The 12 most popular digital products you can sell online
As the team behind an eCommerce plugin, we constantly see the different types of products people are selling online. Most commonly, online stores sell digital products or physical products.
Selling physical products, whether handmade by the designer, or created by someone else and onsold, is highly changeable, and extremely time-consuming. There are the added complexities of shipping, international customers, taxes, laws, importing, inventory management, and so on.
Digital products, however, are in a league of their own.
In comparison, digital products are easy to distribute, significantly more sustainable, can be replicated infinitely, and are oftentimes simpler to create. With little more than one or a few devices, any person is capable of making a digital product worthy of sharing or selling. No physical materials, factories, or staff required. Just a computer, a sprinkle of passion and drive, and some time.
So, you may now be wondering “But what types of digital products can I create?” Well, we counter your question with a question in return: “What kind of products do you want to create?”
If you have something to share, you can turn it into a digital product to sell. You can share your knowledge, talents, opinions, or passion, and potentially make some money along the way.
In this post we’ve gathered a short list of digital products you can sell online. Get ready for some digital product inspiration, so you too can start creating and sharing with the world!
eBooks have been and continue to be one of the most popular digital products for both creators and customers. They are relatively simple to produce since they require little more than written text and a few relevant images. eBooks are simple to distribute via large marketplaces or self-created online stores. They’re easily consumed by customers, who can read them on e-readers, tablets, computers, and even their mobile phones.
The beauty of creating eBooks is that you can share almost anything you know, or are passionate about, in text form. You can educate, advise, or curate existing content with an eBook to then sell on your website.
Interested in selling eBooks? We wrote an entire post on the topic here.
Selling software online is something we should know a fair amount about. Not only have we helped thousands of customers sell software online, but it was originally the entire purpose that we created Easy Digital Downloads for; to sell WordPress plugins online. All types of software sales combined make up nearly 28% of sites using our platform, so it is something we truly care about.
The software industry is enormous and consistently growing. It is also extremely ripe with opportunities. Any person’s ability to write code of any kind can result in new, useful products. Whether it be desktop software, web-based applications, website templates, mobile apps, video games, or anything else powered by code. The possibilities are endless, and an established market likely exists.
If you speak (or rather, write) a code language, you can develop numerous things to sell online. Whether you have experience with apps, plugins, themes, snippets, websites, or something else entirely different, you can turn code into cash.
Want to know more about selling software online? A more detailed post is over here.
Video is an extremely popular and effective format for delivering information online. Video content can be educational, informative, or entertaining. It’s significantly more engaging than text, and can be easily consumed by clicking a play button and watching. Users love video, and in many cases are happy to pay for it.
If you’re a great public speaker, have a visual-based passion, or just love sharing your thoughts on video, with a little editing time up your sleeve you can sell videos online.
4. Audio & music
Audio is a powerful medium for communicating messages, and there are many different types of audio digital products. People pay for audio tracks that entertain them, soothe them, inform them, inspire them and help them achieve business goals, to list just a few examples. Audio products can include:
- Recorded lectures
- Musical samples
- Foreign language lessons
- Relaxing background noises
- Karaoke versions of popular songs
- Reusable sound effects
- Full lyrical or instrumental music tracks
High-quality, premium photos are one of the most sought-after digital products today. The biggest consumers of online photographs are bloggers and website owners.
It’s true that stock photography has commoditized the market to the point where some photos are sold for less than they are worth (or they are given away for free). However, for truly spectacular images (and not some of the cheesy stuff you’ll find on stock websites), photographers can still command fair prices.
One of the biggest downfalls of stock sites from a customer perspective is not knowing exactly how much one or two images are. In some cases, a membership to the stock photo site is required. If you’re a photographer, you can combat stock photo sites by selling your images on your own website for the price you want (and undoubtedly deserve).
A website is a vital part of a photographer’s portfolio. Showcasing your work beautifully is imperative to raising your profile. With competitive pricing, and excellent quality images, it’s possible to do very well selling your independent or client-commissioned photos on your own website.
6. Graphics & digital art
Graphic designers and digital artists can create a wide variety of unique and valuable products. From logos, to .PSD templates, to icon packs, to PowerPoint themes, to original artworks, designers can apply their skills in numerous ways to create digital products for sale.
Graphic designers can create and sell card designs, patterns, brushes, backgrounds, UI assets and more. Digital artists can sell finished pieces, drawings, and sketches. Finished original art of exceptional quality can be priced higher than graphic design pieces. If you can produce artwork digitally, it’s worth selling online (just be sure to license it correctly!).
Documents come most often in the form of informational pieces (like industry reports, manuals, or guides) or templates (like resumés or proposals). There are documents which are password protected, documents which include large files, documents with variations on the same files (like other languages or color schemes), documents which can be well suited for recurring models (like periodically revised or updated reports), and documents shared freely as lead magnets.
