If you’re trying to make money from a blog or website you’ve probably tried things like AdSense, Amazon Associates, other affiliate programs, and maybe even sponsored content. All of those can be effective ways to make money, but in my opinion, none of them matches the potential of creating and selling your own digital products.
Creating and selling your own product may sound intimidating if you’ve never done it before… I know it did to me.
But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be complicated. In this article we’ll look at why you should consider selling a digital product, and I’ll show you the easiest way to get your own product for sale.
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When I started my first blog back in 2007 I was monetizing it by offering services. It worked well because I could use the blog to attract traffic, and if even just a small percentage of visitors wound up becoming clients I could make some decent money with this side hustle. But I quickly realized that I didn’t enjoy the client work, so I switch to monetize my site with ads. For a few years the ad revenue was great, but I was under never-ending pressure to keep the blog’s traffic increasing if I wanted to increase my income.
After a few years I decided to start creating and selling digital products, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my business. Not only did my income increase, but it also allowed me to stop worrying about what would happen if my site’s traffic decreased. That traffic actually did decrease, but it didn’t impact my income. I was able to offer more products for sale and increase the dollar amount of my average sale, and my income actually increased even with less traffic.
For the past several years I’ve been selling digital products as one of my primary sources of income. It’s easily my favorite way to monetize a website or blog, and I definitely recommend it to other bloggers who are looking for a way to make money.
Not only are digital products a great way to make money now, but they also give you a valuable asset that you can sell. In 2013 I sold one of my blogs (the same one I mentioned earlier) for $500,000. That blog made money in a few different ways, but the biggest chunk was from product sales.
After I sold that site I basically repeated the process in another niche. In 2016 I sold that site (actually, it was a few different sites that I sold together) for another $500,000. Digital product sales accounted for almost 100% of the income of those sites.
In both cases I had proven digital products that I was able to include in the sale of the websites, and I believe that helped me to get a higher amount when selling.
→ Related reading: How I’ve Made Over $1 Million Blogging
Why Sell Digital Products?
If you’re considering the different possibilities for monetizing your website or blog, here are some reasons why you should consider selling digital products.
1. No Inventory to Deal With
If you’re comparing a digital product business to a business that sells physical products, inventory is a huge difference. With digital products you have no inventory, and no need to invest money in inventory. You can sell the same product over and over again without needing to replenish inventory.
For two years my wife and I ran a business selling products on Amazon. It was a profitable business for us (six figures profit on part-time hours), but it was the first time I was involved with a business that involved inventory, and it was an eye opener for me. With physical products you need to invest in inventory, which means taking the risk of not being able to sell the inventory. Cash flow becomes a huge challenge because you need to put out the money months before you’ll ever be paid for selling it. It’s hard to grow and add new products without taking on debt.
You also need a place to store inventory. This either leads to added expense from renting warehouse space, or extra clutter in your house.
2. High Profit Margins
The markup on digital products tends to be much higher than the markup on physical products. This is partly because you don’t need to buy inventory. Also, the pricing of digital products seems to have more flexibility.
Pricing, regardless of what product you’re selling, is dependent on perceived value. Some physical products have a cap on perceived value, and most customers will not be willing to pay more than a certain amount.
For example, online courses often sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In some cases it would be possible to put that same information in a hardback book, but most customers have a mental limit on what they would be willing to pay for a book. Most people won’t pay a few hundred dollars for a book, but they might perceive an online course to be worth that much.
3. Low Maintenance
Digital products can also be very low maintenance for you, the seller. I’ve been selling digital products for about 8 years, and I rarely spend more than 1 hour per week on customer service (and I haven’t outsourced customer service).
Of course, the amount of customer service needed will depend on the type of product. Simple download files like PDF ebooks tend to be very low maintenance. On the other hand, a product like WordPress themes or plugins would involve much more customer service.
When my wife and I sold physical products on Amazon we put time into things like inspecting the products that we were selling, prepping and packing them, and driving to UPS to send them to Amazon’s warehouses. Those types of maintenance aren’t needed if you’re selling digital products.
4. Small Start Up Costs
It’s possible to get your first digital product created and for sale with only a very small investment. Say, for example, your first product is a PDF e-book. You could create the product for free using simple software like OpenOffice. You might want to hire a designer to create a cover for your e-book, but you could do that for $100 or less using a site like Upwork or Fiverr.
