Selling Digital Products: Over $5k with One Spreadsheet

Can you imagine making sales all day and not having to do anything to fulfill them? You simply collect the money.

The beauty of selling digital products is that you can create something once that can be purchased over and over. All you need is a great product, a system to sell and deliver the prodcuts and a way to market that product. It might sound complicated, but it’s really not!

If you would have told me even a year ago that I would be bringing in money almost daily without having to lift a finger, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I’ve been in the online business space for a long time and I’ve been blogging for close to a decade. But I never truly had the confidence that I, personally, would find the success I was so desperately looking for.

Now I know that I was stopping myself from being successful with those negative thoughts of “not being good enough”. Now my income is steadily growing every single month and much of that income is passive thanks to selling digital products online.

Today I’m going to share about one digital product that I sell and how it’s made me thousands of dollars. The product is a spreadsheet that helps resellers organize their business. It’s the first digital product that I ever launched for this blog.

How much I earned selling digital products

Curious how much money this one product is making me? I’ve earned $3,453 in the last six months from this product alone. My total sales over the life of the product (about 1.5 years) is over $5,000!

Of course, there are expenses, but being that it’s a digital product there is no inventory to keep or ship. The main expenses are payment processing fees and the fees I pay to host my store and checkout pages. Plus, I will have to pay taxes on this income, but that’s true of any income.

I’m in the middle of testing two different platforms for selling this product. So you’ll have to look at two different screenshots below since I’m getting sales from both. But don’t worry, I did the math for you!

These are my sales for January through June of 2020. So basically the last six moths for one product.

Obviously $3,453 isn’t exactly paying all of our bills on it’s own. I obviously don’t think this one spreadsheet alone will fully support my family. It’s just one of the many income streams we have. I actually went over several of them in this post. I get notifications on my phone all day from people buying this spreadsheet!

Can you imagine just getting notifications that you’re being paid all day knowing that you don’t have to do anything to get that money? That the customer is taken care of and their item has been delivered automatically?

How did I do it?

First of all, I’m a reseller myself and I know the issues we face. Many of us sell on multiple platforms and need a way to keep things organized. And there are also a lot of resellers who don’t want to pay a monthly fee for accounting software.

It’s important to track your resale business, but when just getting started or very part time and you may not need anything that advanced.

So I decided to come up with a spreadsheet myself. I used a platform called AirTable because I could much more easily customize without having to know a bunch of formulas like you would with Excel or Google Sheets.

Once I created the spreadsheet, I offered it for free to start building my email list for this blog. I can’t remember how long it was free for, but once I realized how popular it was I decided to start selling. This didn’t happen until got some feedback and made some changes to improve it even more.

So I replaced the free version with a simple inventory spreadsheet rather than one with all of the different features. When people would opt in for the free version, I would make them an offer for the paid version with more features. Some people would take this offer and some would stick with the free version. But the option was there for those who wanted it!

For marketing, most of the people who signed up for the free spreadsheet found me through Pinterest. Pinterest is one of the main ways I drive traffic to this blog. Some people found it through me posting on Instagram and once was ranking in Google I started getting traffic that way too. The last place is through YouTube where I occasionally link to the free spreadsheet in the description.

Keep in mind that all of this was over the course of probably a year. In that year (give or take) I went from giving it away for free, to charging for it, to making consistent sales.

I tested price points and different text on my sales pages. There was a lot of testing to see what worked best to sell it. And I still do these things today. I’m constantly testing with two goals in mind: driving more traffic to it and increasing my conversion rate (how many people buy it vs how many people land on the sales page).

However, even though I spend some time marketing and testing, I still consider this product passive income. Why? Because if I stopped working today and didn’t touch anything related to it for two months, I would still make sales from all of the marketing I’ve done up until this point.

The last 30 days have been my most profitable by far with $801 in sales for just this one product. I can’t wait to see how much more I can grow this part of my income. 

If you’re interested in hearing more about digital products keep reading because I’m going to break down everything I know about how to sell digital products.

First let me answer some common questions.

What is considered a digital product?

Digital products are anything that you can sell to your customers that don’t any physical aspects. This also doesn’t include services such as writing articles for people or virtual assistant services. Digital products are generally products that can be purchased and delivered via a link or a file to your customer.

