How to sell digital products online: 2 methods for success

Whether it’s ebooks, courses, apps, or art, the world of digital products is as vast as it is exciting.

And why not? They’re easy to distribute, sustainable, and best of all, your shop can stay open 24/7.

Digital products make up a subsection of the overall eCommerce market. With eCommerce sales projected to reach a staggering $1.6 trillion by 2027 in the U.S. alone, it’s definitely a good idea to grab a piece of that pie now.

But in the midst of a seemingly endless variety of digital products, you have to remember that the method you choose to sell your products can often determine your success.

How you sell your digital products matters just as much as what you’re selling.

From shaping the customer experience to managing profit margins, your selling method holds the reins to your online business.

With this in mind, let’s explore two primary methods of selling digital products online and discover the finer details of each.

Comparing ways to sell digital products online side-by-side

The two methods to sell digital products online are, to sell them on your own website or sell them on a third-party marketplace.

Both have their pros and cons and, with the number of marketplaces out there, some research will be required to make sure the one you choose is the best fit.

The table below outlines your main options:



Ease of Use

Customization Options

Support and Community

Your own website (SureCart and SureMembers)

Varies based on hosting and domain costs, but greater profit margins as no commission is taken

Moderate – requires some technical knowledge to set up, but platforms like SureCart and SureMembers simplify the process

High – full control over branding, design and customer experience

Varies – depends on the hosting service and eCommerce platform used


Revenue-sharing model – Appsumo takes a percentage of each sale

Easy – Appsumo handles marketing and customer support

Low – limited control over branding and customer experience

High – Appsumo has a large community of developers and businesses


Udemy takes a percentage of each sale

Easy – Udemy provides tools for course creation and promotion

Moderate – some control over course content and pricing, but limited control over branding

High – Udemy has a large community of instructors and students


Subscription-based pricing

Easy – Kajabi is known for its user-friendly interface

High – full control over course content, pricing and branding

High – Kajabi provides customer support and has a community of users

NFT sites (OpenSea, Rarible, Foundation)

Platforms take a percentage of each sale

Moderate – requires understanding of NFTs and blockchain technology

High – full control over the artwork and pricing

Varies – depends on the platform, but most have communities of artists and collectors

Image selling sites (Shutterstock)

Platforms take a percentage of each sale

Easy – platforms handle licensing and royalties

Low – limited control over pricing and branding

Varies – depends on the platform, but most have communities of photographers

Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing)

Amazon takes a percentage of each sale

Easy – Amazon handles distribution and royalties

Low – limited control over pricing and branding

High – Amazon provides customer support and has a large community of authors

ThemeForest, TemplateMonster, Webflows

Platforms take a percentage of each sale

Moderate – requires technical knowledge to create themes and templates

High – full control over the design and pricing

Varies – depends on the platform, but most have communities of designers and developers

Gumroad, Payhip

Platforms charge a small fee per sale

Easy – platforms handle all technical aspects of selling digital products

Moderate – some control over branding and customer experience

Varies – depends on the platform, but most have communities of sellers

Social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest)

Varies – some platforms take a percentage of each sale, others charge for ads

Easy – platforms have built-in tools for setting up a shop

Moderate – some control over branding and customer experience, but limited by the platform’s design

High – platforms have large communities of users

Method 1: Selling digital products with your own website

So, you’ve crafted the perfect digital product. Now what?

First of all, you’ll need to set up shop, and what better place than your own website?

Why sell on your own website vs. third-party platforms?

You might be thinking, “Why should I go through the hassle of setting up my own website when there are third-party platforms out there?”

Good question, let’s dive into that.

Selling on your own site offers numerous advantages:

Control over branding and customer experience

When you sell on your own website, you’re the boss. You control every aspect of your brand and how your customers interact with it. Every color, every font, every image—it’s all you.

This control allows you to provide a unique, seamless customer experience that perfectly aligns with your brand.

Direct relationship with customers

Selling on your own website lets you build direct relationships with your customers. You’re not just a vendor on a third-party platform—you’re a business with a face, a story, and a brand.

