Creating digital products that sell is a lot easier than you think. If you are able to write a blog post, you are qualified to create your own product, simply because writing an e-book is just like writing a series of articles.
There are only two difficult aspects, but I will walk you through these in this blog post:
- What tools to use for creating a product without technical knowledge.
- How to pick a platform to sell your product so that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Creating Digital Products That Sell While You Sleep
You already know that creating information based products is the best way to make money on the internet – simply because you can keep your costs low. There are no procurement and shipping charges, and you can charge as much or as little as you want to. Thousands of professionals earn their living by selling digital products on their blogs or different digital marketplaces.
But please don’t fall for the “make money while you sleep” slogan. It’s true that once set up, your blog will make sales without the need to be there personally, however, you will always have to put in the time for marketing, handling customer queries, etc. There is no easy buck on the internet, otherwise, everyone would already be taking advantage of it.
The Best Selling Digital Products
Now that you decided that you want to get into the digital product business, you may be asking, “But what types of digital products should I create?”
E-books are one of the most popular digital products. They are relatively simple to produce since they just require some written text and a few images. E-books are simple to distribute via large marketplaces like Amazon or in your own online stores. Customers can easily read them on e-readers, tablets, computers, and even their mobile phones.
E-learning is an industry with growing momentum. We are even seeing traditional educational institutions exploring this avenue to make their content available to learners. Their price ranges from a few bucks to several thousand dollars.
- Professional services
Services are, of course, not products. However, you can sell them in the same way you sell digital products. Some examples would be:
- Graphic design
- Web design
First, you will need to get out of your perfectionist syndrome when you start working on your first product. I agree that on today’s internet your product needs to be good if you want to compete with others… however, you won’t be able to create the best product ever in your niche to start with.
The goal is to launch your product in an acceptable state, then you will improve it later on.
Creating Your Own E-books
If you are an expert in a subject, writing an e-book can take you a few days to a week.
You can be fancy and create your book in InDesign or PowerPoint. These are nice, however, they have huge disadvantages: The resulting file will be large and adding to a PowerPoint slide can be a nightmare because of the re-pagination.
Therefore I recommend that you use a simple and free e-book template for Libre Office or Open Office. These programs provide an easy way to save your book in PDF form.
I recommend Canva (it’s free) for creating your cover image and marketing images.
Make sure your images are compressed. This will make the resulting file smaller.
If you want to create a screenshot, paste it into LibreOffice. You can crop and save the image right in the program just by right-clicking on it. After you enter the file name you want to save the image under, you will get a dialogue box where you can set the height and width of the image:
I usually set my images to 700 pixels in width and then I compress them using TinyPng. This way I almost always get an image file that is under 100 kB.
Platforms For Selling Your E-books
Once your e-book is ready, there are several ways you can sell it.
JvZoo – No upfront fees. JVZoo will charge a commission fee of 5% of the gross selling price on each product or service sold by a seller. They host your e-book for you, but you need to set up the sales page on your own blog. You can set up individual products or recurring memberships with trials.
It has a built-in affiliate program. After you listed your product, you can instantly start recruiting affiliates.
E-Junkie – 30-day free trial. After that, you can start with the $5/month plan, which gives you 200 MB and the ability to sell 10 products – unlimited sales and unlimited downloads. They issue a unique, expiring download link for every purchase, therefore the chance of theft is smaller.
You can start selling in 3 easy steps:
Step 1: Link your payment processor (PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, Authorize.Net, 2Checkout and more)
Step 2: Add your product (Tangible, Digital, Tickets, Codes, Email Newsletters and more)
Step 3: Copy-Paste the button codes or links in your website, blog or social networks.
They offer an E-junkie plugin for WordPress that automatically generates a storefront section on your WordPress site, using the same product listing details and images as an E-junkie Shop.
If you don’t have your own website or don’t wish to add E-junkie button codes to your existing site, you can list your products in your own E-junkie Shop page with a URL that lists just your own products. Adding product listings to your E-junkie Shop also provides an easy way for existing affiliates of other E-junkie merchants to find and join your affiliate program.
You can select the Sales Tax / VAT option if you want us to calculate Sales Tax or VAT on sales of that product.
WooCommerce – This is a solution to sell products, including digital ones on your blog. It takes some time to set up, however you can add an infinite number of products and in order to receive payments you just need to plug in your PayPal account.
Amazon: Everyone has heard about selling digital products on Amazon… To sell your e-book on this platform you will need a special format for Kindle (.mobi). Reflowable e-books allow the reader to resize text and are available on all Kindle devices and free Kindle reading applications.
