Digital Product Definition & List of 18 Profitable Examples

Written by Jonathan Richter

Do you want to create a business offer that customers can buy directly online? If creating a source of passive income sounds appealing, then you should consider selling a digital product!

In this article, we’ll define what a digital product is.

Next, you’ll also find a list of digital product categories. Within each category, you’ll find 18 of the best examples of profitable digital products in 2022.

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents:

What is a digital product?

So how do we define a digital product?

A digital product is a software enabled asset people can purchase online that doesn’t have a physical form.

Digital Product definition by Winnona Partners
Definition of digital product by Winnona Partners

In other words, if you purchase a digital good online that you can’t physically hold in your hands, consider it a digital product. Many times these are digital files, but they can also extend to membership sites and other web services.

Fortunately, in 2022 creating digital products and selling them online is easier than ever. Since the barrier to entry is low for most of these digital products, they’ve become a popular and profitable choice for businesses of all sizes!

Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about supply chain issues or all the other headaches that come with selling physical products.

18 Profitable Digital Product Examples

What are some of the best digital product examples?

Here’s a list of some of the most popular and profitable options broken down into three main categories: web tools & services, mobile apps, and digital content.

For each example, you’ll see three quick metrics: startup cost, difficulty, and profit potential. Each of these criteria has a rating of low, medium, or high to give you some realistic digital product ideas.

Web Tools & Services

When it comes to where people buy digital products online, websites are one of the first places that come to mind.

Even in 2022, websites still account for the majority of digital product purchases. This is mostly due to the low barrier to entry. Websites aren’t as expensive as other mediums like mobile apps.

Another reason why websites are popular is because there’s already many existing services and methods that allow you to set up an online storefront quickly and easily, like Shopify and WooCommerce for instance.

Here’s some examples of popular web tools and services that count as digital products:

Website Builder & Hosting Platforms

Startup Cost: Extremely High
Difficulty: Extremely High
Profit Potential: High

Website builder platforms, such as WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, or Shopify, are some of the most important and useful examples of digital services.

These services are so important because they help people without any coding experience create web experiences, like online stores, quickly and easily.

To be clear, building your own version of this digital service isn’t practical without loads of resources and capital. That being said, these companies are extremely profitable.

Website builder platforms usually make money by charging monthly, annual, or bi-annual fees for different tiers of service. For instance, Squarespace projects 2022 revenue to be between $862 million to $878 million.

These companies also make a profit on their ‘add-on’ services like domain hosting. However, I recommend you go with the cheaper option and purchase your domain on Google Domains for just $12/year. Then, you can just map your domain to WordPress or the other website builder platform of your choice.

Website Plugins

Startup Cost: Medium
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Medium

Since building your own website builder platform isn’t very practical or cheap, you might want to consider developing a website plugin instead.

So what are plugins? Plugins are popular digital products that people commonly buy to enhance their website. Generally speaking, a plugin adds a specific feature or functionality to a website.

Screenshot of plugins search on WordPress
Plugins Search Screen on WordPress.com

For example, I enjoy using the Yoast SEO plugin for my WordPress blog site. Yoast is an excellent tool that helps me manage and monitor my post and page content.

So how much money can you make developing a WordPress plugin? according to this Quora thread, several people mention bringing in $2,000-3,000 every month.

Others claim to make substantially more than that, but it all depends on how useful and popular a plugin can be. Most plugins use the freemium model, where they offer a free tier of service and then charge for premium features.

One of the disadvantages to consider when developing a plugin is that you will likely need to update your plugin on a regular basis and provide. This is so you can ensure it works on multiple themes and the most up-to-date versions of WordPress.

The most popular plugins also offer active support in case something goes wrong or a user can’t figure out how it works. All of this takes time and effort, so you should consider this carefully when deciding whether or not this digital product can be profitable.

Browser Extensions

Startup Cost: Medium
Difficulty: Medium
Profit Potential: Medium

Sometimes you want to be able to use tools quickly in your web browser. These are known as browser extensions, and while most are free, others bring in significant income every month.

So what are browser extensions and what are they used for?

Many browser extensions are just a subset of features from a larger existing web application. On-page scanners, premium ad blockers, and even automated emailing tools are some of the most profitable browser extensions.

Google Chrome Web Store screenshot
Google Chrome Web Store

Here direct links and instructions for getting to the extension stores for the three most common web browsers:

Quoters and Calculators

Startup Cost: Medium
Difficulty: Medium
Profit Potential: Medium

Looking for an even simpler tool you can offer online as a digital product to sell? Quoters, calculators, and lookup tools can be excellent ways to generate income.

