Selling digital downloads is a profitable business model because there’s practically no overhead. With no inventory to store and a huge potential audience waiting online, there’s no reason that you can’t earn extra money – or even replace your income – selling digital downloads.
If you’ve never done it before, you probably need some guidance to get started. That’s why I’ve created this step-by-step guide to selling digital downloads. With every step from inspiration through closing a sale, by the time you’re done reading you’ll have everything you need to make money selling digital downloads online.
Step 1: Check Your Inventory
The first step is to see what you already have that could be sold or reimagined as a digital download. Popular digital download formats include the following.
- Printables, including journals, planners, worksheets, greeting cards, and stickers
- SVG graphic files
- Meal plans/menus
- Excel spreadsheets
You might have some digital images that could be added to products or some that could be sold as is. I recommend building a database of what you have using Excel.
Step 2: Brainstorm New Products
The next step is to brainstorm some digital downloads to sell. Many of the people who do well selling digital downloads focus on evergreen content. For example, say you wanted to sell a journal with writing prompts for every day in the year. An evergreen version would leave the dates blank – or include only the month and day. A non-evergreen version would include the year. There’s no right or wrong answer, but non-evergreen products will need to be updated regularly.
You should think about your target audience and what they’re most likely to buy. If you’ve already got a significant social following or a blog with a lot of readers, you may want to target your products to what your existing audience would want. If not, you can choose your audience and tailor your products accordingly.
You can also consider doing some (or all) of these things to brainstorm new products.
- Browse Etsy, Teachers Pay Teachers, or other sites for inspiration.
- Create a survey and ask your existing audience which products they would like you to create.
- As noted above, start with what you already have and build from there.
I recommend having at least 5-10 products to start.
Step 3: Create Products
There are many tools you can use to create new digital downloads to sell. Most people have Word, PowerPoint, or Google Docs (you can get Google Docs for free) and these all have what you need to create professional-looking digital downloads.
If you’re creating graphic designs, then you may want to invest in Adobe. You can also use free online tools such as Canva, which is one of my favorites. In most cases – unless you want people to be able to change the download after they buy it – PDF files are the best option. You can easily create these by using the Print to PDF function in whichever software you use.
Keep in mind that you may want to create entire sales funnels of products with upsells included. For example, you might have package that includes an eBook, templates, and other materials, that you want to price at $69 (we’ll talk more about pricing later) and your entry level product might be a checklist or worksheet that you sell for a few dollars to get people into your sales funnel.
Step 4: Create Your Digital Download Shop
Once you have some products to sell, the next step is to decide where to sell them. Many product creators choose Etsy because of its huge SEO advantage and reasonable fees. You can also sell digital downloads on:
- Teachers Pay Teachers
- Your own website
If you choose a site such as Etsy, you’ll need to come up with a unique name for your shop, write a shop description, and create product listings. Make sure you have clear, consistent-looking screenshots and images to feature in your shop.
Step 5: Set Your Prices
Setting prices for digital downloads requires some finesse. People sometimes undervalue digital downloads and don’t charge enough for them. You can get an idea of where to set your prices by reviewing comparable products online.
You may also want to consider the psychology of pricing. There’s a reason many retailers have prices ending in 99. Dropping the price by a penny makes people feel that they’re getting more value for their money. You may also want to consider bundling products to increase their perceived value.
Step 6: Simplify Delivery
Digital downloads can be delivered to buyers instantly, but you’ll still need to make sure that your customers understand how to download your products. What I suggest is creating written instructions to help. This is especially important if you are selling a bundle where you’re zipping files.
It’s a good idea to make the instructions as simple as possible. Assume the reader has never downloaded anything before and write the instructions in clear, simple language. Make sure that product files have easy-to-understand names, so that customers can identify each product from its file name.
Step 7: Ask for Reviews
In the world of online selling, reviews are the queen of everything. Whether you’re selling on Facebook, Etsy, or your own website, you can be sure that prospective customers will read reviews of your products before buying them.
You can maximize the impact of positive reviews by asking for them. For example, you might sign new customers up for your email list and send them an email asking them for a review. Make sure to link back to your Etsy shop, Facebook page, or website to make it easy for them to comply with your request.
Step 8: Market to Existing Customers
The best way to grow a digital download business is to continue marketing to the people who have already bought from you. By setting up an email list or maintaining an active presence on social media, you can highlight new products and remind customers why they bought from you in the first place.
Part of ongoing marketing is paying attention to what your audience wants and introducing new products regularly.
Selling digital downloads is one of my favorite ways to earn money. In most cases, digital products can be created quickly – and if you focus on evergreen products, you can set it and forget it, earning passive income whenever somebody buys from you.
Do you need some help and inspiration getting your digital download products off the ground? I would love to help! Click here to learn how to work with me.