The rise of digital products means that there are now so many different ways to create income online. But how do you actually create and sell them?
Quick side note: Yes, it’s much harder to sell digital product online than it is to sell a physical product.
There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that people want to know exactly what they are buying. It is not a physical product that you can hold in your hands. You are essentially selling information, hence the name “info product” that springs to mind...
But before you get discouraged, I am super thrilled to tell you that there are so many 6-figure bloggers/content creators/onlinepreneurs out there who sell digital products! You just need the right stuff!
Let’s have a look at how you can create your first digital product and sell it online, plus a few extra tips — so make sure you stick around until the end.
How to successfully create and sell your first digital product online
Table of Contents
You might have heard of an info/digital product by now, but let’s have a quick look at the basics of selling one online.
What is a digital product?
First off, a digital product, also known as an info product, is filled with useful, actionable info and presented in a well-designed or compact way, which makes it easier to digest.
This can be anything from online courses, swipe files, printables, planners, templates, eBooks, and beyond…
The digital product can be delivered in various ways such as a PDF, video, audio clip, or even Canva templates (to see this in action, visit one of my side hustles: the TWCprintables Etsy Shop)!
Some people also give their info products away for free, either as a video on YouTube or a free PDF file in exchange for the reader’s email address (known as an opt-in freebie/lead magnet).
Choosing your first digital product
Deciding on your first digital product shouldn’t be that hard, because it is your first one. Think of it as your “first lesson” in creating your sellable info product.
When you start creating an eBook, for example, you obviously want to do a little bit of research. Through this, you learn how to create an eBook (i.e. which software to use), where to sell it, what to charge for it, etc.
Pro Tip: I would recommend something that will be quick to create and get up on the internet as soon as possible, such as a quick printable checklist or some basic Instagram Canva templates. This is so that you can get used to the idea of putting something out there and asking a price for it – just one of the many fear factors you might encounter and have to overcome.
The more info products you create, the easier it will become to decide on a new one and how to create it, etc.
After you’ve created your first product, you can start planning your next one. Soon, you will find it easier to design and price your products, as well as learn new things about your target audience.
Fears that come with selling a digital product online + how to overcome them!
The fear of letting your digital product go live
This is the most common fear that stops many people from creating a digital product, putting it out there, and actually asking money for it.
In my time as a blogger and online business owner, I have seen some great products, as well as some terrible, useless ones. This alone has allowed me to publish my own offers, because “if they can do it, why can’t I?”
(This is also the mindset I had when I had to go for my driver’s license! I mean, have you seen the amount of amoebas who just shouldn’t be allowed on the road?!)
The design fear
Just like useless digital products, there are some badly designed ones out there. But then there are simply gorgeous ones, too, and you think to yourself “how can this not sell?”.
To overcome this fear, you need to accept the fact that no one is born with mad design skills and Photoshop/Canva savviness. I also had to teach myself nearly everything I know in terms of design.
Pro tip: You don’t need expensive design software or a degree in graphic design to create your digital products! You can make pretty things by using Canva!
The pricing fear
This is another common fear factor for most. What if my products are too expensive and no one will buy? What if I’m too cheap and people wonder what the heck is wrong with it?
It’s all about value. I see people on Etsy selling the printable version of their own art for $2 and my first thought is: “How can you undervalue yourself and your work like that!?” Even if it means they might make more sales than other people who ask $12 for the same type of art printable, do they really think the $2 will cover all of their overhead costs, time, and branding? I think not…
Don’t play the “race to the bottom game” by being cheaper than the rest, hoping it will sell more. I have been there. It’s not worth it!
Keep in mind how long it takes you to design and create a digital product, which hardware you used, which paid services or software, and so on. This should also give you an idea of the “value” of your product.
“Is it good enough?” you ask, “How can I make it even better?”. It was probably at its best 2 hours ago! To be honest, this has always been my worst fear (and still is…).
I have always tried to make everything uber-perfect – spending hours on design and presentation, wondering if it will “make the cut” and how it will compare to similar offers out there.
