Let’s get digital: 8 of the best digital products to sell
The best products aren’t always ones that you can hold in your hands. Some exist purely online.
These digital products can make up a store’s entire catalog or complement an existing catalog of physical goods. Whatever the case, it’s worth noting the different types of digital products that are sold successfully today.
And if you’re on the hunt for fresh eCommerce business ideas, digital products may be a great starting point. Read on to discover the benefits of selling digital products, how and where to sell them, and which types can deliver the best results for your brand.
What is a digital product?
As the name suggests, digital products are intangible products that are bought and sold online.
While physical products require you to create multiple units and ship an item with every order, digital products only need to be produced once. The same product can be sold repeatedly without any additional manufacturing, shipping, or inventory costs.
Digital products are typically delivered via download or streaming. Common digital product formats include videos, audio files, image files, and document files like PDFs.
Pros and cons of selling digital products
As with any product, no two digital products are the same. The level of maintenance, marketing, and other strategies involved may vary from product to product. That said, digital products, as online business ideas to consider. generally offer the below benefits, as well as the below challenges.
Higher profit margins - Because digital products aren’t tangible, you don’t need to purchase warehouse space or spend money on physical shipping and packaging. As a result, you get to keep more of your profits from each sale.
No inventory hassles - When you sell physical products, you typically have to buy inventory in advance and consistently replenish your stock (the exception being print-on-demand items). By contrast, digital products are sold on demand and can be easily replicated or shared among multiple customers.
Greater diversity of products - Adding digital goods to your physical product line not only gives your consumers more buying options, but also gives you the freedom to experiment with different product types and selling techniques. For example, you might choose to bundle certain products together and offer subscriptions. Or, you might choose to offer some products for free. You don’t have to worry as much about overhead costs or turnaround times when testing various ideas.
Opportunity to reach younger consumers - There’s evidence to suggest that Gen Z and even Gen Alpha are attracted to (and familiar with) digital products. In fact, one study of Gen Alphas showed that 55% would rather buy or download something digitally than own a physical product.
Stiff competition - Because of the ease and flexibility of creating digital products, you may find that it’s a crowded marketplace. Moreover, many products may be offered at a low price—if not completely free of charge—making it especially important for you to establish a strong brand and foothold within a particular niche(s).
Ongoing maintenance - Although most digital products can be produced and replicated quickly, many may require routine updates to meet changing consumer tastes. Some (like apps) are far more complicated to manage all around, while others (like video courses) tend to require expansion in order to retain customers.
Piracy - You’ll need to take some extra steps to ensure that the digital products you sell can’t be shared and replicated by others for free. If you create written or artistic products like digital art, stock photos, or ebooks, make sure you have copyright protection as a safeguard.
8 digital product ideas to consider for your online store
With all that said, selling digital products can be a lucrative endeavor. Here are several digital product examples worth considering for your store.
01. Digital courses
These days, online learning has permeated nearly every life stage—with everyone from elementary school students to working adults benefiting from online courses. And in eCommerce, digital courses are cropping up as supplements to standard product offerings.
Think: beauty brands that offer makeup tutorials. Or, organic food stores offering cooking classes.
As another example, Chiro21 started its online store with a clear goal: to create entertaining and convenient continuing education (CE) courses for chiropractors. Today, they offer a variety of digital courses covering topics such as personal injury, total rehab, and joint health. Each expert-led course includes 16 hours of CE credits and costs $350.
In a similar vein, you could offer courses as ongoing subscriptions or bundle multiple sessions into a masterclass that’s available for one flat fee. Remember to speak on topics that are relevant to your brand and within your wheelhouse. If there’s a knowledge gap, consider partnering with external experts who can enrich your course material, plus attract attention to your program.
02. Digital music and artwork
Digital products grant artists and musicians tons of creative freedom.
Artists can create landscapes and nature paintings that consumers can print themselves to hang inside their homes. Musicians, on the other hand, can turn their coolest guitar riff into a ringtone. Meanwhile, a graphic designer can create and sell corporate logos or brand kits for others to enjoy.
