In a previous post I walked you through what digital products are and how they can help you grow your business. If you haven't read it yet, you may want to do so before moving on.
If you are considering creating digital products but don't know how to get started, this post is for you. I'll be covering the tools and resources that will make it easy for you to create your first, or next, digital product so you can start bringing in the passive income that will improve your revenue and your lifestyle.
Tools for researching your digital products
What better place to start than with what people are actually searching for?
Fire up Google Search, type in a topic and browse through the first couple of pages of search results.
For example, I can search for "How to make soap" and get some great ideas about the type of resources that are out there for making soap.
Top tip: Scroll down to the bottom of your search results and you'll see a section called "Related Searches". This is where Google tells you what other phrases people are searching for that's related to your search terms. For example, "How to make soap from scratch" and "How to make natural soap".
Your current audience is one of the best places to find ideas for your next digital product. So why not ask your subscribers and followers to tell you exactly what they need?
You can use Google Forms to create surveys for free. Then just post or send the link to your audience.
Top tip: Ask open-ended instead yes/no questions. A yes or a no doesn't give you much insight into what your audience needs. Answers to open-ended questions, on the other hand, will not only provide you with a gold mine of ideas, but also the language your audience uses to describe their problems and desires.
Another great way to look for ideas for your next digital product is to search for books on similar topics on Amazon and browse through the reviews. What do people wish was discussed but wasn't? What missing is information? What's not up to readers' expectations? How can you fill the gap?
If you're not familiar with Reddit it can be a bit confusing. That said, it's a great place to find out what people are saying about a particular topic. There's a sub-reddit for almost any topic you can think of.
Udemy is an online courses hosting platform. Again, just search for courses on your topic and read the reviews to see what gaps you can fill.
Answer The Public
Answer The Public is an online tool that enables you to get a deeper level of understanding of how people search around particular topics, often revealing questions and queries that you may not necessarily think of.
Tools for creating your digital products
Adobe Illustrator / InDesign / Photoshop
These power horses in the Adobe Suite are great for digital product creators. They allow you to be as creative as you want to be. The downside is that there's a steep learning curve, and you'll have to pay for quite a pricy subscription. So unless you're already a seasoned user, you may want to consider other tools that are more intuitive to use and less likely to cause you to pull your hair out.
Canva is a great, easy-to-use design tool that you're going to love. If the idea of using the Adobe Suite fills you with dread, Canva is for you. Even with the free version, you'll have access to hundreds of ready-made templates, free photos and graphics that will make creating a digital product a breeze. If you want to get your hands on the more advanced features such as auto-resizer, background remover, brand kit and content planner, you'll have to sign up for the Pro version. It's pretty cool and well worth the price.
I have to be careful when I go on Creative Market because I could easily spend the whole day looking at all the pretty graphics and templates. So don't say I didn't warn you 🙂
Whatever you can think of, you'll find a template on here. Workbooks, worksheets, PDFs, slide decks, ebooks, magazines and more.
Google Docs / Microsoft Word
You don't have to complicate things. You can turn a Google Doc or a Microsoft Word document into a PDF with minimal fuss.
Google Slides / PowerPoint
These are great for creating presentation type of digital products such as slide shows or video tutorials.
PDFEscape is a fantastic tool for creating fillable PDFs. The online version is free.
Free stock image sites
The legal stuff
For you to use any image legally on your site, it has to be either in the Public Domain or is shared under a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license is basically a way for image creators to share their work without having to relinquish copyright or individually license their work.
Here's what's important: There are different types of Creative Commons licenses, and not all of them will permit commercial use. Most images will require you to provide credit (attribution) at a minimum, although some do grant you the permission to do whatever you want without attribution (known as Creative Commons Zero). Be sure to check each individual site for the requirements of any image you download, and adhere to the requirements of the copyright holder.
To find out more about the requirements of the different Creative Commons licenses, you can check out this great article by attorney Sara Hawkins.
With the legal stuff out of the way, here's a list of my favourite free stock image sites where you can find the perfect image for your digital product. I know there are tons of free stock photo sites out there but I have deliberately included only a handful that, in my opinion and experience, offer a great variety of good-quality images.
- Death to Stock Photo - http://deathtothestockphoto.com/
- KaboomPics - http://kaboompics.com/
- Pexels - https://www.pexels.com/
- StockSnap - https://stocksnap.io/
- Foodies Feed - https://foodiesfeed.com (great for food images)
- Free Range Stock - https://freerangestock.com
- Gratisography - http://www.gratisography.com/ (some unusal images here if you're looking for something quirky)
- PicJumbo - https://picjumbo.com/
- Picography - http://picography.co/
- Pixabay - https://pixabay.com/
- PikWizard - https://pikwizard.com/
- Unsplash - https://unsplash.com/
- New Old Stock - http://nos.twnsnd.co/
- Public Domain Archive - http://publicdomainarchive.com/
- Visual Hunt - https://visualhunt.com/ (image search site)
- Wylio - https://www.wylio.com/ (another image search site, even has an in-built image resizer)
Loom allows you to record video messages of your screen, camera, or both. You can be as fun or formal as you want, using as many takes as you need.
Tools for selling your digital products
Some top places to sell digital products include:
Teachable is primarily used for hosting online courses but you can also use it to sell your coaching services.
Thinkific is another hosting platform for online courses, much similar to Teachable.
If you have a WordPress site, you can use the WooCommerce plugin to sell your digital products (you can use it to sell physical products too). Setting up is easy, and they have a comprehensive knowledge base if you get stuck.
The best thing? It's free. There are lots of extensions, many of them free or have a free version, that will add more advanced features. Unless you plan on doing something complicated, you shouldn't need anything extra to sell digital products.
SendOwl is specifically designed for selling digital products and takes care of the whole end-to-end sales process, from payment gateways, checkout, customised emails, to delivery.
Who hasn't heard of Etsy? Whilst not exclusive to digital products, Etsy has the advantage of being an established platform that appeals to the independent creators market.
Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce platform, meaning it will handle everything for you such as site hosting, updates and security. You don't need to have a website.
Shopify makes it easy for you to start selling your digital products. It's not free though and it has its own payment system. If you want to use PayPal it charges an extra percentage.
Sellwire claims to be "the easiest way to sell digital goods online". You receive a link for each digital product you upload to the platform, and share the link with your audience.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for many business owners. Selling digital products could be a great way for you to bring in some additional income. Digital products are also perfect candidates for mini offers, which can be created in a relatively short time frame.