This direct relationship can foster trust, loyalty, and ultimately, repeat business.

Greater profit margins

This is a biggie. When you sell on your own website, there’s no middleman. That means you get to keep all the profits.

Sure, you’ll have some costs (like website hosting and eCommerce platform fees), but in the end, your profit margins can be significantly higher.

Pros and cons

Like any business decision, selling on your own website has its pros and cons.

Here’s a quick rundown:


  • Full control over branding and customer experience
  • Direct relationship with customers
  • Greater profit margins


  • Requires more time and effort to set up and maintain
  • Responsibility for handling technical issues
  • Need to drive your own traffic

Despite the cons, many digital entrepreneurs find that the benefits of selling on their own website far outweigh the drawbacks.

How to set up your own website for selling digital products

Creating your own website to sell digital products might seem like a daunting task, but with the right guidance, it’s entirely achievable.

For a visual guide, check out this video tutorial. It walks you through the process of setting up your eCommerce platform with SureCart and SureMembers.

Or you can follow along with our guide here.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Choose a domain name
  2. Choose a hosting service
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Install a theme
  5. Install SureMembers and SureCart
  6. Create an access group
  7. Create membership plans
  8. Create digital products
  9. Create a checkout page
  10. Set up payment gateways
  11. Launch your website

That may seem like a lot, but each step is relatively simple. Just follow along with this guide.

Let’s break it down into a step-by-step process:

1.1: Choose a domain name

Your domain name is your website’s address on the internet, so it should be something that reflects your brand and is easy for customers to remember.

Here’s how to choose and register a domain name:

  • Brainstorm: Think of several potential domain names that reflect your brand and the products you’re selling. Try to keep it short, easy to spell, and memorable.
  • Check availability: Use a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap to check if your chosen domain name is available. If it’s not, you may need to get creative and try different variations.
  • Register: Once you’ve found an available domain name you like, you can register it through the domain registrar. This typically involves a small annual fee.

1.2: Choose a hosting service

A web host is a service that stores your website’s files and makes them accessible on the internet. When choosing a hosting service, consider factors like reliability, speed, customer service and price.

We recommend SiteGround for its excellent performance and customer support.


Here’s how to set up hosting:

  1. Select a plan: Most hosting services offer a range of plans to suit different needs. For a new website, a basic plan is usually sufficient. You can always upgrade later as your website grows.
  2. Sign up: Once you’ve chosen a plan, you can sign up for hosting. You’ll need to provide some basic information and choose a billing cycle.
  3. Connect your domain: After signing up for hosting, you’ll need to connect your domain to your hosting account. This usually involves updating the DNS (Domain Name System) settings on your domain registrar’s website. Your hosting provider will give you the details you need.

1.3: Install WordPress

WordPress is a popular content management system that makes it easy to build and manage a website. It’s free to use, and you can install it on your hosting account.

Here’s how:

  • Install WordPress: Most hosting providers offer a one-click WordPress installation feature. Look for this option in your hosting control panel. If you can’t find it, ask your host for instructions.
  • Access your WordPress dashboard: After installing WordPress, you can access your WordPress dashboard by typing your domain name followed by /wp-admin (for example, You’ll need to log in with the username and password you set up during the installation process.
  • Familiarize yourself with the dashboard: The WordPress dashboard is where you manage everything related to your website, from adding content to changing the design.

To get a more in-depth look at how to install WordPress, watch our tutorial, which explores 4 different ways to do it:


1.4: Install a theme and an appropriate template

To give your website a professional appearance, access your WordPress Dashboard and go to Appearance > Themes.

Click on Add New to install a new theme.

adding a theme to WordPress

Search using the keyword “Astra,” a well-regarded theme for its flexibility and customization.

Astra theme

Click Install, then Activate to implement the theme.

Then choose a website template to create a design to best represent your digital products.

The Planet Earth Store template would make for a great choice for selling digital products due to its simple and straightforward design.

planet earth starter template

1.5: SureMembers and SureCart plugin installation

To enable secure transactions and manage memberships, purchase the SureMembers plugin.