As a more specific example, artist Chelsea McShane specializes in contemporary abstraction, animals, and spiritual artwork. She uses her online store to promote both her physical artwork and digital art, including a line of downloadable wallpapers for Samsung TVs.
Needless to say there are plenty of ways to sell art online, but digital downloads offer the advantage of being able to replicate and resell your work over and over again.
03. Digital craft patterns
Colorful tote bags, intricate macrame wall hangings, and other handcrafted items are already sold (and adored) all across the world. Now, you can invite customers to make their own creations via digital patterns.
Read also: How to sell crafts online
These printable products most often take the form of a PDF. You can make downloadable sewing patterns that help people create a one-of-a-kind shopping bag. Or, you can make knitting patterns, coloring pages, and even e-workbooks filled with interactive activities for children.
Sewn Ideas offers a complete line of PDF patterns designed for everyone from beginners to advanced sewers. More advanced patterns (such as an on-the-go makeup bag) are sold at a price between $6 and $10, while simple patterns (such as a pencil case) are offered for free. The company complements its patterns with online tutorials that show you how to sew a clips bag, pincushion, or book sleeve.
Note: When offering digital patterns, make sure that your product pages clearly state that the customer is paying for a template, not the finished product. It’s also worth stating what supplies the customer will have to purchase separately to avoid any confusion or false expectations.
04. Digital templates
Outside of crafts, digital templates can serve to help other professionals work faster, smarter, or more efficiently.
For example, you could offer a downloadable content plan template for marketers. Alternatively, you could create a vision board for people looking to better track progress towards their personal or professional goals. Or, you could create templates for various needs: slide decks, business cards, resumes, or even Notion boards.
One of the more popular types of templates are downloadable planners. Clarke Peoples, a content creator based in New York City, sells a printable personal planner that’s chock-full of resources, from monthly reflections and budgeting pages to weekly meal planners and grocery lists.
The best place to start is by thinking about your strengths and experiences. Is there a process, approach, or habit that has worked well for you in the past? Are there any tips that you could impart to other professionals in the form of a customizable template?
05. Ebooks and audiobooks
In 2021, ebook sales topped $17.5 billion in the U.S. alone—and Statista now projects that the e-reader market will reach roughly $23.12 billion by 2026.
Thankfully, ebooks are versatile and can fit into the product assortment of nearly any type of eCommerce business.
Selling sporting goods? Offer a how-to ebook that explains the basics of riding and maintaining a bicycle. Selling CBD products? Publish an audiobook that educates consumers about the health benefits of CBD oil. Ready to start a food business? You can bundle your most unique recipes into an ebook.
A busy mother of three, Desiree Baird launched Pediatric Sleep Coach to help families around the world get the physical rest that they need. Her online store includes downloadable ebooks that offer sleep schedules for children, alongside tips for creating an ideal sleep environment.
06. Membership sites and communities
Membership sites allow you to bundle multiple products together while creating a sense of community among your customers. Buyers can pay to gain access to exclusive content and/or to connect with people who share the same interests as them.
You can create a members area directly within Wix. Or, if you want to take it a step further: consider hiring a developer to turn your idea into an app (though keep in mind that a relatively basic app can cost between $16,000 to $32,000 to develop).
Ashley Antoinette, a New York Times bestselling author, created The Book Lovers app as a way to share her passion for reading with others worldwide. The app lets members discuss top-selling novels, take a writer’s workshop, and get exclusive early access to book releases. It’s free to download, but users can upgrade their experience with paid memberships.
07. Digital services
The best business ideas often stem from a personal passion. Similarly, you can package your skillset—be it in graphic design, search engine optimization, video editing, or other areas—as a “product” to be sold online.
An inspiring example is Moonstrive Media. The platform was started by artists who shared a common concern: that the music they worked so hard to create was getting lost in all the noise. So, they started their own digital music promotion company, inspired by their efforts studying Spotify’s search algorithm. Today, Moonstrive Media offers pre-packaged promotion services to help other artists get their music in front of millions.