What are some examples of digital products?

Some of the most popular digital products are:

  1. Ebooks
  2. Courses
  3. Spreadsheets
  4. Printables
  5. Stock photos
  6. Templates

These are generally the most accessible for most people and are the most popular from what I’ve seen personally.

What digital products sell best?

Honestly, I can’t say what type of product sells best, but I will say that the digital products that will sell the best are the products that truly solve a problem. If no one is looking for it or finds it useful, it’s probably not going to do well.

But if you have a digital product that someone can buy and instantly have access to that will help solve a problem, make their lives easier, make them happier, etc. then you’ve got a good one!

What are the most profitable digital products?

Courses would probably be considered the most profitable digital product just because of their higher price point. For the most part, you’re going to make more money per sale with courses.

However, they can be more time consuming to create, they can be harder to sell due to the higher price or you may just not have enough information to make a full course. And that’s ok!

How much does it cost to sell digital products?

You can literally start selling digital products for no money upfront in many cases. However, there are tools that will eventually cost you money or tools that you might want to use to make the process easier, quicker, etc. 

Can you create and sell digital products for free?

You could literally write an ebook in Google Drive, save it as a PDF, post about it to your social media accounts and collect payments via Paypal or Venmo. Then you would just email them the ebook.

This isn’t really how I’d recommend doing it if you want to look professional and scale it, however, this is just an example of how you could sell a digital product with no upfront cost.

What do you need to sell digital products?

To sell digital products you’ll need a few things:

  • A way to make the product
  • Somewhere for people to buy it
  • A system in place to deliver it
  • A way to market it

Some of my favorite tools for selling digital products are:

  • Membervault (Free option): You can use Membervault to host your digital products and courses. They collect payment and give your customer access immediately. Best of all, there’s a free plan so you don’t have to stat paying until you’re making money. Sign up here (affiliate link)
  • Canva (Free option): The free version of Canva actually gives you quite a bit to work with. This is great for creating printables, a nice looking ebook, etc.
  • Loom (Free option): You can use this to create videos and screen recordings if you want to create a video tutorial or course. 

There are quite a few other resources and tools out there for helping you create or market your digital product, but these are a great place to start.

How do you create a digital product?

I will go over the basic steps below, but it’s much more than I could possibly explain in a single blog post! I’m planning on creating a workshop or a course right now that will walk you step by step through the details of creating a digital product. If you’d like more info on that when it comes time to launch click here.

Brainstorm & find your audience

The very first thing you need to do is find the audience you plan to sell this product to. You might be thinking: but I already have a product in mind! Great. If you have a product in mind then you should be able to figure out who your audience is.

If you don’t have a product in mind, think of an audience you identify with or have access to. Taking your own experience into consideration, what types of topics do you know about and who is in that audience? 

Solve a problem

Once you know who you’re audience is you can take the next step in figuring out their pain points. The key to creating a successful product is to solve a problem. You can’t just create any product and hope for the best. Many times it’ll just be a waste of your time and effort if you don’t do the research first.

Several years ago I created a whole course without doing the work to make sure it was something people wanted and it was a waste of several weeks of my time! Plus a pretty big hit to my self-confidence.

Now that you know who your audience is start writing down problems you know they have. Not sure what their problems are? Start hanging out where they hang out. Whether that’s in Facebook groups, in real life groups, certain hashtags on social media, etc.

The key is to really get to know your audience so you can figure out what solution you want to offer them. You want to sell them a solution, not a product.

Create the product

Once you know what you’re going to create, it’s time to start working on the product itself. Take this time to really brainstorm what kind of product you’re creating, what to include, how it’s going to help your audience, etc.

For Ebooks, graphics, templates and printables you can use Canva.

For courses, you can write them out in Google Docs and use Loom to record video (or even record video on your phone!)

Before you start creating your product you need to take a step back and spend some time on research. It helps a lot to look at similar products, not to copy, but to see how others are formatting theirs, etc. Simply seeing what else is out there can give you ideas on how to structure it, market it, etc. Do not, I repeat DO NOT copy anyone else’s product. You are simply doing research.

