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What digital products are and how to make money with them

In this post, we give the lowdown on digital products and how you can build your business in this growing market.

The digital products market has officially taken off. Where it once was seen as a risk to advertise online, or crazy to spend your day making silly YouTube videos, it’s now just called digital entrepreneurship

With this new way of doing business, folks who started from scratch just a few years ago are now living a life they never imagined. 

We’ve all heard the stories. The friend of a friend who cashed in big with a blog, or the former coworker turned influencer. 

But what does it all mean? Does the idea of making a digital product still seem foreign to you? It sure would be nice if someone would just pull back the curtain on this new, digital world. 

Well, at Hotmart, digital products are our business and helping you live your passion is our mission. So, let’s take a closer look at this market and help you find your place.    

In this post, we’ll venture into:

 

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What are digital products? Who can become a digital product creator? How can you make great online content? What formats are the best to work with? How do you put a price on a digital product? How do you know there’s a market for your product idea? Where should you sell your digital product? What tools should you use to promote your product? Bonus tip: how to stay on top of it all!
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Let’s do this?

What are digital products?

Digital products tend to be educational content found online. Things like online courses, subscription apps, premium communities, or eBooks. They’ve gotten popular among entrepreneurs because, with no physical product, they can sell around the world and scale with ease. 

For the user, consuming digital content is ideal: it’s knowledge that is easily accessible on a computer, phone, eReader, or even TV.

Who can become a digital product creator?

As cliché as this may sound, anyone can become a digital product creator. Well, as long as you:

  1. Have got an idea that offers value to someone else.
  2. Have the gumption to turn this idea into something more (record classes, start writing, and execute a plan).
  3. Do some research and see what else is already out there. See if you can make something better and more appealing. 
  4. Notice opportunities by listening to what people are saying. A lot of creators use things like Google Trends to see what’s in demand. 
  5. Test your product out before you put it up for sale. This way, you can see if it really has value to offer.
  6. Don’t get embarrassed about selling something.
  7. Keep up to date. You need to know how the market is changing so you don’t get left behind. 

The difference between a successful creator and one who is not is persistence and a thirst for learning. If you really want to make it as a digital entrepreneur, having the right mindset is your ticket to better results.

How can you make great online content?

  • “I have an idea!”

You don’t need for the heavens to open and your muse to appear to have a great idea. If you know something that adds value to the lives of other folks, you are ready to get to work. 

The first step is easier than you think. If your idea is to create an ebook course, start writing. If you want to make video lessons, start recording.

Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly the way you had hoped, you’ll have a prototype to go off of. 

After taking this first step, you need to validate your product. We’ll get to that in a minute. 

  • “I have a skill!”

Maybe you’ve got the skills or talent, but have no idea how to make it into a product. Do some research on what is already out there and see how you can offer something a little different and a little better.

  • “I don’t have an idea”

If you have no clue of what kind of product to build, but you know there are all kinds of opportunities in this market, don’t worry! Pay attention to the world around you and try to identify the needs of people around you.

The demand for something different and new questions pop up every day, you just need to be ready to recognize them. Websites like Quora and Reddit can help you out in this research.

Start with your passions and hobbies. If you don’t have any, this is a great time to start! Also, search for other digital products and find inspiration in innovative businesses.

If you are not an expert yet, be thirsty for knowledge! You can create a digital product without being a specialistat first. But, if your idea is to become an authority on a certain subject, it is imperative that you have a high degree of mastery, otherwise, how will you be able to have credibility with your audience and potential customers?

Go to entrepreneurship and digital marketing events. This way, you’ll be in contact with amazing people with the experience you’re looking for. Pay attention to the tips and interesting stories that inspire you. Follow some of the main events in digital entrepreneurship: Fire and the Traffic & Conversion Summit (San Diego, CA), both great sources of inspiration!

What are the best formats to work with?