The advantage of selling on Amazon is the large existing audience, however, the price points are usually much lower compared to PDF e-books you can sell on other platforms.
Creating A Sales Page In WordPress
I have mentioned that some of the e-book selling solutions require your own sales page.
Despite the fact that you may need sales and landing pages for various purposes, unfortunately, WordPress is not set up for creating such pages. In order to create these, you will need an external plugin.
Thrive Architect is a drag-and-drop page builder solution. There are pre-made sales pages you can pick from, such as this one – you just need to change the text:
You can look at all the available sales and landing pages.
Creating An Online Course
There are several paid platforms where you can create and sell your online course.
Podia has a forever-free plan. If you want the version with an affiliate program feature, you would pay $75/month.
Teachable’s basic plan costs $39/month, plus 5% in transaction fees, with monthly payouts. Their Pro version costs $99/month, no transaction fees and instant payouts.
Thinkific costs $49/month. It also has a free version, but unfortunately, that doesn’t have an affiliate program.
These platforms make it easy to create your course, however, they are not cheap.
Selling Digital Products On Your WordPress Blog
This route requires more tech knowledge, but it can be way cheaper.
You can use the Thrive Apprentice plugin and you will have an interface like this:
You will also need a shopping cart if you want to charge money for your courses.
You can use SendOwl for this purpose, which is very simple to set up, however they charge $15/month if you want to use their platform to create your own affiliate program.
If you don’t mind the technical challenge, you can use WooCommerce to sell an unlimited number of free or paid courses. Would you like to see a demonstration? You can check the live store on FunnelXpert, sign up for a free or a paid course and experience firsthand.
The advantage of WooCommerce is that you can use a wide selection of payment processors, including those used in foreign countries and you can also use its coupon feature if you want to run discounts.
Marketing Your Digital Product
Once you have a digital product, you need to sell it. The best methods are email marketing and webinars.
For legitimate marketers in 2018, email marketing is still the most effective channel to reach
their customers. Per a white paper published by the authors of the email delivery plugin Sendy, every dollar spent on email marketing returns $38.
However, engagement with opted-in customers of legitimate emails is getting harder. Marketing
emails now only reach approximately 20% of their contacts, depending on the industry.
The answer is combining your email marketing with webinars. Webinars can also function as your lead magnet and increase your chances to sell your product, simply because they provide interaction and a personal touch.
Since the creation of webinars/video has a high entry barrier for many people and they aren’t used in every industry yet, they can set you apart from your competition. Be inventive and think outside the box. Have you ever thought about holding a Healthy Eating Habits webinar for your health food store and selling products such as organic food?
Now I am going to show you how you can create your own webinar even if you never shot a video beforehand. Once you learn how to create video, you can also use it to make your blog posts better, not to mention the entire new range of promotion that opens up placing videos on YouTube or uploading video pins onto Pinterest.
Creating A Webinar
If you are not yet comfortable posing and talking on video, you don’t need to.
You can create slides using PowerPoint or LibreOffice and narrate your story. Writing the main thoughts on slide also helps to remind you what you are supposed to say. There are free slideshow templates that you download from the web.
You have the choice to stream your webinar live, however, if you feel you are not up to this, you can also pre-record it. You can then either show the webinar recording or you can even record everything and then live stream it to YouTube or Facebook. This way you can decrease the pressure of live performance.
I use OBS Studio (formerly Open Broadcaster Software) to record webinars. This is a free open source tool and makes it simple to capture your screen, your camera, a program window and it’s very easy to switch from one to the other.
The OBS Studio Interface
The main OBS Studio interface allows you to set up everything you need to start streaming or recording. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see several control elements.
A Scene in OBS Studio has the function of combining and arranging your Source elements any way you like. You will set up multiple scenes and switch between them when you want to.
I recommend that you add all Sources (see description below) to the default scene, tune all settings, then duplicate the scene, name it, then delete the unneeded sources. (You can also click the Plus button to create a blank scene.)
On the default scene I have the following items:
- my desktop
- the camera showing me in the top left corner
- the camera’s audio.
- The program window I want to use (Office slides and Firefox)
Create separate scenes to capture your slides, another one to record yourself with a camera and one for streaming.
After you’ve added some elements, you can click on them in the preview to adjust as you wish. Click the Eye icon to hide an element, or the Lock to prevent accidental movement.
Sources are the video and audio inputs that you feed into OBS Studio. Click the Plus button to add a new one.
First click Audio Input Capture. Let’s say you’re going to use a camera or a headset microphone to record audio. Enter a descriptive name for the source (like Headset Mic) and click OK. On the resulting screen, pick your headset mic from the Device dropdown and click OK.
