How to Get Started Selling Your Own Digital Product

Creating and selling your own digital product is one of the most effective ways to monetize your website or blog. It may seem like a pretty intimidating idea if you have never created your own product, but it really doesn’t have to be that complicated, and in this article we’ll take a look at what is involved with selling your own digital product.

If you’ve considered selling your own product, or if you are just looking for a good way to make some money from your website or blog, I think the details covered in this article will prove to a helpful introduction to the subject.

How to Get Started Selling Your Own Digital Product

Common Types of Digital Products

While there are endless possibilities when it comes to creating and selling digital products, there are a few types of products that tend to be the most common. Each of these types of product provides plenty of opportunity for you to make money.

1. E-books

Possibly the most common type of digital product to sell, and the first one that comes to mind for most people, is the e-book. E-books have been popular for years, both for buyers and sellers. E-books are relatively easy and inexpensive to create and are a possibility for a website or blog in just about any niche. Another thing to love about selling e-books is that they generally require very little customer service.

2. Online Courses

Another popular type of info product is the online course. Video courses can be found on just about any topic imaginable, and text-based courses are also an option. Customers like online courses because they can learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. From the perspective of the creator/seller online courses, teaching can be a fabulous way to earn income. If you’ve already established your reputation or expertise in a particular industry or niche, creating and selling access to a course could be a great way to monetize your website or blog. Customers also place a high value on learning, so quality courses can be sold for high prices.

3. Premium Content

While there are millions of blogs publishing content that can be read for free, there may be some cases where you want only allow your content to be seen by paying customers. This could be set up in the form of a membership website, or you could sell articles, videos, or podcasts individually.

4. Software

Another extremely popular type of digital product is software, which can even include things like WordPress plugins. A popular software product has huge income potential, which is one of the reasons why this approach is so popular. The downside of creating a software product is that you will need to hire a professional developer to create it for you (unless you are a developer yourself), and you’ll also need to provide more customer support than you would with some other types of products, such as e-books.

Although creating a software product does involve some financial investment, it can still be a highly profitable venture. Affordable developers can be found at sites like Elance and Freelancer.com, but be sure that you are hiring a quality developer and not just the one with the lowest price.

5. Templates/Themes

Website templates and WordPress themes are also very popular types of products. With countless new websites being launched each day, and plenty of older ones that need to be re-designed, the market for these products is huge. WordPress isn’t the only CMS that offers opportunities for making money by selling themes/templates, but it is the most popular right now. If you’re not a designer/developer you would need to hire someone to create the template or theme for you, and similar to selling a software products, templates and themes will usually require significant time for customer service.

Of course, these are just some of the types of digital products that you could create or sell. You can use your creativity to come up with plenty of other options, these are simply popular examples.

Why Would You Want to Sell a Digital Product?

If it’s possible to make money by promoting other people’s products as an affiliate, why would you want to go to the trouble of creating your own product? Well, there are several reasons why you might want to create you own product, and one of the most significant is the unlimited income potential. Many of the most successful internet marketers have made at least some of their money by selling their own product. If your product is successful and popular you stand to make a great income from it. You also have control over all the details of the product and its pricing, which is not the case if you are promoting a product as an affiliate. Plus, having your own product is great for branding yourself as an authority on a particular subject.

RELATED READING: 7 Reasons to Sell Your Own Digital Products

What You Will Need to Start Selling Your Own Digital Product

There aren’t a lot of requirements or expenses for getting started with selling digital products, and in this section we’ll take a look at the specifics of what you will need.

1. Your Own Website

Chances are, if you are reading this article you already have your own website. But just in case you don’t, that would be a place to start. I recommend using SiteGround for web hosting, and this page will lead you through the process of getting your website set up. SiteGround’s hosting starts at $3.95 per month, and they give you a free domain name. You can use WordPress (free) to power your website. If you’re looking for a template to give you a great-looking website, I recommend Elegant Themes and StudioPress. With either of those options you can get a professional-looking template for less than $100.

2. A Product

Of course, you’ll need to have a product to sell. It could be an e-book in PDF format, videos that you will allows customers to download, a software download or license key, a page that is protected for buyers, or any other type of digital download.

3. E-Commerce Platform

This is where many people get overwhelmed, but it actually can be quite simple. There are lots of e-commerce platforms you can choose, but if you are just getting started I highly recommend going with a simple option like SendOwl or DPD. These platforms have been created specifically for selling digital products and also for ease of use. They have plenty of powerful features, but you can get your account and your first product set up in a matter of minutes. Also important, they are very affordable. Pricing for SendOwl starts at $9 per month and pricing for DPD starts at $10 per month (both offer 30-day free trials).

