There is something magical about the digital creator economy.
It allows you to easily create something to share with your loyal tribe of followers with goals and interests similar to yours.
Years ago, creating was synonymous with heavy machinery, raw materials, advanced knowledge and above all, large investments.
Something reserved for only a minority.
Nowadays you can create from the comfort of your home. With just a PC and an internet connection. It requires very little advanced knowledge and modest investment in a couple of digital tools.
The best part of all?
These creations don’t have to be podcast episodes or blog articles you distribute for free.
You can create and efficiently distribute digital products so the profit can become a large part of your income.
Or even all of it!
And not only as an individual. Big companies like Brainstorm Force sell exclusively digital products.
Digital products have huge earning potential.
Online courses aren’t the only digital asset you can create, there are many alternatives.
In this article we’ll be showing you 10 digital products that you can start creating today and sell in a very simple way.
Selling digital products is as much about what you’re going to sell as how you’re going to sell it.
- Why digital products?
- Where to sell digital products
- Most profitable digital products to sell in 2023
- Strategy: Tips for creating, marketing and scaling your digital empire
- Final thoughts on selling digital products
Why digital products?
Digital products offer advantages for everyone involved.
What benefits do you have when creating digital products compared to physical products?
- Low upfront costs: No handling, shipping or return costs. In some cases, products will only require your time or affordable tools.
- Low risk: Low upfront costs mean lower risks, especially if you create viable products first.
- Easy to create: You don’t need advanced knowledge or advanced tools to create.
- Product insights: Digital products are easier to analyze, so you can better understand how your customers use your product.
- Easy to update: Improving and updating a digital product is easier than modifying the manufacturing process of a physical one.
- Control: You will control the entire process from creation to delivery. You won’t have to rely on critical suppliers or delivery drivers in too much of a hurry.
- Automation: You can automate and thus measure and improve many aspects of the business: Delivery, invoicing, customer support, marketing, and so on.
- Cost-effective: Creating, maintaining and distributing digital products is very cost-efficient.
- Credibility: Many digital products will demonstrate your expertise, helping you establish yourself as a leader in the field.
- Constant income flow: Your digital store never closes and your audience never sleeps as you can sell worldwide.
The combination of these factors makes up the key benefit of digital products:
You’re aiming at a much larger potential market. Your product can be replicated, sold and delivered with little or no additional cost.
That means you can increase your profits exponentially without facing major bottlenecks or drawbacks.
Your audience can also benefit from digital products.
They can benefit from::
- Convenience: As long as they have an internet connection people can get your product wherever they are, instantly. No more “sorry, we don’t ship to your country”, “delivery will take up to 14 days”, “you need to go to the post office to return the package”.
- Affordable: Upfront, maintenance and distribution costs are lower so your customers can benefit from more competitive prices.
A book with the same information inside can cost you 4 times more than its physical version.
Digital products are environmentally friendly. A huge benefit for everyone.
The difference between manufacturing paper, printing the book and distributing it, versus offering a downloadable eBook is massive.
Plus: There is no waste to handle if that eBook ends up in the trash!
What’s the best place to sell digital products?
There are just two places we recommend:
- Your own website.
Marketplaces are websites that connect creators with potential buyers.
There are general marketplaces like Etsy where you can find physical and a wide variety of digital products.
From resume templates to wedding planners.
There are also niche marketplaces.
AppSumo for instance is an online marketplace for entrepreneurs.
These niche marketplaces can be very niche-specific.
For example, Notion Everything exclusively promotes templates for Notion.
The benefits of marketplaces are very clear:
- They take care of all the technical aspects.
- They put you in front of a mass of potential buyers.
- They control the sales process and customer data.
- They won’t offer many insights about your products.
- They will take a commission for each sale.
Marketplaces are attractive but they can greatly reduce the advantages of digital products.
Selling your products on your website gives you all the benefits that marketplaces take away.
- You’ll have full control: Design your store as you like, define your perfect sales process, use the marketing techniques that you want, and more.
- No more transaction fees for every sale.
