Selling time doesn’t scale.
Digital products, like eBooks, courses and fonts, allow you to help at scale. You can build once, sell twice, as Jack Butcher says.
- The line will blur between digital and physical products. Platforms like Printful and Printify allow you to turn digital products into mugs, shirts, 3D printed parts, paintings, stickers and more.
- Digital product platforms will be unbundled. Look at sites like BeatStars, Houseplans and MyFonts. Individual platforms will be built to sell swipe files, spreadsheets or printables. The same happened with Craigslist.
- Build an audience to learn about customers needs. Start a newsletter or podcast. Leverage your audience from YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and beyond.
- Presell to verify demand. This will force you to clarify what you are building. Those who pre-purchase can offer feedback.
- Offer early bird pricing. Reward early supporters with discounted prices.
- Leverage niche communities for distribution. Answer questions and support others on platforms like Indie Hackers, Reddit and Product Hunt.
- Build a content ladder to validate demand. Start with tweets and blog posts. Then move to books and courses. You can save time if early content does not resonate.
- Combine digital products with paid communities to curb piracy and unpredictable revenue. Community can’t be pirated.
- Allow “lifetime access” to courses and databases to boost perceived value. This translates into real value if you provide updates.
- Build a value ladder. Have a foot-in-the-door offer that delivers massive value. This builds trust. Happy customers are more likely to make larger purchases.
- Read the report on online courses if you want to make a course.
- Build a digital product fast by curating. Create a swipe file of great UI designs, cold emails or landing page copy.
“What about piracy?”
Every business model has weaknesses. Digital products suffer from piracy and unpredictable revenue. Niche communities have reverse network effects. Agencies have high marginal costs. Most SaaS businesses have no moat. There’s no free lunch. Pick your pain. Then stack business models to hedge the downsides.
“Digital product is a euphemism for information product.”
Nice try 😉 Information products include eBooks and courses. Digital products also include WordPress themes, typefaces, comics, floor plans and 3D models.
“You didn’t include apps.”
I excluded apps and subscription products to control the scope of this report.
- Leverage Information • How to leverage knowledge from your current field to create digital products.
- The Ladders of Wealth Creation • A classic post on improving the quality of your income over time.
- Open Report • 8 months of sales and expenses from Daniel Vassallo.
- Creating Passive Income with Digital Products • How Jen Wagner makes money by selling fonts.
Get Weekly Reports
Join 10,000+ founders and investors
- 📍 Trends #0026 — Drop Culture
- 📣 Trends #0025 — Referral Programs
- 🏟️ Trends #0024 — Equity Crowdfunding
- 🤩 Trends #0023 — Personal Brands
- 💻 Trends #0022 — Digital Products
- 🕹️ Trends #0021 — Gamification
- 🙏 Trends #0020 — B Corps
- 🥾 Trends #0019 — Bootstrap Funds
- 😇 Trends #0018 — Angel Investing
- 🛠️ Trends #0017 — XaaS: Anything as a Service
- 🧰 Trends #0016 — Growth Tools
- 📖 Trends #0015 — Open Startups
- 💬 Trends #0014 — Paid Communities
- 🍎 Trends #0013 — Online Courses
- 💰 Trends #0012 — Micro Private Equity
- 💌 Trends #0011 — Paid Newsletters
- 🦄 Trends #0010 — Startup Studios
- 🌐 Trends #0009 — Virtual Meetups
- 🏋️ Trends #0008 — Remote Fitness
- 🦠 Trends #0007 — Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- 🧱 Trends #0006 — No Code
- 🥾 Trends #0005 — Bootstrap Funds
- 💸 Trends #0004 — Income Share Agreements
- 🏠 Trends #0003 — Co-Living
- 🎙️ Trends #0002 — Podcast Memberships
- 🍳 Trends #0001 — Cloud Kitchens