Make and Sell Digital Products Remotely
You might be able to combine your entrepreneurial spirit with the dream of working at home. Remote work has undoubtedly seen a surge. Gallup research shows that about 7 in 10 people are working remotely, either full or part-time. Then there’s another surprising insight into the modern United States workforce: being self-employed, or an entrepreneur, is still the dream for most Americans.
Working-from-home doesn’t mean that you have to work for a big company, write for a blog, or become a YouTube sensation. It can simply mean using your hobbies, experience, or knowledge to build a better life. Digital products are among the lesser tapped sections of work-from-home business opportunities, and they are often less challenging to start up than making and distributing physical products.
What are Digital Products?
Digital products will include any product that you can deliver digitally, either through a download or direct communication. Digital goods aren’t tangible items. This completely removes distribution obstacles such as deciding how you’ll ship products, and ensuring their safety during transit. However, digital products are not the “easy-out” for supporting yourself from home.
A ton of effort goes into planning, developing, producing, and marketing digital products. Here is a shortlist of digital products that you’re probably already somewhat familiar with:
- Greeting cards
- Personalized graphics
- Designs for prints or printables
- Private podcasts or online radio
- Classes or courses
- Shows and online content
This list is not all-encompassing, and you may already have plans in mind that go far beyond the ideas here. Chase down your dreams, you’ll be surprised how many niche markets you can reach online.
Share and Profit Off of Your Knowledge and Experience
Sharing knowledge is the foundation of many well-known companies, including Google, Atlassian, IBM, Adobe, and much more. You don’t need to aspire to hit the Fortune 500 list, but you can undoubtedly share your work or life experience and knowledge to open a business or work as a solopreneur.
Writing eBooks… where can you start and how do you sell them? An ebook is just a book in a digital format. If you’ve been burning to write a book, share an experience, or present information, then this is an excellent way to build some income too. eBooks are about more than just writing. After you write everything, you have to edit and continue editing until you’re pleased with the product.
That’s not the end, though, because now you’ll need to design a cover, get it on a platform, and market it.
You can sell ebooks on Amazon, privately through platforms such as Shopify and even through a website that you own. There usually aren’t restrictions on multiple platform usage, which means that you can rely on numerous sources of income for one ebook.
If you have something worth teaching, specifically job skills, then you can probably create a course. Courses can be video, audio, through ebook, webinars, and more. They could even use a collection of materials to give a complete teaching experience.
Creating courses gives people a ton of opportunities to get creative and make each class unique. If you’re interested in building online courses, then you have specific platforms and tools available. Check out Teachable, EasyGenerator, and Talentlms to get ideas and maybe to fully develop your classes. You can sell classes or courses across a massive array of platforms.
Outside of courses and ebooks, you can craft exclusive learning materials, including tests or exams, flashcards, guidebooks, cheatsheets, and even entire networks for people to engage in. You have probably come across extra learning materials from just browsing around online. This opportunity is a great way to create genuinely unique learning products.
Think in the line of interactive PDFs, videos, and even individualized meetings or teaching materials.
Create Products for Business Use
Do you have a bit of business prowess? Maybe you want to put your years of experience in management, marketing, accounting, sales, or any other business segment to good use. You can dive into the business niche of digital products by creating items that fit a business’s needs. You may create these individually or create standardized options that you can produce once then sell again and again.
Graphic designers often create logos, marketing materials, book covers, and much more. If you have a flair for design and work skillfully in graphic design software or apps, you could easily break into this market.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the graphic designer career path will continue to grow by about 3%. While that doesn’t seem exceptional, you should expect demand for graphic designers to grow at a much faster rate, with so many people working remotely, pursuing their passion projects, and opening businesses.
InDesign Skills (of Adobe) has a quick guide on starting as a graphic designer without any experience. It’s extremely useful, and unlike other guides, it won’t sell you on an expensive, and usually unnecessary, degree or certification.
Document creators are few and far between, but you probably have all the skills you need. If you’re reasonably proficient in word and with Adobe Acrobat, you can create outstanding documents. Additional qualifications for success in creating these digital products include exceptional communication abilities and formal writing and editing skills. Many people enjoy how much they can do from their phone or tablet, making this a career option you can do from anywhere.
