Selling digital products on an ecommerce platform like Shopify is the dream for any entrepreneur for three main reasons:
- You can sell an unlimited number of copies of your product without incurring any production or logistics costs
- Digital products have much higher margins than physical products
- Creating a digital product is relatively simple
There are many more reasons why digital products are amazing, but you already got the point.
The questions you should be asking yourself now are: “how can I start selling digital products on Shopify?” and “what are the best digital products to sell?”
To answer these questions, I got you covered.
A step-by-step guide to selling digital products on Shopify
In this article, I’ll show you what you need to do to start selling your digital products on Shopify.
Feel free to navigate to the part you’d like to read first:
- Set up your Shopify store
- Define your digital product
- Start building an email list before the launch
- Prepare your digital product for sales
- Launch your store and start selling
- Promote your brand
Step #1: Open and set up your Shopify store
To get started, you will need to open a Shopify store, which won't take you more than ten minutes. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to do:
Go to Shopify.com, add your email address, and click the “Start free trial” button in the form field above the fold.
Add your password and store name. Don’t worry about paying just yet, as Shopify gives you a 14-day free trial. Give your store a name and click the “Create your store” button.
Answer a set of optional onboarding questions Shopify asks, add your address information, and you will be done. There are a few more tasks you may want to work on before moving on to the next step, like setting your domain, theme, payment methods, sales channels, and checkout process. Even if they are optional at this point, it makes sense you learn more about them before launch day.
If you are interested, check out the following article I wrote about starting a dropshipping store (even if you won't be dropshipping products, the information you will find there will be handy).
Step #2: Define the digital product to sell
Let's start with the bad news: this is the step where many ecommerce entrepreneurs get stuck. The dozens of options available make them overthink what type of digital product to sell and never get started.
The good news is that it doesn't have to be hard if you remember that you want to err on the side of action instead of planning.
You are launching your first digital product; it doesn't have to be perfect.
It's much more important you focus on building an audience, which we'll talk about in the next step.
What's more, the great majority of the digital product types available won't be necessary or relevant for your needs. Here are the three most popular options you should consider for your first digital product:
Ebook: You can call it a recipe, a tutorial, a technical guide, or any other way. What matters is that you put together all your knowledge in your specific area of expertise in the shape of a digital book.
Downloadable file: This could be something like a theme, an extension, a music file, and so on. They are like ebooks, except that you don’t package your expertise in a written form.
Video course: They are more engaging than ebooks but are more complicated to create than the former. As a video course’s value is higher than ebooks and files, it can be sold at a higher price.
Guide Dots is a great example of creators selling their digital product on Shopify:
At the end of the day, think about your expertise and the best way it can be packaged and consumed. For example:
- If you are a marketing expert and you want to share your proven method to achieve a particular goal, write an ebook.
- If you are an Adobe Premiere Pro designer who can create modern templates, a downloadable file is your best choice.
- If you are a fitness expert who wants to share a unique training method, a video course that features all your preferred exercises would be ideal.
Step #3: Build an email list while you create the product
There’s nothing more heart-breaking for an entrepreneur to launch an awesome product that took dozens of hours to create to the sound of crickets. The product may be great, but the entrepreneur will feel crushed if no one buys it soon after its launch.
It’s a much better idea to start creating an audience before the product is launched to avoid all of the pain I just described. To be clear, the audience doesn’t have to be massive; a few dozen highly-interested people are enough to get you started.
Building an email list requires:
- Creating a landing page with an opt-in form; and
- Getting traffic to it
Putting together a landing page and a popup is straightforward. A popular landing page Shopify app is PageFly, which will help you craft a persuasive landing page for your digital products at no cost.
If you already have a website, you will need to create a page in your CMS (like WordPress), write a headline, a short description, and an in-built opt-in form. In this form, you want to give something away to incentivize people to sign up for your email list.
Since you are building a digital product, it makes a lot of sense to hand out a piece of it as a teaser. For example, you can offer the first chapter of your ebook for free — this will get people to sign up and show interest in your product. By the time you launch your ebook, your subscribers will be primed to read the rest of the book.
Although it’s not mandatory, adding an extra opt-in form like a popup or a floating bar is also a good idea. In it, you want to give away another incentive like:
- A pre-sale discount, in which you sell your product before you even launch it
- An early-bird discount, in which you promise a discount after the launch
A Shopify app like Getsitecontrol is all you need to launch your opt-in forms in your landing page. For $9 a month, you will be able to maximize the value of the traffic you generate and build your email list faster.
