You know that you’re full of important knowledge.
But how do you translate that expertise into a product people want?
When there's too much useful information in that brain of yours, it’s difficult to know where to start.
As a result, you don’t bootstrap the business you’ve been dreaming of. You turn away from the opportunity without considering what’s really possible…
... transforming your expertise into digital products.
Marketable ones at that.
So I hope you've got a notepad and a pen handy because you’re about to find out how to take your digital product idea and use it to start your online business today.
What Are Digital Products?
Just about anything can be a digital product, provided you employ some creative license to deliver it well.
Think about it… in a single generation, we’ve gone from spinning magnetic tapes to pressing play on phone-based apps to watch our home movies.
Digital products solve accessibility problems that desperately need solutions. This applies to software, art and online learning. But to sell a successful digital product, you can’t launch something that is half thought-out.
What you create has to be valuable.
Physical vs. Digital Products
Let me ask you a question…
What would you prefer, delivering a presentation 20 times and maybe crushing it once… or recording your best version and sending it out to 20 different leads?
The answer is a no-brainer, right?
This is the difference in workload between a physical product and a digital product.
Physical products are tangible and usually incur a much higher cost to scale. They have inherent restrictions on who, what and when they can be purchased and consumed.
What’s more, you need to produce your physical widgets before sales happen to meet your forecasted demand when (and sadly if) they come.
Once you include the additional overhead of sourcing materials, labor and production costs, you’re entering a continuous supply and demand tug-of-war that requires your business A-game to keep up.
However, with digital products, you only need to win that fight once. And then, your supply becomes infinite!
You eliminate the need to constantly produce the right amount of widgets — at the right time — to keep your business afloat. This lets you focus on other things, like growing your audience and increasing your conversion rates.
Digitizing your products opens your business up to a new world of opportunity (literally). You can see examples of such transformations by reading about our Thrive Suite customer success stories where online course creators have turned their digital product ideas into thriving online businesses.
Why Should You Sell Digital Products?
Or better yet... why shouldn’t you?
With some smart marketing and a good quality sales page, selling digital products is a great way to build a successful, highly-profitable business.
Let’s see why…
Low Startup Costs
Is your laptop open? Great.
That means you’re already ‘in the office’, ready to work on your business.
With a bootstrapped budget, you can easily get your business started with a shockingly small overhead. The biggest expense for a digital product business will be your tech stack. This includes everything from where your product will be hosted online, to how you market, sell and deliver it to your customers.
Fortunately with Thrive Suite for WordPress, most of what you’ll need is ready to go in one, neat package.
More Freedom and Flexibility
While the Instagram dream of working from your laptop on an actual beach in Bali is pretty unrealistic for most of us...
... being your own boss, setting your own hours, and working in your PJs from a home office is absolutely achievable.
When you create and sell digital products, you can do it from anywhere in the world without having to worry about sourcing physical resources or labor to run the day-to-day of your business.
And the benefits don’t stop there either. Opting to create digital products allows you to tailor your customer’s experience with minute attention to detail and make adjustments when you see fit. As with most things online, problems can be identified and resolved quickly.
Access to a Large Market
The world is your oyster.
Because you don't need to ship anything, digital products enable you to sell and provide instant access to an international audience.
And with access to a global marketplace comes a vastly bigger customer base you can market your digital products to so you can sell more.
On top of that, you don’t have to worry about repeat production costs, which means you can focus on getting creative with how you deliver your skills and expertise.
Digital products give you time to see the bigger picture, which in turn, allows you time to focus on making improvements to your products to guarantee customer satisfaction in all the different places you end up selling in.
Easier to Manage, Sell, and Deliver
By digitizing your business, it’s easier to manage your operations. From your management systems to your checkout experience, everything can be operated from the comfort of your laptop. By focusing on these processes and taking time to get them right, you can make everyone’s experience the best it can be.
Of course it's unlikely you'll ever be able to put your business on full auto-pilot...
You still need to create efficient processes to make sure your digital products get marketed, sold and delivered smoothly. But again, you only need to do this work once.
Before you know it, your digital product business will be running like clockwork.
First, let’s get clear on what passive income is and is not, because it’s all too often misunderstood when it comes to selling digital products.
Digital products are not an empty promise of a six-figure business that will happen overnight.
Creating passive income streams require that you do the work hard first before your monetization streams can begin flowing. Not only do you have to create your digital product, you also need to create a conversion focused sales page, marketing systems, automated emails for your lead generation and sales funnels — all while growing an audience of loyal fans and customers.
