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The average US adult spends between $120 to $130 per month on digital products – and that amount is  steadily rising.

As more people find themselves in the virtual world, consumers are looking for an increasing range of digital products to help them learn new things, develop healthier habits, stay entertained, become more productive, and so much more.

What does that mean for businesses? It gives entrepreneurs more opportunities to create digital products targeted towards your audience and the chance to open up a passive revenue stream that requires minimal input from you.

If this sounds tempting, check out our comprehensive guide on how to create digital products –  including tried-and-tested templates that take you through the processes step-by-step.

Skip ahead:

5 reasons to create digital products

Anyone with access to a laptop or smartphone and an internet connection can create digital products. That means that even if you’ve never started your own business before, you can start selling digital products online.

In fact, digital products are simple enough to get started with thanks to: 

  • Low startup costs: Unlike physical products, you don’t need to factor in manufacturing, warehousing, shipping, and other expenses  to create and sell digital products. They’re extra cost-efficient and have a high markup.
  • Easy to scale: There’s really no limit to how many people can buy your digital products, so it’s easy to scale your business fast. With digital products, you can expand to new markets without having to worry about opening up a brick-and-mortar store.
  • Global reach: Anyone – no matter where they are – can purchase your digital products, giving you the chance to reach a global audience with your online goods.
  • Passive income: Digital products are ideal for generating a passive revenue stream that allow you to keep earning profits over time with minimal effort. Once you create a digital product, customers can keep on purchasing it without any more work to do on your end. 
  • Tap into a niche market: If you create digital products in a niche area with a high demand, you’ll be able to scale your products quickly and successfully. This will help your business grow and become more discoverable. 

Related: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Creating, Launching, and Selling your Online Course

So what digital products can you create? Listed below are some ideas to spark your imagination. 

Free Ultimate Guide to Creating and Selling Digital Products: Download Now

10 types of digital products you can create

If you’re new to the world of digital products, let’s take a look at some of the types of digital products that are currently popular on the market. 

Here are the top 10 examples:

  1. Templates
  2. Worksheets
  3. Ebooks 
  4. Printables
  5. Online courses
  6. Memberships
  7. Designs
  8. Photography
  9. Music and audio
  10. Software and games

Find out more in our guide: 21 Profitable Digital Products and Where to Sell Them

How to create digital products and sell them online

Ready to learn the 6 steps to creating digital products? Feel free to click on the links below to jump around:

  1. Find a unique idea
  2. Research market trends and demand
  3. Identify your target audience
  4. Plan your digital products
  5. Create your digital products
  6. Launch and sell your digital products
  1. Find a unique idea

If you want to create and sell digital products, it’s time to get those creative wheels turning!

Start by generating a whole host of ideas on various types of digital products you could make – maybe even including a list of tutorials and helpful resources you can offer people.

  1. Write down your expertise and passions

If you don’t have an existing business or brand, start by figuring out what it is that you’re good at and what you’re passionate about. 

Thinkific creator Ellie Diop asks her students to list out all the skills and knowledge they currently have that makes them valuable to other people. 

What are the things people always ask for your advice on? If there are already people in your life who need help — there are probably other people in the world willing to pay you for that expertise.

“Using your skills to build a business really comes down to what I like to call monetizing yourself,” Ellie says. 

Find out how Ellie built a 7-figure digital product business here.

For example, ask yourself these questions:

  • What existing skills and expertise do you have?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are you good at?
  • What can you talk about for hours?
  • What do people ask for your help with?

The act of writing down what you can offer the world can help  open up new ideas and avenues that you might not have thought of before — and help you stand out from the crowd.

Related: How to find your niche in 4 simple steps

  1. Ask your audience

If you already have an existing community or audience, ask them what they would find helpful and what types of digital products they want to see from you. 

Use your social media or email list to find out what types of products your audience is looking for –- and crucially, what they’d be willing to pay for.

For example, if you have a business selling handmade cushions, there might be demand from your audience for digital products on how to make their own cushions at home.

Download our interactive guide to help you choose your online course topic and position it for a specific target audience.

  1. Research market trends and demand

Next up, do the research to find out what’s already being offered by other brands and businesses –- and what people are searching for right now.

Your aim here is to find out: What problem can I solve that customers will pay me for? 

  1. Check the demand

Use Google Trends to gauge interest in your digital product keywords. 

This tool lets you see the popularity of search terms and keywords over time –- so you can identify top trending topics and how many people are searching for products in your category or niche.

  1. Look at existing digital products

Armed with your Google Trends research and your list of ideas, take a look at what digital products are currently out there.

Do a search across a range of social media and digital product platforms, including: 

  • Etsy
  • Amazon
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Udemy

Find out what other businesses are currently offering and look at existing digital products that are selling well.  Also keep in mind what niche areas have a high demand, and maybe not as many sellers – that’s where you have the potential to earn some serious cash.

Market research gives you the chance to know what kind of competition you will have when you launch your digital products. 

