If you’re a blogger or social media influencer, then you love creating high-quality content that you’re passionate about. How do you make money doing what you love? Affiliate marketing, advertising, and physical products are all great options, but there’s also a fourth that may feel more natural to your loyal followers: digital products.
Digital products include everything from videos and podcasts to live online events, online courses, books, and downloads. When you transform the content, you’re creating products you can sell and opening up a whole new world of possibilities for your website.
Your content is worth paying for
You may think that no one will pay for digital content because they can just get it for free. But here’s the truth: research predicts that e-learning, another word for selling digital products, will generate $325 billion in 2025. You don’t have to give your expertise away. People will pay for it.
The key? Figure out who will pay for yours, how to reach them, and how to distinguish yourself as an industry authority whose content has more value than all the free stuff.
How can digital products increase your income?
The greatest benefit of selling digital products is that you don’t have to manufacture, ship, or distribute anything. You make the product once, and sell it over and over. That’s why the margins are so high. Suppose you invest $2,000 in creating an online course, which includes some graphic design, copywriting, video, and other media. If you sell that course for $399, you make your investment back after five sales, and just about everything beyond that is profit.
Of course, this requires an audience willing to pay for your digital products. But if you’ve worked at that already – if you have social followers, email subscribers, event attendees, or book buyers – then you’ve done the hard part!
All that remains is turning the digital content you’ve already created into products — and creating more. Figure out how to repackage your work and sell it online. You’ll market it to your existing followers, so you don’t need online advertising to get started.
And if you don’t think you have an audience for digital products and can’t get one because you’re too localized or have too narrow a niche, that’s not true. The narrower your niche, the more you can charge for your expertise.
Suppose there are two health food experts. One’s a nationally known guru who writes about a range of health food topics, and another who wrote the book — literally — about the paleo diet. Who would you be more likely to pay $250 for a course on the paleo diet? The expert, not the generalist.
Two ways to sell digital products
The two primary ways to sell digital products are as one-time purchases or subscriptions. Both can be lucrative, but require different approaches.
1. One-time purchases
You sell someone access to an online course. You make the profit. And the relationship is complete, unless you find a way to keep the customer coming back for more. The two main ways to do that are (1) getting them to refer your course to their friends and co-workers, or (2) developing more products you can sell to the same person.
A successful digital content business using this model needs a continuous stream of new and valuable products that you can keep marketing to the same people. Again, developing your audience is the critical step here. If you don’t have a pre-existing audience, it’s a lot harder to sell digital products, (especially without online ads).
One-time purchases work well for high-value courses, video content, time-sensitive products capitalizing on a trend, and for businesses that want to make extra money on the side without having to worry about inventory. You could sell services online, like online yoga and fitness training, that happen live. A contractor can sell how-to videos with much higher quality than anything on YouTube, and their audience will buy them because they trust them. A T-shirt company could sell a course on T-shirt design.
2. Subscription purchases
Running a subscriptions business is a great strategy if you can continuously produce enough new content to keep an audience happy — and paying monthly or annually. The main difference between one-time products and subscriptions is volume.
If you’re only churning out a few new digital products per year, a subscription model may not be the right fit. But if you release monthly doses of content across a variety of media formats, you can generate very strong passive income.
Variety of media is key. Some people like video; others prefer text. Still others prefer audio, or a combination. Some like to interact and print things out. Some like live programming, others want to do things on their own time. The more variety you offer, the better your chance at building a successful subscription business.
Suppose a physiotherapist holds monthly two-hour group sessions where she teaches new physical health techniques and then does a Q&A. She puts out the recording of the event and sends members an email summarizing thesession, including a link to a PDF with the key points and a worksheet. Some people who need ongoing help with physical therapy will pay for that instead of going into a clinic. What will they pay — $19.99 per month? $29.99? $49.99? You won’t know until you try it.
You can do group coaching online. You can put out how-to videos. Templates your audience needs. Samples of how to do something. Encouraging content. Motivational content. Teaching content. As long as you’re cranking it out regularly and your audience continually finds it valuable, you can charge a monthly fee.
How to create digital products with WordPress
Jetpack makes selling digital products on your WordPress site as simple as adding content to a page or post.
- Start by purchasing a Jetpack plan, which also includes valuable security, speed optimization, and marketing tools, and install Jetpack on your site.
- Set up an account with Stripe, a trusted, secure payment processor that partners with Jetpack to allow for easy online payments.
- Create a new page for your product or edit an existing one.
- In the block editor, search for and add the Payments block.
- Add a price and description.
- Set a renewal interval. You can charge for subscriptions on a monthly or yearly basis, or select the one-time payment option.
And that’s all it takes to accept one-time or recurring payments on your WordPress site.
Turn your work into revenue
If you create content that people love, you have a great opportunity to turn it into a business. Wth a premium Jetpack plan, you can add products and charge for them using the same platform and editor you’re already familiar with — and benefit from security, marketing, design, and speed optimization tools. You can also host videos on your own private platform using Jetpack’s VideoPress feature.