SendOwl

A platform like SendOwl or DPD will do a few key things for you. First, it will handle the checkout process for your customers, and the security of the checkout as well. Second, it will integrate with your payment gateway of choice and you’ll receive the payments right away, SendOwl and DPD won’t hold your money, in fact, they never actually touch your money. Third, it will automatically provide a secure download link to your customers so they can access their purchase immediately, and you don’t have to worry about dealing with product delivery.

For guidance on getting started, see Get Started with SendOwl for E-Commerce or Get Started with DPD for E-Commerce.

DPD

4. Payment Gateway

The e-commerce platform will handle the shopping cart/checkout and the product delivery, but you’ll also need a payment gateway for collecting payment from customers. PayPal is the most common option, and it’s an easy way to get started. With PayPal customers can buy your products using their PayPal account balance or a credit card.

I’d also recommend offering another payment gateway in addition to PayPal because PayPal is not available in every country and some people prefer not to use PayPal. Stripe is a great option to use in addition to PayPal, and both DPD and SendOwl easily integrate with Stripe. Like PayPal, Stripe charges no upfront or monthly fee. Their per-transaction fees are similar to PayPal’s.

5. Email Marketing Provider (optional, but recommended)

Although it is not a requirement, I highly recommend that you also have an email marketing provider, like GetResponse. Both SendOwl and DPD will easily integrate with GetResponse so your customers can be added to your email list. Having a list of existing customers allows you to sell more products in the future and to stay in close contact with your customers. GetResponse pricing starts at $15 per month, with a 30-day free trial available.

GetResponse

Deciding on a Product

So you know you want to sell a digital product, but what type of product do you want to create? There are a few things you can do to help make this decision easier and more effective.

1. Survey Your Audience

If you have an existing blog audience or an email list, create a survey that will provide you with some feedback about the types of product that would interest them. You can ask them about the format that they prefer (such as an e-book, video course, or members-only website), and you can also ask them about the topics and the type of information that would interest them the most. This can be a great way to know that your audience has an interest in a product before you dedicate the time and/or money to create it.

2. What Types of Affiliate Products Work Well for You?

Do you promote affiliate products at your website or blog? If so, you can learn a lot about your audience by the referrals that you are able to make as an affiliate. If you make a lot of sales for other people’s e-books, chances are your audience would be interested in purchasing your e-book. Likewise, if there is a type of product that doesn’t produce much affiliate revenue for you, that might be a type of product that you want to avoid. You can use affiliate products to test your audience’s interest and make some money from those affiliate sales while you are gathering some knowledge for creating your own product.

3. Browse Blog Comments and Forums

Another great way to find what customers want is to browse blog comments and forum threads on sites in your niche. What topics are people talking about? What problems and questions do people have? If you can find a way to create a product that will solve the problems or answer the questions that many people are asking, chances are your product will be in demand.

4. Align the Product with Your Expertise

Have you already established yourself and developed a reputation within your field? If so, creating a product that is aligned with your particular area of expertise will probably make it easier to sell. If you are viewed as an expert on a topic, why not create a product on that topic? You can also consider they types of content that you publish at your blog and the post topics. If you have a large archives of posts on a particular topic, those posts could provide some excellent exposure for your product. If your posts on the topic attract search engine traffic you can put an ad or a mention of your product on the page and instantly reach targeted potential buyers.

Choosing Your E-Commerce Platform

Earlier I mentioned SendOwl and DPD because I think they are great options for anyone who is just getting started with selling a digital product. However, they are not the only options. Other more robust platforms like Shopify, Bigcommerce, and Magento also exist. Here are a few things to consider when deciding on an e-commerce platform.

1. Ease of Use

One of the first things you should look for in an e-commerce platform, especially if you are just getting started, is ease of use. This is a major reason to consider SendOwl or DPD over a more feature-rich option like Shopify, Bigcommerce, or Magento. Because SendOwl and DPD have been created specifically for digital products they don’t include a ton of other features that you’ll have no use for. That streamlined approach makes them very easy to set up and use.

