9 digital product ideas (with successful examples)
The more aspects of our lives migrate online, the more we demand digital products and services at work and home.
For decades, we’ve bought and sold physical products and services on the internet, and in recent years a huge new market for digital products has emerged. While it used to be a pain to create, market, buy, and sell these digital assets, now it has become a central part of today’s economy -- and it’s easier than ever before to earn a living from selling digital products alone.
Today, the hard part isn’t selling products online, it’s knowing which products to sell in the first place. And for part-time and independent creators, digital products can be the most lucrative products of all.
In this article, we summarize ways you can create and capture value from the growing market for digital products.
- What are Digital Products
- The Benefits of Selling Digital Products
- 9 Digital Product Ideas For Inspiration
- What Digital Product Should You Choose to Sell
- How to Package Your Digital Product
- How to Market Your Digital Product
Let’s dive right in!
What are Digital Products?
A Digital Product is any asset represented in digital format without a physical component.
A digital book, or ebook, is one form of digital product, but digital products include any information that can be converted into binary code.
For that reason, digital products encompass far more than just digital versions of physical products. Often, they combine together multiple formats, categories, and classifications, to include:
- Presets, and
- Numerous other forms
Many creators package their knowledge and creative output into digital products they can sell without incurring marginal replication costs. Rather than sell products on a one-on-one basis, they build one product and sell it multiple times for the same amount of work.
The Benefits of Selling Digital Products
We've detailed many benefits of selling digital products here. Here's a summary:
- Little-to-zero startup costs. Unlike physical stores, selling digital products has minimal costs to start with. Most of the time, you only need your laptop, wifi, and Gumroad to get you started.
- Flexibility. You have the flexibility to be creative when it comes to what product to sell, how to price it, and when to sell it.
- No need to pay for physical storage space. You don't have to worry about the physical storage of your products since everything is digital.
- Money flows in passively. You can be at the beach or driving somewhere, and you'd still get paid. When you sell a digital product, you're no longer selling your time for money.
- No ceiling on earning potential. The Internet allows you to scale your product permanently. Your product can reach thousands (and sometimes millions) of people in the next 5 - 10 years. You can be making money on a product you made five years ago.
9 Digital Products Ideas for Inspiration (With Successful Examples)
Whatever industry you're in, you can make a digital product that will match your skills, interests and lifestyle.
Even if you're not sure what to do, we recommend starting anyway. The most common advice you'll hear from the most successful creators is to just start.
So to help you get started, we've gathered some ideas for inspiration from the most successful creators to give you a sense of where you could be weeks, months or years from now.
Here are 9 digital product ideas for inspiration:
1. Package Your Knowledge into a Digital Book
One of the simplest digital products you can start creating today is an eBook.
An eBook is the digital form of a book available to be downloaded. It doesn't matter what your background is since everyone has something to teach. For example, Steph Smith sells an eBook on how to make content that stands out. She started her blog in 2018 and grew her readers to 400,000+ in less than two years. Then, she packaged her knowledge into an eBook and made over 100,000 from it.
Blogging has been around for decades, but Steph decided to create a product in 2020 as she saw the gap between content that does well and doesn't do well online.
Whatever your background is, you can start sharing your knowledge online.
Another example is Gumroad creator, The Real Estate God. This creator teaches others how to build a real estate empire by empowering them to start their own private equity firm. Rather than opening up a consulting firm to teach people how to set up their real estate investment, he packaged his skills in the form of an eBook and has generated six figures since then.
Whether you're a lawyer, a doctor, designer, nurse, YouTuber, blogger, or artist, creating a digital eBook is a great way to start creating your first digital product.
Examples of Digital Books Gumroad creators sell in other industries:
- Blender Secrets eBook by Jan van den Hemel
- “Do No Harm” Dog Training Manual eBook by Linda Michaels
2. Make People’s Lives Easy With Digital Templates
Another easy project you can start with is selling digital templates.
Templates are what you use to make your digital life easier no matter what software you're using. But the most common ones you'll see today are Google Sheets, Notion, Excel, social media, and website themes.
