I love learning new things and the best way to improve your design and illustrating skills is by practicing. Over the years, I made many logos, illustrations, and Blogger and WordPress themes. Some of them were very good so I began looking for places to sell digital products. Finding the right platform was a bit of a hassle as I had no experience, knew only people that were selling straight from their blog, and couldn’t find any relevant articles. It’s the reason why I want to write more about selling digital items.
Selling your artwork instead of just your services is a great way to practice and create a steady income flow for those days when you don’t have many clients lining up. It’s also perfect for students or those who are looking for some extra cash but don’t have time for a second job.
There are two ways to do this, you can either build your store on your site or use an online marketplace.
How to sell digital products directly from your site
This has always seemed like the more professional option and associating your brand with your products will only make it stronger. The downside is that you need an audience to sell your products to. There is no point in opening a store if only your family reads your blog, but you should do it if you have many readers or a big social media following.
Building an e-commerce site from scratch is hard, especially if you don’t have experience with this, so here are 3 platforms to help you:
- unlimited file storage
- unlimited products,
- 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee
Shopify is probably the most popular e-commerce platform. You can use your own domain or subdomain to host the shop, it has a great website builder with lots of professional looking themes and it’s easy to add products. If your coding skills are good, you can access the HTML and CSS and make the shop look just like your website. There are also a lot of great apps for marketing and accounting.
The biggest downside is that it can get pretty expensive if you want to use many apps.
Basic e-commerce plan:
- unlimited storage
- up to 20 products
- no extra fees
- $26/month billed annually ($30/month billed monthly)
SquareSpace is great if you want to build a website that also has an online store. It’s very easy to make a great looking website and your domain name and hosting are included in your yearly or monthly bill.
A very big con for me is that it doesn’t handle PayPal very well. Although you can add a PayPal button, the customers can only checkout using Stripe, which is not available in my country and can be a deal breaker if you are selling internationally.
- self-hosted items
- unlimited products
- no fees
- only for self-hosted WordPress sites
This is only for WordPress users and it’s easy to integrate into your site. You have a lot of payment options, coupon codes, reviews, and digital product downloads. It looks great and it’s easy to change colors, but it’s hard to edit the appearance of your shop if you are not familiar with CSS.
While the WooCommerce plug-in is free, the extensions can be very expensive.
Selling on an online marketplace
You might have a great looking shop filled with awesome products, but it’s useless if people can’t find you. This is one of the reasons I love online marketplaces. You have access to a huge audience and you might also get a lot of new clients that might not find your self-hosted shop.
It’s the perfect way to start if you just want to test your products and the costs are smaller, but if you are selling a lot of products they might exceed those of a self-hosted shop.
Here are my favorite online marketplaces:
- unlimited listings
- $0.20/listing + 3.5% item price
I love using Etsy as a buyer and seller. It’s very easy to use and it has a lot of great tools, including a mobile app. Though it’s not great in terms of customization. You can only add a logo, a banner, and write a few things about yourself.
The downside to using Etsy is that it’s very popular and there are so many sellers. No matter what you sell or how great your items are, there are many sellers doing the same thing and you have to work hard to stand out.
I still recommend it though because of its 30 million users, it’s easy to set up and maintain a shop, and the community is great.
- unlimited listings
- no fee/listing
- you receive 70% from every sale
I haven’t been selling on Creative Market for a long time, but I love buying digital items from them or just browsing the store. They have great items because every seller goes through a review process before opening a store. After you have access, you can upload any item you want. To have great sales, you will need to be featured or have your files included in the Creative Market bundle sale.
In my opinion, a monthly fee is better than a percentage of every sale, but you have to experiment and see what is the best option for you. You will also have to take into account payment processing fees if you are using PayPal and even exchange rates.
Do you sell digital goods? What do you like about the e-commerce platform you use?