2. Pricing

Of course, price is always a factor, although you shouldn’t settle for a less-than-ideal solution simply because it is cheap. The good news is that there are a number of affordable options, so price shouldn’t prevent you from being able to select a platform that will meet your needs. As I mentioned earlier, SendOwl and DPD start at $9 and $10 respectively. Shopify starts at $14 per month (with limited features) and Bigcommerce starts at $29.95 per month. All of these platforms offer room for growth if your needs increase with time.

3. User Interface

The user interface of an e-commerce platform will impact its ease of use, so this is also related to point #1. The only reason I haven’t mentioned another e-commerce platform, E-Junkie, in this article is because its user interface is outdated and not very intuitive, making it difficult to use. E-Junkie is a reliable service (I used it for a few years), but SendOwl and DPD can do the same things, and they are much easier to use.

You won’t really be able to form much of an opinion on a platform’s user interface until you have tried it for yourself. Fortunately, many e-commerce platforms offer a free trial, so you can sign up for a trial with a few different platforms and see how they compare.

4. Customer Experience

Not only do you want to think about how easy or difficult the platform will be for you to use, but you also want to consider the customer’s experience as they are purchasing your product. Is the purchase process straightforward? What about the process of getting the download link to download the product?

While you have a free trial set up, I recommend creating a test product, or your real product if it is ready, and going through a test purchase on your own. Make sure that the process is easy and painless for your customers.

5. Customer Support

The customer support that you will receive is also an important consideration. Hopefully you won’t need support very often, but when you do need support it is critical that you get timely, professional assistance.

While you have your free trial running I also recommend that you submit a support request with any e-commerce platform that you are considering using. Ask them a question related to getting your account or your first product set up and use this as a test to see what level of customer service you receive. Do they respond quickly? Are they helpful?

6. Other Features That You Need

If there are any other specific features that you need to sell your digital product take them into consideration as well. For example, if you are selling software licenses you will need a platform that supports this (both SendOwl and DPD can handle this).

Get Started!

Now that you’ve decided on a product and chosen a platform you can work on getting started. For related reading please see these articles:

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Comments

  1. says

    Hello Marc Andre !!
    It is really a wonderful tutorial you have written here, it would have been mind blowing if you had considered a video or audio podcast together with the written context..

    Marc, I personally have been considering selling a digital product not only to my wonderful audience but beyond the boundaries of my audience, My biggest challenge now is what and how factor of the product I want to offer. and secondly the medium at which my market would mediate.

    Reading this post has clearly stated what I needed and the process and methods at which one would attain that achievement of selling a digital product without stumbling blocks…. thank you for your tutorial, I guess in the journey of my digital product creation I would consult you for assistance ??..

    My Regards,
    DOK Simon

    • says

      DOK Simon,
      Thanks for your comment. I am happy to hear that this information is really useful for you. Sure, if you have some questions when you are creating your product feel free to email me (you can use the form on the contact page) and if I am able to help I will.

  2. says

    Hello Marc,

    Many of us have the urge to create our own products but the problem had being; how do we go about it?
    This sweet post with its tutorial has of course solved lots of questions bothering my mind.

    I do have plans underway with respect to creating my own blogging book and selling it to my wonderful readers but always have to apply the brakes on it as there seem to be one important thing to do or another.

    I did find this post on Kingged.com!

    • says

      Hi Emmanuel,
      Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad to hear that you have plans for creating your own product. You seem to have a very strong following at your blog and a lot of active readers, so I think it makes sense for you to sell a product.

  3. says

    Hi Marc,

    This is such a thorough tutorial! It makes me want to go ahead and create a digital product. :-)

    Because of its ease, do you recommend eBooks for those creating digital products for the first time?

    • says

      Hi Kevin,
      Thanks for your comment. I think e-books are a good choice for 2 specific reasons: 1) they are relatively easy and inexpensive to create (can be done with free software), and 2) they don’t require a large commitment of time for customer service.

      That being said, I have written and sold a few small e-books but I have a lot more experience with other digital products. For getting started I think an e-book is a pretty safe route. Since there are so many other e-books out there I would recommend choosing a pretty unique topic.

  4. says

    Hi Marc,
    Truly, you have addressed the different aspects of selling digital products. A newbie will learn what it means to sell a digital product, and a professional would be reminded what is expected to maintain the strategy that is already working!

    I like the fact that the what, why, and how of digital products have been explained. It would be difficult for one not to understand what is expected.

