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It might seem like you need to be a business professional to start an ecommerce website, but today it’s easier than ever for people without a lot of business skills to start their own online businesses. This is especially the case if you rely on the support of ecommerce hosting to take care of the business end and you focus on the theme, products and marketing content. A great way to start a business, without tons of “business skills” is to sell digital downloads.

A great way to sell online is to take a creative hobby, a passion or a professional skill and turn it into a web-based business. A simple way to achieve this goal is to sell digital downloads. With this method, you don’t have to put in the investment of purchasing products or deal with the hassles of storing, packaging and shipping. The real effort is found in the creation of the digital product, but once you have created that product, you can sell it again and again.

Do you have any skills that are sellable?

Sell Digital Downloads Based on Specific Skills

Many skills can be turned into digital products. Here are some ideas based on various skills:


If you’re an author or an expert in a subject, you could write and sell eBooks. Or you have to start somewhere, so some people become authors or experts by creating a book and using it to market and establish themselves.

Creative writers can craft novels or non-fiction books and then sell the digital versions. But you don’t have to be a pro at writing to create an eBook as long as you are knowledgeable in the subject you’ll be writing about. Nonetheless, you might want to consider hiring a ghostwriter or editor to help you create a quality finished product.


You could write a book on pretty much any subject. And it’s even possible to create a book that’s more about instructions or images than the written content, opening up possibilities for people with different skill sets.

Here are some examples:

  • A chef or restaurant owner could write a cookbook.
  • A real estate agent could write about ways to increase the value of a home before selling it.
  • A person with a hands-on skill, such as home repairs or craft projects, could write a do-it-yourself book.
  • A mental health professional or motivational person could write a self-help book.
  • An illustrator could create a children’s picture book.
  • A photographer or artist could create a book that features a collection of artistic images.

As you can see, there are endless subjects for books based on your own expertise.


Do you have knowledge that you could share? You could turn that knowledge into online courses. You don’t have to be a professor to take advantage of this opportunity. It could be used in many ways.

For instance:

  • A yoga instructor or fitness coach could provide fitness instructions through a course.
  • A nutritionist or dietitian could teach about healthy eating and meal plans.
  • Marketing professionals could teach industry techniques.
  • Chefs and home cooks could provide food and cooking lessons.
  • A musician could teach the guitar or piano.
  • Or…

You get the idea. You take some area of expertise, whether it’s a personal hobby or a professional skill, and you create a course that teaches the subject to someone else.


Digital images can come in the form of photographs, copies of original art and graphics. This is a great choice for people who have photography, art or graphic design skills. You have numerous options for selling images.

Some ideas include:

  • Stock photos
  • Original artistic photography copies
  • Logos
  • Backgrounds
  • Digital copies of original art prints
  • Patterns
  • Clipart
  • Other graphics and illustrations


People want to be able to download music onto their phones and MP3 players, so this is the perfect way to sell your songs. This option is ideal for musicians of all sorts, whether it’s a solo artist or a band.


Beyond music, there are other ways you can sell digital downloads of audio. You can incorporate a number of passions and skills into audio downloads.


  • You promote wellness and want to create a guided meditation download.
  • You’re a motivational speaker who wants to sell inspirational audio files.
  • You’re a mental health professional who could create guided audio sessions on changing your way of thinking, overcoming an addiction and other self-help topics.
  • You want to create an audiobook version of your novel or non-fiction work.
  • You could even sell sound effects if you know how to make them.

These are some examples of how you could turn your hobby or expertise into audio downloads that people would want to buy.

Consider Assistance to Turn Your Idea Into Reality

If you don’t have the technical knowledge to sell digital downloads, learn more about the type of format you’re trying to create. You might also need certain tools to help you create the files. For instance, to create a high-quality audio file, you might need to purchase a microphone or be recorded at a studio. Basically, do some research on what’s needed for the type of download you want to create.

You don’t necessarily need to know how to do everything on your own. If you struggle to create the product by yourself, you can hire someone to assist you. For instance, you could hire a ghostwriter to help you write your eBook or a professional to help you format it for publication.

Sell Digital Downloads Through Your Own Webstore

It’s possible to sell all of these digital downloads through third party marketplaces. For instance, you could sell your music through the iTunes store or Spotify, your courses through Udemy or your photos through Shutterstock. That’s definitely an option. But a definite downside is that these middlemen take a huge chunk of the profit. As an example, iTunes takes 30 percent and Udemy takes 50 percent! While you might think you’re gaining the benefit of visibility on these sites, you’re actually facing huge competition and can easily get lost in the shuffle.

If you sell digital downloads on your own on your webstore instead of using a third party marketplace, you are able to keep much more of the profit. You just need to put in the effort on marketing so you can bring people to your webstore but you would need to do marketing anyway even if you sold through a third party.


Through your own webstore, you also have the opportunity to sell physical products along with your downloads, but only if you choose to do so. You can sell merchandise that fits your digital products, such as band t-shirts to go with your music, cute mugs printed with a quote from your eBook or tools your students will need to complete your digital course.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

These are only some examples of how you can turn your creative hobby or professional expertise into income through digital downloads. People are able to sell digital downloads in other forms, such as website themes, apps, knitting patterns and more. Think about the skills you have and how they could be turned into digital downloads, and you’re on your way to having your own online business.

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About the author

Molly Corless

Molly has been marketing for small startups for over 5 years. From marketing automation to Facebook ads to copywriting, Molly has figured out the key to growing a business from the ground up. She lives in rainy Portland, Oregon with her dog named Hamms.


  1. Kristen DeCosta

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Patricia! We’ve got tons of new content coming so keep an eye out :)

  2. Patricia E Sorlingas

    In my game plan, and this keeps me motivated. PLEASE keep these articles coming. Keeps my mind & soul up and at ’em 👩‍💻

  3. Kristen DeCosta

    Absolutely, Alice! It’s a great way to earn a passive income. Can’t wait to see what you do with this idea!

  4. Alice M.

    I love this idea. Sounds like a great way to transition into entrepreneurship.

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