Digital eCommerce is my passion, and it has changed my way of life.
I started offering digital downloads on my own almost over a decade ago.
As the President of Easy Digital Downloads, I also help thousands of successful individuals and businesses achieve their dreams by selling digital downloads, like ebooks, software, documents, and more from their websites.
From my experience of selling digital downloads and helping people do so, here are 5 important lessons I believe every newbie seller needs to know.
Note: This is a guest post by Chris Klosowski, the president of Easy Digital Downloads, the best digital eCommerce plugin for WordPress. This is an expert column that we publish every other Thursday, where we invite a WordPress expert to share their experiences with our readers.
Why Sell Digital Downloads for Passive Income?
While there are several different ways to make a passive income online, creating and selling digital downloads is possibly the best way to make a decent income with minimal effort.
You Don’t Need a Lot of Traffic to Succeed
You could make money by displaying advertising, but there are compromises. With ads, you’ll need a lot of traffic to make a decent income. Driving a lot of traffic can be time-consuming and tedious. With affiliate marketing, on the other hand, you don’t have control over the product’s quality.
By selling digital products, you get full control over what you sell. To succeed, you don’t necessarily need a lot of traffic. You just need to attract the right audience who is interested in your offering.
For instance, one of our customers, Sam Parrett from SetSailStudios.com, monetizes his website by creating and selling niche-specific products — downloadable fonts, which perfectly aligns with his passion as a graphic designer.
Unlike people who monetize their websites with ads, he doesn’t have to worry about choosing a broader niche that he’s not familiar with and publishing content in that niche to attract a higher traffic volume.
In his case, it’s easier for him to produce and sell digital downloads in a niche he’s familiar with than monetizing his site with ads in a broader niche where he’s not comfortable with
Create Once and Sell Forever
Selling digital products also has an advantage over physical products.
You will never run out of stock because you can repeatedly sell a digital product forever. That means you don’t need to worry about keeping inventory and ordering or creating more stock.
You also won’t need to pay for storage or spend time packing and shipping products to customers. Anyone from around the world can easily purchase and download a digital product. That means you can sell from the comfort of your home and with little to no investment.
1. Choose a Digital Product Based on Your Expertise
Selling digital downloads is all about the product, and your first job is to decide on which products you will sell. There are plenty of popular digital products to choose from.
If you need inspiration, here are examples from our customers who sell different types of digital products:
- EscapeRoomGeeks.com: They create and sell printable Escape Room Kits for various age groups. Customers purchase a kit (or bundle of kits), download the printable assets, assemble the challenges and then a group of kids can try and solve them.
- BrushGalaxy.com: Brush Galaxy is a marketplace where you can buy and sell custom brushes for Procreate (the leading digital illustration app for iPads)
- MrsMactivity.co.uk: They sell membership access to thousands of creative, curriculum-aligned primary education resources.
When deciding on a product, make sure to choose the one based on your expertise and the product format you’re comfortable with.
2. Make Sure Your Product Solves a Problem
You’ll need to create a product that solves a real problem. At the end of the day, potential customers will only visit your website if it solves their problem.
Ask yourself the following questions: Why would someone buy your product? What problem are you looking to solve?
I’ve found that to answer these questions, it helps to write out a mission statement.
The statement should describe the specific problem (or problems) you are trying to solve.
You can write these as benefits on your website.
This will give you a built-in customer base and make sure you meet your customer’s expectations during the post-purchase process.
3. Understand Who Your Customers Are
The next question to answer is, ‘Who are you selling to?’ I recommend spending some time thinking clearly about this and writing actual answers down on paper.
You should create a detailed description of your typical customer. Have a clear picture of what they look like in your mind.
Thinking about this customer at each stage will help you stay on track. Do this when considering new features, writing your website copy, and fixing bugs.
Here’s an example from one of our customers, Mrs Mactivity Resources, where they make money from selling online resources for Early Years educators. The ‘who’ is stated clearly on the website so that teachers can easily see whether the resources will meet their needs.
4. Choose the Right Platform to Sell
There are plenty of platforms where you can easily sell digital products.
You can either sell the products on a third-party marketplace or create your own online store. Switching to a different platform in the future can be hectic, so perform due diligence before picking a platform.
Sell on a Third-Party Marketplace
Third-party marketplaces do make sign-up easy and have a low initial cost. However, you’ll end up paying high transaction fees of up to 30% for every product you sell.
You also don’t own your own data; you just rent it. Your product listings, customer information, and purchase data are all stored on someone else’s server. Migrating to a different platform later can be extremely difficult if not impossible.
You Could Create Your Own Online Store
Your other option is to create your own digital download store using WordPress, the most popular platform for building websites and online stores.
With a digital eCommerce platform like Easy Digital Downloads, you pay absolutely nothing as the transaction fees.
Besides that, you will own your own data. The license keys are all in your WordPress database. The purchase data and customer information are in your database. So, if you want to shift to a new website, then you can just migrate your own data over.
Here’s how you can create your own digital downloads store step-by-step.
5. Choose an Optimal Price to Maximize Your Revenue
When it comes to pricing your products, there are three helpful principles to keep in mind.
Make It Easier for Your Customer to Make a Decision
The first key to your product offering is making it easy for the customer to make a decision. This comes in handy, especially if you’re selling a lot of products. In that case, it becomes difficult for the potential customer to understand which one they need to solve their problem.
A lot of our client’s stores solve this with bundling. They group some products together that are similar or help achieve a specific path. This means customers don’t need to pick and choose which one they want. They just pay one flat fee and get all of them.
Bundles are probably the easiest way to reduce choice paralysis. They also help you create a good pricing page because you can just list your bundles instead of having to cover all of your individual products.
They can also help reduce your refund rates. Without a bundle, a customer might choose Product A when they really need Product B. This usually results in a request for a refund. With a bundle, they get both solutions and can choose the one that works for them.
Don’t Race to the Bottom With Pricing
Racing to the bottom on price can hurt your growth.
You may have a competitor who sells thousands of PDF documents and printables for $1.25. You might be tempted to see that as the price point you should be at.
Unfortunately, such a strategy will undercut your growth too.
In fact, businesses often cover all their costs in their pricing, including the costs for web hosting, a domain name, a software license, an email marketing service, and more.
But it’s also important to know that there are other additional costs, also known as soft costs, for running a business, such as customer support. If you are not charging enough for your product, then the first customer support ticket may eat up any profits you made on the initial purchase.
So you need to pay attention to your soft costs and understand that those are profit eaters. Make sure you build these into your pricing.
Experiment With Pricing
It’s OK to experiment with pricing. You can try raising or lowering prices a little bit to find the point where you are optimizing conversions.
If your product is solving a problem, then conversions won’t be hard to come by. But you need to find the price point where you are actually profitable, and experimenting may help.
I hope these practical tips can help you get a head start in selling digital downloads. You may also want to see guides on how to sell videos online or the best WordPress plugins to grow business websites.