Suremembers website

Then download the SureCart plugin from the SureCart website.

surecart website

Download both .zip files and upload them to your website.

In your WordPress admin dashboard, navigate to Plugins > Add New.

Click Upload Plugin to begin the installation.

Choose File for both SureMembers and SureCart, click Install Now.

uploading plugins in WordPress

Activate both plugins.

For license activation, select SureMembers and SureCart from the left menu, click on the Unlicensed option.

suremembers unlicensed view

Insert the respective license keys – which you can find in your accounts on both plugin’s websites – and click the Activate License button.

activating suremembers license

1.6: Create an access group

If you decide to sell your digital products through a membership website, you’ll need to create an access group in the SureMembers plugin.

An access group is like a membership tier that lets you control who can access what.

To do this, click on Add New and name your access group to manage your audience better.

adding an access group

To limit content and create exclusivity, select content types under the Protected Content section.

selecting protected content

Exclude specific posts if you want to provide free samples.

Set a message for non-members to create an incentive for membership.

If needed, enable an expiration date for the access group under the Expiration section. This should help encourage regular membership renewal.

Save the access group when you’re done.

1.7: Create membership plans

To create specific membership plans that will have different levels of access to your digital products, you’ll need to configure plans in SureMembers.

To do this, go to SureMembers > Membership Plans in your WordPress admin dashboard to start creating customized membership options.

Click on Add New, name your membership plan, set the price and billing cycle to offer various choices to potential customers.

Assign the access group to the plan to ensure correct content restriction.

1.8: Create digital products

If you’re going to sell your digital products individually and not as a part of a membership, you can take care of this in SureCart easily.

Navigate to SureCart > Products in your WordPress admin dashboard to manage your digital products.

Click on Add New, name your product, and set its price to represent it in your store. You’ll also need to upload the digital file (if any).

You can also assign a membership plan to the product to streamline purchase and access.

1.9: Create your checkout page

SureCart empowers you to modify the checkout experience to align with your website’s aesthetic and brand identity.

Navigate to Pages > All Pages within your WordPress dashboard, locate the Checkout page and click Edit.

edit checkout page

Here you can tweak aspects like colors, typefaces, and other stylistic elements to deliver a uniform user journey throughout the checkout form.

You can also introduce extra fields such as an email opt-in, allowing you to gather more information from your customers.

Before making any changes, switch the dropdown menu on the Form block to Test.

Test checkout

Once you’re done making changes, switch it back to Live and click Update.

1.10: Payment gateway setup

To ensure secure and reliable payment processes, navigate to SureCart > Settings in your WordPress admin dashboard.

Click on Payment Gateways.

setting up SureCart payment processors

Choose your preferred payment gateway and follow the setup wizard to fill in the details and integrate it with your store.

1.11: Launch your website

Now that you’ve set up your domain, hosting, and eCommerce platform, you’re ready to launch your website.

Here’s how:

  • Review your website: Go through your website one last time to make sure everything looks good and works correctly. Check all your product descriptions for accuracy and typos, test all your links, and make sure your payment and digital delivery systems are working correctly.
  • Announce your launch: Use your social media channels, email list, and any other marketing channels you have to announce your website launch. Offer a special discount or promotion to encourage people to visit your new website and make a purchase.
  • Monitor your website: After your launch, keep a close eye on everything to make sure it continues to work correctly. Use analytics to track your website traffic and sales, and be responsive to any customer questions or issues.

Setting up your own website to sell digital products is a significant undertaking, but it’s also a rewarding one.

By taking control of your online sales, you can create a unique brand experience, build a direct relationship with your customers, and keep more of your profits.

Tips for success when selling on your own website

Once you’ve set up your own website to sell digital products, it’s time to start building your business.

Here are some tips to help ensure your success:

Importance of a user-friendly design

Your website design plays a vital role in your customers’ experience. It needs to be clean, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly.