    I agree that the overwhelming part for most marketers would be the choosing of e-commerce platform. However, it is good to know that we have options and each has its features and functionality!
    I upvoted this post in kingged where it was shared for Internet marketers.
    http://kingged.com/started-selling-digital-product/

  5. says

    It’s revealing for newbies on how to sell digital product online.

    Of course having a website/blogging page is such an advantage with the help also with sharing a post about the product you are selling on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and so on.

    Consider these questions. What products do you want to sell online? And Are you selling your own products and services or reselling other people’s products?

    They after that, you need to strategize. The competition online is intense. In addition, some are in this post, which really helps.

    Your post has been shared on Kingged.com, IM social bookmarking site, enabling me to find this good piece.

    • says

      Hi Metz,
      Thanks for your comment. I agree with you that competition is intense for many products. I have some ideas for future posts that will cover topics related to marketing digital products to help with making more sales.

  6. says

    Hey Marc

    Digital products are definitely a great way of making some money online. The best bit about them is that they only need to be made once, and they have no shipping costs!

    I wrote an ebook for my party site, which made a few sales, but not really a big money spinner. I then thought a bit more about what my readers wanted and then went onto design party printables which I now sell in my shop.

    This works really well and I can literally sell the file over and over again. Of course it does take time to initially create the product, but once it’s done….it’s done!

    Huge fan of digital products :-)

    • says

      Hi Catherine,
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing from your experience. I think your party printables example is excellent for showing that digital products can be created in any industry… e-books aren’t the only option. Most of my experience with digital products is niche specific things like that (for me, the design and photography industries).

  7. says

    Hi Marc,

    Great article, and it will sure help newbies that are looking for guidelines on how they can start selling digital products.

    I never knew that selling Ebooks can actually put some dollars in your pocket, not until I wrote and published an eBook on dofollow backlinks- learning how to promote your website and blog posts.

    I was blown away with the response so far.

    Thanks for sharing, however, I suggest that people should use digital download plugin.

    Regards,

    James

    • says

      Hi James,
      Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad to hear that you have had really good success with selling your own e-book.

      Yes, there are a number of plugins that can be used for e-commerce as well. Personally, I prefer a system like SendOwl or DPD but I have used some plugins as well. One thing I don’t like about plugins is that the free ones typically have all kinds of add ons that you can buy for functionality that you want to add. But buying several add ons makes the free plugin more costly than an alternative solution in many cases. I like the support I’ve received from SendOwl and DPD much better than the customer support from any plugin. But you’re right, plugins are definitely a viable option.

  8. says

    Hi,

    Selling products is one of the best ways to earn money. If one is receiving targeted traffic, then one can start earning money from the very beginning.

    I have started selling my service, but also am working on my e-book, so I can serve my readers in more better way.

    The best way to succeed is to start. Trying is all you need to do, to know the real deal finally. One can read reviews and success story, but if one doesn’t act on such beautiful thing, then they miss a larger fun.

    Nice article, covering all the things one need to go for a digital product. Anyway, I found this on Kingged.

    • says

      Rohan,
      Thanks for your comment. I agree with you that the best way to learn is just to try it, thanks for mentioning that. I’m glad to hear that you are offering services and are working on selling products from your site. Those are two great monetization approaches.

  9. says

    Hi Marc,

    This is such an informative post. I am in the process of finishing up my eBook. I will not sell it though. Just get more subscribers and drive them back to the blog etc.

    I have ideas for some awesome marketing software but as you mentioned, it will definitely take a ton of research and funds for sure!!!

    When I get done with my eBook I will begin the task of getting my own digital product. I will surely have some questions for you on this one!

    Thanks for this Marc!

    • says

      Hi Steven,
      Thanks for your comment. Using an e-book to get more subscribers is also a great approach. Best of luck with your e-book. If you decide to create a product to sell and you have some questions you know where to find me.

  10. says

    Hey Marc,

    Great post there! You are doing a great job by helping newbies like me to get started and achieve success. I appreciate your efforts. Keep posting more helpful articles. From now on, I am a regular reader of your blog.

    Cheers!

