best selling digital products on ebay

Let’s get started on the best selling digital products on ebay and how to create digital products! Digital products are a growing part of the economy, and eBay will allow you to sell many of them on the platform.  You only have to meet the main requirement that you own it, and the intellectual property belongs to you.  eBay has a Digital product policy that outlines the guidelines, however, it doesn’t answer all questions and we will try to cover the gaps here.  A bit of a spoiler – selling digital products on eBay is allowed, but with some twists and turns to follow. So what are the most profitable digital products?

most profitable digital products

best selling digital products on ebay

1. eBooks

eBooks have been and continue to be one of the most popular digital products for both creators and customers. They are relatively simple to produce since they require little more than written text and a few relevant images. eBooks are simple to distribute via large marketplaces or self-created online stores. They’re easily consumed by customers, who can read them on e-readers, tablets, computers, and even their mobile phones.

The beauty of creating eBooks is that you can share almost anything you know, or are passionate about, in text form. You can educate, advise, or curate existing content with an eBook to then sell on your website.

10 Killer Marketplaces for Selling Digital Goods - Payoneer

2. Software

Selling software online is something we should know a fair amount about. Not only have we helped thousands of customers sell software online, but it was originally the entire purpose that we created Easy Digital Downloads for; to sell WordPress plugins online. All types of software sales combined make up nearly 28% of sites using our platform, so it is something we truly care about.

The software industry is enormous and consistently growing. It is also extremely ripe with opportunities. Any person’s ability to write code of any kind can result in new, useful products. Whether it be desktop software, web-based applications, website templates, mobile apps, video games, or anything else powered by code. The possibilities are endless, and an established market likely exists.

If you speak (or rather, write) a code language, you can develop numerous things to sell online. Whether you have experience with apps, plugins, themes, snippets, websites, or something else entirely different, you can turn code into cash.

3. Video

Video is an extremely popular and effective format for delivering information online. Video content can be educational, informative, or entertaining. It’s significantly more engaging than text, and can be easily consumed by clicking a play button and watching. Users love video, and in many cases are happy to pay for it.

If you’re a great public speaker, have a visual-based passion, or just love sharing your thoughts on video, with a little editing time up your sleeve you can sell videos online.

4. Audio & music

Audio is a powerful medium for communicating messages, and there are many different types of audio digital products. People pay for audio tracks that entertain them, soothe them, inform them, inspire them and help them achieve business goals, to list just a few examples. Audio products can include:

  • Recorded lectures
  • Musical samples
  • Audiobooks
  • Foreign language lessons
  • Relaxing background noises
  • Karaoke versions of popular songs
  • Reusable sound effects
  • Full lyrical or instrumental music tracks

5. Photography

High-quality, premium photos are one of the most sought-after digital products today. The biggest consumers of online photographs are bloggers and website owners.

It’s true that stock photography has commoditized the market to the point where some photos are sold for less than they are worth (or they are given away for free). However, for truly spectacular images (and not some of the cheesy stuff you’ll find on stock websites), photographers can still command fair prices.

One of the biggest downfalls of stock sites from a customer perspective is not knowing exactly how much one or two images are. In some cases, a membership to the stock photo site is required. If you’re a photographer, you can combat stock photo sites by selling your images on your own website for the price you want (and undoubtedly deserve).

A website is a vital part of a photographer’s portfolio. Showcasing your work beautifully is imperative to raising your profile. With competitive pricing, and excellent quality images, it’s possible to do very well selling your independent or client-commissioned photos on your own website.

6. Graphics & digital art

Graphic designers and digital artists can create a wide variety of unique and valuable products. From logos, to .PSD templates, to icon packs, to PowerPoint themes, to original artworks, designers can apply their skills in numerous ways to create digital products for sale.

Graphic designers can create and sell card designs, patterns, brushes, backgrounds, UI assets and more. Digital artists can sell finished pieces, drawings, and sketches. Finished original art of exceptional quality can be priced higher than graphic design pieces. If you can produce artwork digitally, it’s worth selling online (just be sure to license it correctly!).