Insurance companies, mortgage companies, and car dealers all use quoter tools and calculators on their websites. They present these quotes to website visitors to give them an idea of how much their service or product will cost every month.

Online insurance quoter example by Winnona Partners
Online Insurance Quoter Tool by Winnona Partners

Most of the largest companies develop their own quoter tools in-house. However, smaller companies tend to buy and embed third-party tools on their website. Your quoter or calculator tool could be the one they choose!

However, be aware that this space is pretty competitive. Companies like Quoter offer a robust suite of tools for various industries.

You might want to enter the quoter/calculator space if you:

  • Have the technical skills to build a better tool than the competitors (faster, better UI/UX, easier to embed)
  • Are in a niche industry where no quoter or calculator tools exist
  • Want to have a proprietary tool to offer clients
  • Have access to better data than other quoter tools
  • Can offer your tools for a cheaper price than competitors

Fonts

Startup Cost: Medium
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Low

Creating your own font, also known as typeface design, is one of the more artistic digital products in the web tool category. However, it also requires a lot of technical skills and know-how.

The truth is, it takes a lot of work to create a font and revenue is hard to come by. The reason it’s so difficult to make revenue with typeface design is because you’ll probably need to sell your font on a site like MyFonts, which takes a 40% cut of your revenue. That’s a steep cut, especially since most people only charge between $25-30 per font family.

So can you make a full-time living creating and selling fonts as digital products? According to this thread on Quora, it doesn’t seem very likely. Your best bet is develop an elegant font and sell it exclusively to a specific company.

Subscription Platforms

Startup Cost: High
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: High

There’s little dispute that streaming companies like Netflix and Peloton are facing revenue challenges in 2022. However, subscription platforms can be extremely profitable digital products.

The consistency of revenue is what makes these web services appealing. In fact, recent surveys found that in 2022 the average US consumer spends between $219--273 dollars per month on subscription services.

For the streaming giant Netflix, recurring subscription income resulted in nearly 30 billion dollars in revenue in 2021.

Netflix home screen screenshot
Netflix Home Screen

Clearly, becoming the next Netflix isn’t very realistic. But while you don’t necessarily have to be a behemoth to run a profitable subscription platform, you do need consistent content.

You want to engage users and keep them subscribed month after month, year after year. The only way to do that is to produce quality content on a regular basis that they can’t get enough of!

So can you can still create a profitable digital product using the subscription model? Absolutely! But keep in mind that you will need to be able to release a steady supply of quality content to retain your subscribers.

CRMs

Startup Cost: High
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: High

CRMs, or customer relationship management systems, are another example of extremely profitable digital products. Similar to streaming services, CRM platforms also use the freemium and subscription revenue models.

Companies like Salesforce and Hubspot are dominating this space for general business needs. How much revenue are they making? Hubspot’s total 2022 revenue is expected to be in the range of $1.72 billion dollars. Even more impressive is Salesforce total fiscal 2022 revenue, which is a whopping $26.49 billion dollars.

Salesforce subscription pricing tiers 2022
Salesforce Pricing Tiers – 2022

But in 2022, specialized CRMs are becoming more widely available for specific industries like Healthcare and Real Estate. That being said, smaller businesses are also seeing the value in creating their own custom CRMs.

Do you have the technical skills or industry knowledge to develop a CRM? If so, then you could be able to develop an extremely profitable digital product!

Mobile Apps

So aside from websites, where else do people purchase digital products? The iOS app store and Google Play Store also come to mind. That brings us to the second digital product category: mobile apps.

Apple and Google have made it very easy for people to make money with mobile apps.

Here’s some of the most profitable types of mobile apps:

And here’s some of the ways people can make a profit from mobile apps:

  • Pay to download apps: People can simply pay to download an app with a quick face scan or a tap
  • IAPS: In-app purchases are add-ons people can buy in an app they’ve downloaded
  • Subscriptions: People can sign up for subscription platforms using a mobile app

Check out this article for more information on mobile app monetization strategies.

Mobile Games

Startup Cost: High
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Medium

Some of the first digital products to make it big on the app store were mobile games. For the first time, users could interact with a game on their mobile device with better finger control and without browser interference.

Games like Angry Birds and Clash of Clans are some of the most popular and profitable mobile games of all time.

