10+ Digital Product Ideas To Generate a Passive Income

Start Your Business Jun 7, 2021

Creating and selling digital products is a great way to generate passive income. What's great and unique about digital assets is that you only have to create them once. Then, you can just sell copies of your product over and over again with minimal effort which makes them perfect for generating a substantial side income.

1. E-Books

Self-publishing an e-book is a great first digital product for beginners. It might sound like a daunting and almost impossible task - after all, we've all heard how hard it is to make money, even as a published author. However, publishing an e-book can be an entirely straightforward process. In theory, all you have to do is take a document, format it nicely and convert it into an e-book. You're ready to sell and profit from your newest digital product!

While it is not as simple as that, there definitely is a big market for e-books. In fact, one author makes around $450,000 every year from self-published e-books. There are several platforms to choose from when it comes to publishing your e-book. For beginners, Amazon is the biggest, most popular one.

2. All Kinds Of Templates

Starting anything from scratch can be an incredibly arduous and complicated task. Whether it be making a website or building a schedule that you can stick to, planning and building these out can prove to be much of the hard work. More so when you are running your own business and don't necessarily have the time or patience to pick up little tasks. This is why several busy people and entrepreneurs look to invest in pre-built templates so that much of the heavy lifting is already done for them.

You can create templates for graphics, planners, websites and excel sheets among others. There are so many platforms to choose from that you can really niche down to something that fits your interest and your skillset. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Canva Templates

If you haven't heard of Canva yet, then you're well and truly missing out! Canva is one of the greatest gifts for new and small business owners because it makes designing alluring graphics and posts so much easier! Canva is an online graphic design tool that can be used by everyone! Canva comes pre-built with many high-quality graphics and fonts and makes it super simple to design high-quality content and posts.

Given that Canva is so easy to use, you might be wondering why people would want to pay to buy templates (even when Canva has its own built-in library of templates). This is because not everyone has the time or patience to build beautiful templates. There is a thriving market for Canva Templates, but competition isn't necessarily a bad thing, it means that your idea is already validated! You can sell Canva templates on websites like Creative Market or even Etsy.

Notion Templates

If you've never heard of Notion, we're going to tell you about a tool that could change your life. Notion is a great minimalistic and comprehensive workspace for everything you or your team could potentially need. Notion has plenty of different and useful inbuilt workspaces to manage a multitude of things. From habit trackers to documentation for your product - there is something for everyone.

With the rise of Notion's popularity, there has also been an emergence of a marketplace for paid Notion templates. Notion is highly customisable, and though it is not difficult to wrap your head around its details, there are a lot of great ways to make it bend according to your will. People are using this in-depth niche knowledge to build highly customised templates that customers are willing to pay money for. Platforms like Notion Everything and Notionery are two of the many platforms where you can sell your own Notion templates.

Website Templates

Getting started on a website from scratch is an extremely time-consuming process. A lot of developers as well as small business owners are willing to pay to get a pre-built website. This provides a great opportunity for web designers to build and sell beautiful themes.

The good thing about website templates and themes is that they are always going to be in demand. You can choose to build a native HTML theme or build a theme for a content management system like WordPress.

3. For Those With Photography or Editing Skills

Photography and editing are in great demand these days. People are heavily relying on visual mediums to advertise their businesses on platforms like social media and your skills can be in great demand. It's also a great way to make money passively!

Presets

You will see some social media influencers selling their own presets these days. Creators use presets on their photos so that they can save time on editing and have their feed look a little bit more consistent. It is possible to sell presets for all kinds of apps such as Photoshop and Lightroom. Since not all Instagrammers have the required skills to create beautifully edited images, there is a big market for presets which is only growing as more and more people turn to Social Media to build their online businesses.

You can choose to sell presets on several different platforms such as Etsy, Creative Market of FilterGrade. Alternatively, you can also choose to sell on your own website or platform by using something like Shopify which has plugins that can help you integrate e-commerce capabilities at a very low cost!

Stock Photos

All kinds of businesses and platforms need stock photos on their websites and social media pages. These photos don't just show up from anywhere, they're usually sourced from stock photo websites. You can submit your own photos to stock photography websites. There are plenty of stock photography websites to choose from that pay you for the usage of your photos. Some of the most popular ones are Shutterstock and Adobe Stock.

4. Planners

Planners are a great, low-effort way to profit from your organisational skills. You can make planners for just about anything - be it a fitness regime or your finances.  Planners are also extremely easy to sell because you can sell them as PDFs or use print-on-demand websites to handle the logistics of printing and payment processing for you.

Related: The complete guide to starting your own Print-On-Demand store

The 5 Step Guide to Starting Your Own Print-On-Demand Store in 2021
If you’re one of those people who have been actively trying to find ways to be more financially independent by starting your own online business or side hustle, you’ve probably heard of drop shipping. While dropshipping in itself is branded as a lucrative business opportunity with tons of pros like

There are plenty of different methods you can employ to sell planners and printables. For example, you could sell them as a subscription service where people could get new planners every month or one-offs (which make for great passive income investments if you have traffic!).

5. Online Courses

If you live at least a part of your life on the internet, then you've probably heard of online courses, and you've probably also taken one. The internet is home to a wide range of online courses that provide something for everyone. With so many courses on offer, it may almost seem like the market is overly saturated, but that is far from the truth. The market is growing and growing fast. It is estimated that by the year 2025, it will be a $319+ billion industry!