- You own the data: Save your clients’ information and grow your database, one of the biggest assets of any business.
Did you know?: Amazon doesn’t share your client’s email. If you’ve sold 1,000 copies of a book and you want to promote a new one, there is no way to contact your customers.
Because they are not your customers, they are Amazon’s customers.
Running your own website means you’ll have to take care of the technical part, but:
- It’s a job you’ll only have to do once.
- Here’s a great guide on how to set up an online store from scratch, even if you don’t have a WordPress website yet!
Even though it’s more work and more responsibility, it’s definitely worth it.
There are in-between solutions where you can sell your digital product.
They are a mix of marketplaces and tools.
The best known is Gumroad.
They handle the sale and give you links and widgets to embed on your website or to use on social networks.
Their marketplace (if they have any) is usually not as powerful as pure marketplace sites.
Usually it is not worth it to use these tools as they’ll charge you a fee for each sale.
Even so, it’s a good idea that you know them because you can sell your products in many places at the same time.
- Sell your eBook on your website using SureCart.
- Publish it through Amazon KDP.
- Upload it to the Gumroad marketplace.
This might not be the best option for your brand, but it’s a feasible option.
Especially to get some traction if you’re just starting out.
Just beware of potential exclusivity requirements (another disadvantage of marketplaces!)
Ready to start creating? Which products provide the most profit?
There are two main kinds of digital products you can sell:
- Private access.
If you’re reading this from a smartphone chances are that at some point you’ve paid to download an app on your phone.
That task or recipe manager to better organize your life, that launcher to make your smartphone home screen more nifty and functional, or that addictive game you played every night.
The dynamic of this type of digital product is very simple to understand:
- Customers pay a price.
- They download the item.
- They enjoy the item.
What types of items can you offer for download?
|Downloadable Digital Product||Upfront Costs||Creation Difficulty||Maintenance Difficulty||Credibility||Customer Support|
|eBooks||Very low||Easy||Very easy||Moderate||Low / none|
|PDFs||Very low||Very easy||Very easy||Low||Low / none|
|Audio books||Moderate||Moderate||Very easy||Low||Low / none|
|Music and sound effects||High||High||Very easy||Moderate||Low / none|
|Apps||Moderate||Very high||Very high||High||High|
|Templates||Low||Low||Very low||Low||Low / none|
This is probably one of the first digital downloadable products that comes to your mind.
Digital books have been around for many years.
If you have any kind of knowledge, it’s a very good idea to put it together in a digital publication and distribute it for sale.
- How to close sales over the phone.
- How to speak in public.
- How to use Todoist.
A book doesn’t necessarily need to be technical or written to share knowledge.
You can simply write about a personal experience, a travel guide, or create a fictional novel.
Totally up to you!
Eric Helms sells his nutrition and training books on his own website.
This gives him more control and the opportunity to, for example, offer them in a cheaper bundle. Something that Amazon does not allow.
As you can imagine this boosts his credibility and allows him to attract more and better clients for his coaching services.
If you plan to distribute your book as a PDF file, its creation can’t get any easier:
- Open Word, Google Docs or Pages.
- Start writing.
- Save it or print it as PDF.
There will be a bit more complex parts such as creating an attractive cover.
Nothing you can’t solve with a free Canva account.
Google Docs also lets you download your eBook in epub format.
In that case you’ll need Calibre or a similar free tool to properly insert the cover or manage other metadata.
Still much easier than a publisher reading your manuscript and publishing your book!
Additional tips and resources:
- Use advanced writing software such as Scrivener, Vellum or Affinity Publisher.
- Publish your eBooks in marketplaces like Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play Books or Kobo.
- Outsource the cover or the book layout design in 99Designs, Fiverr or Upwork.
- Beside of Canva, explore other alternative graphic design tools such as Adobe Express, VistaCreate, or or Snappa.
Whatever format you choose, selling your eBook through your own website is really easy if you use SureCart.
After installing and configuring the plugin as we show you in this guide, you just have to:
- Create a new product.
- Set a price.
- Add the product image. This could be the cover or a mockup.