Remember, a frustrated customer is a lost customer!

Need for secure payment options

Trust is crucial in online shopping. Offering secure payment options not only protects you and your customers but also adds credibility to your website.

Secure payment gateways like PayPal or Stripe can be a good starting point.

Value of customer service

Remember when we said you’ll have a direct relationship with your customers? Well, that comes with some responsibility. Providing excellent customer service can turn one-time buyers into loyal customers.

So, always be ready to assist your customers, whether it’s a product query or a technical glitch.

Well, there you go. You’re now armed with some key insights into selling digital products on your own website.

But hold on, we’ve still got another method to explore. Let’s continue!

Method 2: Selling digital products with third-party platforms

If you don’t want to set up and maintain your own website, you can always sell digital products on third-party platforms.

These platforms provide a ready made audience, marketing tools, and SEO assistance, which can be a huge boon for those just starting out.

Pros and cons

However, just like everything else, selling on third-party platforms has its pros and cons.


  • Access to a large customer base: Third-party platforms already have a large number of users. This means your products have the potential to be seen by a large audience without you having to do much.
  • Marketing and SEO assistance: These platforms often have built-in tools to help with marketing your products and improving your SEO. This can be a huge help if you’re not familiar with these areas.
  • Ease of use: Most third-party platforms are user-friendly and require little to no technical knowledge to get started.


  • Less control: When you sell on a third-party platform, you have to play by their rules. This can mean less control over branding, pricing, and how you interact with your customers.
  • Competition: Because these platforms are accessible to everyone, you may find yourself competing with a large number of other sellers.
  • Fees: Most third-party platforms charge fees. These can include listing fees, selling fees, and payment processing fees.

With these advantages and disadvantages fresh in your mind, let’s take a closer look at some popular third-party platforms for selling digital products.

Here are the digital product selling platforms we’ll be covering:

  1. Appsumo
  2. Udemy and Kajabi
  3. OpenSea, Rarible and Foundation
  4. Shutterstock
  5. Amazon
  6. ThemeForest and TemplateMonster
  7. Gumroad and Payhip
  8. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest

Let’s dive in.

2.1 Appsumo for apps


Appsumo is a platform that specializes in selling digital tools and applications. It’s a marketplace that connects developers with businesses that need their tools.

Appsumo takes care of marketing and customer support, allowing developers to focus on improving their products.

The platform operates on a revenue-sharing model, taking a percentage of each sale.

2.2 Udemy and Kajabi for courses


Udemy is a popular platform for selling online courses. It provides a platform for people with expertise to build online courses that you can then offer for free or you can charge tuition for access.

You can use the provided tools to create an online course and then earn money from it if you wish.

Earnings are based on tuition fees charged per course.


Kajabi is another comprehensive platform for selling online courses, offering website hosting, course creation, membership sites, email marketing, and more.

It’s known for its user-friendly interface and high-quality course delivery.

Kajabi offers different pricing plans starting from $149/month (billed annually) for the Basic plan, which includes up to 3 products and 3 pipelines, 1,000 active members, 1 website, and 1 admin user.

2.3 OpenSea, Rarible, or Foundation for digital art


NFT (Non-Fungible Token) sites like OpenSea, Rarible, and Foundation have become popular platforms for creatives to sell their digital art.

These platforms allow artists to tokenize their work and sell it directly to collectors.

However, it’s very difficult to find specific instructions on how to use these platforms or their pricing details.

2.4 Shutterstock for selling photography


Shutterstock is a platform that allows photographers to sell their images online. The platform handles licensing for the photographers, allowing them to earn royalties each time their image is downloaded.

The exact royalty can vary depending on the license that the image is sold under and the subscription plan of the buyer.

2.5 Amazon for eBooks and templates

kindle direct publishing

Amazon is a renowned platform for selling eBooks and other digital products like templates.

With its Kindle Direct Publishing service, authors can self-publish their books and reach millions of Kindle readers worldwide.

Amazon takes a percentage of each sale, ranging from 35% to 70% depending on the list price of the book and the territories in which it’s sold.