Two quotes have helped me overcome this fear, well most of the time. Of Sheryl Sandberg: “Done is better than perfect” and Rob Moore’s quote: “Start now. Get perfect later.” Just get it done! You can always go back to make something better if you want to.
Also, I have found that people tend to value something more if it has solved their problem than if it just looks really pretty.
How do I know that my digital product will sell?
When I just started out with creating digital products to sell on Etsy, I just kept on creating at random. And I thought about how awesome and how helpful my new printables are and why people would buy it. I genuinely thought I would make millions with my new stuff…
And the reason for this, other than the fact that I didn’t promote it much outside of Etsy, is that no one really needed it. I didn’t do proper research before creating my printables.
The key to verifying if your new digital product will actually sell is to determine its role and purpose in other people’s lives.
- Does it provide a solution?
- Does it have actionable content and information?
- Does it add value to their lives?
A good way to find out if your product is viable, or to find ideas for viable products, is to search in Facebook groups. There are plenty of Facebook groups out there for any niche or topic, even for Golden Retrievers! Go through posts in the group and make use of the search box in a group to find ideas for info products.
Example: I am in a group for female digital nomads. One of the most common questions asked is which countries and cities are deemed safe for solo women to travel to. I can easily do research on this and whip up a swipe file/smallish eBook/PDF with data and statistics, including tips, what to pack, handy phrases and words for dangerous scenarios, and so on. Will some of them pay for it? You bet! Why? Because it solves a common problem for them.
Where to sell your digital product
If you want 100% of the profit made for selling an info product, your best option is to create a website/blog where you can offer these. A giant curveball though, is that people need to establish trust before they buy anything from your website.
Pro tip: When it comes to using software or a platform to sell your goods, you need to keep in mind that the most expensive plan they offer, isn’t necessarily the best option for you. Think about your needs and requirements. If your digital products sell really well, you can start thinking about scaling to higher priced plans to unlock better features…
However, if you don’t have the means to start, or the money just yet (because you really should consider selling on your own website eventually), I recommend you have a look at these platforms which have their own marketplaces:
Etsy is a great place for you to sell printables, digital files and templates (not so much eBooks and courses, though, but I have spotted some help guides here and there so it might change…).
Do a quick search for ‘instant download’ on Etsy to get some ideas. Get started for $0.20 per listing you add, or sign up here to get 40 Free listings.
A smaller platform to sell on with a marketplace. You need to offer a few products and make sure to do a lot of outside promotion such as social media. A great thing about Gumroad is that, once you have a blog or website, you don’t have to move your listings there — you can simply embed each product directly from Gumroad by copying a special piece of code they give you. Free plan available.
**You might also be interested in the following platforms. They don’t have a marketplace, so promoting your products is your own responsibility — keep in mind that this is important, otherwise you won’t make any sales at all! So make use of social media, Pinterest, YouTube, or your blog to promote your products:
This is similar to Gumroad but without the marketplace and with more features available. Cheapest plan starts at $9 a month, but is very limited, so I recommend the $15 Standard offer. I personally love the affiliate feature, because it is simple to set up and encourages other people to promote your products for you. For a full breakdown of SendOwl’s plans and pricing, go here to visit one of my favorite platforms to sell on.
**To sell your courses, I recommend these:
Udemy – includes a marketplace where your courses can be found by search. No fees, but you share a percentage of your revenue based on how you got the sale. For more info on this, go here.
Skillshare – Publishing your course on SkillShare is free. You will earn between $0.05 and $0.10 per minute watched, and also $10 for every person that you send their way through a unique link you share with others. More info here.
Teachable – My ultimate favorite course platform! They have tons of features available, including an affiliate feature for others to promote your course, and landing page builders for pitching your offer to potential students. Pricing info can be found here.
How to price your digital-product
Deciding on what to charge for your digital product is not too complicated. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s all about value: how much you value yourself and your work + how much value you give to potential buyers.
