Selling digital goods as an online business model is by far the most popular and sensible way to make money online. In fact, much of the affiliate marketing done today is simply promoting digital goods.
The concept covers a wide range – from single product downloads to membership content – but for the sake of simplicity, let’s just stick to singular downloads for now.
The scope is HUGE – because you can sell any of the following, and much more:
Audio tracks or albums
Tutorials (these can be in the form of ebooks, videos, or even PPT slideshows)
Information (databases of suppliers, potential connections or potential clients)
Keep in mind that as far as ebooks, audio and video material goes, it can be either about entertainment or about useful information (fiction, non-fiction or education).
So – why is selling digital goods – as opposed to other online business models – so popular?
1. It costs nothing to reproduce.
Fair enough, you will be paying a hosting fee for your website or blog, and probably your download(s) as well, but those costs won’t vary much relative to your income. In fact, whether you have one product or ten that you sell, the actual availability of your product doesn’t need to cost you anything. Every time that someone downloads it, another copy is simply generated on the fly.
As such, many of the more established product vendors are able to spend large amounts of money on creating their products. They know that once the product is out there, it can keep bringing them money for as long as they choose to keep on selling it – at nothing but the annual cost of the domain, and the monthly hosting fees.
Note: If you decide to sell directly from your website, you may need an SSL (secure socket layer) certificate (it certifies the encryption used to protect buyer information during the transaction, which improves the trustworthiness of your sales page).
2. You don’t need any physical space.
If you have a physical (local) business, you would need some physical space, the location of which would directly impact your visibility and customer numbers. Unfortunately, the location if also directly connected to the cost of your store or office.
3. You don’t need any inventory.
If you sell physical products, they need to be stored somewhere. Fair enough, if you do drop-shipping, the supplier will keep and ship them for you – but at a price. Digital goods don’t require any backup stock.
4. You don’t have any shipping costs.
You can allow a digital product to be downloaded from anywhere in the world without any cost to you or the customer (excluding of course the bandwidth to download it). And that goes for any digital product, regardless of whether it’s a 200kb PDF ebook or a video of a Gig or more.
5. You don’t have any hassles with returns or damaged goods.
When selling digital goods, giving a refund is as simple as clicking a button. Fair enough, that means there will be some people taking advantage of it, but it also means that it doesn’t cost you anything, or require lots of administrative paperwork, to reverse a transaction. In addition to that, if someone downloads a file and it is corrupted in the process, he or she can simply download it again.
6. A very low barrier to entry.
Selling digital goods can be done without ANY additional expense on top of your existing online business costs. If you can create the product yourself (ebook or video or whatever format you are able to create it in), you can sell it online for free – meaning you can do it without any fixed costs, but you will obviously still have to pay your transactional fees.
The only real problem some people may face is that they live in countries which are not supported by any of the popular payment platforms. Sometimes it is possible to work around it, and sometimes it isn’t.
7. Your own affiliates.
Selling digital goods allow you to recruit your own affiliates, and have other people promoting your own products. Think of networks like ClickBank, JVzoo, etc.
What do you need to sell digital goods online?
Well, that depends on your product, the scope of your target market, and the scope of your operation. If you want to run a truly professional setup, you can look at something like Digital Access Pass – which is an all in one secure selling and delivery system for anything from ebooks to memberships.
If you want to sell video tutorials, you can look at places like Udemy (they host it and sell it for you at a portion of the revenue). They also have an affiliate program, so you can still have affiliates promoting your tutorials.
If what you want to sell is simple and straightforward, you can also look at a UK platform called Payhip. They host your product, as well as a simple product page, and facilitate the delivery (no more miscommunications between your website and the payment gateway). They also allow you to showcase all of your products on a profile page – at no monthly cost or listing fee. They only charge a small fee per transaction.
They enable you to accept payments via Paypal and/or Stripe (and of course credit cards), and they also facilitate having affiliates. The only downside is that everything happens instantly – meaning that your affiliates are paid instantly as well. While it makes for happy affiliates, it also means that if a transaction has to be reversed, and the affiliate has cleared his or her Paypal account, you may have to carry the full refund. As such, I would recommend picking your affiliates carefully (Payhip allows you to accept affiliates by invitation only).
It is possible to create digital products for just about any niche. It is possible to create them without any budget. it is possible to sell them – and get paid instantly if you choose – without any fixed or monthly costs. It allows you to have affiliates, but with a fraction of the challenges faced by vendors (with affiliates) of physical products.
As we say in internet marketing…
It’s a no-brainer.