How profitable are they? From 2010 to 2021 Angry Birds has brought in an astonishing 298 million dollars. Meanwhile, Clash of Clans has brought in over $6.4 billion dollars since it’s launch in 2012!

Clash of clans monetization incentive example
Clash of Clans

It’s important to note that these games were released in the early days of the App Store. Since then, competition has grown fierce and it’s become difficult to make that kind of money with a mobile game without a lot of capital investment.

However, if you can come up with a fun game that can be available on the app store, you could certainly make a profit. The biggest hurdle is getting enough people to discover your app so you can make money off of ads or in-app purchases.

Delivery and Ride Share Apps

Startup Cost: High
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Low

In the past decade, ride share services like Lyft and Uber have revolutionized the local transportation industry. In 2014, five years after their launching their ride share service, Uber launched Uber Eats.

These platforms are extremely popular and can generate significant revenue. However, making a profit is another story. As of 2022, Uber is still unable to turn a profit.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the Uber founders were also no average Joes. In 2007, both men had sold startups they co-founded for large sums.

Founder Kalanick sold Red Swoosh to Akamai Technologies for $19 million. Co-founder Camp also sold his company StumbleUpon to eBay (EBAY) for $75 million. Talk about having a huge head start!

Because of this profitability problem and the high start up cost, we don’t recommend launching your own ride share service. However, starting your own delivery or courier service is not out of the question.

Uber eats home screen screenshote
Uber Eats

If you have strong community ties, a network of businesses, or a hyper-local approach, you can be successful with delivery and on-demand digital products.

For example, the My Panda App is one such app based in Atlanta, GA that has been able to turn a profit by focusing on local businesses and individuals.

Digital Content

The first two categories can be challenging and expensive to compete in. However, the third category of digital products has a relatively low startup cost, but can still be profitable!

This category is digital content, and it encompasses a wide variety of digital products and services. In 2022, it’s important to note that people can also make a profit selling these digital products as NFTs.

Some profitable examples of digital content include:

E-Books

Startup Cost: Low
Difficulty: Low
Profit Potential: Low

Do you have industry knowhow or insights that people are willing to pay for? If so, then you should consider creating an E-book that people can purchase.

If you’ve already published a book in print, why not also make it available to purchase online as a digital product?

While you can offer an E-book for a cost, more often than not people create E-books because they can be effective lead generation tools. Basically, you offer to give people an E-book for free in exchange for their email address or other personal information.

screenshot of Winnona Partners website subscribe to newsletter prompt
Winnona Partners prompt to Subscribe and get free E-Books

So if you’re giving something away for free, then how can it be profitable? Well, if you can get an email address for someone who downloaded you E-book, then there’s a chance you convert them into a paying customer later.

First, the potential customer signs up for your email list when requesting the E-book. Then, they’re automatically entered into your email drip campaign. During the campaign, you can send them a series of offers and information to encourage them to make a purchase.

So whether you want someone to purchase your E-book, or if you want to offer it for free in hopes of converting a customer later on, both options make this a profitable strategy!

Online Courses

Startup Cost: Low
Difficulty: Medium
Profit Potential: Medium

When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in 2020, people became much more comfortable with online learning. As a result, teachers, business owners, and entrepreneurs began creating profitable online courses for people to purchase.

Just how big is the E-learning market? Recent studies believe that the E-learning market is projected to be worth $325 billion dollars by 2025.

Just take a look at Foundr, a company that has perfected the art of digital downloads and sales for online courses. They even have videos like the one below explaining how you could potentially bring in $100K in revenue every month!

Why is this becoming such an attractive space to be in? Platforms like Teachable and Thinkific are making it easier than ever for people to create awesome online course experiences. The UI/UX is intuitive, and they make it very easy to set up and sell your online course.

If you have something to teach that you think people will be willing to pay for, then you should definitely consider selling an online course!

Podcasts

Startup Cost: Low
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Low

As of 2022, there’s over 2 million podcasts worldwide. That’s a lot of content! Similar to the other digital content options, this is mostly due to the relatively low startup cost.

In addition, platforms like Spotify and iTunes make it easy to upload, manage, and distribute your Podcast content to the masses.

So can podcasts really be profitable digital products? Absolutely! But it’s not easy. From affiliate marketing to finding sponsors and advertising, there’s many monetization strategies to consider.

How much profit you can make from your podcast depends on how many listeners you’re able to obtain. The more listeners you have, the more potential people will buy the products or services you’re promoting. Furthermore, the more metrics you can track for your sponsors and advertisers, the better.