Amazon also offers various tools and advertising options to help authors optimize their book listings, increase visibility, and ultimately grow their sales on the platform, further empowering self-published authors to succeed in the digital marketplace.

2.6 ThemeForest and TemplateMonster for themes, templates and web designs


ThemeForest and TemplateMonster are platforms that allow web designers or developers to sell their digital products. They allow you to sell your website templates and themes to a large audience.

ThemeForest and TemplateMonster have a revenue share model where the author commission can range from 50% to 70%.

2.7 Gumroad, Payhip for ebooks, checklists and digital downloads


Gumroad and Payhip are platforms that allow you to sell a variety of digital products, including eBooks, checklists, and digital downloads.

They provide a simple and user-friendly interface for setting up your store and uploading your products. Gumroad has a simple pricing model where they charge a 10% fee on each sale.

Both platforms charge a small fee per sale, but they handle all the technical aspects of selling digital products, making it easy for you to focus on creating and marketing your products.

2.8 Selling through social media platforms

Various social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, offer built-in tools that help you sell digital products.

On Facebook, you can establish a Facebook Shop at no cost and list your products for sale. The platform applies a selling fee of 5% for each shipment, or a flat fee of $0.40 for shipments that cost $8.00 or less.

Instagram, a subsidiary of Facebook, enables you to sell products directly from your posts and Stories by tagging them. To sell on Instagram, you need to operate a business account and link it to a Facebook catalog.

This catalog can be created and managed on Facebook’s Business Manager, directly on your business’s Page on Facebook, or through platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce.


Pinterest provides a unique feature known as “Product Pins”, which simplifies the process of adding and linking products.

To sell on Pinterest, you need to set up a business account, claim your website, and activate Product Pins.

While these platforms might not offer as many features as dedicated eCommerce platforms, they can serve as effective alternatives, especially if you have a substantial social media following.

You can also even use tools to manage social media accounts from one place which will not only make your job easier but also save you valuable time.

Quick start guide for selling on third-party platforms

Now that you’re familiar with the different third-party platforms available, let’s look at a quick start guide on how to get started in selling digital products.

  1. Choose the right platform: The first step is to choose the platform that’s right for your product and your audience. Consider the type of product you’re selling, the audience you’re targeting, and the features you need.
  2. Set up your shop: Once you’ve chosen a platform, you’ll need to set up your shop. This usually involves creating an account, setting up your profile, and adding your products.
  3. Add your products: Add your digital products to your shop. Be sure to include detailed descriptions and high-quality images to attract potential buyers.
  4. Promote your products: Use social media, email marketing, and other promotional strategies to get the word out about your products.
  5. Monitor your sales: Keep an eye on your sales and adjust your strategies as needed. Consider running sales or promotions to boost your sales.

Remember, selling digital products online can be a great way to earn income but requires time and effort to be successful.

Whether you choose to sell on your own website or a third-party platform, be prepared to put in the work to create high-quality products and market them effectively.

Tips for choosing the right method and platform

The digital marketplace is vast, and choosing the right platform to sell your products can be a daunting task.

By understanding your needs, considering your audience, and evaluating potential costs and returns, you can make an informed decision.

Here are some detailed tips to guide you:

Understand your needs and goals

Your needs and goals are the foundation of your digital selling strategy.

Are you looking to make a full-time income from your digital products, or is this a side hustle? Do you want to build a brand, or are you more interested in making quick sales?

If you’re looking to build a brand and have a direct relationship with your customers, selling on your own website might be the best option.

You’ll have complete control over your branding, customer experience, and pricing.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quick way to start selling without the hassle of setting up a website, third-party platforms like Appsumo, Udemy, or Gumroad might be a better fit.

These platforms have a ready made customer base and provide tools to help you market your products.

Consider your audience

Different platforms attract different audiences. For example, if you’re selling business tools or apps, a platform like Appsumo, which specializes in digital tools, might be a good fit.

If you’re selling art or photography, an image selling site or NFT platform might be more appropriate.

