How I make $1000 a month selling digital products on Shopify

Long time readers of this blog already know that I am a huge fan of creating and selling digital products. After all, the easiest $100,000 I ever made was from selling stock photography from 2006 to 2010.

Stock photography is a digital product in its truest form, since I created all my content with a digital camera and my computer. Not only that, I sold my work online through various websites such as shutterstock, dreamstime, and stockfresh. Never at any point did I have physical goods to sell, and that entire experience really changed my perception of what profitable entrepreneurship could be.

My passion for photography has dwindled over the years (causing me to leave the stock photography game altogether), but it was replaced by a love of illustration and design instead. At first I didn’t have any desire to sell my illustrations, as it was mostly just a fun hobby for me that I used to take my mind off all of the stock trading I was doing at the time. But you know me – I’m always looking for opportunities to provide value and earn some money along the way, so I eventually hashed out a plan to turn my love of illustration into a legitimate business.

Shopify dashboard

Here’s a screenshot of my Shopify dashboard showing a few key stats.

I already knew that there was some (limited) demand for my illustrations, because I had been posting them to Twitter (using relevant hashtags to get more reach) and I made a handful of sales from random people contacting me asking if they were for sale. It didn’t happen often, but it was enough to make me realize that setting up an online marketplace of my own might be a good idea.

Why I chose Shopify as the platform to sell my digital products

Before I dive into the specifics about how I make over $1k a month using this platform, I think it’s important to tell you why I chose it in the first place. Those of you who are familiar with Shopify already know that it wasn’t built from the ground up to sell digital products. It’s primarily marketed towards people who have physical goods to sell, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it to sell digital items such as music, video, photography, or even illustrations like I do. So why did I choose Shopify over anything else? The answer is quite simple: stability.

Shopify has been around for 12 years now, they are the leader when it comes to providing a stable and reliable platform for online marketers to sell their goods. Additionally, there is massive developer support for the platform, meaning that there are plug-ins available for nearly any future that any digital marketer would need. You know, things like email marketing plug-ins, analytics, upsell offer mechanisms, etc. There are even plug-ins for selling digital products (they are quite good actually), so that sealed the deal for me.

I pay Shopify a small monthly fee to provide me with a solid and reliable sales platform, so all I have to do is worry about creating and marketing my own digital products. I don’t have to worry about web hosting, domain names, or any of that annoying administrative stuff which typically comes with running an online business.

I’ve been selling my digital products on Shopify for over four years now, and I’m at the point now where I’m generating over $1000 a month (and the business is pretty much running on autopilot). Took me years of trial and error to get to this point, but here’s a list of the most important things that I’ve learned along the way:

My tested and proven tips for making over $1000/mo selling digital products on Shopify

  • Use the Digital Downloads app (a native app built by Shopify). Shopify doesn’t have support for selling digital products in stock form, so the use of this app will allow you to do so. It integrates seamlessly with the Shopify platform (because it’s built by the same developers), and there’s no additional coding or tweaking that you’ll have to do on your end. It just works, and I haven’t had a single issue with it in over four years of constant use.
  • Offer bundled packages whenever possible! For example, if someone puts item X in their shopping cart, immediately give them the option to purchase a related product (product Y) along with it for a discount. This is a proven method for increasing conversions since most people like to get a good deal on things, and it’s worked for me quite well over the years. The best part about all this? It’s super easy to setup on Shopify using the Upsell Bundles app by Booster Apps. It takes just minutes to set up and configure, and of course it integrates seamlessly with Shopify and the Digital Downloads app.
  • Use the simplest theme possible for your store. There are a lot of them available in the Shopify App Store (both free and paid), but I’ve had the best luck with the Minimal theme, which is clean and simple and allows my products to stand out cleanly against the background without any clutter to distract my buyers.

To be honest, I’m not really sure why the Shopify developers haven’t made the effort to make their platform more friendly and open to selling digital products in stock form, but the number of apps available which makes it possible to sell digital goods makes it a non-issue and it’s not even something that I’m concerned with on a day-to-day basis. It would be a problem if I had thousands of products to sell, but the Digital Downloads app is really good and I haven’t had any issues with it not being able to manage the 80 products in my catalog so far.

The key to success with selling digital products on Shopify is persistence and experimentation. You have to be persistent and keep going even when sales are slow (it happens with every business), and you need to experiment with different methods and techniques all throughout the sales funnel process to fine-tune the techniques that work for you.

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