Creating an educational digital product is hard work. You need to come up with valuable content ideas, figure out pricing and market your product to attract customers — among other tasks. Little wonder many creators develop cold feet whenever they think about creating and selling one.
The aim of this article isn’t to allay your fears — they are valid. Instead, it’s to let you know that all the time and effort that goes into creating a digital product pays off in the end. Let’s discuss some things you stand to gain when you weather the storm and successfully launch your digital product.
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Create Educational Digital Products
- 5 types of educational digital products you can sell
- How to scale your digital product business
- Educational digital products FAQs
Here’s why creators like you are adding digital products to their offerings.
For income diversification
Every full-time creator is pretty familiar with the feast-and-famine concept. One month, you’re making the most money you’ve ever earned in your life. The next one, a brand deal falls through, or the algorithm changes, and you’re struggling to settle your bills.
That’s why smart creators sell digital products to generate additional income — instead of relying solely on a single source of income such as ad revenue or sponsorships. On the good days, the extra money from your digital product sales can help you afford a treat like a vacation or boost your retirement savings account. On the bad days, it will keep the lights on while you figure out how to land a new deal to replace the lost income.
If done right, you might get to the point where selling digital products becomes your main source of income. And you can worry less about pitching brands or hacking social platform algorithms.
For personal branding
Personal branding is the process of creating a positive impression about your creator personality in the minds of your target audience. It’s crucial to winning your audience’s trust and building a loyal following that can spread your influence within your niche.
Creating high-quality digital products, such as ebooks, online courses, and templates, lets you share your unique perspective on trending topics in your industry and your audience’s pain points. You gradually become an authority in your niche, and people start to trust your content and brand.
When you have a solid reputation and a recognizable identity, it becomes much easier to attract new opportunities and build positive relationships with potential collaborators and clients.
Learn more: How to build a personal brand as a creator
To reach more people
Creating a digital product can be the key to unlocking massive audience growth as a creator. Digital products are easily shareable and can be distributed globally. This expanded reach allows you to connect with a wider audience organically — instead of spending thousands of dollars boosting your content via ads.
Let’s say you distribute your ebook on Amazon. That action potentially exposes your brand to over 168 million shoppers every month — massive visibility! On top of that, about 52% of Amazon shoppers are willing to buy from new brands, meaning there’s a high chance of earning substantial revenue from your ebook.
To provide your audience with more value
Creating a digital product is an opportunity to deepen your value to your audience. Many times, your social content only scratches the surface of your audience’s pain — no thanks to character and word count limitations. Digital products are one of the most effective ways to cover these issues thoroughly.
Let’s say you’re an influencer, and your followers are asking questions about how to become content creators. You can organize a paid webinar where you answer their questions. Or create a toolkit with templates to help them get started with content creation.
These resources will be more valuable than solely answering your followers’ questions in your Instagram Comments section or posting a one-minute video about how to get started as a creator.
Related: How to engage with your audience
To own your audience
Picture this: You’ve grown your Instagram account to 100,000 followers. One day, your account gets suspended. Now, you have to build your audience from scratch again. This is every creator’s nightmare.
Third-party platforms are unpredictable. Their algorithms can change and limit your content reach and account visibility. Your posts can get deleted due to violating some arbitrary rule somewhere. Or worse, your account gets suspended.
This is why smart digital creators own their audience — that is, establish an additional means of communicating with their audience via a platform they control. Creating a digital product helps you achieve this. Here’s what we mean:
Let’s say you’ve built a large following on Twitter. You can ask your followers to subscribe to your paid newsletter to receive practical tips for solving different challenges. This way, if your Twitter account gets suspended, you can still reach your followers via email — instead of starting all over again.
Related: How to build an email list
Now that you know some of the benefits of creating a digital product, let’s look at five easy-to-create digital products you can sell to earn extra income as a creator.
An ebook is a great option for busy creators who cannot keep up with the hands-on requirements of other digital products like webinars and coaching programs.
With a coaching program, for example, your earnings are directly tied to your time — you have to schedule regular meetings with your coaching clients. It’s different with an ebook. Once you’ve published your ebook on a marketplace like Amazon or Apple, you can earn passive income with minimum involvement.
Creating an ebook looks like a straightforward process but can be challenging for first-timers. To make things easier, choose a subject matter for your ebook first. This should be a topic you’re knowledgeable about that people are willing to pay for. You can find out if people will pay for your knowledge by asking your target audience directly or conducting competitor research to see if other creators are selling ebooks related to your topic.
Next, create a detailed outline for your content to streamline the writing process and make sure nothing goes out of scope. The outline should contain the topics for each section of your book and list the subtopics they will cover. Following a detailed outline will help you (or your ghostwriter) create the ebook’s content faster.
You also need to choose a format and hosting platform for your ebook. Ensure that the hosting platform supports your preferred ebook format. For example, Scribd doesn’t support epub documents.
That’s not all. Read our detailed blog post with everything you need to know about creating, pricing, and selling an ebook to earn recurring passive income.
Learn more: How to sell ebooks online
Online coaching programs
Online coaching is a lucrative digital product for knowledgeable creators who have some degree of credibility in their industries. If you’ve built a reasonable following on social media with an engaging audience, you can ask these people to pay for personable access to your expertise.