There isn’t a winning formula that will tell you exactly what price to slap onto your product. Instead, you can do the following:
- Check out about 5 of your competitors – what do they ask for their similar products and what it entails. Write down their pricing and try to find a reasonable price point from there.
- Work out what you put in: make a list of how many hours you spent on doing research, mapping out your design, and creating it + work out an hourly rate for yourself, what paid platforms and software you used + their pricing, what other materials you used (maybe you’re renting a laptop), your internet connection, and so on. Work out how many copies of your digital product you need to sell each month to cover the costs, and adjust from there…
- Work out how valuable the product is. If you’re solving a critical problem, how much do you think someone will pay to solve that problem. If you were that person, with that problem, how much would you pay?
Example: Let’s say you offer an eBook for $9, and you need to make $200 to cover all your costs every month. You will have to sell about 23 eBooks per month. Is it doable?
Luckily with digital products, you can offer multiple things to reach your monthly income goals, so don’t be afraid to offer variety. If you want to create only eBooks, that’s okay, but you will have to create more than one to be successful. Instead, you can make more profit in less time from selling eBooks AND multiple online courses AND some additional printables or templates as well.
How to create your digital product
There is no definite correct way of creating your digital product from start to finish, but I can give you the steps I use to create my products with an example of each…
Step 1: Research your target audience + a problem they have that needs solving
I mentioned earlier how you can find ideas for your digital products in Facebook groups. You can either scroll through posts, use the search bar in the group, or better yet, ask a question.
Example: A few months ago, I wanted to create a wedding related product for my wedding blog. So I asked in one of the wedding groups on Facebook what the main struggles (pain points/problems that need solving) for brides (target audience) are when they have to plan their wedding. One of the pain points that were mentioned plenty of times was that brides struggle to create and manage a wedding budget.
Step 2: Plan it all out on paper/digital + do research on the topic
The next step is all about research and planning. You can use Google, Pinterest and YouTube to find valuable info on the topic/problem that needs solving to get ideas of what to include in your product.
Get out a piece of paper or open Google Docs and jot down all of the key points you have researched so far. Use this as a “brainstorm sheet” to start the planning process.
Example: Once I started researching wedding budgets, I have figured out a way to present the wedding budget in terms of categories for each wedding aspect, i.e. decor, food, attire and so on. I also noticed there are a lot of hidden costs at weddings, so I wanted to include that somewhere as well. I used Trello to plan out my info product which helped me to form a list of all the things that are important to add in this product.
Step 3: Decide how you’re going to deliver it + the pricing structure
The third step is to decide on the product delivery. You also need to work out how much you want to ask for your product (refer back to the previous section in this post where I discussed pricing). Also think about where your digital product will be offered, i.e. your blog, on Etsy or elsewhere.
Example: I didn’t want to create a course, because most brides won’t pay for that, and it’s not enough info for an entire course, or an eBook (unless I expand into the whole “saving money on your wedding” topic). So I decided on creating printables that I will sell on Etsy. I couldn’t ask too much for it, because wedding printables are super competitive on Etsy (if I hosted it on my blog, maybe I could ask more). So I decided on $5, for my basic product. I could afford asking this amount, because I had other digital products to offer as well.
Update: Selling editable Canva templates is way more lucrative than printables, so the wedding budget is converted into that and goes for $14.50 in my Etsy shop instead.
Update 2: I have created a very detailed wedding planner Canva template, in which I have included the wedding budget. This is now priced at $20 on Etsy.
Do you notice how you can expand your entry level digital product into more products and bundles, and charge a little more for them?
The steps I have mentioned so far has turned this little printable into one of my top sellers on Etsy, peaking in 2020 when I promoted it aggressively.
This digital product also sold really well simply because I did thorough research on a pain point, and figured out how to solve it for my target audience. I also made a point of mentioning it nearly everywhere on my blog and created pins for it on Pinterest.
Note the caption: The screenshot above is also proof why you should drive your own traffic to your info-product, even if you sell on a marketplace such as Etsy. A blog helps you a lot, but takes time to build up – however, if you want to get started, you can read this post here.