Display Capture: Allows you to capture an entire monitor, no matter what’s showing on it. Selecting Display Capture will produce a hall of mirrors effect as the software captures itself capturing itself.
Video Capture Device: Records footage from a webcam.
Window Capture: Use this option to capture the output of a program, such as Firefox, PowerPoint or LibreOffice/OpenOffice for slideshows.
If the slideshow is in full-screen mode, OBS does not seem to be picking it up. The solution is to open Slideshow Setup in the menu of PowerPoint and configure it to show the slideshow as a window. The slideshow is now in a smaller window which OBS captures automatically. You can then resize the PPT slideshow in OBS to meet your needs.
Once you’ve added all your sources, the Mixer tab lets you adjust the volume balance between them. The bars move in real-time to reflect levels. Drag the slider to adjust the mix, or click the speaker icon to mute a source.
Play around with these ahead of time, as different sources can have different volume levels. You wouldn’t want to complete a recording only to find out that a program’s audio overpowers your mic.
Clicking the Settings icon beside either Desktop Audio or Microphone Audio will let you apply filters to the sound before it’s encoded. The noise suppression option is useful if you’re recording your own narration.
This simple section allows you to choose what happens when you swap between scenes. Choose between Fade and Cut in the dropdown, or hit Plus to pick another option. You can choose how long the transition lasts using the Duration box.
Here, the Start Streaming and Start Recording buttons will let you start capturing with OBS Studio. You can see the current FPS and CPU usage below.
Tweaking OBS Studio Settings
Before your first recording or stream, you should tweak a few options. Click Settings in the Controls section of the interface to access them.
First, open the Video tab. Here, check the Base (Canvas) Resolution and Output (Scaled) Resolution) options.
The first should match your screen resolution, while the second lets you choose the resolution of the final video. Leave Output the same as the above for a full-quality recording, or lower it to something like 1280×720 for a lower file size. Leave the Downscale Filter as Lanczos if you’re downscaling.
Lastly here, you’ll need to choose the FPS (frames per second) of the recording. For a smooth picture, choose 60. But if you desire a smaller file size or are recording something simple, 30 is suitable.
Facebook Live currently supports resolutions up to 720p and frame rates up to 30 fps. See Facebook Live video specifications page for additional details.
It’s also a good idea to open the Advanced tab and set Process Priority to High in order to give OBS Studio the most resources to create the best recording.
Edit export options
If you want to stream content from your screen, click Stream and select a service from the drop-down list. Current options include Twitch, Facebook, YouTube and many more.
If you are new to this, I recommend recording as a video file first, then you can stream your recording to YouTube or Facebook Live.
Now you need to decide what happens when you stop your recording manually. Switch to the Output tab to access options to screen recording.
If you want to save the recording from your screen as a video file, take a look at the Recording settings. Most of the defaults here will be fine, but you might want to change the recording format from FLV (MP4 is more widely supported) and change the path for the exported files.
At the top, you can set the Output Mode to Simple or Advanced. Pick Simple and set the following under Recording:
Recording Quality to Indistinguishable Quality
Recording Format to MP4, FLV, or MKV if you prefer
You’ll find Streaming on the Output tab as well. In Simple mode, you’ll simply need to specify a bitrate, choose between software or hardware encoding, and set the Audio bitrate.
Streaming bitrates depending on quality. 1080p at 60FPS should use a bitrate of at least 4,500, while 720p at 30fps can use something around 2,500. For the audio bitrate, 160 is a good baseline. You can increase this to 192 for better quality, or 320 if you need top-notch audio.
You may wish to lower the bitrate (as well as downscaling the resolution and lowering the FPS) slightly for streaming, as a stable stream that everyone can enjoy is better than streaming in maximum quality that few can enjoy.
How to Record Your Screen
To begin screen recording, all you have to do is click Start Recording on the main OBS Studio page. The software will immediately start recording based on the current Scene. You can swap Scenes at any time, so make sure you’ve set them up beforehand.
When you click Stop Recording, OBS Studio will save your file to the directory you specified in Settings. I recommend performing a short test recording first to make sure everything looks and sounds acceptable.
How to Stream
To stream with OBS Studio, you’ll first need to authorize OBS Studio with your streaming account. Do this by opening Settings and switching to the Stream tab. Under Service, choose your preferred service. You’ll find YouTube Live, Facebook, etc.
Next, you’ll need to generate a streaming key for the service.
For YouTube Live, open the Live Streaming > Stream Now tab in YouTube’s Creator Studio. At the bottom of the page in the Encoder Setup section, reveal and copy your Stream name/key.