- Add your book in the downloads area. You can even include several versions.
Use the direct buying links or customize the default checkout and start selling right away.
Your readers we’ll be able to download your book in any format from their personal customer dashboard.
Use the eBooks author template from Starter Templates to sell using a more professional design.
- Technical books have the advantage of increasing your credibility as an expert.
- They can be sold at a very competitive price, making them a perfect digital product to attract and engage new audiences.
- They require little or no maintenance or support.
- Super low upfront costs. You can even create eBooks for free.
- It can take time to write your first book.
- If writing is not your thing, you’ll need the help of a ghost writer and/or proofreader.
PDFs are very similar to eBooks in many cases, as you can sell the latter in PDF format.
But we’ve decided to create a different section for them because writing a book may seem daunting. Or you may not have the time to do it.
But there is a solution.
A PDF can also contain very valuable information or be very useful by itself without having to be composed of 30,000 or 40,000 words.
- Worksheets and workbooks.
- Digital planners (e.g. for Goodnotes).
- Printable planners (like the ones from BestSelf).
- Collections of resources.
- Workout guides.
- Weekly meal plans (e.g. Budgets Bytes)
- Set up guides like the ones from the GTD® Store.
PDFs usually have a more elaborate design than a book where most of the content is plain text.
Canva will also help you to create this type of product with a more attractive design.
You can also use PowerPoint, Google Slides or Keynote and export the final content to that format.
Additional tips and resources:
Use Slides Carnival or another PPT and Google Slides template repository to get a great design for your content.
The process of selling an ebook and a PDF is identical. Read that section to find out how to do it easily with SureCart.
PDFs are usually low-priced goods that people may buy in bundles.
So instead of a direct checkout include an add-to-cart button when promoting this kind of product. That will increase the average order value.
- Fast to create.
- Low upfront, maintenance and update costs.
- Perfect for validating a more complex product like a book or a video course.
- Some products might be complex to sell.
Probably not many people would pay for a checklist, but they would pay for a good gym workout.
- These PDFs won’t increase your credibility too much.
Continuing with consumable content, we come to audio files.
As you’ll see in the examples, the difficulty of creating them varies depending on the type of audio you want to sell.
- Audiobooks (e.g. the audio version books from ML Banner)
- Sound effects.
- A series of private premium podcasts.
- Audio training.
If you want to create spoken content, you’ll need a good microphone and some recording software.
Audacity is probably the way to go as it’s free and easy to use.
Additional tips and resources:
If you don’t have a great voice or the required tools, try to outsource the spoken content creation. You won’t get the same engagement from your audience, but it’s an easy way to create an extra product from content you already have.
Audio files would be sold similar to the other products you have seen.
Audio books are great products to promote as an order bump.
An order bump is a product that can be quickly added to the cart during checkout before completing the order.
You can apply a discount to it in order to make the offer more attractive.
Order bumps are one of the great features included in SureCart premium plans, and they are really easy to use.
You need to create the product you’ll promote as an order bump, then, from the “order bumps” section:
- Select the product and price you want to show as a bump.
- Define in which product’s checkout you want the bump to appear.
- Include an optional discount.
Enjoy a bump of extra sales with no extra effort!
- Selling a product that includes your own voice generates intimacy and can help you to improve trust.
- It’s easy to consume. It’s less likely to sit abandoned in the downloads folder.
- If you already have the eBook written, creating the audio version will take less work in comparison.
- Getting a good audio quality might be difficult. You need a good mic, good acoustic insulation, and some knowledge.
- You’ll need to make a small investment to meet the above requirements.
- The music and sound effects market is very saturated and it can be complex to monetize this type of product.
There is knowledge that cannot be easily explained through words since they require a strong audio/visual component.
For example, a course on learning to draw, 3D design, or audio editing.
For those situations, it’s better to create a video course in which you record yourself and/or your screen, explaining everything in detail.
Danny Mac 3D offers downloadable video courses teaching how to use Blender, including extra material that may be useful for their students.
Video courses are the digital product that requires the most tools and up-front investment. Both in terms of money and knowledge.