There are a ton of different product formats. The best one for you transmits your content in the most effective way to your client. For some creators, an ebook is efficient and practical because it’s easy to access. For more complex materials, video lessons are better, because the student can learn more from an audiovisual resource. These are some of the most common formats for digital products are:

  • eBooks, courses, manuals
  • Subscription services 
  • Podcasts
  • Members areas
  • Test-prep material
  • Music
  • Ringtones
  • Market reports and research
  • Software and online services (e.g., SaaS)
  • Mobile apps
  • Screencasts
  • Video courses
  • Lectures
  • Independent Films
  • Templates
  • Source code, Scripts
  • Images
  • Photos
  • Icons
  • CD-keys (and any type of serial code)
  • Digital magazines

And there’s nothing stopping you from putting the same idea into different products. You could write an ebook and then make it into video classes. You determine the best approach, always focusing on your audience.

To find out more about the leading types of digital products and their benefits, here’s a video with 5 ideas:

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How do you put a price on a digital product? 

You have to take a couple of things into consideration before setting a price for your digital product, such as: 

  • Production expenses
  • Competitor pricing
  • Audience profile and income
  • Expected profit
  • Perceived value delivered to the customer 

This last one is really important. It’s an indicator of how useful your content is for your customer. The higher it is, the more you can charge for your product.

(To understand the topic of pricing better, check out our complete post on how to price your digital products)

How do you know if there’s a market for your product idea?

The best way of testing your product and really know if it is a good idea is… by testing it! 

It may seem obvious, but many people try to make something perfect in their first attempt, without understanding how the product would do in the market. This is also true for digital products. And here we have something called Minimum Viable Product (MVP). 

If your idea is to create a complete course on Coaching, for example, you can record some videos and make them available for a small group of people, a sample of your audience. 

Then you can validate your product with other professionals who are experienced in the digital market, ask them what they would do differently, and how you can improve. Test as many times as needed. With an approved MVP, it is time to start your sales strategies.

Where should you sell your digital product?

To build digital visibility, it is highly recommended that you have a website. It is an integral part of all your online promotion strategy. 

What’s more, there are digital products platforms, such as Hotmart, which provide you with all the infrastructure you need to make online sales, including real monitoring of sales, members areas, payment methods, among other functionalities every creator’s needs. 

You can research about the best platform for your business enterprise with other creators who already use this kind of resource.

What tools should you use to promote your product?

There are many different channels for you to promote your products, but, once again, you must be where your audience is. Below we have a list of the main channels used by the majority of the digital entrepreneurs:

  • Email marketing: Email is a very powerful tool and you have to consider it one of your main allies from now on. If a person gives you his or her email address, it means you have their permission to talk directly to them. There are many email marketing tools that allow you to send personalized emails and analyze metrics. MailChimp, for example, is one of them, and you can use it for free to start your business. To learn more about email marketing strategies, read our post here.
  • Social Media: The big advantage of social media is that you can engage and speak your reader’s language. But, pay attention: each social media network has its peculiarities. Creating a new account in every new network that pops up can make you lose focus. You can use the Buzzsumo tool to understand the performance of your topic in the different social networking sites. 

For some tips on using YouTube lives in your strategy, check this video out:

 

  • Blog: Blogs are one of the major strategies in content marketing, as they aim to add value to people who read your materials. Keep your blog active with relevant content that teaches about your market, and, with a well-planned strategy, your audience will naturally get to your product.
  • Affiliate Program: By signing up for an affiliate program, you find people who are interested in promoting other people’s products. For every sale made, they get a commission and both the creator and affiliate win. The big advantage here is that your product gets more visibility and the chances of making sales increase!

Bonus tip: how to stay on top of it all!

This tip is for those who can really see the potential in the digital market. 

If your objective is to become a great creator, and, maybe, an authority in your market, it is time to produce rich, epic materials, which add real value to your audience. 

What does that mean? It means to keep up with the latest news about the market, interview your audience and find new opportunities. 

Always know what the major players are up to, and keep your strategies updated. And always count on us for more tips on the digital market.


This post was originally published in July, 2016, and updated with more recent information.