  1. Create a shortlist

Through the research process, you’re aiming to land on a high-demand, low-competition product.

This means products that lots of people are searching for, but fewer businesses are currently offering.

This is the sweet spot –- go too niche and there won’t be a high demand for your product, but go too mainstream and it will be impossible to stand out from the crowd. 

Work through your ideas and evaluate which ones to keep and which ones to lose. This is your all-star shortlist.

  1. Find the gaps in the market

To have the best chance at success, it’s helpful to identify potential gaps in the market that can give you some leverage. 

For instance, there might be thousands of personal finance courses already out there –- however, by looking at what your competitors are creating, you can sniff out opportunities to do something different.

Ask yourself:

  • What are you not seeing in their content?
  • What could they improve upon ?
  • What audience could you connect with that they’re not currently targeting?
  • What unique perspective can you bring to the table?

Look at customer comments and browse through 2-star or 3-star reviews to see where there might be room for improvement in the products currently available –- and what you could offer customers to better fit their needs.

Related: 5 Ways to Validate Your Online Course Concept

  1. Identify your target audience

If you’re creating digital products, you need to have an audience to sell them to. Define your target audience to help give you focus and clarity when you are creating your digital products.

For businesses and brands that already have an established audience, identifying your target audience means discovering what groups in your existing audience you can set your sights on when marketing your digital products.    

If you’re starting from scratch, research potential audiences that you could touch  with your brand –- especially the ‘more niche’ people who aren’t currently being served by existing products and businesses.

Here are some questions to ask during your audience research:

  • Who are they? Understand your audience demographics, including their age range, location, average income, professions, educational background, gender, and hobbies.
  • Who are you? What expertise and background do you have that will help you connect with your audience? How well do they know you already?
  • What do they value? Get to know what matters most to your target audience and what their core values are –- this shapes their motivations and purchasing decisions.
  • What challenges or problems do they have? Outline the biggest challenge your audience is facing in relation to your product to help you understand how you can assist them.
  • How can you help them achieve their goals? What can you do to get them from their current position to help them achieve their goals –- how much do they need to know and what tools do they need? 
  • What gaps in their knowledge do they have about your topic? Identify the areas where your audience may have misconceptions, confusion, or lack of knowledge around your topic. Hint: it might be in areas that seem obvious or easy to you.
  • How relevant is your topic to them? Be brutally honest –- how much does your audience actually want to know about your chosen topic and how are you making your content relevant to them and their needs? Make your digital products cater to their needs. 

Want to dive deeper? Get our guide to How To Define Your Target Audience (+Templates & Workbooks).

  1. Create your ideal customer profile

Everything you create should be tailored towards your target audience. This includes your products, but also your social media content, website, landing pages, emails, and more.

It’s really helpful to create an ideal customer persona –- also known as a customer avatar –- to help you envision someone who needs your product. This avatar is your ideal customer. 

Creating a customer avatar will help you:

  • Write content that connects with your ideal customer by giving you a clear understanding of their problems and goals.,
  • Develop better products by helping you anticipate your customers’ needs and wants.
  • Be more effective in your marketing by helping you know which social media channels to use, where to advertise your products, and how to contact your audience.

Download our Customer Avatar Workbook to help you get started.

Related: How to Create Your Ideal User Persona + Templates

  1. Write a positioning statement

When you’re clear on who your target audience is and how you’ll offer them something different to the products already out there, write a positioning statement for your product.

Using all the information you’ve gathered from steps 1-3, write a paragraph to describe your product in detail, including:

  • Who is your product for?
  • What does your audience need?
  • What does your product do?
  • What are your product’s benefits?
  • What makes you different from the competition?

Refer back to your positioning statement during the process of creating your digital products to make sure you stay on course.

  1. Plan your digital products

Before you create your digital products, it’s a good idea to start with a detailed plan. 

Why? Because planning makes sure you know exactly what you’re creating — and helps ensure that you use your time and resources efficiently.

Here are 3 steps to help you plan your digital product.

  1. Outline your content

Start by breaking down exactly what your digital product is going to contain –- including the content, resources, and any juicy extras.

This process will vary depending on the type of digital products you’re creating. For example, if you’re building a self-guided course for your customers, the outlining step will be a lot more in-depth than if you’re creating downloadable templates.

Here are some extra resources to help you:

  1. Assign tasks

Whether you’re working alone or with a team, it’s helpful to write out the specific tasks involved in creating your digital products, so you know exactly what needs to be done and when.

This gives you a clearer picture of the processes involved in creating your digital product. 

  1. Break down the product creation process into a list of specific tasks such as writing the script, recording video footage, and recording audio.
  2. Identify which tasks you can do and which ones you will need outside help with.
  3. Select the tasks you will outsource or assign to your team (if you have one).
  4. Set deadlines for completing each task.

Don’t let this step overwhelm you. You can absolutely create digital products as a solo Creator Educator –- but the planning process helps make sure there are no surprises down the line.