A side note on the screenshot above: Why the decline in sales/traffic? It was around that time that I shifted my focus to selling Canva templates on Etsy instead.
Step 4: Choose a design program
When you have decided on how you will deliver your digital product, step four is to decide how to design it. For printables, PDF’s, eBooks and other digital downloads in a readable format, I would recommend Canva (if you don’t know how to use InDesign or Photoshop).
A newer feature of Canva is that you can create a slideshow and present and record it without having to leave the platform. Nifty!
Pro Tip: I chose Canva to design my digital products (even though I know Photoshop and InDesign really well), because it’s much faster to design things the way I want with this online tool – not to mention the nifty features to organize, access, and share your designs. So give it a try with this free trial of the very affordable Pro version (move to the free version at any time!)
Step 5: Publish + Get the word out
The last step is to get your digital product out there and start promoting it. If you’re using Etsy, you can simply create a listing for your brand new product. Etsy does have a marketplace, but you need to bring in extra traffic from outside to make even more sales.
No matter where you decide to sell your new product, make sure to promote it in every way you can through Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and all the channels you’d like, for extra traffic and sales!
Example: I have written a few wedding budget related blog posts on my other blog and casually mentioned my wedding budget printables in those posts. I get a lot of traffic to that blog, so many people click on the links to my Etsy product, which in turn generates more Etsy sales. I have found this to be the most profitable way of generating Etsy sales.
A few tips for creating your first digital product
Before I sign off, I’d like to give you a few extra tips when you want to start creating your own digital product…
1. Make sure the pricing is right
Remember how I mentioned “value” a few times when it comes to pricing? That is the most important thing to remember. However, you cannot charge too much for a product if you don’t offer extreme value, bonuses and VIP treatment to buyers – this is especially true for online courses.
On the other hand, don’t ask too little for something you know is worth more than what the competition is asking for it.
2. Gain trust
People tend to buy more from someone they can trust, get to know and actually like. So if you’re selling on your blog, make sure that people can get a chance to know you, either through a photo of yourself, your social channels or a killer about section. Building up an email list is one of the best ways to build trust, because you can personally send them all your goodies right into their inbox.
Also make sure that what you offer looks professional, and without any obvious errors – use a spell checker wherever possible.
3. Be transparent with your offer
People want to know exactly what they are getting when they pay for it. So give as much detail as possible. Think about obvious things such as document size, file format, video length, bonuses, etc. Max out that description box and add some screenshots even, if you can!
4. Focus more on the purpose than the design of your digital product
Like I said earlier, what use is a digital product if it’s all about the pretty design and color scheme, paired with whimsical fonts and all that? You’ll likely end up with a lot of disappointed customers who demand refunds.
Make sure that what you offer actually gives value, or provides a solution to a problem. Then you can focus a little bit on the design afterwards, but try not to go down that rabbit hole. Which brings me to tip #5…
5. Get it done, get it out there!
Remember the two quotes I mentioned earlier? Well, here they are again, just to remind you…
Sheryl Sandberg: “Done is better than perfect”;
Rob Moore: “Start now. Get perfect later.”
You can always go back later to an already-live digital product and update, perfect and tweak it to your heart’s content. Also, make sure that what you improve on actually makes the product better and more effective, not worse.
6. Promote, promote, promote!
Promoting your product is the golden key to getting sales. Because, how do you want people to buy what you offer, if they don’t even know about it, or you? Use as many channels as you can and make sure that you stand out from the crowd by using eye-catching graphics and good copy!
7. Bonus tip: remember the power of SEO!
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is all about the use of keywords. These keywords are what people type into a search engine like Google, for example. Any website with a search box (Pinterest, YouTube, Etsy, and even your blog) will make use of keywords you type in to find what you’re looking for.
When it comes to offering a digital product, make sure you do a little bit of research about what to call it. “Y1EL” (Your First Email List) may be cute for your new course, but no search engine will know what “Y1EL” is when you type it in. Also, no one will know what to search for to actually find you!
Use proper phrases, words, and keywords, and think about what you would type in the search box to find your digital product.