The Most Profitable Digital Product Ideas in 2021 (and How to Sell Them)
6 profitable digital product ideas to sell online
For a little inspiration when creating these products, explore the top types of digital products listed below:
- Educational products
- Licenses to use your digital assets
- Membership sites
- Digital templates and tools
- Music or art
1. Educational products
Online courses are best suited for in-depth content. They require some effort up front, from creating a presentation to recording a video walk-through. When creating courses, start with learner outcomes: what do you want the learner to know or be able to do at the end of your course?
You can include quizzes, knowledge checks, and interactive activities within your courses to help break-up learning content and make your e-course more engaging. Consider learning and implementing a teaching model like ADDIE.
How to Cake It sells ebooks as an alternative to its physical cookbooks.
If you consider yourself an expert on a particular topic, digital products are a great way to package that information and sell it to others looking to learn.
If there’s an abundance of free blog posts or tutorials on YouTube about what you’d like to teach, you can compete by delivering content that promises not education but transformation. In other words, don’t sell the product—sell the customer’s own potential after buying your product.
You can leverage an existing reputation as an expert to garner attention for your products or, if you’re starting from scratch, you can create and give away free content to generate interest and leads for your paid digital products.
2. Licenses to use your digital assets
EditStock sells licenses for students to use its stock footage in their own demo reels.
From stock photos to video footage, from music and sound effects, there’s a global ecosystem of licensable digital assets uploaded by creatives for other creatives to use in their work.
By offering licenses to individuals and businesses, you can charge for the use of your photos, videos, music, software, and more in your own store and through online marketplaces, such as stock photo sites. In exchange for exposure, some of these marketplaces can take up to 50% in commission for every sale. However, if you want to build your own destination for digital assets, you can use Sendowl to power this type of business with unique auto-generated license keys.
When coming up with assets to create, it helps to work backward from the needs of your intended audience. Start by thinking about what kind of assets they’d want to use in order to create products that are actually in demand (and thus easier to sell).
Also, be sure to protect your digital products with watermarks and other security measures, especially if you’re selling photos.
3. Membership sites
Snowboard Addiction offers a subscription for premium educational content to complement its physical products for snowboarders.
Instead of selling individual digital products, you can bundle them together and lock them behind a paid subscription to generate recurring revenue.
This approach is ideal if you plan to maintain a growing library of premium content and nurture a community of passionate members. In some cases, paid digital subscriptions can even create an opportunity to directly monetize your existing content marketing efforts.
Since this content is behind a gate that only paying subscribers can access through their customer account, you can also host exclusive content that can be streamed rather than downloaded.
4. Digital templates and tools
RetroSupply Co. sells digital tools and assets for designers.
Digital products can also come in the form of intangible tools that equip professionals to do tasks that either fall outside of their skill set or take up a lot of time. You can sell digital solutions to the common pain points and needs of a specific audience.
Some examples include:
- Digital marketing strategy templates for entrepreneurs
- Résumé templates for job-seekers
- Mobile apps for businesses
- Graphic design templates for brochures, flyers, posters, etc.
- Adobe Photoshop filters and plugins for media editors
- Icons, fonts, or UX Kits for web designers
If you already have a freelance business, it might be worth considering how you can turn your skills and services into digital products to create passive streams of revenue.
5. Music or art
Materia Collective sells digital sheet music for video game soundtracks.
If you’re a musician or an artist, chances are you’ve explored ways you can monetize your talents or the audience you’re building. While t-shirts or prints are always an option, there are also plenty of possibilities in digital downloads.
A musician can sell ringtones of their best songs alongside their merch. Or a cartoonist could turn their art into printables, phone wallpapers, or print-on-demand products. A filmmaker can sell their movies online. Since you don’t have to hold any inventory, you can experiment with different formats to see what your audience wants without much risk.
Street Parking packages its personal training programs into digital products to sell as a monthly subscription.
Services tend to pair well with digital products because services are essentially their opposite—with services, your “inventory” is limited to the number of working hours you can accommodate.
Plus, customers often receive digital products as part of their “purchase” with many services. A designer will deliver logos. A personal trainer might deliver a workout plan. Leaning into this, you can position certain services as packages containing valuable digital products.
For example, you could offer a consultation for a fee, along with a personalized report or Excel spreadsheet, and then upsell your customers on your other services or products. Or you could offer a free downloadable product to generate leads for your email marketing list, a tactic that many online businesses employ today.
If there are common tasks you complete as part of your service business that are easy for you but valuable to your customer, you can consider productizing them to create revenue streams that require less of your time and effort to maintain.
Free: The Big List of Business Ideas
To help you find the inspiration to start, we compiled a list of 100+ in-demand business ideas, broken down into categories like fitness, apparel, and gaming.
Get the list now
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