Take Daniel Canosa, for example. His background in building systems as an electrical engineer gave him the skills and knowledge to start helping others build systems using Notion. He provides free Notion and productivity-related content on YouTube while selling well-packaged Notion templates on Gumroad.
Examples of templates Gumroad creators sell in other industries:
- Figma Templates by Matt Wierzbicki
- ArchiCAD Professional Templates by Mesolight Visual
- Manga Templates For Procreate by ArtyStack
- Startup Landing Page by ConvertWell
Online Gambling Industry
- Poker Spreadsheets by SplitSuit
3. Dive Deep into a Topic with Online Courses
Online courses are gaining high popularity as a form of digital products.
Research forecasts the online education market to be at $350 billion by 2035. This means that there's a massive opportunity for creators to teach people what they know. Online courses are useful when you have specific knowledge that you want to help people with.
Sometimes, eBooks won't justify the choice of your topic. For example, Dontez Akram teaches others how to build a profitable online clothing store to help them build financial freedom. His course provides the foundation for setting up a clothing brand and getting sales. Dontez is a 6-figure top creator on Gumroad. Starting an online business requires an extensive explanation that eBooks might not deliver well.
Whether you want to teach people how to grow on social media, play guitar, draw, or use Photoshop, you can create an online course.
Examples of online courses Gumroad creators sell in other industries:
- Programming for musicians by Matkat Music
- Twitter Money Mastery by Jose Rosado
- YouTube Content Mastery by Daniel Canosa
- Instagram Rich Bundle Course by Chance Cessna
Health & Fitness
- 12-week Bodyweight Program by Alexander Jacortes
- The Ultimate Guide to Creating Galaxy in Blender by Creative Shrimp
- The Practical Guide to Oil Painting Techniques and Materials by Florentfargest
4. If You’re a Student, Sell Study Guides
When we say that there's space for everyone on the Internet, we mean it.
If you're a student and you're looking to make a side income online, you're in luck. As it turns out, being a student has its perks too. Brian Hahn is an example of a creator who sells study guides to help people pass the Bar Exam. His guide lays down all the foundations and principles to help people become attorneys.
If you spend a lot of time organizing and categorizing your study material, you can make extra income by sharing that knowledge with others to earn a side or full-time income using Gumroad.
Examples of study guides Gumroad creators sell in other industries like Psychology, Aviation and Education:
- Pilotcafe’s Airplane IFR Study Guide by Amir Fleminger
- No Bullshit Guide to Linear Algebra by Ivan Savov
- Registered Behavioural Technician by RBT Exam Review
5. Build an Online Community with Memberships and Subscriptions
Online memberships are subscription-based digital products.
When you sell digital products, it’s a one-time transaction. But when you sell memberships or subscriptions, you benefit from recurring cash flow.
Here are the top benefits of selling online memberships:
- Recurring revenue means predictable and stable income
- You build strong relationships with your audience
- You continuously make products your fans will want
We understand that creators want to build their community, so we have made it easy for you to build your community through memberships and get paid for your hard work. You can have multiple tiers to control who gets access to your exclusive content, membership or both.
Examples of memberships and subscriptions Gumroad creators sell in other industries:
- Passion for Polymer Digital Magazine Subscription by PolymerClay TV
- InstaBranding Insiders by Maddie Peschong Photography
- E-Money Team Affiliate Marketing Program by Ellie Talks Money
6. Create and Sell Pre-made Design Tools
Brushes, plugins, presets and app icons are examples of design tools.
If you have a strong familiarity with digital art and other softwares to make art, you can start selling brushes and templates to help artists save time when making art.
For example, successful creators like JingSketch, Julia Razumova and Vegalia create brushes for Procreate. Gumroad creator chippwalters sell a Sketch Style add-on for blender artists. Many Gumroad creators like Untitled UI create templates and tutorials for aspiring digital designers.
Here’s a more comprehensive guide on how digital artists make online income.