Take top freelance writer, Elise Dopson, who recently launched an online coaching program to help other freelancers level up and overcome common business challenges. Elise has been a top voice in the freelance writing community for a long time and even has a free Slack community for freelance writers. So, it’s no surprise freelancers are willing to sign up for her one-on-one coaching sessions.
Elise’s story shows that online coaching isn’t something done on a whim. You need to invest in your personal brand consistently. Share valuable knowledge on social media and in industry communities for free. Attend podcasts and speak at events. Over time, you will build up social proof of your expertise and attract a loyal audience that is willing to pay for your knowledge.
Another way to monetize your knowledge is to launch a membership site. A membership site involves putting your content — like courses, articles, and ebooks — behind a paywall. Members pay a recurring monthly fee to access the restricted content. It’s pretty similar to how you pay a monthly subscription fee for Netflix or Apple TV video content.
Like with online coaching, you need to build a loyal audience first before launching a membership site. No one will subscribe to your content if they aren’t already convinced of its value and your expertise.
You also need to choose a good hosting platform for your membership site. There are three things to look out for here: Ease of use, security, and integrations.
Ease of use means anyone should be able to navigate the platform and find information independently. They should require advanced technical skills to watch courses, read your ebook, or even ask questions.
Security means that only authorized persons should be able to access your content. You don’t want your paywalled content out in the open because of the platform’s security lapses.
Ensure that the platform integrates with the primary tools required for running a successful membership site. For example, it should integrate with payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal so that you can receive payments seamlessly. It should also sync with marketing tools like email software to enable you to plan campaigns right on the platform. In other words, you need a platform that acts as a one-stop shop for “everything memberships.”
In 2022, Thomas Frank made $1 million dollars from selling project management Notion templates. And he isn’t alone — hundreds of creators earn passive income from selling templates for Notion.
This does not mean you should become an overnight Notion guru — although it will be pretty interesting if you pulled that off. Instead, look for a time-consuming task your audience struggles with or a platform where you’re an expert and make templates for these.
Let’s say you’re an influencer; you can sell pitching and media kit templates to other influencers and social media creators. And if you are a Canva expert, you can create templates for ebooks, wedding cards, and social media announcement posts.
It’s best to sell your templates in bundles to make them more valuable for your prospective customers and make more money. For example, people might not see the value in buying a single contract template — especially when there are free examples out there. But, if you create a bundle containing a contract template, email pitching template, and a sample media kit, it becomes more valuable, and your chance of making a sale increases.
Learn more: How to create and sell Notion templates
There’s no better time than now to launch an online course. Since the pandemic, more people have picked online learning over strictly scheduled in-person classes because of the former’s flexible and self-paced nature — meaning there’s a ready market for your course.
So, how do you launch a successful online course? It starts with your content. Your course content should be valuable enough for people to pay for it. It should present new information to your audience — information they won’t find with a simple Google search. The best way to achieve this is to infuse your knowledge and personal experiences into the course instead of relying solely on third-party information.
You also need to choose a course format — that is, whether it’s a video, audio, text-based course, or a blended course. Much of this decision comes down to the format your audience prefers to consume information in. If your audience loves videos, you’re likely to create a video course.
Next, you need to select a hosting platform. Your course format plays a big role here because some hosting platforms only support one format. For example, you can’t host a Word document on Vimeo or Veed as they strictly support videos. Platforms like Thinkfiic and Teachable support content in all formats.
Also, think about pricing, features, and usability when deciding on your preferred online course hosting platform.
Here are a few tips to help you transform your educational digital product business from a side hustle to a full-time business that can become a major source of revenue for you!
First, don’t skimp on customer service. Happy customers help you win new business through word-of-mouth marketing so ensure that you deliver the best experience to your customers.
Off the back of that, prioritize custom feedback. Take time to read reviews and schedule one-on-one conversation with your customers. This way, you’ll learn more about what you’re doing right and what needs to improve.
Finally, treat it as a business from day one. Put the right systems in place — like a separate bank account and workflows — to help you track sales numbers and revenue early.
Need more digital product business tips? Read our guide on tax compliance for digital products.
Find answers to your most common questions about educational digital products.
What is an educational digital product?
An educational digital product is a digital resource or tool that teaches the audience about a specific topic or shares new information that helps the audience solve a specific challenge. Examples include ebooks, webinars, and membership communities.
- Why should I create an educational digital product?
An educational digital product can help creators diversify their income sources and deepen their relationship with their target audience. For the audience, it’s a great way to get an in-depth expert opinion about their challenges and the industry in general.
- Where can I sell educational digital products?
Once you’ve created your digital product, you can sell it on marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon. You can also sell it with an online course and membership platform like Thinkific. We’ve put together a list of twenty platforms for selling digital products.
- How do I come up with educational digital product ideas?
Generating ideas for your educational digital product involves exploring your passions, identifying learner needs, and staying attuned to trends. Begin by brainstorming topics aligned with your expertise or interests. Conduct market research to pinpoint gaps in existing educational resources.
Engage with your potential customers through surveys or forums to understand their preferences. Use emerging technologies like AI, virtual reality, or gamification. Iterate and refine your ideas based on audience feedback.