Do you have a niche podcast where many of your listeners are willing to try the products you advertise? If so, then your podcast can be an attractive option for advertisers!

Online Publications

Startup Cost: Medium
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Medium

Nearly gone are the days where people sit and enjoy reading the daily newspaper in a physical form. In 2022, online journals, magazines, newspapers, and articles are all the rage.

In terms of profitability, the online publications that bring in significant revenue are ones that already exist in physical form. For instance, The New York Times, once only a physical magazine, was able to convert subscribers to their digital magazine.

New York Times subscription plans 2022
The New York Times subscription plans – 2022

Is this digital strategy working for them? You bet! In 2021, the New York Times closed out the year with over $2.1 billion dollars in revenue.

The most obvious way to monetize your online publication is with the subscription model. But similar to podcasts, your online publication can also make money through advertising and affiliate marketing.

Keep in mind, you’ll need a ton of steady content to make this worthwhile. Creating and curating this content makes it a difficult space to compete in.

If you’re interested in starting your own digital magazine from scratch, check out this article by Foundr.

Music

Startup Cost: Low
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Low

If you’re a musical artist in 2022, then you most likely have your music available on some streaming platform.

With 182 million monthly active subscribers in 2022, Spotify is the platform with the most active listeners. However, they notoriously only pay between $0.003 – $0.005 per stream. This means that artists can expect to make between $3 – $5 for every 1,000 streams. For reference, one stream is counted after 30 seconds of a track is played.

Tidal, a newer music streaming platform with 4.2 million monthly active subscribers, pays artists $0.013 per stream. That means Tidal artists can make $13 for every 1,000 streams – more than 4x as much as Spotify.

Screenshot of Jonathan Richter on Spotify
Jonathan Richter on Spotify

So is music a profitable digital product option for you? If you can make more money on your music than you have to spend recording it, then the answer is yes.

However, releasing music and reaching an audience can be difficult in such a competitive space. Furthermore, since streaming platforms don’t pay a lot to artists, you’ll want to carefully consider whether this option can make money for you.

Photography

Startup Cost: Low
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Low

Companies need rich, high quality photos for their web and print content. This is why some people choose to sell stock photography.

Many companies use free services like Unsplash and Pexels. But if you want to stand out from the crowd, then it’s worth spending a couple bucks on photography that can capture people’s attention.

As a photographer, you probably want to ensure that your intellectual property is protected. Fortunately, there’s several online platforms where artists can make a profit selling their photos:

Adobe Stock photos
Adobe Stock Home Screen

Graphics

Startup Cost: Medium
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Low

Most artists and graphic designers sell their services and cater their work to whatever the client needs. However, some graphic designers can also make static content, infographics, 3D Models, or templates which they can sell online for a profit.

If you’re an artist who wants to sell your graphics online, it can be difficult to do this through your own website. You need to set up your own e-commerce website, lots of SEO expertise, and/or money to pay for advertising.

Since selling directly to customers on your own website can be difficult, here’s several established marketplaces where you can do this easier:

Big Cartel website screenshot
Big Cartel Home Page

Recipes

Startup Cost: Low
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Low

Do you have a secret family recipe that you know people will love? Or maybe you’re a chef and looking to make a name for yourself in the competitive food industry?

Whatever the case, people are always on the lookout for recipes that are new, exciting, and tasty! So if you know how to write up a recipe, scale the portions appropriately, and take photos along the way, you should consider selling your recipes as a digital product.

Recipe example of Chinese home style tofu
Recipe example with ads

In terms of profitability, your best bet is to set up your own website and host them there. You can either run ads on your site, or you can sell an E-book of recipes.

Alternatively, you can try to sell your recipes to a boutique restaurant, food blog, or other food network.

Printable Assets

Startup Cost: Low
Difficulty: High
Profit Potential: Low

In order for something to be considered a digital product, it needs to at least start without anything physical. However, digital products don’t always have to stay digital.

Some assets can be bought online, and later printed.

Here’s some common examples of printable assets:

  • Clip art
  • Digital posters
  • Business cards
  • Mockups
  • Cheatsheets
  • Worksheets
  • Cover letters
  • Portfolio and résumé templates

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By Jonathan Richter

Jonathan is CEO of Winnona Partners, a custom software development company that specializes in helping business owners navigate the digital transformation process. He's also a classical guitarist, and has studied Chinese language, music and culture extensively. Learn more at https://www.winnonapartners.com

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