The world of digital marketing is a strange and exciting one. If you’ve seen pictures of people standing in front of private jets with text promising you can “live the dream and make money online,” then they’re probably talking about some form of digital marketing.
Digital marketing simply means marketing on the web. This can include being a content marketer or SEO specialist working for clients to promote their business. However, it can also involve working for yourself and marketing something you are selling, in order to make money online. This is one of the biggest side-hustles in terms of popularity and earning potential.
There’s a whole subculture of people trying to work out how to make money from the web. Forums are filled with marketers passing on tips and techniques, or sharing their success stories. Usually, the strategy involves passing people from one link to another until somebody eventually sells someone something.
In this regard, marketers are actually a little more like door-to-door salespersons, except that instead of going door-to-door, you instead have a window to the entire population (the internet, in case that wasn’t clear). And instead of needing to buy physical products which require up-front investment, storage, and delivery, you can sell an intangible digital item. That might mean something like an ebook, or an online course.
You don’t even need to write the ebook yourself! If you buy a PLR (Private Label Rights) ebook, you’ll not only be buying the book itself, but also the right to sell it to others. Or you could sell an affiliate product and get commission by promoting someone else’s work.
So, is this really a quick way to make lots of money and buy your own private jet? Unfortunately, most of those jets are hired for photoshoots. But that’s not to say there isn’t money to be made here. In fact, there is rather a lot, once you’ve endured a little trial and error. Read on to learn how you can make money online by selling a digital product.
Why people buy digital products
To succeed at making money online by selling digital products, you need to know why someone spends money on an ebook in the first place.
A digital product is anything that can be downloaded. Unlike a SaaS (software-as-a-service), there is no ongoing commitment on your part.
Very often, digital products are informational products. That often means an ebook, a digital report, an online course, or something similar in this vein. We will stick with ebooks for this guide, as they tend to be the simplest way to make money online.
But while it’s a PDF that will get downloaded, in reality what you are really “selling” will be the knowledge that you impart via that product. Therefore, the value comes from the informational deficit and the value proposition lies in the way in which your information can improve the life of the reader. This might be a book to help them set up their own business, it might be a report to help them get into better shape, or it might teach them a skill such as Java or French cooking.
The best of these products solve a specific problem that the reader might have. If you can pick something that has a strong emotional hook, that will work even better. This is why products that help people get richer/healthier/sexier are so common, along with the fact that they have very broad appeal. That said, there is benefit in choosing something more niche such as the Java example, as this reduces the competition and presents some more obvious marketing opportunities, such as programming forums.
This is called the “go to market strategy,” and involves finding where the ideal customers for your product spend time. Keep in mind that it’s only a certain type of person that buys an ebook that isn’t on Kindle. Usually, that will be someone relatively young and fairly tech-savvy. That’s why one of the most popular topics is, ironically, making money online!
Find a group of people with a problem, solve their problem with an ebook, then connect the two. That is this business model in a nutshell and the crux of how to make money online.
Creating a digital product
If you can write and have some value to impart, then creating an ebook is as simple as writing a Word doc and saving your creation as a PDF. If you run a blog, you can even collect a bunch of articles you’ve previously written and sell them as a compendium (the likelihood of anyone having read all your content is miniscule).
This is the best option, because it allows you to choose a subject you’re passionate about, and it gives you complete control over the tone and style of the book. It also means you won’t need to share the revenue with anyone. Useful if your end-goal is to make money online!
The downside of course is that it takes time to write a book and it might mean you end up investing a lot of time for $20.
One way to avoid this is to use a strategy called verification. Verifying means that you test there really is an audience for your product before you go to the effort of creating it. The easiest way to do this is by setting up pre-orders, or by creating a sales page for a product and then having a page read “Currently out of stock” only once the visitor has entered their details.
There’s a difference between people saying they’re interested and actually being willing to put down cash. So, make sure they are putting their money where their mouth is and test your strategy to make money online before you invest any real time or effort.
Make money online with PLR books
The other option is to buy a ready-made product. That means looking for a PLR ebook, which stands for Private Label Rights. This means you have permission to resell, edit, and do with the ebook as you please. And it normally only costs a little more than buying the ebook as a customer!
You won’t be alone in selling this product of course. But the thing to know about the internet is that it is really really big (like space). It’s highly unlikely anyone will ever see your book anywhere else. If you’re worried, you can actually check to see if the content is available for free anywhere by using a tool like Copyscape.
Just Google PLR books and you’ll find plenty of places to buy these.
Selling affiliate products
Selling an affiliate product will mean you’re given a link (an affiliate URL), which you can then promote via your website. This link will send your readers to a buy page, but not before placing a cookie on their computer and redirecting them. This way, the seller will know that you were the person who sent them, and you will earn money from them as a result.
Affiliates will regularly earn 70-90 percent of the profit when it comes to digital products, and you can find such opportunities through sites like JVZoo, ClickBank, and Commission Junction.