  1. Set a budget

It’s also a good idea to set a budget for creating your digital products –- especially if you’re outsourcing work like content creation and marketing.

Estimate how much it will cost to create your digital products, including:

  • Pricing out your time
  • Software subscriptions
  • Equipment costs
  • Platform fees

Again, the aim of this step is to help you make sure that you’re fully prepared to create your digital products and that you’ve allocated enough money to make it happen.

  1. Create your digital products

We’re down to the meaty part of the process –- it’s now time to create your digital products.

This is the step where you can let your creativity flow to produce something that sets you apart from competitors, appeals to your audience, and reflects your personal brand.

Here are the 4 essential steps:

  1. Write engaging copy

Whether you’re creating downloadable workbooks, templates, or an online course, the key to creating and selling amazing digital products is to make sure your copy is on point. 

Make sure your writing targets these specific points:

  • Tailored to your target audience
  • Clear and concise 
  • Straightforward and easy to follow
  • Drives your customer to take action

Your copy should be a reflection of you. This is a chance to show your customers who you are and what makes you unique, so let your personality shine through.

Here are some tips to help you write compelling copy:

  • Don’t be too formal: Brands are increasingly turning away from overly formal, stuffy content in favor of something that feels more authentic to their customers. Why? Because it’s more interesting to read! Save the dry formal content for textbooks and be more conversational instead.
  • Add humor: Make your copy more fun with added humor. Think: witty jokes, memes, and exaggerated statements. 
  • Include personal anecdotes and examples: Your audience chose you because they connect with you and your experience –- share more about your personal story to add color to your copy and increase the value for your customers.
  • Read it aloud: When you’ve written your content, read it back to yourself out loud. Does it make sense? Does it sound like you? If not, go back and edit until it does.

Take inspiration from other businesses when writing your content –- but first try to find your own voice that feels right for you and your brand. 

Related: How to Create that Converts

  1. Design the visuals

There are a huge range of design tools for making your digital products look polished and professional while also showing off your brand personality.

The easiest way to create digital products is using a tool like Canva.

Browse their library of ready-made templates and customize them to create unique, high-quality digital products that are tailor-made for your target audience. Then, simply add in your copy or content and any images, diagrams, or infographics.

  1. Add multimedia elements

Depending on the type of digital product you want to create, you can also enhance your content with multimedia elements.

Choose additions that will be valuable to your target audience, including: 

  • Interactive quizzes
  • Embedded videos
  • Audio files
  • Animations

Think about how you can enhance your content to make it more helpful, engaging, and fun for your audience.

  1. Review and edit

When you’ve created your content, go back through with a fine tooth comb to review and edit.

It can be really helpful to step away for a few days and then come back to your product draft with fresh eyes –- this will help you spot any errors and areas for improvement.

At this stage, you can also send out your product to a select number of people in your audience to get their feedback before rolling it out to everyone. Listen to their opinions and suggestions and tweak your digital products to make them as helpful as possible for your target audience.

  1. Launch and sell your digital products

Of course, creating your digital products is just the start of the journey. When you finally have a product that you’re ready to sell, it’s time to launch, market, and promote your digital products and scale your business.

Here’s the process in 3 simple steps:

  1. Choose your platform

Select the platform you will use to upload, promote, and sell your digital products. 

You can choose to sell through an online marketplace like Etsy or Amazon or create your own website to sell directly to customers. 

Here’s our pick of the 11 best platforms to sell digital products.

  1. Market and promote your products

Create a landing page for your digital product and use social media to promote your content. Work on building your email list to give you a direct link to prospective customers and leverage email marketing to sell more products. 

For an in-depth guide to marketing and selling your digital products, check out these resources:

  1. Collect feedback and review

Top creators don’t just post and ghost. To create the best possible digital products for your audience, listen to what your customers are saying and use it to edit and improve your content.

Collect a range of customer feedback, including:

  • Customer surveys
  • Interviews
  • Social media comments
  • Reviews

Both positive and negative feedback can be hugely beneficial for your business. Negative feedback can tell you what you may need to improve on. Positive feedback tells you what you’re excelling at, and can be used to promote your products to more people through testimonials and social proof.

If you can listen to your customers, you can refine your product content over time and become your audience’s go-to resource. 

Find out more: Download the Ultimate Guide to Marketing and Selling your Online course.

Ready to create digital products?

Thanks to the wide range of tools available to creators today, it’s easy to create digital products and sell them online. If you can leverage your expertise, find a niche, and listen to your target audience, you can create digital products that provide genuine value to your customers –- and keep them coming back for more.

Free Digital Product Business Plan Guide and Template: Download Now

Start building your business with Thinkific –- an all-in-one platform designed for Creator Educators to create, launch, and sell digital products from scratch. 

Try Thinkific for free today.

This post was originally published in August 2023 and was updated in March 2024 with additional insight.