In addition to a good microphone you’ll also need:
- A good camera.
- Good lighting.
- A room with good acoustics.
- Screen recording and video editing software such as ScreenFlow (Mac) or Camtasia (Windows).
- The knowledge to use those tools.
Since we’re still talking about downloadable products, you already know how to do this with SureCart.
Video courses are usually more expensive than the products you have seen so far.
Many people may add a video product to the cart or even get to the checkout but never finalize the purchase because they have doubts.
To mitigate this loss of potential customers, we recommend you enable SureCart’s abandoned recovery cart feature.
Within the settings of this mini-tool you can:
- Define when those email reminders will be sent.
You can modify the content of the abandoned checkout emails from your SureCart account page.
- Include an exclusive discount to incentivize the purchase.
- You can also apply an expiration date to that discount to add a little extra pressure to the buying decision.
Don’t forget to check out Starter Templates.
There are good course templates there to help you with the visual part of the promotion.
- Selling video courses can be very lucrative.
- If you appear in the videos, your credibility and reputation as an expert will skyrocket.
- Expect more customer support requests than when selling PDFs or ebooks.
- You’ll have to put more effort into the creation of this digital product and also in its marketing.
- You need to up-front invest in some tools and professional software.
Along with info products, apps are another of the most typical digital assets that have been sold for decades.
Every device, platform or operating system is likely to need applications that add extra features to them.
- Windows or Mac Apps (e.g. MacWhisper)
- Android or iPhone apps.
- Standalone WordPress plugins.
- addons that leverage other plugins.
- Shopify apps.
- Final Cut Pro titles and generators.
Depending on the type of platform you want to develop for, you’ll need a specific programming language and tools.
- WordPress plugin development.
- How to create Shopify apps.
- Develop apps for Mac, iOS and iPadOS with Swift.
- How to build Android aps.
In many of the examples above you’ll be required to use specific marketplaces:
- App Store for iPhone and iPad applications.
- Google Play Store for Android apps.
- Shopify’s marketplace for their own apps.
- And similar.
If the platform you are developing for allows it and you want to distribute your apps independently, you can use SureCart.
It has a licensing module that you can integrate with your WordPress plugins to manage the creation and activation.
For more information about this functionality you can read:
- The official documentation about the licensing module.
- The SureCart API documentation.
- Information about SureCart plugin licensing SDK
- Apps are one of the most lucrative industries (don’t forget about games!).
- Your app can help you solve your own problems.
- Very difficult digital product to start with. You need advanced programming knowledge and invest many hours in the development.
- Applications entail a high maintenance cost. Both in terms of updates and customer support.
You can consider code as a minimum viable product of a complete application or simply as a digital product by itself.
In some cases you won’t need thousands of lines of code, but a handful of instructions that solve a very specific problem.
- PHP scripts.
- CSS code.
Besides your knowledge, the only thing you need to create code is a code editor.
Here are a few:
- Visual Studio Code [VS Code]
Code can be distributed as downloadable files with different extensions such as .php, .js or .css.
You already know how to sell downloadable files with SureCart.
As this is a very niche product we recommend you also upload your code to specific marketplaces.
- If you have the knowledge, they are easy to create and maintain.
- Low earnings potential.
- Difficult to sell. Code may be already available for free around the web.
- It doesn’t increase your reputation a lot.
Templates are hot digital products!
They provide a starting point for quickly creating a new document, website or any other digital content, saving time.
They usually contain guidelines, placeholders and other pre-made elements. So they’re also useful for educating your customer.
- If you’re selling landing page templates they’ll learn that they have to include testimonials, calls to action or pricing tables, and in which order.
- If you’re selling financial templates, they’ll learn that they have to track their monthly expenses, net worth, and so on.
You get the idea.
With all the new tools, services and applications that are appearing every day, you can create templates for almost anything.
It’s just a matter of imagination.
- Resumé templates.
- Cover letters (for jobs application or for freelancers to use on Upwork)
- Email sequences.
- Powerpoint and Google Slides templates.
- Excel and Google Sheet templates.