Have you written blog posts on your website specific to your industry or profession? If so, consider the value of packaging up your content and selling it as a manuscript or white paper so others can learn from you. You’ve already shared your knowledge on your website – curating it into a useful document for sale will be beneficial for both you and your site visitors.
e-Learning is an industry rich in innovation, and is growing with unprecedented momentum. As it grows, we are starting to see traditional educational institutions explore new ways to make their content available to learners. As for established educational programmes, learning material can be sold in a few different ways:
- As a downloadable one-off course
- As a downloadable collection of courses
- As a memberships/subscription to a web-based service.
Courses are very often sold the same way as other digital products, and with the same tools, which is why we’ve become very familiar with online course sellers.
According to our recent user surveys, the number of people using Easy Digital Downloads to sell courses has quadrupled in one year. This is the most drastic increase for a specific product type we’ve seen since we started monitoring this data through our surveys.
Some courses are entirely autonomous, while others offer interaction with a teacher or assignment reviewer. Many courses provide students with some form of certification or reward upon successful completion.
Courses are becoming an increasingly popular foundation or complementary component for online businesses, due to consumer trends, and the prevalence of affordable and easy-to-use Learning Management Systems. They offer a lucrative outlet for anyone with knowledge or expertise, and enable educators to reach a broad audience without being constrained by geography, technology or time.
9. Professional services
Services are, of course, not products at all. However, they are very commonly sold in the same way digital products are. They are often sold one of two ways:
- As fixed-price services. The cost of the service is predefined and known to the customer before needing to engage with the service provider.
- On a case-by-case basis. The required work is scoped by the service provider, quoted to the customer, and the cost is agreed upon by both parties.
In the world of eCommerce, the line between product and service has become a little fuzzy, and in many cases, the customer doesn’t care very much about the difference. Customers can buy pre-made logos as a product with a defined price. They can also pay a predefined price on some sites to have someone design a logo which results in a very similar experience and end result.
With many service-based jobs, you are selling your time in exchange for a specific outcome or result, instead of a product. Or, you may be selling your time for a completely bespoke product, unique only to that one customer.
These days, all kinds of service providers are opting to sell their services online. Below is a very brief list of some of the professions that can sell services online:
- Graphic designers
- Web designers
- Legal professionals
And that’s barely scratching the surface! This is another segment of digital products we have seen on the rise, with more than three times as many people selling services using Easy Digital Downloads now compared with a year ago.
For an excellent, detailed read about selling services online, head over to another post we wrote on the topic.
Though definitely quite different from other digital products due to the fact that they are (usually) applicable only for a certain time period, relate (often) to some physical location, and (normally) have limited availability, tickets are very commonly sold in the same way everything else in this post is. Customers can make their selections, checkout and receive their ticket independently and instantly through a seller’s website. These tickets can get them into conferences, concerts, carnivals and other time-based events or can be for admission to amusement parks, zoos and museums which may not enforce a specific time. Tickets can also be sold for purely online experiences such as webinars, classes, online conferences, or in-person conference live stream feeds.
Typefaces are a great example of a digital product which is always popular and constantly experiencing change as customer preferences gradually shift over time. Fonts can be created and distributed for use on the web by website creators, or for use in desktop applications like Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop. Enthusiasts appreciate fresh new fonts which means continuing to expand one’s commercial catalog over time may be necessary in order to maintain revenue.
12. Web-based applications
Web-based applications are similar to software, but are not downloaded from the web. Instead this category encompasses anything customers pay to use within a web browser. Also called SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses, they are not digital products in the truest sense, but can be sold and perceived very similarly, so they are important to acknowledge.
Many software creators find themselves faced with the choice between building a web-based SaaS app, and a distributed, installable program. Examples of these applications include services for email marketing (like Drip, MailChimp, AWeber, and Constant Contact), contact management (like Salesforce, Nutshell, and Pipedrive), site monitoring (like Pingdom and Status Cake), project management (like Basecamp, Asana, Podio and Jira), online course-based learning memberships (like Team Treehouse, Lynda, Skillshare, and Coursera) and file storage (like Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, and MediaFire). Since customers are paying for access to tools/services, recurring payment models are standard.
So, what will you start selling?
We are constantly observing changes in the popularity of certain types of digital products for sale, as well as technological advances to make selling digital products easier. Courses, services and web apps are all on the rise. WordPress plugins, video and graphics are still very strong. Clip art and Flash-based games appear to have seen their day. We’re extremely interested to see how things will change over the next few years!
Did we miss any products in our list? We’ve looked at what people were selling in 2017, and in previous years. Is there something you believe we’ll see more of in 2018 and beyond? Are you already selling digital products on your site? Or are you interested in getting started? Join the conversation in the comments below!
And remember to sign up to our mailing list to keep an eye out for future blog posts that will dig deeper into the digital products mentioned above. Let us know if there is something you’d like to see us cover in more detail!