Businesses typically use a small handful of documents drafted from reliable templates that they can use repeatedly:
- Emails and memos
- Letters (including letterhead and custom styles to use again and again)
- Reports (including letterhead, security or privacy statements, charts, graphs, and more.)
- Order forms, invoices, and receipts (using templates but changing values per document)
- Financial and legal documents (forms for human resources, income statements, payroll reports, etc.)
In terms of business documents, you may find yourself creating anything from business plans, to interactive PDFs for onboarding documents such as an insurance interest form. This is one of those jobs where it might take longer to get established, but after creating a few samples or templates, you should have no problem gaining some momentum.
Are You Creative? Try Making These Products
The creative minds of the world give the gifts of beauty and comfort, and you can do that with a hobby you currently enjoy. Take that passion for sketching, drawing, writing quick-witted poems, or devoting yourself to helping others by creating products that people use and enjoy every day.
Sites like Esty are chock-full of unique cards that people download from the store directly and print themselves. From greeting cards to wedding invitations and everything in between, you can create away and simply post your creation onto your store’s page.
Then people can purchase the single downloadable file and print it themselves. It gives the customer a bit of control in their final product but using your design.
Not sure where to start? Consider making these:
- Birthday and milestone event cards
- Cards that fit any occasion (i.e., cards without a message)
- Thank-You Cards
- Reminder notepads
- Note-card calendars
- Business cards
Similar to the card-type products, you can create printables for nearly anything. Grocery shopping lists, year-at-a-glance pages, planners, meal prep plans, trackers, moving inventory sheets, itinerary travel pages, and more. There are no limits to these digital products!
Printables will often be created in design software and then saved as a PDF so the end-user cannot make changes to the design itself. There are even some design software that you can use right from your phone. Then the customer prints them off at home to use as they please.
You don’t need much, but you should have:
- Good creative eye
- Word processor
- Spreadsheet software (Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel)
- MS Publisher or Adobe InDesign
- PDF creator or editor (there are many free options!)
- Graphics (how to find free graphics licensed for commercial use online)
A guided journal is a blend of a planner, bullet journal, and a prompted journal. They often demand a lot of time and effort to create but can be very rewarding to make and profitable if they’re high quality.
In a guided journal, you can use:
- Graphics or visual elements
Look through some guided journals to get a feel for what is in the market and what’s missing. As a digital product, you might ensure that you can accommodate different printing preferences, including various paper sizes. Keep in mind that your customers might want to have the pages bound or put into a binder.
Finding Your Place in the Work-from-Home Business World
There are many platforms where you can market and distribute digital products. When deciding which platform is a good fit for you and your products, consider the niche the platforms cater to, the security they have for sellers or businesses, and ease of use.
Having an Amazon seller’s account, or making posts onto Amazon Homemade can be a great source of income or a drain on your time. Amazon is a great marketplace, but it’s very competitive, and it demands that you be somewhat familiar with their algorithm.
It’s too easy for small sellers to get lost on Amazon and not reach the appropriate market. However, you might not want to miss out on the many opportunities of working with Amazon.
21% of Amazon sellers average less than $1,000 per month, but 22% average between $1,001 and $5,000 in sales per month. Those figures don’t account for the fees that sellers have to cover or the costs of distribution.
The average monthly revenue for Etsy shop owners is about $530 per month. However, the majority of Etsy shop owners make $500 or more every month. Of course, it varies based on how much effort and time you put into the store.
Etsy is well-known for helping their shop owners develop and for creating a welcoming and inclusive community. If you’re looking for a place to learn how to sell and distribute digital products, Etsy might be your best starting point.
Shopify’s average store revenue is $46,000 per year. That’s higher than the average individual income in the U.S., which rested around $31,000 as of October of 2019. It’s relatively easy to set up a Shopify account but tends to require a fair investment in both time and money to get started.
Ultimately, when you’re selling digital products, you probably want to use multiple platforms. You may find that one platform does better for you than the others. But being a solopreneur, or business owner working from home often calls for safety nets. Having multiple platforms can help you reach different segments of your target market.
When you’re creating and selling digital products, you’ll find that you may spend time doing more than just your craft. You’ll need to juggle administrative tasks, managing your store, and marketing your products.
Making and selling digital products can certainly be a full-time endeavor, and it can also be gratifying. Try something new, expand your professional goals, and test the waters!