Decide on your product price

Now is the time to decide how to price your product. This is one of the hardest parts for a lot of people. Some people want to charge very low because they think that will get them more sales. Or they’re afraid to ask for money. Some people want to charge very high in hopes of making more money. The problem with this is overcharging might scare away all your potential buyers.

This is where your research comes in again. Look at other similar products and see how they’re priced. Check what other sellers of similar products include and what their quality is like.

In the end the pricing is up to you, but I would use other people’s products as a guideline.

Personally, I like to sell small digital products that are useful like spreadsheets and planners in the $20 range. If you’re selling even smaller scale digital products like one invitation design I would say $3-$5 is a good price point.

Courses are priced all over the place and truly depend on the topic and the content included. I personally like to stay on the lower end at around $100-$200. Some people offer full courses much lower and some charge thousands. You need to figure out what’s right for you.

Where will you host it or sell it?

Where you host or sell your product simply means how will people buy it from you. There are a lot of different ways to do this.

  • Membervault (my favorite!): This is my favorite option because they have a free plan and you can start with literally $0. Plus, you can create more products and create a marketplace where people can buy several of your products.
  • Etsy: You could list your digital product on Etsy. You may get some sales from the people who are already shopping on Etsy and you can always link people to your products. The cost to list is .20 per listing and they also take 5% of the sale price. So it’s really minimal as far as fees.
  • Gumroad: If your product is a file that can be uploaded, then you can create a product page here where the buyer will automatically access the download upon payment. Gumroad does have a free account as well, however they do take 8.5% + $0.30 from every sale.
  • Shopify: This is a popular option for those who want to sell several products, for example if you want to have a store full of printables or templates for people buy. There are several different plans starting at $44/month, plus additional fees depending on how you take payments.

Create a plan and launch it

I think launching a product is the most nerve-racking part for me. What if no one buys it? Who do I sell it to? All these doubts tend to float through my mind, but don’t let that stop you from trying!

In order to launch you need people to launch to. Do you have a blog? An email list? A social media following? Maybe you’re in a Facebook group or you’re going to reach out to people you know personally to be your first customers.

No matter how you do it, launch it! When you first launch it can be helpful to offer a deep discount to encourage those first few people to buy it. This can get you some reviews or testimonials which will help you in the future.

However, you don’t have to mark it down at all. Some people are confident in the value of their digital product and never offer any discounts and I think that is amazing!

Alternatively, you can go the same route I did with my spreadsheet by offering it for free for a limited time to get those first few people and then start charging for it later.

Continue to market your product

After your product is officially launched, you’re going to have to continue working for quite some time before it becomes more passive and the sales start rolling in regularly.

If you’re a blogger make sure that you have it linked anywhere you can and that you continue to blog about the topic so that you can lead people to it.

If you have a social media following, make sure you mention it whenever it applies and even offer them incentives to purchase like coupon codes or bonuses.

Some digital product creators that don’t have an audience use Pinterest or Facebook ads to sell their product to a targeted audience which can work really well if you learn how to successfully do ads and are able to invest a bit of money into it.

Get some affiliates

Another way to continue promoting your product is to get other people promoting it for you! This is one advantage to having a discount or giving it away for free in the beginning if you think it might being you a lot of customers. Then you’ll have plenty of people that you can ask to become affiliates and promote your product for you.

When you have affiliates you pay a percentage of the product sales. For digital products, most pay their affiliates between 30%-50%. If your product is $10, they’ll get $3-$5 per sale and if your product is $100, they’ll get $30-$50 per sale.

It’s up to you what you offer, but keep in mind people probably aren’t going to work too hard to recommend your digital product to people unless it’s worth their while.

Whether you can have affiliates or not will depend on where you’re selling our digital product. You can’t really create an affiliate program on Etsy, but Membervault comes with an affiliate program built-in!

Having affiliates promoting your product is a great way to grow your digital product because that means you’re not the only one out there promoting it! People who have actually bought it from you and enjoyed it are telling other people about it and word of mouth marketing is seriously invaluable.

Creating and selling a digital product is one of the best ways to make an income online. While keeping in mind that it does require a lot of work up front and some work to maintain marketing, you can truly be flexible and tailor the amount of work to your needs. The sky is truly the limit when you’re selling digital products!

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