Last updated on 17 June 2022
Selling digital products has never been easier in the world of today. You generally hear about digital products and digital downloads, but what are they exactly?
If you want to see a video of this whole process, skip to the bottom to watch it.
What exactly are digital products?
Digital products are any sort of digital file or item that does not have physical property. Therefore, it does not need to be shipped in the post. Digital products consist of things such as videos, streaming, PDFs, eBooks, MP3s, license keys or even software.
What is the best way to sell digital products online?
I am assuming you already have a digital product in mind, or maybe you are looking for the best place to start selling. There are a lot of choices, so I will get straight to the point on the best place to sell digital products.
It can be quite overwhelming if you haven’t done this before, so that’s why I am here, to help you get a head start on the best platforms, directly from an experienced expert. This means you shouldn’t run into any issues yourself and you will know the best place to start.
I have used many different platforms such as Sellfy, Filtergrade, Amazon, Shopify, WordPress, Wix and so on. They all have good and bad points, but there is one that stands way above the rest!
Use Shopify to sell digital products
Shopify wins for many reasons:
Digital real estate
When hosting your own Shopify store, you own the domain. No one can “remove” your account like they can on Twitter, Instagram, Amazon etc. You’re in control of pretty much everything. With marketplaces and social media, you are just using rented space and do not control the domain or SEO.
Work on your own SEO and traffic, not relying on social media or marketplaces. You don’t need to stick to the rules that marketplaces give you.
Apps and integrations
Shopify has a huge app store that provides insane value to create a top-class eCommerce store. The app store allows companies from anywhere in the world to integrate with your store. Every app is reviewed by Shopify and has security measures so they are safe for merchants.
Servers and scaling
Shopify has the fastest and most reliable servers in the world. You don’t need to worry about setting up your own reliable servers as you need to with WordPress and other platforms. You also don’t need to rely on making sure your servers can scale when you get loads more traffic. With Shopify, everything is built-in and you never need to worry about this.
It’s the easiest and safest way of creating a store online. You do not need to know how to code or even build a website, it’s probably the easiest way of even creating a website online! That’s right, much easier than WordPress!
You can see the differences between WordPress & Shopify here.
Marketplaces such as Sellfy and Amazon limit your ability to do things. They all take a huge commission. Shopify doesn’t take commission, you will pay a monthly fee and payment processor fees (which are in every purchase in the world and cannot avoid).
Don’t need developers
Keeping costs low when you first begin is crucial. You want to make sure your store is as profitable as possible. Using Shopify you won’t need to hire developers to begin. If you really want to progress your store after you start seeing sales, then you can get developers to do customisations if you like. But Shopify is made to help everyone build an online store, without coding experience.
Our favourite method to sell digital products
My suggestion is that you start by creating your digital product. If you need some inspiration for ideas, check our blog on the most profitable digital product ideas.
Once you have created your product, then you need to set up your Shopify store. This is where the fun begins!
1. Create a digital product
Creating a digital product before starting your store is important. You want to make sure that you have everything set with a plan because your goal is to get sales ASAP once you have created your store. It would be ideal to utilise free trials on Shopify and apps to make sure you have a successful digital product.
2. Sign up to Shopify
Sign up to Shopify and you will get a 14-day trial. This is plenty of time to set up your store.
3. Install the digital product delivery app
The best app to use is Downloadable Digital Assets. It is staff picked by Shopify and loved by the Shopify experts.
Shopify doesn’t have an in-built system for selling digital products, they solely rely on the app store to provide services. Shopify is simply the backbones of a store and apps are the extra customisations.
You can see a video tutorial here on how to install the app.
Go to your Shopify dashboard
Click ‘Customize your store’
Search for ‘Digital Assets’
Click the ‘Add app’ button
4. Create your products in the Shopify dashboard
You will need to create all of your products in Shopify. Then they will automatically sync over to the digital product app where you will then be able to upload and attach your digital products.
5. Upload your digital products to the app
This part is super easy, all you need to do is go back to the app page > open up the Downloadable Digital Assets app > then go to the ‘Assets’ page.
6. Attach those digital products to your Shopify products
At this point, you will be able to attach those digital products to the relevant products in Shopify. Once this is done, you will be ready to start selling!
Once an order comes in for a product that has digital attachments, your customers will be sent a download email alongside the Shopify confirmation email.
You can also allow customers to download from their customer accounts or the Thank You checkout page. These two features are available on the paid plans, see the pricing page for more information on what is available.
Go to the Products page and select a product to attach files to
Search and attach relevant files to your product
7. Done! Now customise your store
At this point, you have now set up your digital products ready for selling. What you need to do now is have a play with Shopify and customise your store. I won’t get too much into the details of this but I will link some more resources below where you can learn to use Shopify.