Apart from removing the need to invest time and effort on the creation process, selling affiliate products also often means you get free sales materials and the opportunity to view performance stats. That means you can pick a product that is already selling well, thereby increasing the likelihood that you will be successful too. This also means you don’t need to host the product yourself.
The drawback of course is that you have no control over the content of the product, and that you will be sending visitors away from your site.
Hosting products and handling transactions
If you choose to sell a digital product that you own, you’ll need to get yourself web hosting and build a website. The good news is that this is a relatively easy process these days and doesn’t have to take long. Website creation is beyond the scope of this post, but essentially involves buying hosting from a company such as BlueHost or Hostgator, then installing WordPress which is a powerful, flexible, and free tool.
Alternatively, you could use a hosted site-builder option such as SquareSpace. The latter makes creating your site especially easy, but if you go this route, you’ll need to pay and will be somewhat limited in what you can do. Still, as a quick way to get up and running, this is a good option.
Getting hosting and installing WordPress is my recommendation however, and is the route taken by most internet marketers. From here, it’s a simple matter to download a plugin like Sell Digital Downloads. This will allow you to make sales of your products, and keeps everything extremely simple. You’ll upload your products through the Media Manager that you normally use for images, and you’ll handle payments via PayPal. You can set this up and begin taking orders in minutes! This really is one of the easiest ways to make money online.
Create a sales page
A sales page is effectively a large page that is dedicated to selling a single item. You’ve probably seen these before when browsing the web, and often they use a similar format. They tend to be very long pillars of text, which are designed to keep the reader scrolling down the page, thereby becoming more invested.
These pages are designed in an extremely cunning manner, right down to the language used. They often employ a narrative structure (I was poor like you once!) designed to grab your attention and keep you hooked.
They’ll use lots of short paragraphs to keep you scrolling down the page.
They use BOLD and highlighted text to grab your attention and emphasize certain points.
And they speak to your emotional side to try and encourage a quick knee-jerk reaction.
Even the color of the “buy” button is carefully considered. Red is used most often, as this has been shown in studies to mildly elevate the heart rate and increase impulsivity.
You don’t necessarily need to emulate these somewhat spamtastic strategies. But you can certainly learn a thing or two by studying other sales pages, and using a more subtle version of persuasive writing.
The ultimate objective is to increase your conversion rate. This is the percentage of visitors that ultimately become buyers. The higher the number, the more money you can make quickly.
Bring in the buyers!
All that is left to make money online now, is to bring the buyers to your page. There are a few ways you can go about doing this.
If you are fortunate enough to have a blog or a successful Instagram account/YouTube channel/Facebook page, then you will already have a captive audience that trusts you that you can sell to.
If not, then you can consider building one. Alternatively, you can consider posting to forums and groups. That will often get you banned, so what might work better is to create a blog that you can promote and then include links to your products in the blog.
You can use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to get to the top of Google, but that will take a lot of experience and work.
Perhaps the quickest way to make money online from a digital product is to use advertising. Specifically, consider using PPC advertising. PPC stands for “Pay Per Click,” which means the advertiser (that’s you) only pays if someone actually clicks on the link. Two of the biggest PPC platforms are Facebook and Google AdWords.
The amount you pay for each click will depend on how popular the spot you’re trying to advertise on is. On Facebook you advertise on the home feed based on the demographics and interests of the user. On Google, you advertise on search engine results pages (SERPs) based on the search term.
Also read: How to use LinkedIn and land your dream job!
When that page is created by Google or Facebook to serve a user, the advertisers then “bid” for a spot. You pay the minimum amount necessary to beat all other bidders, but you can also set a maximum budget that you are willing to pay for each click. You also set a daily budget at which point your ads stop being shown altogether, to ensure that you don’t go broke overnight.
On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $0.01 to $2 for a click (though it can also go higher and lower). This is great news because it means we know precisely how much we’re paying for each visitor.
That means we can guarantee we’ll make money online, if we run just a little math. Let’s say your ebook earns you $40 per sale and your conversion rate is 1 percent (this is a good target to aim for). That means you make on average $40 for every 100 visitors.
We can guarantee we’ll make money online, if we run just a little math
As long as you pay less than this for your advertising, then you should be in profit. So if you are paying $0.05 for each click, then that means you’ll be paying $5 for every $40 you earn!
Now of course, it is a little more complex than that. It takes a lot of trial and error to get your landing page just right, you’ll need to market in the right place, and you might need to sink a little money before it all works. But in theory, you can eventually create a flawless system to make money online while you sleep!
Tim Ferriss of The Four Hour Workweek fame, recommends this as a strategy that anyone can use to supplement their income.
So that’s how you make money online with a digital product. What do you think? Is it something you might consider trying? Or do you find the concept a little over-complex? Let us know in the comments down below.