The Ultimate Guide: Selling Digital Products on Shopify in 3 Steps
It’s now more accessible than it has ever been to sell digital products on Shopify.
In fact, Shopify’s platform is booming bigger than ever. It’s one of the leading eCommerce platforms on the web, and as you can see on the graph below – its success is only growing.
That success extends to the merchants selling products on the platform.
And in the current age, one of the best ways you can enter the world of ecommerce is by selling digital products on Shopify.
In this post, we’ll talk through exactly how you can create, sell, and market your very own digital products using the Shopify platform.
If you'd rather follow along in video format - check out this awesome video from ReConvert's own eCom guru, Katherine Leff:
Why Should You Sell Digital Products on Shopify?
One of the first questions you might have is, “Why Digital?”
And it’s a great question. Physical products aren’t out of style by any means, but digital products come with a few great advantages of their own.
a) Digital Product Stores Have a Low Barrier to Entry
There’s tons of opportunity when selling digital products on Shopify, it’s getting more popular every day, which means that they’re adding features to make it easier to pick up & start selling.
There’s also a lower barrier to entry when selling digital products in specific.
Digital products don’t require you to invest in inventory, shipping, or even a physical location to store your inventory.
This means that selling digital products comes with a much lower barrier to entry than most traditional stores.
b) Logistics are Easier for Digital Products
It’s easier to sell digital products as the logistics and product handling involved is much simpler. And with tools that can even automate your digital product delivery, it’s practically a business you can do on autopilot.
There’s also the opportunity to sell worldwide, which usually adds another layer of complexity if you were to sell physical products.
c) Digital Product Stores are More Passive
As long as you have your digital products set up properly on Shopify, there’s hardly any legwork compared to traditional online retailers. Much of it is automated, and shipping is a thing of the past.
The biggest time sinks for digital product-based businesses are keeping an eye on support requests and putting in the initial work to get everything set up.
7 Examples of Profitable Digital Products
Digital products are any product that can be used or downloaded online and/or from a computer. Since they’re not physical, there’s no shipping, no cost to manufacture, and no product quality assurance involved once you’ve created the initial product.
Here are a few of the most common digital product examples.
1: PDFs & E-Books – PDFs and e-books are classic examples of digital products. PDFs tend to be in the form of guides, while e-books can be anything from a marketing course to a full-fledged novel.
2: Digital Art – Digital art is another great avenue for creative types to monetize their skills online.
3: Apps & Software – SaaS, Apps, and even video games are all great examples of digital products.
4: Subscriptions – Subscriptions and memberships are great examples because practically any ecommerce business can use them. Even plenty of traditional online retailers make use of them.
5: Online Courses – Online courses help creators monetize their expertise, the most common platforms for them are sites like Udemy or Skillshare.
6: Templates – Templates come in all shapes and sizes, from resume templates to ones used for graphic design.
How to Sell Digital Products on Shopify in 3 Steps
This is where we’ll finally get down to business.
We’ll begin by showing you exactly how to start the creation process, then we’ll talk about setting up your product on Shopify, and finally, we’ll touch on marketing your product after it’s out.
Step #1) Digital Product Creation
The best way to start selling digital products on Shopify is to focus on a niche that you’re already well-acquainted with.
If you play the guitar, you could use those skills to create video tutorials, tab guides, or even an e-book.
If you’re an artist, you could create stock images and elements for brands to use in their logos, for example.
The list of possibilities is practically endless.
a) Decide on the Type of Product
Once you know what your product’s niche will be, it’s time to decide exactly what your product will be.
Again, it helps to stick to what you know when you’re starting out.
If you enjoy teaching and coaching, it might be a great opportunity to create a course.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to supplement an already-existing store, then subscriptions, memberships, or digital downloads like e-books might be great options.
And if you’re stuck for ideas, check out this guide on 15 most profitable digital product ideas.
b) Choose Whether to Outsource or Create Your Product
Once you’re set on an idea, you’ll need to create that product.