Pre-sale discounts help you test the demand for your product and even fund your production before you launch. However, it’s better suited for people with established audiences. Early-bird discounts are better for entrepreneurs with smaller audiences who want to reward their first customers for their trust.
Besides discounts, you can also create a package where you offer free supplements to your product, like extra information (in the shape of ebooks, templates, and so on), one-on-one consultancies, private forums, etc.
Gauge is an excellent example of a brand selling digital products on Shopify and offering three different membership plans on their website:
When it comes to getting people to visit your landing page, you can use any online channel like SEO, social media, and paid ads. To build an email list quickly, it makes more sense to promote your landing page to your existing email list (if you have one), use paid ads (like Facebook Ads), and organic social media (like Instagram).
In these channels, you'd promote your free giveaway and even share the fact you will launch a paid product soon, like Julian Shapiro, as featured on Copyblogger:
Organic social media and SEO will take the most time to pay dividends, but they are the cheapest, and if you don’t have an email list of any kind, they are your best bet. The amount of time it takes to make these channels pay off is the main reason why you should start working on building an audience months before you launch your product.
Whatever channel you use, it’s crucial you communicate with your potential buyers regularly.
It’s one thing to get people to sign up for your list, but it’s a whole different thing to engage with them.
Send them emails once every week or two so that you and your product stay on top of their mind. You can send further teasers about the product, mentioning what it will cover once it’s finished. You can also tell them the current status and any other news regarding the release.
If you succeed in this task, you will have a guaranteed list of people ready to buy once you launch your product.
Step #4: Get your digital product ready to sell
After creating your digital product, you need to add it to your Shopify store. This is as simple as:
- Creating a product page
- Writing a title and a product description
- Uploading your file(s) with the help of a digital downloads app
Writing copy for your products is an important task, but explaining it thoroughly would take us a lot of time. That’s why I recommend you take the time to read the following article I wrote about this subject:
Shopify doesn’t have the capabilities to sell digital products since it's geared towards physical products. However, an app like Easy Digital Products will let you attach your digital files to your products automatically, create download buttons, and use license keys to sell your product seamlessly.
Step #5: Launch the store and start selling
Once you have your product finished and a small audience of potential buyers primed to buy, it’s time to launch the store and start selling.
Start by sending your list an email giving the news about your product release, like the example below. Share your excitement and appreciation towards your subscribers who have followed you all this time. Also, give them access to all of the supplements you may have promised earlier.
If you haven’t promised any discounts, you could use one now, such as offering a discount for the first 100 buyers (you can increase or decrease this number depending on the size of your list). In any case, add a link to your product page (or landing page) and explain to them what the next steps are.
Promote your launch on social media and anywhere else you have an audience. If you have any friends or business partners who have relevant audiences, you can ask them for their help (a good incentive here is to use an affiliate link, but this is a bit more advanced).
Regardless of the results you get, you should be satisfied with the progress you have made; few people have the resilience to do all of the work previously described, so congratulations! 🥂
Step #6: Promote your brand
Now that you have launched your first digital product on Shopify, you have endless opportunities to promote your brand. Everything I mentioned earlier about building hype before your launch still applies — that means you must continue building your list, social media following, and SEO authority.
Ultimately, your goal is to position yourself (and your brand) as an expert in your field. Here’s where content marketing, social media, and paid media come into play.
Getting started selling your digital products on Shopify
This article covered a lot of ground for an entrepreneur to launch his or her first digital product. You may be a bit overwhelmed with everything you learned today, so to help you get on the right track, let’s put together a TL;DR summary:
- Open your Shopify store, buy a domain, and install a theme. Keep it simple; the goal is to launch your first product, not to get a perfect store.
- Define the ideal type of digital product to sell for your expertise. Ebooks and downloadable files are the easiest to try, but video courses are a good alternative if your expertise requires it.
- Create your product based on the previous decision while simultaneously building your email list with the help of social media and SEO (paid ads are another option, but only if you have the skills and budget).
- Message your audience regularly to keep them interested in your product.
- After you have developed your product, add it to your store and get ready to start selling it.
- Launch your product and promote it to your audience. Message any friends and partners you may have to further boost your reach.
- Keep building your industry expertise with social media, SEO, and content marketing over time.
Ivan Kreimer is a freelance content writer for hire who creates educational content for SaaS businesses like Leadfeeder and Campaign Monitor. In his pastime, he likes to help people become freelance writers. Besides writing for smart people who read sites like Getsitecontrol, Ivan has also written in sites like Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, TheNextWeb, and many other influential websites.
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