Examples of design tools Gumroad creators sell in other industries:
- Bluesssatan Brush Set for Procreate App by Julia Razumova
- Untitled UI - Figma UI kit and Design System by Untitled UI
- iOS Icons by Traf
7. Make Podcasts and AudioBooks for Audio Lovers
Many people love consuming content through podcasts or listening to audio.
Since 2019, nearly 3 out of 4 people constantly consume podcasts in the U.S. There is a growing opportunity for you to create audio-form digital products because of how easy it is to consume. Oberlo's blog cites that listeners consume podcasts at home, while walking, in the car or commuting.
Gumroad Creator Jody Hatton sells Binaural Beats to help people with their sleep and focus. If you are a health practitioner, this format makes sense if you're helping people that require audio. Similarly, you can upload your audiobook if you have converted your written content to audio. Goodreader cites that audiobook listeners have increased 8.1% since 2019.
Examples of podcasts and audiobooks Gumroad creators sell in other industries:
- James Potter Series by livingaudio247
- Blood, Guts & Fire: The Gospel According to Leviticus by The Work of Rob Bell
- Learn How to Trade Options by Breakfast Money
- Long-Distance Real Estate Investing by Affordable Financial Education
Gumroad makes it easy for you to upload your content, and your fans can easily consume them in their dashboard in one place.
8. Curate Well-Researched Content with Paid Newsletters
Paid newsletters usually consist of curated information delivered to your inbox.
Trends.vc is an example of a popular paid newsletter with over 15,000+ paying subscribers that help people discover new markets and ideas. Their newsletter boasts information on topics like company reports, private founder community, meetups, NFTs, drop culture, remote work, and so on.
They help people save time by curating the most relevant and trending information in different industries.
You can set your newsletter pricing to either monthly, annually or by issue.
If you're an expert or are very knowledgeable in your industry, set up a newsletter that delivers the most relevant information your readers will appreciate.
Examples of newsletters Gumroad creators sell in other industries:
9. DIY Tutorials for Crafty Individuals
Are you a crafty or hands-on individual?
Maybe you love to make art or do woodwork projects at home. Some Gumroad creators use those skills to help others with DIY tutorials. For example, this Gumroad creator sells woodworking plans to help others build their home projects, whether it's building cabinets, sofas and chairs.
Instead of building pieces of furniture for others, he used his woodworking skills to show others how they could do it too.
Whether you're teaching beginner or advanced DIY tutorials, you can be confident that someone will appreciate your knowledge once you put it out there.
Examples of DIY Tutorials Gumroad creators sell in other industries:
- DIY Platform Bed With Floating Night Stands by DIY creators
- Drill Press Stand Plans by Fix This Build That Plan Store
- How to Rebuild Honda CB750 Engine by Matthew Bochnak
- Ultimate Everything Super Value Pattern Bundle by Chris Huebert
Things to Consider When Choosing The Digital Product to Create
As you can see, there are many options to choose from when creating your first or second digital product.
Here are some factors to consider:
1. Your Current Skills and Knowledge
Your digital product is a package of your skills and knowledge.
You have to know what you're currently good at. You also need to know if people are willing to pay you for your current skills and knowledge. The simplest way to make money online is to provide value to others, which usually consists of helping others with what you know.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What do others ask me for advice?
- If money wasn't an issue, what would I like to be doing?
- What do I consider yourself to be an expert or knowledgeable about?
Remember, you don't have to know everything about the topic you're hoping to teach. Sometimes, the person you'll be teaching is on day one while you're at day 70 or day 365. That's a lot of gaps that you can help someone with.
2. Your Time Commitment
Depending on how much time you want to put into creating, your product choice can vary.
For example, some creators can launch an eBook in 7 days or under a month. But if you want to develop a curriculum to create an online course, most creators will need a couple of months.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How much time per day do I want to dedicate to my digital product?
- When do I want to launch it?
- How much of a learning curve does the launch of my digital product need?
You can always start with small projects, especially if you have a smaller audience. Once you're comfortable with launching, you can ship bigger and more products that your fans will love.