Many platforms allow you to sell your course. You could use something like Udemy, which is more of a bigger marketplace or you could use something like Teachable to bring a whole stand-alone course to life (you would have to work a bit more on driving traffic and building an audience if you choose to go down this route).

6. Premium Newsletters

A premium newsletter is a content subscription service that people are willing to pay for. What's unique and great about this business model is that it is a great way to generate recurring revenue without having to continuously find ways to drive new traffic or users to your product or service. While this may seem like a good way to make an extra $1000 per month, people have made million-dollar businesses out of creating high-value newsletters.

Chances are, you probably have some kind of niche knowledge about a topic that interests you, and in all probability, also interests other people. If you have the right skills to conduct in-depth research on your topic of interest and present that information to people, you have a newsletter subscription business at your doorstep. People have made whole businesses out of all kinds of topics, from writing about life in China to sending flight deals straight to people's inboxes - there's a market for everything!

Moreover, independent publication platforms like Revue and Substack make it extremely easy for anyone to get started publishing their own premium (or freemium) content, without worrying about the logistics of payment processing and content delivery.

Related: How to start a paid newsletter subscription service

How To Start a Premium Newsletter Subscription Service
Emails are the internet’s oldest blessing. The internet has seen many trends come and go, but the resilient email has stood the test of time. Over the years, marketers have flocked to this humble mode of communication to offer their services directly to customers and readers. Lately, with the rise

7. Software Plugins

If you know how to code, writing and selling software plugins is a great way to generate a passive income. There are so many different software and applications these days that have lead to the emergence of an entire ecosystem of plugins and themes. Programmers can extend existing applications by writing plugins and then sell these extensions either as one-offs or with a subscription.

For starters, Shopify has an entire ecosystem of extensions that have been built by developers for e-commerce business owners. This ecosystem is thriving and offers a huge earning potential if you have the right idea. As of writing this, the average earning potential for the top 25% of their developers stood at $272k.

WordPress is another giant platform with a marketplace for plugins. As of 2020, it is one of the largest and most popular content management systems (CMS) out there and has nearly 61% of the CMS market share.

8. Digital Artwork and NFTs

If you're a creative with some design skills, then chances are that you can turn your skills into a digital product that you can sell online. There's a market for all kinds of digital design skills - be it UI or 3D art.

Much like stock photos, there is also a demand for vectors and graphics in today's website dominated world. People are looking to buy interesting and relevant graphics that they can use on their own projects - be it websites or videos.

Creative Market is a great marketplace where designers can sell pre-built bundles of vectors, custom fonts as well as templates. If you have an audience, you can also sell on Gumroad.

If you're an artist with an audience, the newest buzzword in town is NFT. NFT stands for non-fungible token and is a piece of digital artwork that is backed by crypto. Essentially, an NFT makes it possible to establish proof of ownership of a particular digital asset. Creating an NFT of your own is not as hard as you might think. If you create unique artwork and have an audience, you can sell your NFT for a good amount of money. An artist called Beeple sold his NFT for $69 million, so there definitely is money to be made. Bear in mind, that Beeple did start this artwork in 2007 and created digital paintings for 5000 days straight before he actually saw any return. Chances are, you probably won't make a million dollars selling your first NFT, but it's still a good idea to jump on this trend while it is still hot.

Beeple's "The First 5000 Days" Sold for $69M at a Christie's Auction
Beeple's "The First 5000 Days" Sold for $69M at a Christie's Auction

9. Licensing Music for Commercial Use

The YouTube community is thriving and more and more people are becoming content creators. With the rise of social media and content creation, there has been a crackdown on the kind of music that can be used by creators on their videos. To not violate licensing laws, creators are on the lookout for royalty-free music and sound effects to include in the videos they create.

If you're a music and have some production skills, you can leverage this market need to your advantage by licensing the music you create for commercial use. You can do this by uploading your music to a music library, which is a place where your music can be discovered by creators. Some of the most popular platforms to get started  are  Triple Scoop Music, Audiosocket, Musicbed and Shutterstock

10. Guides or Tutorials

You might be surprised at how difficult it is for some people to understand a new concept, that might come very naturally to you. If you have specialised knowledge about anything, be it Data Science or Music Theory - chances are you have put in the hours to learn and understand more about your topic of interest.

You can use this niche knowledge to write a step by step guide or tutorial for an audience. There are courses and tutorials out there for all levels, but you can bring your own unique perspective and experience to your guide. This is a great way to earn a passive income because chances are, your skill will probably remain static over time so you won't have to update your tutorial or guide over and over again (though when need be, this is good practice!).

Where and How Can You Sell Digital Products?

Where you sell your digital product will depend on several different factors. If you have an audience and don't need to put in a lot of effort in marketing your product, you can choose to sell your product on your own website using something like Shopify Lite. You can also choose to sell on a bigger marketplace for digital goods such as Gumroad.

If you don't have an audience, you can choose to list your product on a marketplace for niche digital items. For creative pursuits, Creative Market offers a good opportunity with many buyers and sellers. Amazon is great for e-books. The biggest con with listing on a marketplace is that there is a chance that your product might get lost in the sheer volume of items up for sale. However, these marketplaces see a lot of traffic and if your product is unique you can expect to get some sales pretty quickly!

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