Only after all that hard work is done will you start to reap the benefits of passive income that ticks away in the background with minimized management.
The passive income you start to generate can then give you the flexibility to travel, live where you want and keep making sales for your business while you sleep.
But for your business to grow, you always need to keep adapting and improving. After one product achieves success, you'll need to start the whole process again with another.
Digital Product Ideas to Grow Your Business
There are so many ideas for digital products that could be fitting for your business.
But, rather than overload you with options that can be applied to all sectors, let’s select one that best suits your strengths...
Digital Products For Educators
Educational digital products are created by experts like you for your customers to achieve a specific outcome. And if you deliver the promised outcome with your first digital product, customers will start banging down your door for more.
Keen to share your expertise? Feel like you have lots to offer, backed with experience? You’ll love making and selling online courses!
By learning how to sell courses from your own website, you can capitalize on your knowledge by creating easy-to-digest and helpful courses that offer a little peek into the pandora’s box of your brain.
This is one of our favorite digital product ideas because, when done well, there’s no limit to how many courses you can make to scale your business up!
Ebooks and Audiobooks
Gone are the days when you needed a big-name publishing house to fund your book idea. Ebooks still require lots of production and editing, however, they don't need any external support to start selling.
Ebooks are free of the physical constraints their paper counterparts are limited by. Because ebooks are just downloadable files, anyone can purchase and read them on virtually any device. You don’t need a complex tech stack to make an ebook. If you’ve been sitting on your book idea for a while, this is your time to shine.
On top of that, audiobooks are marketable to those who want to read on the go.
To make an audiobook version of your ebook, you only need a good quality mic and editing software — a worthy investment that you’ll find additional uses for as you expand your digital product idea horizons.
Data Research and Papers
Higher education may only open its doors for Ph.D.s and career academics… but in the digital world, data is an open market.
That means any data or research papers you produce can be bought and downloaded by other experts in your field, amateurs just starting out, or just plain curious people.
Contributing your expertise by producing and selling research papers is a quick way to gain authority in your market. So, if you have lots of data and useful information stored away gathering dust, it’s time to get it published.
Tutorials & Guides
A well-researched and comprehensive piece of content establishes you as an authority in your industry and is a sure-fire way to kick start your business. Both tutorials and guides hone in on a specific topic and walk your customers through the steps needed to achieve a certain goal.
A tutorial can use video to create content that’s both visual and informative, to make an otherwise complicated topic easy to digest.
Likewise, a high-quality guide is a content gold mine. Guides are usually written content pieces that go deep on a specific topic to really show off your expertise.
If your ideas come across best when talking about them, podcasting is definitely for you.
By starting your business with podcasts, you’ve got a huge opportunity to generate content. Aside from the audio you publish, podcast episodes are prime candidates to become great blog posts, tutorials or even ultimate guides.
You only need a good mic to get started.
Got a new topic that you’re dying to teach others?
Workshops — both live and recorded — are all about sharing snippets of information. Short, sweet and informative, this digital product idea delivers heaps of value for customers. On top of that, workshops help you build a stronger connection with your audience.
Workshops are more intimate digital products than the options above since you typically work with customers directly via video call. While workshops do require careful preparation, the element of exclusivity they create makes them high demand — leaving your customers wanting more!
Day planners, diaries, business plans, sewing patterns ...
... a template is anything that will help your customers achieve a defined result quickly and reliably. As with many successful ideas for digital products, templates promise customers a quick win or shortcut, and a consistent way to achieve their desired outcome.
For content creators like yourself, a well-designed and branded template will stay relevant (and sellable!) for many years.
Digital Products For Creatives
The creative market is changing, rapidly!
By transferring creative skills into digital product ideas, you can share your talents with a much broader market than physical storefronts.
Stock Videos and Imagery
Ever wondered who shot that panorama of your favorite holiday destination? Or snapped that pic of a steaming cup of coffee you see in all your favorite cafes?
Stock images and videos are snapshots that can be sold again and again. The files come with royalty-free copyright, meaning the artist gets paid for the work and the buyer can use the image as per the copyright rules. This is signaled by a watermark that’s removed after purchase.
Both stock images and videos are available on more marketplaces than you can shake a stick at (each taking a cut the revenue for its digital storefront services). However, with a good sales page and compelling marketing, you can sell stock content through your own website and keep ALL the profit for yourself.