3. The Type of Content You're Providing
The topic or type of content will help you determine which digital product to create.
For example, teaching someone how to play guitar is better consumed as an online course than an eBook. Similarly, teaching someone how to make a website will be better consumed as video. So, making online courses with videos will improve your customer's experience.
Also, if you’re more comfortable writing, then start with an eBook.
If you’re more comfortable in front of a camera, then start with a video course.
If you’re more comfortable speaking, then start with audio.
Figure out the best way to deliver your knowledge as that makes a difference to the user's experience.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How are my competitors or other creators teaching the topic that I want to teach?
- What is the best way for my consumers to consume my product?
- What tools do I need to learn to deliver a good product?
Create digital products that your users will enjoy, but also that you will enjoy creating, so they come back for more and refer your products to others.
4. Your Desired Involvement
Some digital products like an eBook require minimal involvement from the creator.
E-book pricing ranges from $0 - $45+. It can be cheap because there's not much work involved from your side after the sale has been made.
However, the pricing for online courses, communities and membership often ranges from $50 - $2,000+. These digital products usually require the creator to be more involved, so they're more expensive. Depending on how much you want to get involved, you can determine the price you want to put on your product.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What do I want to include in your product?
- What am I hoping for my customers to get out of your product?
- How do I want to help people with their transformation?
5. Your Motivation For Creating a Digital Product
Once you get past the "starting" hurdle, it's easy to want to give up after a couple of weeks or months, especially if you were hoping for tons of sales.
But if you figure out what your motivation is, you can set yourself up for success to help you push through until the end. It often takes months or years to see the results they were hoping for when creators start selling digital products.
As one of the 6-figure Gumroad Creator puts it, "This is a long run and you need to be patient. Never give up."
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Why do I want to create my digital product?
- How will people benefit if I create my digital product?
- How will creating a digital product help my overall goal as a creator?
Knowing your 'why' is beneficial in the online world. No one will push you to keep going but yourself. Hence, it's so important to have a strong foundation of why you want to build a digital product in the first place.
How to Package Your Digital Product
Packaging your digital product well is key to getting your first few sales.
Your digital product needs to look good and clearly explain to your customer what's in it for them once they buy it.
A well-packaged digital product includes the explanation of the following:
- What the product is
- The benefits of your product
- What the customers can expect
- Social proof
Gumroad Creator Case Study: Janel Loi
Janel Loi built an info product called Newsletter OS.
She packaged her newsletter knowledge in Notion. As you can see, she clearly explains what the product is in one sentence: "A comprehensive dashboard that helps you grow, launch, manage & grow your newsletter."
Next, she tells you why she created the product and she clearly points out the benefits of the product.
When you let others know who your product is for, you filter out the customers who won't appreciate your product. As a creator, you want to attract the right kind of people to use (and buy) your product.
Third, she lists the features of the product in what's inside section. This is what customers can expect when they buy your digital product.
Most creators get hung up on features, on what the person will get. But most of the time, people care about how it will improve their current situation. In Janel's case, the value she's providing is to help people save time in growing a newsletter.
Lastly, Janel included social proof. Having social proof or testimonials of your product will make your customers feel like they can trust your product better. It helps people visualize where they could be if they also buy your product.
If you have no social proof, give your product for free to some customers in exchange for testimonials.
This helps you to obtain feedback on your product and collect social proof to use to leverage later on, and it also provides more credibility.
How to Market Your Digital Product
Just because you build a digital product doesn't mean "they will come."
You have to let people know about your product in today's world, so it's important to learn how to market and advertise your products. Luckily for you, the digital age makes it easy.
Here are five ways to market your digital product:
Talk about it using your email list
It doesn't matter which platform you use, but you have to market your product where your customers are.
Ideally, your email list is the best place to market your product since your ideal customers are already subscribed to your content. If your product is related to how you collect the users' email addresses, then your subscribers will be more responsive to the launch of your product.
You can get started collecting emails with Gumroad for free.