Then, when your product is ready for sale, you can use SendOwl to handle the payments and to deliver the ebook securely to your customers. SendOwl plans start as low as just $9 per month.
5. Sell to Customers Worldwide
If you’re selling physical products you’re probably limited in terms of where you can ship the product. Maybe you sell to customers in the U.S., or possibly you also ship to Canada, Mexico, and Europe.
On the other hand, you can easily sell digital products to customers all over the world. Since you don’t need to ship the product, you don’t face the same limitations and challenges. This opens up significantly more possibilities and allows you to make more money.
6. High Income Potential
Of course, not every digital product creator makes a ton of money, but the big potential is there. There are a lot of bloggers and website owners making very good money selling digital products.
If you read monthly income reports at many blogs you may have noticed that many of them made a huge jump when they started selling their own products.
Different Types of Digital Products That You Can Sell
There are a lot of different types of digital products that you can sell, and there are possibilities that would be a good fit for just about any niche. Here are just a few of the possibilities:
- Online courses
- Membership or premium content
- Music or other audio files
- Stock photos
- Website templates, WordPress themes, WordPress plugins
- Icons, Photoshop files, and other resources for graphic designers
- Software and software add ons
When Is a Good Time to Launch Your First Product?
Many bloggers struggle with knowing when to launch their first product. Do you need to have an established audience first, and are you wasting your time creating a product if you don’t already have a big audience?
It’s definitely true that having an established audience will make it easier to start selling your first product. But that doesn’t mean that you should wait until you have 100,000 subscribers on your email list before you create your own product.
Even sites with low traffic can make good money with their own product. I’ve sold products at some of my sites that have only 200 or so visitors per day. Now, those products didn’t set the world on fire, but they did make more than enough money to be worth my time.
If you’re going to be selling a product at a blog or website with a small audience it’s important to be sure that your target audience is very well defined and that your product is a great fit that many people in that target audience will need.
There are also a lot of ways to sell your product even if you have a small audience of your own, and we’ll look at some of those possibilities later in the article.
A few of my most successful websites launched with digital products and no existing audience. I had products that I thought people would want, I created the products before creating the site, then I launched the site and worked to get traffic to it.
So the point is, it’s really never too early to create your own product. The key is to create a high-quality products that customers will love.
How to Sell Your Own Digital Products (the Easy Way)
There are several different ways you can go about selling your digital products and delivering them to customers, but one of my favorite options is to use SendOwl. One of the reasons I love SendOwl is because it’s very quick and easy to set up. If you’re just getting started with your first digital product you will definitely appreciate how easy it is to use SendOwl.
When I started selling my first digital products I tried several different e-commerce platforms and checkouts. Everything I tried proved to be very complicated to set up, and I really just wanted something simple and easy. Eventually I came across SendOwl (it was called Digital Deliver App back then) and I loved it as soon as I tried it.
If you’re considering creating and selling your own digital products, I highly recommend using SendOwl. There are a number of reasons why I recommend them, including:
- You can get your first product set up and for sale in a matter of minutes.
- You won’t need any technical experience or coding skills, and you won’t need to hire a web developer.
- You can sell your products from anywhere (your blog, website, social media).
- Although SendOwl is simple and easy to use, it also has a lot of very powerful features.
- The customer service is excellent.
- SendOwl is a small company and they are always working to improve their product and introduce new features.
- The checkout is hosted by SendOwl, which means credit card numbers won’t be stored on your server and you won’t need to worry about the associated security issues.
- SendOwl allows you to set up an affiliate program so other bloggers and website owners to promote your products.
- Your customers will automatically get access to download the products they purchase.
- SendOwl will protect your digital files from being downloaded without authorization.
- And much more.
SendOwl pricing is based on how many products you sell and how much storage space you’ll need. Pricing starts at just $9 per month, which allows you to sell up to 10 products with 1 GB of storage space. It’s important to note that SendOwl does not charge any fees per sale, just the monthly fee. You’ll have fees from PayPal or your payment gateway, but SendOwl does not charge you anything per transaction.
I personally used SendOwl for several years. I’m not currently using it because I sold the sites where I was using SendOwl, but I’m a happy former customer who would definitely go back to their service in the future.
So now that we’ve covered some of the reasons why you would want to use SendOwl to take orders and deliver your digital products, let’s look at the basic steps to get it set up.
