there is a healthy demand and a willing audience for your digital products to sell.
Digital goods differ from physical ones in the eyes of consumers: the purchaser is looking forward to the outcome of using the product, rather than ownership of it.
That’s partly why it’s vital that your digital product meets a need in the market and solves a specific problem. If it is too similar to existing products or too novel and disconnected from consumer needs, there will be no demand.
When finding your niche, ask yourself:
Once you know what your product will be and which niche in the market you’ll be targeting, you should have a good idea of who your target audience is.
With this in mind, it’s time that you assess which will be the most effective marketing channels to reach your specific audience.
Conduct research to find out which platforms your audience gravitates to, and which messaging is likely to be most effective for them.
If you have your own website, then it’s a no-brainer that you should be incorporating SEO into your marketing strategy. Since a whopping 80% of web traffic comes from search engines, it’s a waste not to capitalize on this channel.
Be mindful, however, that SEO takes some time to start showing results. If you want a speedy product launch, you’ll likely need to rely on alternative marketing channels, at least initially.
Using a website builder and eCommerce platform like Zyro will not only provide you with a great looking place to sell digital products, but also give you a head start on SEO.
With optimized and responsive templates, speedy loading, and AI assistance in creating search-friendly content, you can create a profitable digital download eCommerce business in little time.
Most demographics will have a favored social media platform, so finding out where your target market hangs out and serving tailored ads on that platform is an effective strategy for most businesses that want to sell online.
Using an eCommerce platform like Zyro, you can create, target, track, and optimize ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Depending on the market you’re targeting, you may find that influential online personalities can be leveraged to channel traffic to your products.
The key to finding the right influencers or bloggers to promote your goods is matching up with the right audience and finding partners who have previously published content related to the kind of product you offer.
This might not be the right approach for all businesses, especially if you sell B2B.
As well as serving ads on social media, you should consider using ad networks to increase your reach and target your audience across the web.
The obvious choice is to work with Google Ads, which has the widest reach to consumers across the internet.
Certain website builders (Zyro included) let you create and target ads with Google quickly and easily.
Depending on the products you’re selling and where you’re selling them, you may have opportunities to market on the platform you’re using.
This might involve optimizing your profile to invite more visitors or spending time networking with other sellers to grow your exposure on the platform.
And you should definitely take every available opportunity to grow your reputation when you’re starting out.
Sure, you’ve got products to sell and want to make a return on your investment by generating sales from paying customers.
However, when you sell digital products, offering free versions, free trials, or free samples of your product is an effective way to drive sales.
Most content providers who use this model will offer some free content as an enticement to sign up and play, and later pay.
There are plenty of ways in which the freemium model can be leveraged to help attract customers to your digital brand:
The beauty of the freemium model is that users taking advantage of a ‘good deal’ can become invested in your content or product without making a purchase, making them more likely to pay for further access.
Similar to offering freemium content, creating a tiered payment system can be an effective method of expanding your customer base and fostering repeat custom.
Most companies will have a core product which accounts for the majority of their sales.
However, if your core product has a relatively high price point, you might consider releasing a stripped-down version at a cheaper rate, or auxiliary products which are more inexpensive.
This is effective in two key ways:
Ensuring you’re using the right marketing channels and messaging is only half the battle in convincing users to purchase digital downloads. You need to optimize your user experience to encourage visitors to your site or profile to make a purchase.
If you’ve decided to sell on your own website and online store, you’ll have the most control. Language that encourages conversions, an easily navigable layout, and strategically placed call to action buttons will ensure your conversion rate is high.
eCommerce platforms like Zyro will help optimize your website by giving you traffic insights with tools such as Google Analytics, and offer page analysis with tools like Hotjar heatmaps to help you understand how visitors behave.
If you’re using a third-party platform to sell your goods, you’ll have fewer optimization options.
However, you should still try and ensure that your profile is keyword optimized, your branding is appealing, and your messaging encourages purchases.
The holy grail for all retailers is the customers who come back again and again to make purchases.
It costs far less to convert past customers than new ones, so you should always keep an eye out for opportunities to develop reasons for customers to come back.
The answer to this question is going to depend on what kind of product you’re actually selling.
We’ll cover a few different channels and platforms which might be good options for selling digital downloads of different kinds.
If you’re planning on selling SaaS products or online courses, a website is an absolute must as a destination for your customers.
However, pretty much anyone selling digital goods would be well-advised to create their own website for selling goods directly, and for branding and marketing purposes.
We highly recommend you use a website builder and eCommerce platform. It will make it easier to sell digital downloads by helping you create a website, launch an online store, and sell and market your products across a number of platforms.
When choosing an eCommerce and website building platform, make sure that your online store will have the following features:
If you are a photographer, artist, musician, or anyone who creates images, videos, or music online, one of the easiest ways to get started selling downloads of your work is to upload them onto a stock image, video, or music website.
The benefits of using such websites include having a readymade audience, simple ways to manage your sales, and the opportunity to not worry too much about marketing and SEO.
However, using these websites to sell digital products is not without its drawbacks. You’ll likely have to pay a fair amount of commission to the platform, will be in competition with other creators on the platform, and will have less control over the user experience.
Great stock image and art websites include:
The halfway point between your own website and a stock image platform is using an eCommerce platform. While you’re able to pocket more from each sale, you’ll also need to work harder to get your work found by customers.
There are some eCommerce platforms out there that are specifically designed for digital products, while others allow you to sell things more generally.
Don’t forget, you can always use these platforms in conjunction with your own website. This can help with marketing, branding, optimization, and user experience.
Some types of digital products have websites dedicated specifically to their sale and purchasing.
These are highly specialized platforms, where sellers and customers are visiting specifically for one kind of digital files.
If you’re ready to start selling your own digital products online, consider building your own website and online store with Zyro.
It’s the quickest and easiest way to sell on your own website, and gives you access to powerful marking tools and third-party eCommerce platforms.