While many entrepreneurs are attracted to the e-commerce model, it is possible to build a thriving enterprise without selling physical products. Info products have been popular online for a long time, with ebooks, video courses, and software being used to deliver content and sell your knowledge online. People are eager to learn across a range of niches, so there are plenty of opportunities to find an audience.
Back when I first started blogging, selling $7 to $17 eBooks was where it was at. I knew several bloggers bringing in up to $10,000 per month just writing and selling short reports – 30-50 pages. Their success was one of the main reasons I took blogging so seriously from the beginning. With information products, you put in the work once and the product could be sold over and over again indefinitely. It could sell itself while I was sleeping, on vacation or working on other projects. It offered the opportunity to finally stop trading hours for money. And that’s something I was really interested in. And, I figured if I could sit down and write blog posts, I could write 30-page short reports as well. And I did. I have written a lot of them over the years.
When it’s time to scale your business and build additional streams of income, one of the first things you should consider is selling information online. No matter what you do to make money from home, there’s probably a corner in the market for you to set up shop and start making sales. Digital products are great because it’s a one-time investment of time and effort to create the product and get the shopping cart set up, but the potential payoff is limitless and long-term.
Best Digital Products to Sell Online
So you've decided you want to dabble in creating products. Good for you! Your next question is likely what kind of product should I create. That's a great question! You have a lot to choose from based on your niche, interests and skills:
- Stock photography
- Blog themes
- Blog plugins
- Worksheets & printables
- Spreadsheets & trackers
- Learn about 10 products that actually sell here.
eBooks and eCourses are the two most popular. There are definitely pros and cons to each.
- Lower price point making it more appealing to a larger market
- Leverage platforms like Amazon to reach a broader audience
- More passive than courses
- It's a great way to get your feet wet!
- Great way to test product ideas before creating a course
- Earning potential is often less than a course
- Some design skills may be necessary when it comes to formatting and cover design
- Editing is a must as there is often a much higher word count than in a course
- Higher price point
- Better instructional platform for step-by-step or tutorial information
- Higher perceived value
- Usually requires a more intensive launch
- More technical than writing a book
- More customer service may be required
- Courses typically include more than just text. Ex. videos, worksheets, screenshots, etc.
What's best? Regardless of what anyone says, there is no cut-and-dry path to success. In many cases, it's about what you are least uncomfortable with and willing to try (first). If that's a book, write a book. If you are ready for a course, create a course. What's most important is that you do your market research, put out a great product and market it accordingly. Products are no different than any other business venture. You can't just cross your fingers and hope for the best. You have to put in the work. But it's worth it!
Nothing ventured nothing gained.
My first step in product creation is always to see what else is out there. Are other bloggers in your industry creating books or courses? What topics are they covering? Do you see any holes in content? Is there anything you could cover better? Also, take note of what price point they are using.
The market is currently focused on digital products regardless of your industry. (No. Not only people who talk about making money blogging are making money. Avocadu.com makes over $40,000 per month selling info products related to weight loss and healthy eating. Almost 1,600 people have enrolled in this cake decorating course on Udemy for $19.99. Pixie Faire has sold over 2 million doll clothes patterns! As of 2013, Problogger had earned over $30 million(!) in eBook sales on his blogging and digital photography sites.
There are riches in the niches. Customers across the board are looking for simplified solutions they can implement right away. That's where you come in!
How to Create Information Products
While you may strike big with a single product, many successful publishers prefer to produce a range of e-products, especially those selling less expensive products as opposed to those with one signature, really expensive course. A common concern, though, is how to actually create the info product. Thankfully, there are a number of effective options, with each of the following examples being used by top info product publishers.
There are numerous sites that offer quality outsourcing services, including Constant Content, Upwork, PeoplePerHour, and more. The simplest products to create are ebooks, but you can find people who will make more complex video courses. It is important to be as specific as possible when outsourcing, ideally creating an outline of the product you want. You could, however, let freelancers complete all the research and content creation, paying a higher price for the additional work.
One thing I can’t stress enough about outsourcing product creation is to make sure you have a market ready to purchase that product to cover the cost. Survey your audience.
Create a Product Yourself
Creating a product yourself can seem daunting, but you are probably creating a product around a subject you know inside and out anyway. If you can outline a method that can be followed, interspersing your own personal anecdotes, you can create a successful product. Whether you use an ebook, video, or a combination of both can be decided by the topic and the industry standard. You can also start with blog posts you have already written. Bundle similar posts together and expand on them to create a full product.
Creating a quality product is a good first step, but building an empire will involve replicating the process and scaling up until you reach new heights. (Learn how to quickly create your first online course here.)
Where to Sell Digital Products
If you want to sell a workbook, a printable bundle, a downloadable set of videos, or an ebook, you’re in the land of digital downloads. There’s a huge opportunity here at all different price points, and there are tons of options for you to get started with selling.
When it comes to selling digital products and downloads, Gumroad is by far the leader. It was designed for the express purpose of selling digital products, and one thing people love about Gumroad is that you can integrate it directly into your own site, social sites like Facebook or YouTube, or even an email newsletter service like ConvertKit. They take a portion of each transaction (currently 5%) and a 25-cent transaction fee.
One thing I like about Gumroad is that they pay your affiliates should you choose to use them. Gumroad isn’t your only option, though, and you may decide that it makes more sense for you to go with a platform that structures its fees differently.
Clickbank is an online marketplace designed specifically for digital products, and it’s wildly popular. You’re essentially putting your products in a giant library where millions of shoppers from all over the world are looking for new products. And millions of affiliates looking for products to promote, too!