A smart way to facilitate the purchase of your stock images is to create multiple files that meet common formatting requirements (dimensions, formats, opacities, etc.) so they can be easily downloaded and used on websites, social media accounts… you get the gist.
If you have an eye for impressive shots, a good quality camera and the editing skills to make it POP, this is a digital product idea right up your alley.
Graphics & Digital Art
While graphic design might seem like a straightforward industry to get into, the digital art world is still in its adolescence, which is why you should get involved now.
One of the best ways to sell graphics is in stylized bundles — a neat little design package you can sell online. By focusing on one bundle, you can create your best work, learn from the process and observe the results before moving on to your next piece.
Just like physical art, digital artworks are to be downloaded, printed and enjoyed by the buyer.
Artists everywhere are swapping their canvases for tablets and scanners.
Because taking the time to digitize your artwork opens up your creative business to what has been a closed-off, elite physical marketplace confined to snooty galleries.
Digital artworks can be sold through your own independent website — usually as NFTs — or through commission-based marketplaces. You’ll even see internationally renowned names such as Saatchi dabbling in the concept as the market continues to grow.
Commercial Use Music
While not necessarily as “mainstream” as stock imagery and video, commercial use music operates on a very similar business model, and is a lucrative industry for the musically minded.
Commercial use music provides the opportunity to make money creating music for multiple industries ranging from advertising to documentaries to corporate sales videos.
The music that you make can also be copyrighted and protected by digital marketplaces.
However, as these marketplaces charge hefty commissions to sell on their platforms, it's ideal to operate your commercial use music business from your own website. As a passive income business, commercial use music provides the space to get creative, make the music you want to make, and get paid for it!
Printable cheat sheets, PDFs, checklists, artworks, and recipes are all valuable products that you can add to your business. The trick is to make sure whatever printable you create to sell — looks AMAZING.
To do that, optimize your files to accommodate a range of paper sizes.
Yes, printables are a simple digital product idea, but those who address the little details (like paper size printing options) will get customers coming back for more.
Digital Products For the Technical
The tech marketplace contains both product and service businesses. And no, you don’t need a big tech team and budget to build your own.
Tech-focused digital products tend to be big projects with even bigger potential.
So let’s take a look at some digital product ideas in this space that might be right for you…
Apps cover a huge part of the service sector — you know, just about any SaaS product you’ve ever encountered.
Apps, or to use the textbook term, digital applications, are available for both desktop and mobile devices that provide solutions to common problems.
The key to creating a successful app is to find a system that makes your target audience's lives easier by tapping into a daily – or at least frequent! – problem they face.
Creating an in-demand app is an investment that will see you through for the long run.
But, it’s very much reserved for techies. This market is fast-moving and often full of highly-funded competitors working in skilled teams. So, you can’t afford to build something that is loaded with bugs and doesn’t meet the functionality promised. Your app has to be top quality.
Is this our favorite topic right now? Probably.
Membership sites keep people coming back to your website, your brand, your content, time and time again. Not only can you charge customers for access, you can also discover amazing customer insights for future products just by listening to your community.
Membership sites appear tech-heavy with their login pages, tiered offers, and variety of premium content provided. However, when you peek inside a membership site — like those built with Thrive Apprentice — it’s possible to create a beautiful, fully-functioning membership site without needing to write a single line of code.
For more on how you can build your own membership site with ZERO coding knowledge, check out How to Create a Membership Site on WordPress for more details.
Plugins or Extensions
Plugins and extensions integrate products or services into websites (like WordPress). They present the opportunity to expand functionality and improve someone’s experience of a service they're already using.
Find the problem, build a solution.
For example, say you’re building a website with WordPress and find yourself frustrated by the lack of native page building options WordPress provides to create the sales funnel for your new digital product.
So you decide to build a visual page building plugin for WordPress to get the job done right — and then sell it to a whole marketplace of people struggling with the same frustration.
And guess what? That's exactly how Thrive Themes was born.
Why not identify a big problem your new plugin can solve? 😉
Get Going With Your Digital Product Idea
I hope you took lots of notes while reading this! Now it’s time to decide which digital product is right for your business to get your wheels spinning.
If you're ready to transform your expertise into a new digital product idea, learn how to start an online business today with our epic step-by-step guide.
With the right idea, guidance and hard work, you could have your first product ready to ship in as little as a weekend.