    – Rohit

  11. Jose says

    Hi Marc,my brother had created a wordpress plugin it has sold rather well for the low exposure it has and right now we are doing a redesign process (I’m a graphical designer and he is a web developer like if we were made to success but haven’t) and wanted to know how to reach a bigger audience, right now the free plug-in has 10k+ downloads but we don’t have e-mail lists of these people (were downloaded from the wordpress plugin center so no direct customers) how do we reach clients? Are ads (google, facebook, etc) our only solution? what would you recommend? thanks in advance

    • says

      Hi Jose,
      The first thing I would recommend, and maybe you are already doing this, is to mention the paid version of the plugin from within the WordPress dashboard when people are using the free version. For example, the Soliloquy plugin (https://wordpress.org/plugins/soliloquy-lite/) has both a free and paid version. If you’re using the free version you will see links from your WP dashboard promoting the paid version. That is the first way that I would go about reaching the customers who are downloading the free version from WordPress.org or through their dashboards.

      Personally, I don’t do a lot of paid advertising so I am probably not the best person to give advice on that. One thing you may want to try is to use Facebook ads and target users who have been on your site before.

      There are A LOT of blogs out there that focus on WordPress. I would get in touch with as many of them as possible and see if they would be interested in doing a writeup or a review of your plugin. You could offer them a free copy of your plugin to try it out. You could also offer a few free copies or their readers if they are interested in publishing a giveaway. Another option would be to do a guest post at these blogs and include a link to your plugin in the post, if possible. For example, you could write a post that highlights 10 different WP plugins, including your own.

      • Jose says

        Hey Marc,
        Thanks for your prompt response, indeed that looks like a good way, yesterday talking with my brother he says that he does have some mails..

        Anyway your post is awesome, I found it through a guest post on another site (which proves that it works), what I would add is a way to validate your product before selling or paying for anything, though for us it has worked out well without that I always say it’s a fluke mostly because what we made was pretty much an original product and those are scace nowadays.

        Do you have any tip on that?

        Thanks again.

        Regads, Jose

        • says

          Hi Jose,
          Are you asking about how you can know that there is a demand for your product before creating it? If so, there are a few things that you can do. Check to see if there are similar products that already exist, and see if they seem to be popular or in demand. Check to see if people in your target audience are interested in your product based on forum postings, blog comments, social media interactions, etc. And also you could ask your audience or survey them to gauge their interest in a product.

  12. says

    Marc,

    I love digital products! My clients usually come to me thinking that ads on their blogs are going to make them tons of money. I’m a big advocate of selling your own stuff instead– why work for someone else when you can work for yourself?

    Great tips. Thanks for sharing. I’ll make sure to subscribe for more!

    • says

      Hi Brittany,
      Thanks for your comment. I agree, selling ads isn’t the best way to make money from a blog. The biggest and most popular blogs can make a lot of money from selling ads, but for the other 99% it is pretty difficult to make anything substantial from ad sales.

  13. says

    Hi Marc,

    This is first visit on your blog. Yes, I do agree with you that selling your own digital product is one of the effective way to monetize your blog. But before starting this, you should know more about it and work hard to create your own product. I am so much grateful you that you have explained all the necessary points in detailed. It will help all the newbies like me to achieve success in terms of money.

    Thank you again for writing an informative post.

    Regards,
    Swapnadip

  14. says

    Hi Marc,

    Nice article. I wanted to ask why actually should anybody prefer to use SendOwl or service like that, when there are WP plugins that do the job, without having to pay subscription?

    Are there any benefits services like that have?

    I have never used any of them so far, but I have used several plugins successfully.

    • says

      Hi Bobby,
      There are a few reasons. One of the big ones is support and customer service. If you’re using a free plugin the support is going to be very limited, at best. SendOwl’s support is excellent, very quick, and very helpful. The shopping cart is essential in order to make money, so making sure that it is working and will continue to work is worth paying for.

      WordPress plugins may seem like a great option, and in some cases they are, but there are downsides too. Some plugins are abandoned and not kept up-to-date with WordPress updates. That can put you in a difficult situation if you need to upgrade WordPress but your plugin is outdated and has a conflict with a new version of WP. If you’re using a system like SendOwl this is a non-issue. Also, plugins will interact with your WP database and some of them add bloat to your site and slow down page loads. SendOwl (and other similar systems like E-Junkie and DPD) do not interact with your WP database so they will no have impact on the performance of your site. I recently had a site that was using a WP plugin (Cart66) that was slowing down the site and putting a higher load on the server, so this can be a real issue.

      Lastly, I just like the interface and the features of SendOwl better than any WP plugin that I have seen or used. I will say that from my limited experience I do think Easy Digital Downloads is a nice free plugin. I have never used WooCommerce, but obviously it is very popular. But with both Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce you can wind up paying a lot of money for addons, so in many cases they are not truly free.

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