- Templates for specific apps like Notion (e.g. Gridfiti)
- Website templates
This product could also be considered an app. Templates such as Astra offer much more features than just a simple design to modify.
In this case the possibilities are endless. It depends entirely on the type of template you’re creating.
Just research your favorite applications and think if it’s possible to create a template to help potential customers speed up their work.
Additional tips and resources:
The vast majority of templates will be downloadable files.
If you need to share a URL for the template as in the case of Notion, you can create an automation with SureTriggers:
When this product is purchased, send this email with this content.
- They are relatively easy to create.
- In many cases you build the product for yourself and just share it.
- Templates can be difficult to sell. There are usually many free alternatives for everything.
There are still many more digital assets you can create:
- Digital art and designs such as wallpapers.
- Packs of icons for apps or for design purposes.
- Stock photos and videos.
- LUTs and photo/video presets.
- Gift cards to redeem in your physical business.
At the other end of digital products we have a slightly more recent business model.
Buying a product that gives you access to a private area where you’ll find more content, tools, a community, or other perks.
Many of these products are very similar to their downloadable version.
Only the way of accessing them changes, and therefore the way of selling them.
|Private Access Digital Product||Upfront Costs||Creation Difficulty||Maintenance Difficulty||Credibility||Customer Support|
|Online courses||High||Moderate||Moderate||High||Very high|
|Memberships and communities||High||High||High||High||High|
The only difference between downloadable courses and online courses is that the latter requires a better infrastructure to host the content, lock access to unregistered users and manage everything.
You probably know hundreds of examples.
e.g. “Build once sell twice“, a course by Jack Butcher about… Digital products!
You already know what you need to create video course material.
In its online version you’ll also need:
- A video host.
- A platform to manage who can and cannot access the course lessons.
For the latter, SureMembers is the way to go.
Here is an in-depth tutorial on how to set up SureMembers to create an online course.
SureMembers works hand in hand with SureCart.
- In SureMembers, create an access group for the content you want to protect.
- Create a SureCart product.
- Integrate the product with the SureMembers access group.
When a user purchases that product, they will be able to access the content you have locked with the access group.
Online courses might be quite expensive.
Besides the one-time payment, don’t forget to offer installment payments to offset that higher price.
- Very lucrative. You’re not just offering videos for download but a complete learning experience and support. So prices can be higher.
- Once you’ve set up the platform and mastered the necessary tools, creating more of these digital products is much easier.
In addition to the cons you already saw in the downloadable version:
- Online video courses are a bit more complex to create.
- You’ll need to offer even more customer support.
If you’re good at writing, why not monetize your written content?
With SureMembers you can protect pages and articles in your blog that contain written content.
Although the trend is to distribute this kind of content by email.
Stacked Marketer has a paid version of its daily marketing newsletter where they analyze the latest marketing trends in more detail.
There are lots of tools to create paid newsletters.
They are easy to use, but they usually charge a small fee for each transaction.
You can create your own Substack with SureCart, SureTriggers and the email provider of your choice using two simple automations:
- When a user purchases this product: Add the subscriber to a list or tag them as “premium”.
- When subscription is canceled: Remove the subscriber or tag them as “non-premium”.
There is nothing special when it comes to selling access to a newsletter.
You’ll probably want to control the subscribers’ privileges using a monthly subscription.
SureCart can handle that.
- Easy to create products.
- You can compile your best newsletters and sell them as a book or audiobook.
- You’ll need really good marketing to sell emails as a product. Although the market is maturing rapidly.
- Email inboxes are often very saturated. Your product can be easily missed and not consumed as much as you would like.
- As with any subscription-based business model, content creation will be non-stop.
A webinar is somewhat similar to an online course. Instead of being pre-recorded material, it’s a live and shorter training session.
If you visit Eventbrite’s online events section, you’ll find dozens of webinar examples.
There are dozens of applications available to create and manage this type of product.
To name a few.
The software for creating webinars are usually also in charge of the sales step.
This means that they have built-in payment systems included so you won’t have to use an eCommerce solution like WooCommerce.
