19 Digital Product Ideas for Generating Passive Income
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Looking for a way to scale your business and increase your income without being needed at the office all day? Digital products could be the solution you’re looking for.
There’s an endless number of digital product ideas that could help you establish your own business, take your business to the next level, or just help you bring in extra income.
What Is a Digital Product?
A digital product is one that is created, sold, and used digitally. There’s no physical product; you use it solely online, on your mobile device, or in your web browser.
There are many reasons why selling digital products is one of the best — and easiest — ways to generate passive income.
It’s inexpensive to start. There’s no inventory to buy upfront, no storefront to rent, or packages to ship. You can use free and inexpensive tools to make a product and oftentimes the only investment is paying fees to the sales platform you use.
Digital products are passive. You can make a product once and sell it over and over whether you’re working or not. Selling a service online is a great way to start your own business, but it can be time-consuming and you may only be able to serve a few clients. With digital products, you can sell online and make money at any time of day and to as many people as you want.
Digital products are scalable. When you sell a service your income is capped by how many hours you have in the day to work. When you sell a digital product you can grow your business exponentially without increasing the number of hours you work.
19 Digital Products You Can Sell Online
There are many types of digital products and they all range in how passive they are. Some are “set it and forget it” while others require maintenance. You can separate most of them into three categories:
- Completely passive: You put in the time to create the product once and sell it indefinitely. These products are usually less expensive and income may be sporadic.
- Semi-passive: The product is passive, but you may have to market or update it occasionally. These are high-ticket digital products and the opportunity for income is greater.
- Occasionally active: These are typically subscription or membership-based products. Income is more consistent, but you have to actively maintain it at least once a month.
Having a combination of these three passive income streams is best, and there are plenty of digital product ideas you can use to create a suite of products that fit your business and increase your bottom line.
If you love to write, you can make passive income in a number of ways through eBooks. You can self-publish a series of fiction novels or a nonfiction book on Amazon, record an audiobook on Audible, create guided journals or coloring books, or sell digital books on your website.
You can even make money by giving away your eBook by adding a special deal for a higher-priced service or digital product to your readers. Russel Brunson gives his books away for free (you just have to pay shipping and handling) to teach people how marketing funnels can grow revenue and also sells a software for creating marketing funnels.
2. Online courses
Now more than ever, people are discovering how valuable online courses are for learning skills and training. You can create a text, audio, or video-based course and post it on a course aggregator like Coursera or Udemy. A better option may be to sell a course from your own website using a platform like Teachable or Outschool.
Think there’s already a course around your expertise? Don’t be intimidated. People might still want to hear what you have to say. For example, there are plenty of courses on freelance writing, yet each has its own unique benefit. This is the reason someone would buy yours over a course that’s already offered.
Any knowledge or skill can be turned into a course. Alec Steele teaches people blacksmithing through several courses, all offered online.
Many courses are “evergreen,” meaning the content is relevant all the time and not tied to a date or event. These courses are typically completely passive, but you can often make more income by “launching” your course at select times throughout the year. The limited-time offer gives people a sense of urgency and can increase sales.
If you don’t have the time to write an eBook or build a full course, consider creating a workshop instead. You can host a live or recorded workshop, also known as a webinar, once and resell it indefinitely. The webinar can also serve as a lead magnet for selling a higher-priced product or service later on.
After you record the webinar once, there’s generally no need to update it unless you want to change the content or information. To increase sales, you can set up automated ads that drive traffic to your workshop.
4. Guides or tutorials
From archery to zoology, if you have experience or specialized training in something, you can make money selling short guides or tutorials with step-by-step instructions on how to perform or learn it.
Tutorials are similar to workshops in that they usually teach one skill as opposed to a course that teaches several. Guides and tutorials can be written, video, or a combination of both.
Most of the skills you’d write or record a tutorial for won’t change often, making this a completely passive product.
5. Membership site
A membership site or monthly subscription is a digital product that members pay for monthly and receive something new every month. New content every month may not sound like a way to generate passive income, but there are a number of ways you can set one up to be mostly passive.
You can create all your content for a year upfront and drip out a little bit every month. Or you can create a course that students pay monthly for and release content for a certain number of months.
You can even create a membership site around some digital product templates like video lessons, meal plans, and workout routines. The creators of KetoConnect made a membership site packed with courses, eBooks, recipes, and videos not available on their website and release one new video every week to their members.
Selling worksheets, checklists, schedules, games, coloring pages, is a great way to make passive income. If your printables are complex you can sell them individually or bundle simpler printables into sets.
Printables are typically low-cost products and you can make them for free using Canva with no cap on how many copies you can sell.
The great thing about printables is that you can sell them on Etsy and benefit from the traffic that’s there without needing to generate your own. WeCreatePrints is solely on Etsy and only selling since 2019 and they’ve already made close to 2,000 sales of their printable wall art.
Related: 23 Best Places to Sell Crafts Online
Designing templates for printables, Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoint presentations, and social media graphics can also generate passive income. You can design templates for free in Canva or Google Sheets or Slides and include instructions on how to copy the template for customization.
You can sell them on your own website with software like SendOwl and sites like Creative Market or Etsy.
8. Commercial-use music
Videographers and editors are constantly looking for royalty-free music and sound effects to include in YouTube videos, commercials, and possibly even films. If you’re a musician, you can generate passive income licensing your music for commercial use.
