Everything I wish I knew before selling digital products

Everything I wish I knew before selling digital products

One of the ways to generate passive income is through selling digital products like pictures, illustrations, templates, how-to guides, planners, plugins, and so on. The list is practically infinite... In doubt? Check out this article where I'm sharing more than 60 ideas to create passive income for creatives.

As you read this, chances are that you already have something on your mind to put out there for the world. First and foremost, I want to celebrate that with you! Creating digital products and sharing your knowledge with your audience is the best decision you can make for your business.

I started selling digital goods 11 years ago, wow! I jumped in head first without knowing anything about this industry. And perhaps I’ve had ups and downs (probably more ups than downs), it has been the most rewarding experience ever when it comes to artist satisfaction and remuneration for my work. So here, I’ll package wrap 10 things I’ve learned while selling my digital products online. Whether you’re going to begin selling online or are just in the first stages of this wonderful creative business style, I hope this list will be helpful to you in the long run.

You have to protect your products:

When selling a digital product, you’re essentially giving away the core of your content, so you have to make sure your buyer is clear on your Terms of Use. Using specific licenses is an excellent way to receive a fair payment depending on your client’s project. Make sure to include Terms of Use Agreements that protect your work and your business, I've already done this for you, check the Terms and Conditions to Selling Digital Products here

For instance, with my greeting card templates I grant a license that allows photographers to resell the printed cards to their local clients, but showing the designs online on their website or other creative marketplaces like Etsy or Creative Market is not allowed. That will hurt my business, so I prefer to be clear on that from the very beginning and include it in my Terms of Use Agreement.

On the other hand, I grant a commercial license for all my fonts so they can be used in logos, websites, and printed products no matter the project or printing quantities. But reselling, sharing, and redistributing is not allowed either.

You have to test your products first:

It feels so natural to think that your product is perfectly done and ready to fly the nest and thrive out in the world, but testing your product first with friends and also acquaintances that are in the industry is a great way to get off on the right foot. Check everything twice, and include others in the process. Whether it’s written content, a font, an app, or a little plugin, try it for a couple of days or weeks before selling it. Why? Because you don’t want to have tons of complaints because something is going wrong with your files, and then spend valuable time fixing and resending every single purchased file.  It’s not fun, believe me!

You have to create evergreen products:

This is a really good one! Get focused on creating content that can be used today, tomorrow, in a month, and maybe even years from now. For instance, I gave up on creating designs for iPhone cases. I had to redesign them over and over again every time Apple decided to launch a new iPhone size! Same with creating layouts for FB or social media, these apps are in constant flux, and so are the images I created for them. Now I try to keep things more neutral and as evergreen as possible, so clients can buy products that will be useful for months and years to come.

You have to stay legal:

Legal terms are so important when creating digital products. You are the face of your company and doing things the wrong way can get you kicked off the internet overnight. So make sure to use 100% original content. Don’t waste your time copying others or using content that you didn’t develop first-hand. Get yourself extra familiar with the terms of third-party design elements you may be including in your products. When using fonts, make sure they are free or that you have the license to use them. Don’t embed or send pictures of third parties if you don’t have the permission to do it. Instead, if you need to use the same (free) fonts or (free) images you included on your file or template for your customers, send them the links where they can find the resources from the original website or author. If they download the content by themselves, they will see the terms of use and you free yourself of any responsibility.

Be careful when using third-party content

Whether it’s a picture you need to display with a product or a song you want to include on a video, whenever there is material that was not created by you, make sure you’re strictly adhering to the terms of use when using it. For instance, I need to display family portraits on my templates, and for that, I’ve always reached out to my favorite photographers and asked their permission to use the pictures with my products. This is, of course, to avoid copyright infringements. Also, I give them credit in my product description and imagery. Remember, what goes around, comes around.

Be prepared to deal with someone reselling your content or use it in a way that is not allowed according to your terms of use.

This is not fun, but friend, it’s REAL! After 11 years of selling digital goods, I don’t waste my time looking for copyright infringements of my work out there because I’d never sleep. But I have a big and supportive community of loyal customers that write to me when they see someone is stealing my work and selling it as their own. I've had lots of cases, believe it or not. At first, it really stressed me out, because, let’s face it, no one wants to believe that other people would actually sell your digital content. The nerve! But, I’ve learned to be prepared, and I have a strategy in place for when I discover copycats, and it has been so effective. It’s necessary to send a Cease and Desist Letter and depending on the situation report the user or website for copyright infringement; usually, they take the content down in less than a week. Again, this isn’t something you want to have to deal with when building your business, but it’s always better to be prepared in order to protect your biz down the line. Get my Cease and Desist Letter template here.

You have to use the most updated software and save older versions.

When creating documents, the best thing is to use the most updated software, without forgetting you may have users that are still using an older version. So, saving the documents in previous versions is the most thoughtful thing you can do for your buyers to ensure they have a smooth experience with your product. The goal here is to make files that are accessible to most of your users.

Share, share, share

Be prepared to create high-quality, free content. If you want to succeed in selling digital products, you have to give your potential clients a treat before purchasing. Sharing my work in freebie format has been my first tool to gain new and loyal clients, subscribers, and frequent traffic to my website.

You have to be very clear in your product descriptions

Be super clear when selling your product. List out who can get the most use from your product and the necessary skills they will need in order to be successful, whether it be software knowledge, a technical skill, or a specific skill level. You want to finalize sales, so educate your clients on what you’re selling, exactly what they’re going to get, and what’s required of them to be able to use them.

You have to be flexible

Flexibility has been the primary reason why my clients keep coming to me. I don’t do everything they ask, but I try to meet them in the middle between their needs and the things I’m feasibly able to do for them. For instance, I have frequent requests from customers who lost all their purchases and need to re-download the documents, so I help them to reactivate their purchases, and some of them ask me to save the file in a different format or resize it for better resolution. There are things I can definitely help with, and there are things I can’t, but I always try to go the extra mile when I can, because I know that they will come back if I serve them well.

So, you got this!! I know that with these tips you will save yourself a few headaches while selling digital goods!! I'm so excited for you! I hope you liked this article and gained value, and I wish you tons of success in your upcoming creation adventures.

I've already done half of your work to selling digital products, check out my awesome templates, so you can create your first digital product in no time!

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