7. Documents

Documents come most often in the form of informational pieces (like industry reports, manuals, or guides) or templates (like resumés or proposals). There are documents which are password protected, documents which include large files, documents with variations on the same files (like other languages or color schemes), documents which can be well suited for recurring models (like periodically revised or updated reports), and documents shared freely as lead magnets.

Have you written blog posts on your website specific to your industry or profession? If so, consider the value of packaging up your content and selling it as a manuscript or white paper so others can learn from you. You’ve already shared your knowledge on your website – curating it into a useful document for sale will be beneficial for both you and your site visitors.

8. Courses

e-Learning is an industry rich in innovation, and is growing with unprecedented momentum. As it grows, we are starting to see traditional educational institutions explore new ways to make their content available to learners. As for established educational programmes, learning material can be sold in a few different ways:

  • As a downloadable one-off course
  • As a downloadable collection of courses
  • As a memberships/subscription to a web-based service.

Courses are very often sold the same way as other digital products, and with the same tools, which is why we’ve become very familiar with online course sellers.

Some courses are entirely autonomous, while others offer interaction with a teacher or assignment reviewer. Many courses provide students with some form of certification or reward upon successful completion.

Courses are becoming an increasingly popular foundation or complementary component for online businesses, due to consumer trends, and the prevalence of affordable and easy-to-use Learning Management Systems. They offer a lucrative outlet for anyone with knowledge or expertise, and enable educators to reach a broad audience without being constrained by geography, technology or time.

9. Professional services

Services are, of course, not products at all. However, they are very commonly sold in the same way digital products are. They are often sold one of two ways:

  1. As fixed-price services. The cost of the service is predefined and known to the customer before needing to engage with the service provider.
  2. On a case-by-case basis. The required work is scoped by the service provider, quoted to the customer, and the cost is agreed upon by both parties.

In the world of eCommerce, the line between product and service has become a little fuzzy, and in many cases, the customer doesn’t care very much about the difference. Customers can buy pre-made logos as a product with a defined price. They can also pay a predefined price on some sites to have someone design a logo which results in a very similar experience and end result.

With many service-based jobs, you are selling your time in exchange for a specific outcome or result, instead of a product. Or, you may be selling your time for a completely bespoke product, unique only to that one customer.

These days, all kinds of service providers are opting to sell their services online. Below is a very brief list of some of the professions that can sell services online:

  • Graphic designers
  • Web designers
  • Copywriters
  • Translators
  • Consultants
  • Trainers
  • Coaches
  • Legal professionals

And that’s barely scratching the surface! This is another segment of digital products we have seen on the rise, with more than three times as many people selling services using Easy Digital Downloads now compared with a year ago.

10. Tickets

Though definitely quite different from other digital products due to the fact that they are (usually) applicable only for a certain time period, relate (often) to some physical location, and (normally) have limited availability, tickets are very commonly sold in the same way everything else in this post is. Customers can make their selections, checkout and receive their ticket independently and instantly through a seller’s website. These tickets can get them into conferences, concerts, carnivals and other time-based events or can be for admission to amusement parks, zoos and museums which may not enforce a specific time. Tickets can also be sold for purely online experiences such as webinars, classes, online conferences, or in-person conference live stream feeds.

11. Fonts

Typefaces are a great example of a digital product which is always popular and constantly experiencing change as customer preferences gradually shift over time. Fonts can be created and distributed for use on the web by website creators, or for use in desktop applications like Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop. Enthusiasts appreciate fresh new fonts which means continuing to expand one’s commercial catalog over time may be necessary in order to maintain revenue.

12. Web-based applications

Web-based applications are similar to software, but are not downloaded from the web. Instead this category encompasses anything customers pay to use within a web browser. Also called SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses, they are not digital products in the truest sense, but can be sold and perceived very similarly, so they are important to acknowledge.

