Stefaniy Martynenko

Sell digital goods (ebooks, templates, music, etc.) on Amazon, Etsy, and Shopify

It’s time to consider another option for entering international marketplaces – selling digital goods. Amazon and Etsy are ideal platforms for this type of business. However, under certain conditions, a Shopify store can also become quite commercially successful.

What can be considered a digital product

Basically, anything that doesn’t have a physical form and can be transferred over the Internet and used with a computer, reader, mobile phone, or other devices. For example:

  • books in a non-printed (electronic) format;
  • musical works
  • games
  • useful programs and applications;
  • photos, pictures, 3D models;
  • video content.

In fact, the list can be much wider if you consider the product not only from the perspective of format but also from the perspective of practical application. For example, a picture can be a postcard, a poster, or a future print that will be printed on a T-shirt. A book can be a children’s coloring book, a glider, or a practical guide. Audio content is not necessarily a finished track, but also, say, just a beat that a musician can use in his or her musical work.

In other words, the variations of digital goods are, if not infinite, then tend to be and are limited only by the imagination of their creator.

Pros and cons of selling electronic products

The main advantage is that you only need an idea to create such goods. Unlike sellers of physical products, digital content creators do not have to pay for production, warehousing, logistics, staff salaries, etc. They don’t need to look for suppliers and purchase materials, keep track of warehouse balances, or organize delivery to the end user. In addition, digital products have a very low return rate.

Of course, all of this affects the cost and gives rise to the main disadvantage: electronic goods are almost never expensive. Usually, it is a mass product with a price range of $1-10. But there are exceptions – specialized software, video games, mobile apps, etc.

There are other pitfalls associated with selling digital goods. Etsy and other marketplaces attract millions of users, which means a fairly high level of competition. In addition, the life cycle of electronic products is often very short, which is exacerbated by the high rate of piracy.

How profitable is it to sell digital goods on Amazon and other platforms?

As you can imagine, the answer will be very subjective, as it depends on hundreds of factors. As an example, let’s take the first electronic product we came across on Etsy – pages for notebooks and gliders.

We go to the page of a random seller and look at the number of sales. In this case, it’s 19,686. Taking into account the average cost of a file of 1.22 euros, we get 24,016 euros. The date of registration of the store is 2019.

We also don’t know whether reviews were purchased and how much was spent on advertising during this period.

However, the seller may have several business lines. For example, calendars, posters, or shopping lists.

Here’s another example from Amazon. This lot has more than 100,000 sales.

In any case, to estimate potential income, it is important to conduct market research, understand the needs of the target audience, and develop an effective sales strategy.

Options for monetizing your skills on Amazon

The most popular area on the marketplace is the sale of eBooks through Kindle Direct Publishing. The platform reserves the right to own the content and offers up to 70% of royalties from each sale (conditions are very variable). Amazon will also print your work itself, turning it into a physical product, if you want and need it.

Singers, musicians, and audio content creators can monetize their art through the TuneCore program. How does it work? Amazon offers listeners two streaming options: Prime Music and Music Unlimited. Prime Music contains about 2 million songs and is free for those with an account. Music Unlimited is a prepaid service with more than 50 million tracks. That is, the platform simply shares a percentage of the revenue with the authors.

Illustrators, designers, and graphic artists also received a separate system to realize their potential – Merch. As part of this program, the platform offers authors royalties on sales, taking over the production cycle.

Conclusion. Selling digital goods on Shopify, Amazon, and Etsy can be a good option to monetize a hobby, unleash your creativity, or even start a business. However, you shouldn’t expect quick results or super profits if you are not a well-known brand.

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