Trying to figure out the best digital products to sell online? 🤔
While many people focus on display ads and affiliate marketing as website monetization strategies, selling digital products has rapidly grown to become one of the most lucrative ways to monetize your website.
You can use digital products as a standalone strategy or you can combine them with display ads and affiliate marketing to build diverse revenue streams.
But what are the best digital products to sell online?
➡️ In this post, we’re going to share a bunch of ideas, including looking at the most popular types of digital products as well as some unique ideas that you won’t see everywhere else.
The most popular digital products to sell online (based on data)
- eBooks 📱
- Software 💿
- Applications 💻
- Digital artwork and graphics 🎨
- Templates for cloud design platforms ☁️
- Fonts ✍️
- Audio clips and music 🎧
- Photography 📷
- Video 📹
- Documents 📋
- Spreadsheets (e.g. a Sheets document to achieve some goal) 📝
- Courses 👨🎓
- Professional services 🔧
- Tickets 🎫
So, that gives you an idea of the general areas in which creators make money with digital products online.
But is that enough information? Not really.
We know any old eBook won’t sell well; photography is an incredibly tough market; software could range from anything from B2B content management to golf course tee sheet software.
So, where do you start?
The most unique, high-profit digital products to sell online
Well, that list from Easy Digital Downloads is a wonderful place to begin, but we must dig deeper.
That’s why, in this article, we’re taking it beyond general “categories” and “product types” to explore some unique, high-profit, in-demand digital products to sell online.
In fact, we have tried to ensure that each digital product in our list has the following characteristics:
- Requires special knowledge, but is easy enough for most creators to become experts.
- Unique (not just the usual “how to make money online” eBook)
- High-demand (is there an industry or group of hobbyists that always needs a particular digital product?)
- Problem-solving (since it’s much easier to sell digital products that solve problems than it is to sell entertainment)
1. Photo-oriented eBooks about health, diets, or pets
One way to stand out in a crowded eBook market is by creating visually beautiful books that incorporate heavy usage of photos, illustrations, or graphic designs.
These visually oriented eBooks usually require multiple skills and, therefore, don’t have as many people competing for the space: a vegan cookbook with tutorial pictures requires photography, writing, and cooking skills.
To narrow the niche even further, consider smaller niches that have rabid followings and could benefit from beautiful imagery:
- Health: Give readers visual cues and step-by-step workouts; present self-healing methods; take pictures of edible plants and explain their healing benefits.
- Diets: Cookbooks and pictures make a perfect pair, but it’s essential to stand out with a niche. Think of diets like gluten-free, ketogenic, intermittent fasting, and Paleo.
- Pets: Show visual tutorials for dog training, cat care, aquarium building, and teaching birds to speak.
Finally, a huge benefit is that all of these visual eBooks convert nicely into physical products to sell, too!
Kyra Sundance, of Domorewithyourdog.com, sells a highly successful collection of eBooks (and physical books) about dog tricks, games, and general training.
Her book 101 Dog Tricks features thousands of photos to complement the actual tutorials provided.
2. Digital artwork made specifically for merchandise sellers
With the rise of dropshipping and print-on-demand, online merchants have a need for designs; not just any old designs, but those specifically made with merchandise in mind.
You may think it’s possible to slap any graphic design on a t-shirt or mug, but that’s far from the case. Merchandise designs have specific requirements:
- Colors must be bright.
- Embroidery products can only have one or two colors in them, and the designs can’t have too much detail.
- Print files must be high resolution.
- You often need to provide multiple file types like JPEG, PNG, and vector (for editing) formats.
- DPI (dots per inch) is a massive deal in printing. More dots mean a sharper print.
- They usually require transparent backgrounds (except for direct to garment prints).
- The colors can’t clash with the material’s shade.
The idea is to create merchandise design templates to sell on marketplaces and your website. Better yet, design for specific industries.
The Vector Lab has evolved into such a successful business that you can find its designs in many merchandise stores you enter at National Parks, amusement parks, and local breweries.
They sell affordable, stylish design bundles for sellers to customize for their own brands and put on merchandise.
3. Curated audio clips for unique environments
From meditation to remote working, people want to listen to particular music to get in the mood, focus, or regain their energy.
Here’s the rub: There’s an endless amount of free (YouTube) or cheap (Spotify) music available online.
However, free music is rarely curated for specific environments. You can find some on YouTube, but they’re chopped up by ads, often hit-or-miss in quality, and they rarely offer more than a few hours before you must search for another clip.
Curation is the key here. As is a niche environment, like:
- Writing (or other work that requires non-vocal music)
- Power lifting
The list goes on and on.
The Calm app sells a subscription with many elements, but one of its key components is curated music for sleep and meditation.
4. 3D models for real estate, architecture, and engineering
If you’ve recently purchased or hunted for a home, you may have seen new technologies like digital staging and 3D interior models. These models are surging in popularity due to their impeccable detail, interactivity, and relative affordability compared to walking through an entire building and filming every inch of it.