Warning: Never give this stream key to anyone or show it on a stream! Anyone with access to this can stream to your account. If you accidentally share it, click Reset to generate a new one.
For Facebook Live, you’ll now need to collect the unique stream key from your Facebook page. OBS Studio uses this unique key to communicate with Facebook Live and live stream your production.
- In a web browser, navigate to your Facebook Page, Event, or Group.
- At the top of the web page, click Publishing Tools, then Videos, and then click +Live; the live stream configuration window appears.
- Copy or make note of the Stream key. (The Server URL field can be safely ignored; OBS Studio doesn’t require this particular information.)
The Stream Key can only be used for a single live stream connection, including preview of your stream in Facebook Live. You need a new Stream Key to resume your stream every time you cancel your broadcast or stream preview.
The stream key you just found now needs to be entered into OBS Studio.
- Click the Settings button in the lower-right corner of the OBS Studio interface to open the Settings window.
- Click Stream, then select Facebook Live or YouTube Live from the Service drop-down menu and paste your key into the Stream Key field.
Record or stream
Depending on the source settings you’ve chosen, you can begin recording either clicking ‘Start recording’ on the right-hand side of OBS Studio.
In this case you’ll have to use a video editor like ShotCut to trim away the start of the video, which will show you minimizing OBS Studio and firing up the program you want to demonstrate. To avoid this, return to Settings, select Hotkeys, and set keyboard shortcuts that will start and stop recording.
Fixing Sound Quality Problems
The most common reason for sound quality problems is the low quality of your microphone. If you use your laptop’s built-in mic, you will have problems for sure. Get a USB microphone – either with a headphone or with a webcam.
It’s important to ensure that the audio you are providing is coming through with as little background noise as possible. Make sure you reduce any noises, such as a fan, in the room. OBS Studio also gives us some tools to help lower background noise.
On the main screen of OBS you can click the gear on your microphone audio device and click Filters. I’ve had the best results with adding “Noise suppression”, “Noise Gate”, and “Gain” in that particular order.
Noise Suppression: The Noise Suppression filter can help block out background noise. Add the suppression filter and leave it at the default settings to start. Then either start a broadcast or record yourself. Try to be silent in your recording/broadcast and move the slider up and down to change the suppression level in dB.
Noise Gate: The Noise Gate filter sets an opening and closing dB threshold for when your mic is active and when it basically mutes itself. So, you can have it so it doesn’t pick up bits of background noise by setting your opening threshold above your normal ambient sound levels when you aren’t speaking. Stay quiet, look at the Mixer window and observe the dB value of the noise and set the gate to that value.
Gain allows you to up the sound level of your mic track in dB. I use this after applying the first two filters to make sure my voice track comes through loud and clear.
Handling Sound Distortions
The dB reading of your audio in your Mixer window should be in the green zone. If it goes above that, the sound will be distorted. Turn it down until it fits.
The next point to fix is the input level of your microphone. If you are using Windows, right click on the Speaker icon and select Sound. Click on the Recording tab in the dialogue that comes up. You will probably need to decrease the level.
The final point is your Gain filter if you are using one in OBS. Setting it too high will distort the sound.
Setting Up Webinar Pages
In order to deliver your webinar, you will need few pages. I use Thrive Architect for my webinar pages because it has pre-made templates and is easy to customize.
I just took this webinar registration page template …
And it took me about 10 minutes to create my own webinar registration page.
Then I connected the opt-in form with my email autoresponder service through a Thrive Leads lightbox, which was also part of the pre-made webinar template.
You will also need a webinar registration Thank You page and a live webinar streaming page:
I uploaded my video to YouTube and embedded it into the webinar page. Here is the page being edited:
I added the URL of the video and set the background to be a black tablet shape.
Then I pasted a content block to the right of the video and I pasted a simple code to have a chat box:
People can simply log into the chat using their Facebook or Twitter account.
If you hold a live webinar and then you have a replay, you will also need a webinar replay page. (I don’t have this, because I chose to have my webinar only as a recording.)
You have a choice of Thrive Architect’s over 270 templates. (Click the link to check them out.)
This is how you can start making money by selling your digital products.
Please leave any questions in the comments. We will be updating this post based on your questions so that everything is covered.
Author: Peter Nyiri is an internet marketer, the owner of FunnelXpert. He is on a mission to help bloggers build an income generating machine so that they can live the lifestyle that they want.
- Creating Digital Products That Sell While You Sleep
- The Best Selling Digital Products
- Getting Started
- Creating Your Own E-books