Many software creators find themselves faced with the choice between building a web-based SaaS app, and a distributed, installable program. Examples of these applications include services for email marketing (like Drip, MailChimp, AWeber, and Constant Contact), contact management (like Salesforce, Nutshell, and Pipedrive), site monitoring (like Pingdom and Status Cake), project management (like Basecamp, Asana, Podio and Jira), online course-based learning memberships (like Team Treehouse, Lynda, Skillshare, and Coursera) and file storage (like Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, and MediaFire). Since customers are paying for access to tools/services, recurring payment models are standard.

best digital products to sell online 2020

How do I list a digital product on eBay?

  • Use the category: Everything Else -> Information Products -> Other Information Products
  • In the Format field of the Selling Details, choose the new option “Classified Ad”
  • eBay will charge you $9.95 for this listing
  • The listing will last 30 days
  • You cannot use the Auction-Style or Fixed Price formats for digital products

Classified Ad Format

The biggest pain that you will have is with delivery.  Unfortunately, eBay does not allow for digital delivery (such as email).  It’s important to realize the difference between a digital product and digital delivery.  While digital products are allowed, delivering them digitally is not allowed.  For example, if you want to sell an eBook, you will even have to include the following statement right in your description:

“I will send this eBook by postal mail. Sending it by email or by any other digital delivery method is not allowed and violates eBay policy.”

As sellers, we would love to have the capability to automatically deliver the product upon payment.  This is a normal step in streamlining your online business, and achieving passive income!  So, we will have to wait until eBay changes this policy, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one – it’s been like this for many years.

eBay requirements for digital products

Please remember to include a statement in the description, that you legally own the product, and are authorized to resell it.  Also, do not sell anything that can be used maliciously, infringes someone’s privacy or can cause harm.  Also, you have to be a verified PayPal user and local pickup is not allowed.

Breaking these requirements will result in all kinds of punitive action!  You will forfeit your fees, and your listing will be deleted. You could even lose your privilege to sell on eBay altogether, depending on how serious the situation is.  Take care that you don’t take this route, and if you have the slightest concern, it’s better not to list your item.

Examples of digital products allowed (and disallowed) on eBay

The list of definitely allowed products is surprisingly long. It includes things like eBay templates, websites, domain names, tickets, software product keys, virtual gaming items, software that you created, eBooks that you wrote.  This is encouraging, and I hope it grows over time!  

Disallowed content includes the following examples: PDF manuals that you did not write, copied music/movies/software.  Notice that here the emphasis is on intellectual property.  While you may own an original DVD movie, selling a copy of it that you burned on your computer is illegal, even outside eBay.

Why sell digital products

The absolute best kind of digital product to sell is one that you can also deliver electronically and automatically, without spending any time or effort.  Major companies and services (think Netflix, Amazon Kindle, Apple App Store) rely on this model to make the big bucks.  And so, it’s no wonder that we, the little guys, also want to do the same.  Just imagine having a product that self-delivers to your customer; yes we live in some beautiful times.

This business model is not allowed on eBay unfortunately.  Given all the requirements and policies, I would recommend that you go with Amazon in case you’re a writer.  And if you create software then you’re a lot better off selling it on your website.  By the way, you can even use PayPal as your payment provider, which is ironic given that PayPal was until recently owned by eBay.

If you’re into selling tangible products, another way to get an edge is to do your research.  Look to sell items that have already proven demand.  This is especially useful when you want to look for a new niche market to get into, but don’t exactly know which one yet, and want to get ideas.

how to create digital products

Now that we know what the requirements and policies are, let’s get down to business!  Let’s imagine that you’re a web developer and you have a family friendly website template to sell.  Your first step is to burn your code and template files onto a CD.  Since we’re working with digital products, it’s important to now take your CD and try to open it on another computer.  Make sure it opens fine and all files are readable by the drive.  At this stage, it’s a good idea to run it through an Anti-Virus checker. Just make sure you won’t be sending a terrible surprise to your customers.

After this, you are for the most part back in the usual territory of selling a tangible product, because you’ve cleverly converted your digital product into a physical one.  Just like with normal listings, take some nice photos of the CD and screenshots of the software running.  Write a good informative description.  Include the following words: “I legally own this product and all intellectual property because I wrote it, and am therefore authorized to sell it.”  I know it sounds corny, but eBay wants this.  And lastly, at the end of your description write that you’ll send it by Post-Mail because eBay does not allow digital delivery. 