Many 3D models are entirely customized for their projects, but many professions use models, or templates, to get started. If you have the design skills, 3D models are wonderful digital products to sell online, especially to:
- Game designers
- Real estate agents
- Some eCommerce brands
- Digital artists
- TV and film directors/editors
Shutterstock’s Turbosquid marketplace is filled with independent designers selling 3D models of buildings, landscapes, cities, and even more specific 3D models like automobiles, body parts (for medical fields), furniture, and technology.
5. Courses that help people understand societal shifts (like cryptocurrency)
The online course market primarily caters to those trying to gain skills. And that makes sense, considering a “course” is, most often, a learning experience.
Yet, there’s a part of the equation missing. There are several highly successful online teachers who focus on “understanding” rather than mastery or expertise.
Many of these online courses teach to the senior community, but there are other niches like travelers, ex-pats, or simply curious people who want a basic understanding of a topic.
These courses tend to cover societal shifts or entirely new/foreign technologies, ideas, or even topics that are interesting but not understood by the public.
Some examples include:
- Mobile technology, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
- Job markets (especially for people who have been out of the market for a while)
- Social media platforms
- Basic fashion
- Global warming
- Socioeconomic disputes
- Cultural norms
- The sharing economy
- Online banking
- Digital music
- Digital cameras
- Artificial intelligence
- Stem cell technology
Alexiei Dingli sells a successful online course on Udemy that helps school teachers gain a better understanding of artificial intelligence. This way, those same teachers can turn around and have intelligent conversations about AI with their students or even teach about it.
Remember, these types of courses are not about mastery, but understanding. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Classroom course doesn’t strive to make its students expert AI programmers; it’s meant to help them feel more comfortable with the subject.
Advantages of selling digital products over physical ones
We can’t say for certain that finding digital products to sell online renders more profits than physical ones. However, we can look at the benefits of digital products to show that they’re often less risky, lower stress, and provide potential for higher profits.
Here are the main benefits of selling digital products online:
- Desirable profit margins: With low upfront costs and minimal overhead, most of the money goes in your pocket after each sale. The main thing you give up is the initial time required to make the digital product to sell online.
- Wider market of customers: People tend to purchase digital products when they can’t afford something, or when it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on something like in-person training or customized design. Therefore, you’re opening up your sales to the masses, not just those who can afford pricey services.
- You stop trading time for money: Selling a service is a great way to make money, but it means your livelihood is tied to time. Digital products sell on their own, even if you go on vacation, get sick, or go to the bathroom.
- Lower startup and overhead costs: Digital products don’t require warehouses, shipping fees, or employees to pack and pick them up.
- Easy scaling: You can expand your business without having to worry about many extra costs, since much of it relies on software.
- Inventory never goes to zero: You only need one file, but can sell the thing thousands, or even millions, of times.
- Instant delivery: Customers wait for an email or download link, and that’s it.
- High potential for automation: From automated welcome emails to receipts that send out coupons, digital products make for wonderful passive income.
- Flexible pricing options: Sell bundles, tiered packages, subscriptions, recurring memberships, and even highly priced lifetime sales.
Potential downsides of selling digital products online
With all good things, there are always downsides. Although we recommend seeking digital products to sell online, you must keep some disadvantages in mind:
- You can’t sell digital products everywhere: Many marketplaces have restrictions or all-out bans on digital products. It’s usually for a good reason, considering some marketplaces are only meant for in-person sales, or they don’t have the fraud protection in place for digital sales. For instance, Craigslist prohibits all digital sales. As does Facebook Marketplace; most social sites do. You’ll also find restrictions on places like eBay and Amazon.
- There are some ongoing fees: It’s not entirely free to sell digital products. You must pay for necessary software to build the digital goods (like Photoshop for design or Ulysses for an eBook), and there are marketing and sales costs like hosting, domain names, payment processing fees, and customer support.
- There’s typically ongoing maintenance: Customer support is one area of maintenance that digital product sellers often forget about. But you should expect to receive emails from your customers. In addition, you’ll probably have to update the digital products regularly: for example typos and outdated information in eBooks or if you create an entire online course about Shopify, but then they go ahead and change the whole interface.
- Piracy is a threat: There are tools to prevent people from stealing your work, but it’s never foolproof. Much like ecommerce fraud, this is a risk that comes with selling online, so you should get the right tools to protect your work, and minimize any emotional responses when it does inevitably happen. Furthermore, think about having some sort of legal help on-call, just in case you need to take action.
- Free content is also a threat: From YouTube to pirated content, and free blogs to open-source software, you must constantly answer this question for customers: “Why would I pay you if I can get it for free somewhere else?” Luckily, you’ll have a nice selling proposition and a unique product.
Launch your digital product today
Finding digital products to sell online requires you to check off the following:
- 🧑🏼🏫 Does the digital product require you to have special knowledge? Is that knowledge attainable with some work?
- ❄️ Is the product unique? It’s fine to write another “how to make money online” book, but you better have a unique perspective.
- 💵 Is it profitable? Check to see if others are making a living with similar ideas.
- 💡 Does it solve a problem? You’re more likely to sell digital products that relieve pain compared to ones that provide pleasure (entertainment).
We covered some digital products to sell online, and all of them meet the requirements listed above. Use these examples to create your own online business, or take them as inspiration to look into other industries, niches, and ideas.
If you have any questions or thoughts about other digital products to sell online, leave us a note in the comments section.