Step 1: Create Your SendOwl Account
First, you’ll need to create an account at SendOwl. Creating your account takes just a minute and they offer a 30-day free trail with no credit card required. To sign up you only need to enter your name, email address, and country. Once you’ve done that you’ll see the dashboard for your new account.
Step 2: Connect a Payment Gateway
The next step is to connect a payment gateway. By default, SendOwl will connect to a PayPal account using the same email address as your SendOwl account. If you want to change it to a different PayPal email address, simply click on “change” and enter the correct email.
If you want to use a different payment gateway, just click on the link and you’ll be able to select the gateway of your choice.
You can also connect to multiple payment gateways. For example, when I used SendOwl I had Stripe set up as my default gateway for customers who wanted to pay with a credit card. Alternatively, they could choose to pay by PayPal.
Step 3: Set Up Your First Product
The next step is to add your first product. Just click on the “add a product” button.
Next, SendOwl will ask you what you want to sell. Click on “product”.
Next, you’ll enter a name for your product, set the price, and attach/upload the file for the product.
That’s all you have to do to set up your product in SendOwl, and it is now ready to be sold! You should now see a page like the screenshot below.
This page gives you a “quick sell” link that you can use to direct people to your checkout. At the bottom you’ll see code for a “buy now” button that you can add to your website or blog. You can also get the code for an “add to cart” button if you’re selling multiple products and you want to allow customers to add more than one product to a cart before checking out.
If you have a WordPress blog or website, you can copy the button code and paste it into your page or post, just make sure that you are on the “text” tab in the WordPress editor (as shown below) and not on the “visual” tab.
Step 4: Configure Your Account Settings
Once you have your product set up, I recommend that you check the settings in SendOwl and change them as need. To do this, click on “settings” in the left sidebar.
Under “checkout” you can customize the shopping cart and checkout (things like colors and layout). Under “notifications” you customize the text of emails customers will receive after an order, and in other situations. Click around the settings and see what you’d like to change. You can also set up sales tax rules.
Step 5: Promote Your Product
At this point you’re ready to start selling. There are a lot of other things you can do, like create upsell offers, create coupon codes, and integrate with a mailing list.
Ways to Promote and Sell Your Product
There are a lot of different ways that you can get exposure for your product and generate sales. Here are just a few ideas.
- Promote to your existing email list.
- Promote in the content of your blog posts.
- Promote through your social profiles.
- Create banners and other “ads” for your product on your website or blog.
- Buy ads on Facebook, Pinterest, Google, Bing, etc.
- Set up your affiliate program in SendOwl and get others to promote your products as an affiliate.
- Create a free version of your product with limited functionality, get people to try the free version and ask them to upgrade if they like it.
- Get interviewed by other bloggers and podcasts where you can mention your product.
My Tips for Selling Digital Products
If you’re just getting started with your first digital product, here are a few tips from my own experience.
1. Start Small
Don’t choose anything complicated or overwhelming for your first product. For example, I’d recommend creating a brief e-book before trying to create an in-depth high-end video course. You’ll learn a lot from the experience of selling your first product, and your future products will be easier and likely more profitable since you know what you’re doing.
2. Gauge the Interest of Your Audience
If you have an existing audience, like a blog or email list, take some time to see what types of products they would buy. You can run a survey or poll and ask for their feedback, so you know you’re creating a product that you’re audience will care about.
If you don’t have an existing audience you can use resources like Facebook groups, forums, and social networks where your target audience hangs out.
3. Keep it Simple
Keep your first product as simple as possible. Choose something that you can create quickly, get it up for sale, and then work on promoting it. I know I’ve said it several times throughout this article, but I love the simplicity of selling digital products with SendOwl. Some e-commerce platforms can take days and weeks to set up.
When you’re just getting started with your first product I think it’s important to choose a platform that makes it easy so you can spend as little time as possible on the technical details and getting it set up. You don’t want to spend a month setting up a product that you don’t even know will sell.
Get Started with a Free Trial of SendOwl
If you’ve considered creating and selling your own digital product, I highly suggest moving forward and sign up for a free trial of SendOwl. You can try it for 30 days to see just how easy it is to use.
And if you already have a product that you’ve been selling with another platform, take a few minutes to see if SendOwl would allow you to save time or do things that you can’t do with your current set up.
Head over to SendOwl when you are ready to start your free trial.
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