And to do that, you’ll need to decide whether to outsource or to create the product yourself.
Creating a product on your own means you have more direct control over the outcome- But it also means you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time to do so.
And if you aren’t experienced in creating that type of medium, it may yield less than ideal results.
On the other hand, outsourcing your product means you’ll have less control over the smaller details of your product. It also means you’ll have a bigger upfront cost.
The Best Tools to Create Digital Products for Shopify
- Upwork: Upwork is a great platform for outsourcing larger projects, or finding contractors that can work with your brand long-term.
When using Upwork to outsource, always make sure to hire top-rated freelancers with proven track records.
- Fiverr: Fiverr is a great option if you need to outsource a one-time project. Since services are bought in packages, it’s not as ideal for long-term projects.
Fiverr is especially ideal for creative work, things like music, art, or voiceovers. – Again, only hire freelancers with proven track records.
- Canva: Canva is an excellent free tool that’s great for creating your own graphic design work.
It comes with a plethora of templates and tools to ensure you’re never out of options.
- Google Suite: For writing ebooks or courses, the Google Suite, and specifically Google Docs, is one of the best tools out there.
It comes with all the functionalities you’ll need to write, export, and upload PDFs or word-based files.
- Agencies: Outsourcing your digital product creation to an agency can be a great option for a variety of products.
The catch-22 of outsourcing to agencies (and outsourcing in general) is that it can be hit or miss if you don’t do the research before hiring them.
If you plan to outsource to anyone outside of your brand, always do your due diligence to look for past results and a great track record.
Step #2) Setting Up Your Digital Product on Shopify
Once you’ve created a product, it’s time to get it uploaded to your Shopify store. Here’s how to set up a store to sell (and automatically deliver) digital products.
a) Add Your Product Information
Assuming your store’s already up and running, you’ll need to add the product to your store. Here’s how:
- Go to your Shopify dashboard
- Go to the “Products” tab
- Click on the “Add new product” button
- Fill in your information
If you have different variants of a product, make sure you add a variant in the variant settings on the Product edit page.
When adding products to Shopify, you need to mark them as digital to stop the shipping email being sent and enable the digital features. Here’s how:
- On the Product page, scroll down to the “Shipping” box.
- Uncheck the option “This is a physical product.“
- Repeat this process for all digital products.
b) Install a Digital Product Delivery App
Shopify doesn’t have its own built-in system to sell digital products, so you’ll need a third-party program from the Shopify App Store to allow your store to do it smoothly.
Our recommendation is DDA Digital Downloads.
It’s been built by Shopify developers. And it even has a free plan available which is great for keeping your costs down in the beginning stages of your business.
Get it from the Shopify App Store here.
c) Upload Your Digital Files
This is where it gets exciting! Here’s how to upload your digital products:
- Navigate to the “Apps” page from your dashboard.
- Click on DDA Digital Downloads.
- Go to the “Assets” page.
- Click on “Upload new assets” and begin uploading your files.
d) Attach the Files to Your Shopify Products
Once you’ve uploaded the files, it’s time to attach them to the in-store product listings.
All products & variants from your Shopify Products page are automatically synced into the app, so it’s not too difficult. There are two methods to attach your files:
Method #1 – Asset page
- Click the file name after you upload it.
- Navigate to the “Attach this asset to products” search box and select the products that you want to attach the asset to.
Method #2 – Products page
- Click on the “Products” page in the app.
- Select a product or variant.
- Use the search box or drop-down to find your assets and attach them.
- Click the “Attach” button once you’ve chosen the relevant files
Once you attach the files to the products, you’re locked and loaded!
After it’s all set up, when someone orders a product that has a file attached to it, they’ll receive a digital download email.
e) Test Your Product
Now you’ll just need to ensure the digital order process flows smoothly.
