The Pros and Cons of Selling Digital Products: Why it’s Not as Easy as We Think (part 1)

There are lots of pros and cons to selling digital products. We’d like to delve into the details and give a few pointers as to why it’s not as easy as we might think. (And then we’ll move onto why it’s a fabulous business model, in part 2!)

Firstly, What Do We Mean By Digital Products?

There is a huge range of digital products out there, including planners, information sheets, diaries, to-do list pads, stickers, labels, budget sheets, mock-ups for social media, courses, e-Books, and so on. The list is endless. And if you’re a frequent explorer of YouTube ‘make money online’ videos, you’ll know that selling digi-products is often touted as an easy way to make passive income.

But selling digital creations comes with its own set of challenges and it’s important to look at the cons as well as the pros.

Some of the Cons (Don’t Worry, the Pros Will Follow)

In brief, some of the cons are as follows.

  • Market saturation
  • Lack of credibility in the marketplace
  • Lack of technical knowledge
  • Continuous innovation & constantly evolving technology
  • Understanding your target audience
  • Effective marketing
  • Digital piracy and security
  • Handling customer service & support
  • Monetisation

(Click here if you want to skip straight to part 2)

Market Saturation

The market can feel over-saturated when you start doing your market research, and that’s true to a degree, so you need to ask yourself how your products will be different. How will you capture a buyer’s attention? Will you have a unique selling point (USP)? It’s daunting stuff. However, if you can produce something* that people like and will buy, then there’s a place in any market for you.

Lack of Credibility in the Marketplace

Attempting to build credibility amongst existing sellers can seem like an insurmountable challenge when you’re starting out. It’s best to remember that everyone was a beginner at some point, and that it’ll take time to build the customer base that you want/need. Once you’ve done that, and you’re providing good products and customer service, then the credibility will follow.

Lack of Technical Knowledge

For some of us, the technology needed to create good quality digital products can seem way out of our reach. We imagine everyone using the latest devices, and being experts in graphic design and the apps and programmes associated with them. It can be daunting seeing what others have created.

We’ll show you in part 2 why you definitely don’t need to be an expert and why ‘imposter syndrome’ shouldn’t exclude you from penetrating the market.

*You can buy ready-made digital products to sell as your own – find more information here.

Continuous Innovation & Constantly Evolving Technology: Con or Pro?

Creators need to stay ahead of trends and technological advances. Many digital products have a shelf life and can become outdated very quickly, thus rendering them useless.

Stagnation leads to declining sales, and continuous innovation needs to be taken seriously so that sellers can stay relevant. You will need to dedicate some time to ensuring your digital products are up to date.

Understanding Your Target Audience

Without understanding the needs and desires of your target audience, it’s challenging to create products that will resonate with them. This is another subject that can feel daunting and overwhelming, so it’s essential you do sufficient research before you begin making anything.

Effective Marketing

It isn’t enough to have a great product: you also need to be able to reach the right audience. How will you market your creations? Are you savvy with the different social media channels? Unless you’ve done the previous step and identified (and understood) your target audience, how can you possibly begin marketing to them?

Digital Piracy and Security

Do you know how to protect your designs from unauthorised distribution and implement robust security measures? What about the risks of digital piracy? It’s vitally important that you take steps to protect your work, so understanding these topics is essential.

Handling Customer Service & Support

You list your digital products for sale, advertise them to your chosen audience, and the sales start rolling in. Now you can sit back and put your feet up, right? Wrong!

As with any product that’s sold, good customer service is essential. There will always be queries and issues, and expectations to manage, so you must be prepared for this.

Monetisation: More Cons than Pros?

Can you make decent profit from your creations? Do you need to sell them in massive quantities? Before you even list a product, you’ve spent time making them, researching your audience, working out your marketing strategy, etc etc. So how can you be sure that you’re actually going to make a profit?

Whatever you’re selling, if it costs you too much (in time, effort and resources) to enable you to make good money from it, then it’s probably not worth starting in the first place. One-off purchases, subscription models, free goods, membership sites etc – each has its own set of complexities. It’s vital for you to research each area thoroughly before you begin.

Too Many Cons – What About the Pros?

Reading through this list of cons probably makes you think we’re anti digital products, but far from it. We have many digi-products of our own and are busy creating lots more for the future. 😊

Check out part 2 to see the pros of creating digital products, and why we love them! (If you’d like to be notified of new posts as soon as they’re published, why not subscribe to our newsletter?)



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