It’s crucial to understand where your target audience is likely to shop for digital products.

Research the demographics of different platforms to see which ones align with your target audience.

Evaluate the cost and potential ROI

Every platform has its own pricing structure. Some charge a flat fee, while others take a percentage of each sale.

Consider these costs, and weigh them against the potential return on investment (ROI).

For example, selling on your own website might have higher upfront costs (for website setup and maintenance), but you’ll keep all the profits from sales.

Third-party platforms might take a commission on each sale but they also provide access to a large customer base, which could lead to higher sales volumes.

Marketing your digital downloads

Marketing is a crucial aspect of selling digital products. Without effective marketing, even the best products might not sell.

Here are some detailed strategies to market your digital downloads:

Build an email list

An email list is a direct line of communication with your customers. By offering a free product or a discount in exchange for email signups, you can grow your list.

Once you have a list, you can send regular updates, promotional offers, and valuable content to your subscribers. This not only helps to sell your current products but also paves the way for future product launches.

Leverage blogs and SEO

Blogs can drive a significant amount of traffic to your product listings. By writing about topics related to your products and using SEO strategies, you can attract potential customers who are searching for information on these topics.

For example, if you’re selling a photography course, you could write blog posts about photography tips and techniques.

By optimizing these posts for relevant keywords, you can attract people who are interested in learning photography and might be interested in your course.

Additionally, you can hire a link building agency to help you improve your targeted keywords.

Create content that sells

The content you create plays a crucial role in selling your digital products. This includes your product descriptions, images, promotional videos, and any other content that provides information about your products.

When creating content, focus on the benefits of your products.

  • How will they solve a problem for your customers?
  • How will they improve their lives?

Use compelling language and high-quality images to convey these benefits and persuade potential customers to buy.

Explore other marketing tactics

Don’t limit yourself to just one or two marketing strategies. There are many ways to promote your digital products, and what works best will depend on your products and audience.

Here are a few other tactics you might consider:

  • Social media marketing: Social platforms can be powerful tools for promoting your products (even if you’re not selling directly on them). You can share images, videos, and other content that showcases your products and engages your audience.
  • Paid advertising: Platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads allow you to target specific audiences with your advertising. They can increase the chances your ads will be seen by people who are likely to be interested in your products.
  • Influencer marketing: Working with influencers in your niche can help you reach a larger audience. This could involve having the influencer use your product and share their experience with their followers.
  • Affiliate marketing: With affiliate marketing, other people promote your products and earn a commission on any sales they generate. This can be a great way to reach new audiences and increase your sales without a lot of upfront cost.

Any marketing strategy worth the effort will combine a variety of tactics for the best results. You’ll need to experiment a bit to see what works best for you.

And keep in mind that marketing is an ongoing process. It takes time to build an audience and start seeing results, so be patient and persistent.

How will you sell digital products online?

We’ve just explored the exciting world of selling digital products online. We’ve delved into two main methods: selling on your own website and leveraging third-party platforms.

Each method has its own set of advantages and challenges, and the choice between them depends largely on your individual needs, goals, and capabilities.

Selling on your own website, with the help of tools like SureCart and SureMembers, gives you full control over your branding, customer experience, and profit margins.

It’s a fantastic option if you’re looking to build a brand and establish a direct relationship with your customers.

Third-party platforms offer access to a ready made audience and provide tools to assist with marketing and SEO.

They’re a great choice if you’re looking for a quick start and don’t mind sharing a portion of your profits in exchange for the convenience they offer.

Remember, the digital product market is vast and full of opportunities. With the right approach, a good understanding of your audience, and a solid marketing strategy, you can successfully sell your digital products online and turn your passion into profit.

So, are you ready to start your digital selling journey? With SureCart and SureMembers, you’re already one step ahead. These tools are designed to make selling digital products on your own website as easy and efficient as possible.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may receive a small commission. Read disclosure. Rest assured that we only recommend products that we have personally used and believe will add value to our readers. Thanks for your support!

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