While you can create each track once and sell it indefinitely, you’ll have to keep creating new music to generate repeat customers. You can sell royalty-free music and sound effects on sites like HookSounds and Bensound.
Whether it’s negotiating for a raise or writing a best man speech, people are often at a loss for what to say. Premade scripts for negotiations, speeches, sales calls, fundraising, and more can help people say everything they need to say when it matters.
You can sell these scripts on sites like Fiverr or your own website. Chloe Elise from Deeper Than Money makes $75,000 a month mostly passively. One of her digital products is a bundle of scripts for negotiating lower prices on over 20 expenses.
10. B-roll footage
B-roll is supplemental footage used in film and television production. Thanks to the popularity of YouTube, you don’t have to have expensive cameras to make passive income selling B-roll. You can record footage with an iPhone to create affordable B-roll for YouTubers on a budget.
You can even post your videos on YouTube with commercial-use music as meditations or background footage. You’ll earn passive income once you meet YouTube’s monetization requirements.
Like commercial-use music, you can sell one scene of footage over and over but your greatest opportunity for scaling comes when you have a wide selection of B-roll. This means you’ll have to keep creating some until you build a database.
11. Mobile apps
Of the time we spend on our phones, 90% is spent using apps. Depending on the type of business you own, a mobile app might be the best digital product for you. You can make money through in-app ads, affiliate links, or by simply charging for downloading or using the app.
Services like BuildFire will create an app for you or you can use one of their templates to create an app without any coding experience necessary. You’ll have to update and add features to your app to keep it functioning and motivate people to come back but other than that a mobile app is mostly passive.
Beth Moncel of the blog Budget Bytes created a mobile app with all her recipes at users’ fingertips for $2.99.
12. Plugin or extension
If you have a website then you probably know about plugins. If not, then maybe you use Google Chrome and you’ve used or installed browser extensions. Many are free but you can actually charge for specialized plugins and extensions.
WordPress plugins or Chrome extensions that use an algorithm to perform an otherwise arduous task quickly can be quite lucrative and passive. Spencer Haws made over $4,000 in a week selling a Chrome extension that did just that with Amazon textbooks.
Like you would a mobile app, you’ll have to update the plugin or extension regularly to keep it functioning properly but other than that it’ll make money passively.
Businesses use stock photos on their websites, social media, advertising, and even YouTube channels. You can sell your photos on a stock photo site or start your own stock photo subscription service. You don’t need fancy equipment to sell photos, either; your smartphone camera should be enough.
You can sell individual photos passively on sites like Shutterstock or Adobe Stock or create your own. With your own site, you’ll have to keep updating your portfolio to get the most out of this digital product business.
Related: 4 Ways to Get Paid to Take Pictures
14. Animations and vectors
While stock photography is most popular for websites, more and more site owners and bloggers are turning to animations and vectors to stand out. If you can design animations and vector images, you can sell them on the same websites as stock photography or you can create your own subscription services. You can design your images using programs like Canva or Adobe Illustrator.
Create a library of images that you sell for completely passive income or regularly update your offerings and employ some marketing strategies to convince businesses to use animations and vectors over instead of stock photography.
15. Website theme
Since building a website on your own using a premium theme is much more affordable than hiring a website designer, many blog and website owners prefer to design their own. This opens up a way for you to earn passive income by creating and selling premium WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace themes to business owners on a budget through your website or a marketplace like ThemeForest.
Building premium website themes is mostly passive but you’ll need to keep the themes updated so they work properly.
Related: How to Become a Web Designer
Calligraphy and hand lettering artists can turn their handwriting into fonts to sell to brides, event planners, and business owners for use on invitations, flyers, or even menus. You can create fonts in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop and sell them on sites like Creative Market or MyFonts, and there’s usually no need to update them.
If you’re handy with a tape measure and have some construction experience, you can make money passively by selling blueprints for home projects. Treehouses, pergolas, dog houses, and chicken coops are all popular DIY projects you can create multiple designs for.
Selling PDF downloads of blueprints is an easy way to generate passive income for a business that’s typically service-based. You will need to buy software to create the blueprints, but you can quickly recoup that money by selling the plans you create.
Social media is dominated by visual content but its creators aren’t all photographers and videographers. Presets are a predetermined position for photography editing sliders that get you the edited look you want.
Presets for Lightroom, Photoshop, and other apps can allow people to post captivating images without much effort.
You can create a preset once and sell it right from your website using an e-commerce platform like WooCommerce or Shopify. Presets are versatile and transcend seasons so you won’t have to do much updating but you may want to advertise them on social media.
Planners help people to plan their meals, exercise, goals, finances, and more. You can sell printable PDFs or physical planners from print-on-demand sites like CreateSpace and Lulu or your own store. Blogger Sarah Titus has made over $10 million selling planner pages and other printables through her website and Shopify store.
Aside from automated advertising, undated planners are completely passive. You can sell dated planners for a semi-passive business or even a subscription to new planners every month.
Digital Items Never Sell Out
Digital products offer an affordable way to generate passive income without worrying about inventory, storage, or shipping costs. You can sell your products to a global audience and at all times of the day.
If there’s a service you’re offering, create some digital products around it to help scale and grow your business.