More helpful resources for Shopify
- Shopify beginner’s guide
- The 5 Best Currency Converter Apps for Shopify
- How To Add Reviews On Shopify: 5 Apps + Guide
- How to Split Payments & Auto-Pay your Vendors on Shopify
- How to Set Up VAT OSS Tax on Shopify
- The Best Up-sell & Cross-sell apps for Shopify
- 10 Need-to-know Shopify Tips & Tricks in 2022
- How To Use Shopify Ultimate Guide
Video tutorial on how to sell digital products on Shopify
The next best platforms to sell digital products
Build-your-own site platforms
These are the best ways to sell digital downloads because:
- You own the domain
- You make the rules
- You control everything such as traffic, backend tools, pixels, customers and much more
- You get paid 100% of the profits
- You get paid when you want to be paid
Unlike marketplaces, you are in control, so I would always recommend selling digital products using this method!
I go more in-depth on why marketplaces are not great in the marketplace section below if you want to read more.
We’ve already discussed this one above but just wanted to keep it on this list as it’s easily the best currently.
The reason being is that it is an all-in-one solution for building an online store with your own domain. It’s the most secure, and safest with the best features for multi-currency worldwide sales.
You don’t need to be techy for this one, but it does help if you are. Shopify allows anyone to sell digital products.
This is our second favourite because it allows you to create your own website on your own domain. Owning your own digital real estate is an important thing for your brand, it’s a space that you own and have full control over.
The only thing with this one is that it’s not an all-in-one solution. You will need to set up your own server to install it on. But the plus side to this is WordPress.org is free! But it takes a bit more techy knowledge to understand how to make a site on this.
You only need to pay for the server you host on. The downside to this is that it’s not as safe as Shopify. Shopify is an all-in-one solution with amazing security and structure.
Squarespace is up there as one of the best website builders. I would say it’s one of the easiest to build a website on, but you do have more limitations than Shopify and WordPress.
When using marketplaces, you do not own the domain. Therefore, you do not have any control over the rules. They call it “Digital real estate”. You are essentially using “rented space”.
They can kick you off whenever they want to and you lose everything you have built. It’s like owning a Twitter account and then Twitter deleting you permanently just like what happened with Donald Trump.
Of course, this only happens when you are bad, but it’s still worrying knowing that they can do this whenever they want.
The only pros to using a marketplace are that they generally have a lot of traffic, so it puts your product in front of the right people. But you pay a big price for it.
Pros of a marketplace
- Instant traffic
- Security for fraud and chargebacks
Cons of a marketplace:
- Not in control of payouts
- The fees your earn are less (they take large commissions)
- Rules can be strict
- They are in control of refunding customers
- Cannot place code or pixels for advertisements
- No method to advertising to previous customers via email or pixels
Sellfy is known to be a bit like a marketplace, but you design your own page on a Sellfy domain. It’s like an in-between of your own store and a marketplace.
Etsy is a well-known marketplace for selling digital products, but be careful, as you can only upload 20MB. This isn’t really doable for most, but they probably have the most traffic out of any marketplace.
Envato has tonnes of traffic too, BUT they have a huge problem in my opinion. The commissions they take are 55% for themselves. You can get it slightly lower if you agree Envato is the only place you are selling the digital product, but I think it’s around 45% for them still. That’s not cool.
I would say this is one of the best marketplaces to sell your eBooks or written courses. They have built a wonderful platform and it gets a lot of traffic.
Udemy is a course platform. This is one of the most popular places to sell a course, but don’t expect to sell them for a high price. There is a lot of competition on here and it may be hard for you to get sales.
Filtergrade is a marketplace for selling digital products such as video and photo editing tools. It gets a lot of traffic but nowhere near the amount of Etsy and Udemy. But the plus side, there is low competition compared.
If you are selling music, videos or sound effects, this is one to check out.
This is another platform to sell your music or sound effects, but I wouldn’t say it’s a good place for building a brand. You will get low commissions and lose your value status.
This one is a direct competitor to Artlist. For selling music and sound effects.
Here, you can sell video content.
This place is massive, but don’t expect to be paid much. This is a place to sell photos if you are a photographer.
Places you cannot sell digital products
- Amazon Marketplace
- Google Shopping
- Instagram Shopping
If you have any questions or want to suggest more things for the list, please comment below and we will get back to you.
Is Shopify a good platform for digital products?
Yes, to put it short, Shopify has proven to be the best platform to sell digital products. The all-in-one solution provides top security, audited applications, speed and ease of use. Shopify allows anyone with any technical experience to create an online store.
Where can I sell digital downloads for free?
The best places to sell digital downloads for free are marketplaces such as Etsy or Filtergrade. Generally, they take a commission from each sale, but you do not need to have a subscription to sign up.
How do I start selling digital products?
You can start selling digital products within a few hours using Shopify. It’s the easiest platform to use and has the best safety, payment system, and ownership. It’s proven to be the favourite for many large brands such as GymShark and MVMT.