Testing the order
There are two main methods to test your purchase flow.
You can either set Shopify Payments to test mode, which allows you to make fake purchases on your store, or you can use a 100% discount code, which tends to be quicker and simpler.
Note: Check your spam folder when testing email
Remember to check your spam folder if you don’t receive the digital download through email, spam filters are getting stronger these days and sometimes it can’t be avoided.
If it happens, then right-click on the email and mark it as “Not spam.” (Always inform customers to check their spam folders too!)
Once you’ve tested and made sure everything works great, it’s time to get on to marketing. If you have more questions on how to set up a Shopify store, make sure to check out our ultimate guide.
Step #3) How to Market Digital Products on Shopify
Marketing and selling digital downloads on a Shopify store is the same as marketing a physical product. You have two main options:
Organic or Paid marketing.
Both of which are great choices that come with their own benefits and drawbacks. So let’s touch on each of them.
a) Using Paid Advertising to Sell Digital Products
Paid advertising is just what is sounds like, paying for online ad space just like you might with a physical billboard.
The benefit of paid advertising is that you’ll usually see results significantly faster than you would through organic marketing.
With that being said, it also runs a higher ongoing cost than organic marketing does.
The best places to pay for advertising are popular hubs for people in your niche.
If you’re selling art, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter might be great places to start.
Whereas a course on how to land a higher paying job would be perfect to advertise on LinkedIn.
To find the best places to advertise, do your due diligence on where the target market often spends their time online.
Here’s our top list of places to start advertising your digital products:
b) How to Grow Organic Traffic to Sell More Digital Products
Organic traffic is a bit less straightforward. Instead of paying for viewers, organic marketing strategies aim to build assets that attract customers naturally.
The great thing about organic marketing for digital downloads is that the biggest upfront cost is time. Since you don’t pay for traffic, the upfront cost can be as little as $0.
The downside, however, is that organic traffic doesn’t come overnight.
It takes a significant amount of time to build any real streams of revenue organically, but once they do get rolling- They tend to be highly reliable.
Here are some great ways you can organically market digital products to sell on Shopify:
a) Start a Blog or YouTube Channel
Starting a YouTube channel or an SEO-optimized blog for your Shopify store is a great way to start raking in organic traffic.
Both blog and video content allow you to share free high-value advice and expertise in your niche to grow your following. These channels especially useful if you sell courses or any sort of self-improvement product.
b) Send Your Product to Influencers for Free
Sending products to relevant influencers for free exposure is another great way to increase organic traffic.
Not only will you get likely get good feedback, but the influencers who enjoy your product will often be willing to reach out or promote your product on their own pages.
c) Create a Social Media Page for Your Brand (and Post Consistently On It)
Social media isn’t going anywhere soon. In fact, it’s only getting bigger.
If your brand isn’t already on social media, it’s time to start building a presence. The most important key to success on any platform is to post engaging content on a regular basis – If you don’t stay consistent, you can’t count on consistent results.
d) Partner with Similar Brands to Offer Your Product as a Cross-Sell Offer
If there are any brands with stores in adjacent (but not competing) niches, reach out to them and form partnerships.
With partnered brands, you can promote your product on their store as a cross-sell, and vice versa. It’s a win-win situation for both businesses.
Wrapping Up: The Best Way to Sell Digital Products on Shopify
Selling Digital Products on Shopify is one of the best ways to dip your toes into the world of eCommerce.
Hopefully, you found this guide useful- From the start of your product creation to the marketing process for your digital downloads, it has everything you should need to get well on your way.
But if we missed something, don’t hesitate to comment below and we’ll answer as quickly as possible to help!
And if you found this guide useful, make sure to check out some of the other content on our blog.
This is a Guest post from Jason Clarke at DDA ‑ Digital Downloads. Jason Clarke is a Tech writer who’s really passionate about technology and revolutionary progression! He’s experienced with Shopify & WordPress.