About 43% of Americans between the ages 35 and 54 are now monthly podcasts listeners, with many tuning in from their cars. By creating your own podcast, you can humanize your brand and build your team up into thought leaders within your industry.
You can further monetize your podcast by attracting sponsors. Or, you can use your podcast as a platform for promoting your own products to a relevant (and highly engaged) audience.
For example, Make Pop Music hosts a biweekly podcast, The Sound Table, featuring candid discussions around music and business. The Sound Table aims to bring value to its target listeners—music producers, songwriters, and artists who want to hone their craft and may even be interested in their online courses later down the line.
You can launch a podcast with relatively little capital; podcast startup costs generally run between $350 to $400, according to Podcastle, and there are plenty of ways to shave costs. However, podcasts are a long-term commitment. You’ll need to consistently create fresh, thoughtfully planned out content and invest some time and dollars into promoting your podcast.
Where to sell digital products online
How and where should you sell your digital products? There are a plethora of channels to consider. The specific channels you choose will depend on the type of products you offer, as well as the audience you wish to target. Here are a few good options.
Your online store
An online store gives you complete control over pricing, branding, and the overall customer experience. You have total freedom over how you market your digital products, plus how they appear next to any physical products that you offer on your site.
From the get-go, it’s important to find an eCommerce platform that meets all of your current and future needs. What customization options are you seeking as it relates to your store design and backend? What integrations (e.g., external sales channels, marketing apps, or seller tools) do you need? How do you plan on managing subscriptions or different product tiers?
Wix for eCommerce offers built-in features to help you sell subscriptions or create members-only store pages. It offers an extensive App market to help you build out your ideal workspace. You can also access the Wix Help Center to learn more about how to specifically create a digital product and deliver digital files.
Diversifying your eCommerce strategy with a multichannel selling approach will help you raise your brand’s overall visibility, boost your profit potential, and avoid over-reliance on a single sales channel.
In addition, third-party marketplaces can connect you with established audiences with a clear interest in purchasing products like the ones you sell. That said, you’ll want to make sure that the channels you sell on support digital products. Some, such as Instagram and Facebook, expressly forbid you from selling digital products on their platforms.
By contrast, the below channels are a good fit for certain types of products:
Amazon, which started as an online bookstore, is an ideal place to sell ebooks and audiobooks. In fact, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform makes it very easy to self-publish.
Etsy is a natural fit for merchants who want to sell digital art or downloadable craft-related products, such as sewing patterns or wedding invitation templates.
Creative Market, a fast-growing marketplace for pre-made digital assets, is ideal for artists and designers who sell digital items like fonts, business templates, or photos.
For best results, you should integrate your third-party marketplaces with your online store. Wix for eCommerce offers you this functionality for select channels, so you can easily sync your product descriptions, images, and pricing across channels.
eMarketer reports that about half of both U.S. Gen Z and millennial shoppers currently make purchases directly on social media, making it another great channel for selling or promoting digital products.
Again, the social channel you choose should complement the type of digital products you’re selling. Digital art and other highly visual items will likely generate buzz on a platform like Pinterest, whereas YouTube is an ideal platform to promote online courses or original music (86% of U.S. viewers say they use YouTube to learn new things).
Each channel also offers unique selling options, ranging from shoppable ads on TikTok to product pins on Pinterest. So, take the time to explore. Research the channels and formats that you believe will resonate best with your audience. Then, take the time to learn each platform—first as a user, then as a seller.
Is it time for you to ‘go digital?’
From digital art to membership sites, the number of profitable digital products that you can sell seems to grow by the minute. The trick is to think from your customers’ shoes. What type of content do they normally engage with? What knowledge gaps or cravings can you help to fill? Think creatively, as well as realistically, as you weigh all of your options.
Allison is the editor-in-chief at Wix, with several years of experience reporting on eCommerce news, strategies, and founder stories.