The following would be your step checklist to sell your digital product on eBay:

  • Burn your digital product (website template files) to a CD
  • Make sure this CD runs and opens on another computer
  • Check it with Anti-Virus software, make sure it’s clean
  • Take photos of the CD, and screenshots of the website template
  • Write a good description of your product, including all the benefits of using it
  • Include these 2 statements in your description: “I legally own this product and all intellectual property because I wrote it, and am therefore authorized to sell it.” and “I will send this website template by postal mail. Sending it by email or by any other digital delivery method is not allowed and violates eBay policy.”
  • Create a new listing on eBay, and pick the category: Everything Else -> Information Products -> Other Information Products
  • In the Format field, pick “Classified Ad” – you’ll only sell 1 at a time, there’s no possibility to sell multiple items here
  • Enter your price and shipping details, pay the $9.95 to eBay upfront
  • Once the sale happens, ship the CD with tracking to the customer

Curiously, this also means if you sell your product for less than $9.95, then you’re losing money.  So, this only makes sense if your price is probably at least $20, and even here, your maximum profit is only $10.

How come some eBay sellers are breaking the digital delivery rules?

Below is a screenshot of an actual eBay seller out there. This seller is not only selling software that he or she does not own, but also provides this by the one method that’s not allowed by eBay.

digital delivery breaking rules

I find this to be the most frustrating part of selling on eBay.  It seems like everywhere I look, someone else has some special “privilege”…  From what I gather, these people have another agreement with eBay. But there’s no way to know why eBay will allow some sellers to do big business like this, and others will be shut down.  I just know for a fact that if I try to do the same thing, maybe I’ll get away with it for a while, but not for long.  Unless you don’t care about your eBay seller status, please don’t experiment like this.

Keep in mind that eBay will normally rule in favor of the buyer if they claim they never received the download link, or your software caused a computer crash.  And without any tracking details backing you up, you’re a sitting duck if you’re only starting this business now (think sabotage from a competitor). 

My main theory for why some are allowed is this: I remember that 15-18 years ago, eBay was much more liberal towards digital products and downloads. Not only the platform but the internet overall was still in the early stages of evolution.  And I think that those sellers who started a digital product/delivery business back in those days are now the only ones allowed.

There’s also a kind of inconsistency that exists in the eBay guidelines, which I also don’t like.  Let’s take the “domain names“, which are an allowed product.  But there’s no way to sell someone a domain name by writing it onto a CD!  Impossible!  It can only be transferred digitally, via a domain registrar.  So how in the world can I sell a domain name on eBay and still use post mail?  I think this means that if you happen to be selling a domain name, use another service. Otherwise you might transfer your domain and be left with no cash.

Other allowed categories for classified ads

The main category where you should place your digital product is Everything Else -> Information Products -> Other Information Products
information product category

The following is the full list of categories, which eBay allows to be used with Classified Ads:

  • Business & Industrial
    • Construction > Buildings, Modular & Pre-Fab
    • General Office > Trade Show Displays
    • Websites & Businesses for Sale
  • Specialty Services
  • Travel
  • Everything Else
    • eBay User Tools
    • Funeral & Cemetery
    • Information Products
    • Reward Points and Incentives Programs > Other

What about including a free CD in your usual listing?

The quick answer is “No”, even this is not allowed on eBay.  And when you think about it, it makes sense.  As a seller, I would love to include some freebie in my listing, to make more sales, but that thing can’t be a digital product, unfortunately.  But as an idea for you, in case you’re selling sunglasses, you can include a pouch – so, tangible freebie items are still allowed to boost your listing.  Also, I would hate to have to compete with someone who’s including free software packages with everything they sell.

Conclusion

This should provide you with a good overview of how to sell digital products on eBay, the policies to follow and what is possible.  If you now feel discouraged, don’t be!  Instead, be creative, continue looking to find your way.  Even if selling on eBay is not an option for you, there are countless other ways to sell digital products online. That is, provided that your intentions are good and you provide value to your customers.

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