However, these applications are quite expensive.
If you want to minimize costs, you can:
To simplify the process, add a fixed expiration date in the access group you use to sell your webinars.
After that date, users will lose access to that access, and thus the private page (e.g. domain.com/webinar).
That means they will have to buy the product again when you decide to run another webinar on the same private page.
- This product will skyrocket your credibility as an expert.
- It can give you a quick earnings spike.
- Since it’s live training, it can be much more stressful.
- Although it’s kind of scalable, much is dependent on your time.
The pros, cons, and tools for creating this digital product are virtually identical to its downloadable version.
An example of this type of product could be SureWriter.
A writing assistant that you can use for a monthly fee.
Finally we come to the most acclaimed digital product.
This product is a bit complex to define, since it can actually include all the previous ones.
Memberships can be very similar to an online video course.
But instead of a one-time payment, the customer will have to pay on a recurring basis to:
- Be able to access new content.
- Download additional content.
- Receive a biweekly newsletter.
- Get a discount for other products.
- Or be able to publish in a private forum.
You choose the perks of your membership!
- Ongoing online schools and academies.
- Discord and Slack channels or Telegram groups.
- Private forums.
As was the case with newsletters, there are also tools to create memberships and communities in a simple way.
But as you can imagine, with SureCart, SureMembers and SureTriggers, you can also create a membership site that meets all your requirements.
You cannot offer installment plans for a membership.
What you can do is offer a free trial for as many days as you want so that potential customers can check for themselves what you have to offer.
- Predictable and recurring revenue.
- Great growth potential.
- Massive amount of work for keeping your audience engaged and subscribed.
- You will also need a lot of effort to reach a critical mass of users.
After reviewing this list of potential products you may feel a bit overwhelmed.
How should you start creating and selling your digital assets?
Here are some quick tips to give you an overview of the full process.
You’ll need to invest some resources (money, time and energy) to create any of the products you have seen here.
The biggest mistake you can make is creating something that nobody needs.
Carefully decide what problem you are solving with your product.
Are people willing to pay for it?
Is there a free alternative?
The best way to discover this is to create a minimum-viable product.
Creating a huge community around your passion that pays you monthly sounds very attractive.
But maybe you should try first to write a small eBook of 15,000 or 20,000 words and sell it for less than $10.
You’ll validate your business idea and your potential to make it happen.
You can even take it a step further back.
Become a content creator first, and a digital product creator second.
Try to reach your potential audience before you even have a product.
It’s nice to have an online presence on different social networks.
Some like YouTube can even be a great source of potential customers and revenue on its own.
But you need a digital home.
A place that it’s truly yours. Where you have control of the more things, the better.
Don’t be another failed business because Facebook limited the visibility of your publications or because the platform you used to sell your products increased its commission.
That is why during the article we insisted it’s best to:
- Create your own blog.
- Use it to sell with SureCart or with another eCommerce plugin.
You are not limited to creating a single digital product. You can create several, in fact, we recommend you do!
Your target audience will be much broader, and you can use those products for marketing purposes.
- Order bumps
These are things you can easily achieve with SureCart or a tool like CartFlows if you are opting for WooCommerce.
You can turn your website into a sales machine.
When it’s converting properly:
- Run an affiliate program so other people can promote your products.
- Find partnerships to expand your reach.
These two actions alone will help you scale your digital business.
Creating and selling digital products is without a doubt a very attractive business model.
The entry barrier in terms of investment and knowledge is very low compared to traditional businesses.
And the profit margin and scalability are much higher.
There is a wide variety of options to choose the product you feel more comfortable with:
- From downloadable items such as the typical eBook or templates that facilitate the resolution of a specific problem.
- To private access products such as newsletters, video content, forums or premium communities.
It’s interesting to know what types of products you can create and how they can fit within your preferences and skills.
But creating a digital product is not complicated. Selling it is.
That’s why we have mentioned SureCart so many times.
We’ve designed this product to help you sell more in a simpler way.
What digital product are you going to create first?
Let us know in the comments below!
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