Build your digital product in public
Building your product in public means sharing the behind-the-scenes of your project with your audience.
As a creator, you can share:
- What helped you make certain decisions
- Learnings from failures
- Analysis of your products
- Your learnings of what you're working on
Building in public helps people become invested in your journey. This often leads to them supporting you or buying your product later on
Create content where your digital product is the solution
When you share content that helps people, your product can become their solution.
For example, Justin Welsh, a Gumroad creator, sells an info product that helps creators grow an audience and monetize on LinkedIn. On Twitter, he shares content on "deconstructing audience and income growth for solopreneurs."
His Twitter content consists of topics that help solopreneurs. However, if people ask him to dive into a specific problem (i.e. how to grow and monetize a LinkedIn audience), he can direct them to his digital product.
Other platforms you can create content on:
- YouTube videos
You don't have to be on all of these platforms. But you have to create content that will help people solve their problems using your product.
The platforms you spend your time on will also be determined by where your ideal customers hang out.
For example, if you’re focused on selling digital products to lawyers, LinkedIn will be best.
If it’s tech-focused, Twitter will be best.
If it’s design-focused, Instagram is usually the best.
If it’s cooking-focused, YouTube is usually the best.
Focus on the main platforms relevant to your niche to reduce the overwhelm.
Collaborate with other creators
When you collaborate with other creators, you get access to each others' audiences.
Start building genuine relationships with other creators with similar goals and values. You'll be happy to make friends in your entrepreneurial journey as you build relationships with others.
Collaborating can look like:
- Jumping on each others' live streams
- Guest posting on each others' blogs
- Guest posting on each others' newsletters
- Offering affiliate programs to other creators
- Promoting each other's products
- Collaborate on a course together
When you collaborate with other creators, you can help each other promote products on different platforms.
Use Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission every time you promote a creator’s product and generate a sale via your exclusive affiliate link.
You only receive your affiliate commission after you generate a sale. So let’s say you have a 30% commission on a $100 course. After a confirmed sale, you’d earn $30 as an affiliate.
As a creator, affiliate marketing can look like letting other creators who can reach your targeted audience and giving them a percentage of a sale of your product.
Collectively, affiliate marketing is a performance-based way of scaling your business or products without the high costs.
Gumroad Affiliates Earned Over $4,300,000 in The Past 18 Months
Here’s a video on how to create an affiliate program with Gumroad:
How to Sell Your Digital Products
There are many ways to sell your digital products online.
Most platforms make it complicated to do so, but Gumroad makes it simple and easy. You can set up your profile in less than 2 minutes, upload your first digital product, and directly send a link to your customers—no need to set up multiple accounts to get paid for your product.
Step 1: Create a landing page for your product
- Name: add a name your customer will recognize what you're selling
- Description: make a list of the benefits of your product, who it's for, who it isn't for and what they will get out of your product if they buy it
- Thumbnail/Cover: create a simple, but eye-catching product cover that will help your product stand out
Step 2: Upload your digital product on Gumroad
Step 3: Decide on the price
If you want to give your first digital product for free, you can put 0+ and let customers pay what they want. Otherwise, a good starting point is to charge the same price as other creators selling a similar product.
Step 4: Publish your product and direct your customers to your Gumroad page
Step 5: Get Paid, Get Feedback and Iterate
After you have your first digital product, follow the previous section's tips to market your product.
When you have your first few customers, continuously get feedback on how to improve your product. As you iterate, you add more value to your product.
Later on, you can increase your price or launch more digital products to add to your income streams.
Build Digital Products That Last
Your first, second or third digital product won't be the perfect product.
As a new creator, your goal is to make a habit of shipping products that you're proud of and will be useful to others. As you will realize, the more you consistently show up and help other people and build an audience, selling digital products will be one of your income streams.
Most successful creators admit that it takes years to be completely comfortable in launching products. Some sell more than one or two digital products before one finally takes off and gets traction.
So don't be scared to experiment and make small bets in your future.
To your success,