Easy Digital Downloads is a great plugin you can use if you’re running a WordPress site, and it’ll integrate directly on your site rather than being a separate web presence you’ll have to maintain. It requires a little bit of tech experience to get it all customized the way you like, so be ready for that. Fees range from nothing to $80+, and you’ll have to pay ongoing payment processor fees (like PayPal).
WooCommerce is one of the larger services for online shops, and it’s based on WordPress. It helps if you’re familiar with their system because there’s a special setup for digital products. There’s a one-time licensing fee that you’d pay depending on what you set up, and then your ongoing fees come from whatever payment processor you end up using (like PayPal).
e-Junkie is one of the easiest ways to sell digital products. It gives you buttons you can put anywhere on your site, and your customers can get instant access to whatever they’re buying. The major complaint about e-Junkie is that their own interface isn’t very “pretty,” but it’s been around for a long time because it’s so effective.
SendOwl is another great option for selling your digital products. They have buttons you can put on any site of yours, including social sites, and they connect with major payment processors like PayPal and Merchant.com. There’s a monthly fee for SendOwl, but they don’t take any cuts from your sales.
Amazon is an easy marketplace to take advantage of if selling eBooks. Have someone on Fiverr format them for Kindle and get them listed on the site. You earn 35% or 70% royalty for each sale depending on the royalty option chosen.
Etsy is often a favorite for those selling downloads like media kits, resume templates and stock photography.
There are several ways to deliver courses. Doing it via email with links to audio and/or video tracks is a popular way, and any email provider with an automation feature (like MailChimp, Aweber, or ConvertKit) will be a great option for you if you want to go that route. The vast majority of course platforms charge a monthly subscription fee.
If you’re looking for a web-based delivery, where your customer would log in to view your materials and videos, you’ll need to use a service designed for that sort of thing.
One of the big names in courses right now is Udemy. You can harness the power of their big name, but by selling your course on Udemy, you’re limited by their price cap of $50. This works for many courses, but if you’ve got something you’d like to price higher, Udemy wouldn’t work for you.
Teachable is another big name in online courses, with a fantastic interface that lets you do whatever you want with your course page. It offers solid features for a low monthly rate and it supports all types of course media (like videos and audio). It’s a great tool for a decent monthly rate, which is a big part of why it’s become so popular.
For something ideal for beginners, check out CourseCraft. It’s a simple, pay-as-you-go platform that sets you up quickly using one of their templates, with some optional custom branding features. If you’re looking for a bare-bones course platform that lets you get up and running fast, CourseCraft might be right for you.
Academy of Mine is a course platform for anyone, no matter your level of tech knowledge. It also has built-in features that allow you to develop a real community around your courses, where you can get in and interact with the students. That’s a big draw for some developers who don’t want their courses to be completely self-contained.
A similar platform is Ruzuku, which is great for people with limited technical knowledge. Its backend looks a lot like WordPress, which makes it easier to use for many people. It also has built-in live chats and webinar software, email integration, and even teleconferencing.
Both Courses and Products
Shopify is a storefront that can easily work for courses and digital downloads. It was designed for durable goods and will require an extra app called Digital Downloads for you to sell digital products. There’s a monthly fee to use Shopify, but it won’t take a cut from your sales. You can add additional apps as a workaround for video courses, but it’s not necessarily ideal or seamless. That said, if you love Shopify and you want to make it work there, look at the SendOwl and Sky Pilot apps to see if one will work for you.
Uscreen is known as the top VOD (video on demand) platform on the market today, with its fully customizable design and a robust system that can handle digital products, videos, and even mobile delivery. It has a monthly fee but won’t take cuts out of your sales.
Often membership sites, products, and online courses come together, and Kajabi is designed to be one place for everything. It comes with landing pages, file downloads, online coaching groups, video hosting, training portals, and everything else you might need for your growing business. It’s a robust software with a higher price point than many other platforms, but you also get a lot more with it.
How to Sell Your Information Products
The most common way to sell digital downloads is marketing to your own audience. If you are a blogger or website owner, this is most easily done via your email list.
- Start getting people on your email list. Get them involved and excited about the upcoming product. Creator Pass will teach you everything you need to know from getting your first 100 email subscribers to earning a full-time income from your online business.
- You can also recruit affiliates or take advantage of online marketplaces like Amazon that we discussed earlier. Even with the help, however, no one is going to sell your product as good as you.
- Consider submitting your product to joint venture opportunities like Ultimate Bundles.
- Add your product to your email funnel.
If you are ready to seriously launch your first product, I highly recommend Product Launch Playbook. It doesn’t teach you how to create the product, but instead how to sell it. The most important part! The part most of us fail miserably at. I can create products all day long, but I used to struggle to sell a single one of them.
I bought Product Launch Playbook when it first came available and it has stayed by my desk ever since. I even sent it to Staples to have printed and put into a 3-ring binder because I refer to it so much.
Within the playbook, Ruth covers:
- Launch Basics
- Getting Organized
- Priming Your Audience
- Writing to Sell
- Driving Sales
- Several of her own launches’ templates, timelines and emails including affiliate & JV launches << my most favorite part! I love – and learn the most from – seeing how other people sell their products. There is totally stuff in here you can steal.
This thing is almost 200 pages of meat-and-potatoes content that will not only help you get your first product off the ground but also make more sales on products you already have, create better connections with your audience and become a super affiliate. Unfortunately, it’s not always available to purchase. It is usually only available once or twice per year. But, you can sign up for notifications here.