Digital products have been a popular source of revenue for online businesses for a couple of decades now, and for good reason. You can create virtually any digital product and then profit from it for as long as it is current and fulfills a market demand. The popularity of downloads continues to grow in Canada and beyond.
What Kind of Digital Products Can I Sell Online?
Anything that can be downloaded can be sold online!
Private Label Rights (PLR) Content
“Selling ebooks and other PDFs online is super popular. This probably reflects the low barrier to entry of creating this kind of product,” reports SendOwl. “However, our customers also successfully sell software, audio, pictures and video (or a combination of these). We have customers that sell tiny house plans, doll clothing patterns, a Jamaican Patois language audio course and dictionary, and best-selling indie video games.”
The Benefits of Selling Downloads Online
There are plenty of reasons to offer your own digital download products:
- Online learning and digital downloads are a hot, profitable market.
- Digital products are relatively inexpensive to create and don’t require physical storage.
- All products can be downloaded from virtually anywhere in the world, eliminating shipping headaches and expenses.
- It’s a source of recurring revenue, along with endless up-selling opportunities.
- Unlike physical products like books or CD’s, digital products can be easily updated, expanded, or repurposed.
- You can establish and prove your expertise, which increases sales and invites opportunities like interviews, speaking engagements, joint ventures, or new clients.
Canadian Digital Download Statistics
The global demand for downloads is high and Canada is no exception, according to the Digital Economy, July 2017 to June 2018 report by Statistics Canada.
In the specified time period:
- Two-thirds of adult Canadians bought digital products, spending $8.1 billion or about $412 each.
- 91 percent of those who earn over $100,000/year reported purchasing digital products.
- Canadian men ($505) spent more than women ($312).
- Total spending on ebooks (most popular), audiobooks, podcasts, online newspapers and magazines reached $0.7 billion.
- 57 percent used free versions or purchased computer software, mobile applications (apps), online courses, and online subscriptions. They spent about $258 each.
- 31 percent of Canadians used free or paid for game downloads, subscriptions and in game-purchases, spending $1.4 billion or about $223 each.
- Almost two-thirds of Canadians over the age of 18 said they use video downloads or streaming services, spending $2.0 billion or about $148 each.
These numbers are notably higher among younger Canadians. However, even Canadians 65 and older purchased at least one digital product.
The Best Ecommerce Platforms for Selling Digital Products
You’ll need specific functionality to sell and deliver digital products, and several platforms provide everything you require. These ecommerce platforms are often surprisingly affordable, and may be as simple or as elaborate as you need them to be. Most provide some level of marketing features or opportunities that further ensure your success, such as email list building, sales funnels, or affiliate programs. Security is also in place, such as secure checkout, fraud prevention and product theft prevention.
I’ve used 14 digital download platforms in over 20 years of working online (either for myself or on behalf of clients). Of those, following are the best platforms overall for Canadians. They’re all relatively easy to use and provide the functionality necessary for you to sell online, deliver downloads, and manage sales. To make the best choice for your specific business, take them for a test drive with a free trial.
Sellfy facilitates the sale of all digital downloads, including ebooks, videos, audio & music, and any other files like PSD, AI, and so on. You can offer a single file, multiple files or subscriptions using the Sellfy platform. You’ll have an easy, mobile-friendly, customizable storefront that includes a shopping cart (accepting Stripe and PayPal). You can sell on Facebook and YouTube using their embedded buttons or connected store. Built-in marketing features include email and social selling. The platform is ready to integrate with thousands of tools. Transactions are secure and anti-fraud measures are in place. They promise you’ll be up & selling within five minutes.
Sell any type of digital product, from eBooks to software, as well as physical products and services, subscriptions or memberships. SendOwl includes a fully-featured shopping cart and tools designed to increase your profits, such as discounts, upsells and pay-what-you-want pricing. Customize everything from your welcome email to your checkout fields. Easily connect with your favourite mailing list software and push product updates to previous customers with ease. Boost your sales with the built-in affiliate program manager. Your digital products are protected by options like two-factor authorization, fraud & regional filtering, PDF stamping, video streaming without downloading, and the generation, storage and issuing of license keys.
Build a ‘drag & drop’ online store, blog, landing pages, and sell through a Facebook store or on your blog. Selz has all the features you need to sell ebooks, videos, online courses and apps. You’ll appreciate features such as unlimited bandwidth, license key generation and automatic product updates. Your digital or physical products and services can move through this platform securely. Inventory management and online shipping tools are included. Marketing features include SEO, discount codes, coupons and shopping cart abandonment. The business side of things is covered too, from receipts & invoicing to payment processing & tax management. You’ll enjoy one-click, seamless integration with your favourite tools and apps, such as Active Campaign, Campaign Monitor, Xero and MailChimp, Google/Bing, and numerous rating/commenting apps. Selz boasts an impressive library of information and resources to ensure your success.
Shopify (Based In Canada)
One of the best things about Canada’s Shopify is the versatility of the platform, facilitated by top quality apps. The Shopify Digital Downloads App is free to Shopify users, plus there are more download apps available in their app store. Shopify’s free app allows you to attach digital files to your products. Your customers get a direct download after checkout, and an emailed link to the download. Email templates can be customized and you can automatically send an email to customers when you update the file too. Digital and physical products can be combined. The Shopify Digital Downloads App currently has a solid 4/5 rating.
Podia facilitates the creation, sale and promotion of online courses, memberships and digital downloads. They promise “no technical headaches, zero transaction fees, and unlimited everything.”
- Use the Podia Editor to easily customize layouts and preview your creation live. You can bring in third-party tools as required. The results look professional and they’re mobile-friendly.
- Courses can include any file type. Use prelaunch and drip functionality, along with coupons if you need them.
- Memberships can include multiple plans, bundled products, coupons, and member interaction, as well as Facebook and Slack connection.
- Sell, upsell or give away virtually anything using Podia’s digital download functionality and checkout.
- Email marketing is built right in! Grow your email list, send newsletters and drip campaigns, cross-sell other products and track your results.
- Set up a customized affiliate program and start building your online sales force. Reporting, communication and payouts are all ready to go.
With 20 years under their belt, Clickbank is one of the veterans of digital downloads and their promotion. They’ve married digital products with affiliate marketing, which can result in faster success. You’ll have (searchable) access to 500,000 online marketing experts in over 190 countries, all of whom are interested in promoting downloadable products. Easily manage your affiliates with automated commission payments. Clickbank provides custom order forms, a mobile-friendly checkout and subscription management. You can re-market to the customers who purchased your products in order to generate return customers and incremental sales. Joint Venture projects are facilitated with contracts and profit splitting.
It’s best to establish your online presence through a website and social media as soon as possible, even if you don’t have your product ready yet. You can start generating pre-launch buzz, begin building an email list, and work on your search engine optimization with related content. Use our Checklist: How to Start an Online Business in Canada for further guidance.
??? Have you ever sold digital products online through an ecommerce platform? Please share your experience or questions in the comments below or discuss this and other online business topics in the Online Business Canada Facebook group!
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
How to Create and Develop Your Own Digital Learning Products
Top 3D Cover Design Tools for eBooks, InfoProducts, Etc.
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.