There are two ways to make a living from your online business:
- Provide a service online.
- Sell (or promote) digital products.
The first category is typically associated with freelancers (graphic designers, video artists, developers…), and the second with entrepreneurs, bloggers, and affiliate marketers.
But I believe that every freelancer should aim to sell his own digital products.
Grow Your Freelance Business Selling Digital Products
In this post, I'll introduce the concept of building a sustainable business model through selling digital products. And I'll explain why it is such a natural development, and essential step, for any freelancer's career.
- Why should you sell digital products?
- What type of digital products can you sell?
- What digital products should you create?
Why should you sell digital products?
Before we dive into the how part, we need to cover the why.
Why should you sell digital products?
Selling digital products gives you more freedom over your time, and opens up the possibility for a more sustainable business model.
Here’s the thing –
If you’re a freelancer, do you want to provide services to clients your entire life? Or do you want to grow your business beyond that, to a stage where you make money while you sleep?
If you’re an affiliate marketer – isn’t it risky to base your income solely on the success of other people’s products? What happens if your most profitable affiliate income sources decide to close their affiliate program?
As a freelancer, entrepreneur, or any type of online business owner, it’s important to have multiple income streams. Selling your own product is a great way to achieve that.
The advantages of a business model that includes selling digital products are huge:
- You can generate recurring monthly passive income.
- You have more flexibility & control over your time.
- You can take on less client work.
- You have an unlimited quantity of your product.
- You can sell your products to anyone in the world.
- Production costs & selling fees are relatively low.
- You create the product once and sell it forever.
What type of digital products can you sell?
There are three main types of digital products you can sell:
- Templates & creative assets.
- Educational content.
The tools category includes essential, productivity and growth tools that help people get work done and grow their business.
As freelancers and solopreneurs who run a one-man-show, creating a ‘mega’ tool is close to impossible – which is why tools are the least common type of product freelancers sell.
With that said, creating smaller, more manageable tools is definitely an option (Jason Savard is a perfect example of someone who does just that).
For an in-depth look at the tools category, check out Tools for Creative Freelancers.
Templates & creative assets
Templates are pre-designed or pre-coded digital files (such as graphic design templates, website themes, video templates) that help people achieve great looking results within a short time frame.
Once a user buys a template, he can drag & drop his own content into the existing placeholder (or replace existing elements) to reach his outcome quickly.
My App Promo Template is a great example of how this works.
Creative assets can include anything from royalty free music to Photoshop add-ons, and stock imagery.
Educational content (or information products) include online courses, eBooks, and tutorials that teach people a certain subject or skill. These types of product are on a meteoric rise.
Right now, eBooks are one of the most popular digital products, but the industry is rapidly transitioning to the online courses space, as they offer more versatility for the teacher and student and tend to be more cost effective.
What digital products should you create?
There isn't only one answer to this question; it depends on a wide variety of things.
First, let’s look at:
- What you can create.
- What you want to create.
Let's get started.
What can you create?
The first step is understanding your capabilities and limitations.
You can't create something that you don't have the skill to build.
Sure, you can always hire people for specific tasks, such as hiring a pro to design your book cover, but that’s different because it's still you who created the content.
So start by figuring out what things you can create.
For example, while I'd l love to create royalty free music for productions, I don't even have the most basic skillset to do that. So I always purchase music for my videos.
What do you want to create?
When answering this question, don't let money be your sole motivation.
Instead, think about things you are passionate about, and things you can create that will truly help others.
If you create something because of the revenue potential alone, you'll run out of gas when things get hard.
Creation is art, no matter if it involves writing a thousand lines of code or recording hours of video.
It's important that you enjoy the process, and you'll only enjoy it if you create something you are passionate about.
So I believe that you should first think about the type of product you want to create, and only then do the research into whether or not that specific type of product is profitable.
Now that you’ve thought about what you can create and what you want to create, it’s time for the next step.
What digital products does your target audience need?
You should only create a product that people actually need – something that solves a real problem.
I made the mistake of creating a product just because I wanted to create it. I spent weeks on the development and was super excited about launching it.
It sold 5 times and made exactly $179.
It was a cool product, but people didn’t care.
Why? Because it didn’t solve a problem.
And honestly, I wouldn’t buy it either.
Product validation is one of the most important steps of the entire process.
If no one needs what you create, no one will ever buy it.
But before figuring out what people need, you need to know who your target audience is.
If you try to create a product for EVERYONE, you’ll lose focus and most likely fail.
But if you create a product for a very specific group of people (aka – your target audience), you’ll find it much easier to focus on creating a solution based product that people actually need.
Want to learn more?
On April 27 I'll be releasing an ebook about selling digital products online.
If you're a freelancer who is ready to grow his business, this book is for you.
In the book, I'll teach you how to transform your mindset from a strictly service-based business model to one that includes selling products.
Through the book, I hope to help you:
- Take on less client work without losing income.
- Have more control over your time.
- Generate recurring revenue.
- Have a more sustainable business.
Here is my earnings graph from one of the platforms I sell products on:
(The 2017 sales are down because the screenshot was taken in February 2017)
Notice the sharp revenue increase in 2015? If you want to know exactly what I did in 2015-2016 to increase my earnings by over 3.5X, signup here. I'll be sharing this exclusive content with my subscribers only.