8 Pro Tips for Selling Digital Products on Online Marketplaces

I was a couch potato child with a great passion for good books, tabletop games, fantasy TV shows, and creative things.

Today I am a (relatively) successful designer who managed to reach $100.000 in sales in less than two years.

Sitting at home and doodling in your sketchbook can be quite rewarding, and I’m going to tell you why. One day I decided to put my skills to use. This was the turning point in my life, which allowed me to shape it to my liking. What did I do? I published some of my design works on CreativeMarket and a couple of smaller marketplaces. In just three months I could afford to quit my regular job and dedicate all my time to creating new products for the marketplace.

Best powerpoint slides can speak a thousand words. A professional presentation design is twice more effective.

It’s not that I am a genius or anything. What I’ve achieved is possible for anyone with an IQ score higher than 100 (mine is 125 if you trust free online IQ tests) and a basic set of software skills. Most of the specific skills you will obtain in the process of your professional development. But there are also several secrets that can be revealed only with experience.

And today I want to share them with you. I don’t believe in the existence of a magical “Gimme Money” button, and neither should you. Each online project is unique, each requires effort and dedication, and there is no one-size-fits-all success recipe. That’s why I won’t provide a link to my shop to avoid blatant self-promotion and let you extract details from an existing project. You should come up with your own methods.

These pieces of advice apply to most online marketplaces and stock photo websites.

1. Use good ol’ marketing

I’ve redesigned the presentation of my first products twice. Finally, I found the combination of visuals and text that works best. I also used my SEO skills to build a set of keywords for each product. This helped me to drive more traffic to my brand new shop with no subscribers and zero exposure.

Many good designers and even talented artists can’t succeed because they ignore the most basic principles of marketing. The main rule of success is to show the value of the product for your customer, not the product itself. Show them what it is capable of and how it can help them.

Also, it would be a wise decision to back up your shop with a personal website or blog, where you will promote your products. You can easily build one using one of these premium WordPress themes.

Sweet Rum Font

Sweet Rum Font.
Product presentation done right.

Never release a product without understanding your target audience and their needs. You not just selling a fancy bunch of pixels: you are selling a means for someone to achieve his/her goals.

2. Perfectionism is your enemy

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that you will inevitably make corrections to your product and release updates. Of course, it’s not an option for a professional to release an unfinished product, but you shouldn’t even try to make it perfect (especially if this is your first product ever).

Even the largest corporations can’t create a perfect product at the first try, so why delay the release? If you feel that your creation is ready to go live - publish it.

market place

3. Don’t be an artist, be a designer

The foremost mission of marketplaces is to deliver products that can be used commercially. Think again about your audience. Probably, they are designers looking for assets for their current projects. These include branding, packaging, posters, presentations, etc. They would rather buy solidly assembled and well-thought-out packs of multipurpose design elements than readymade scenes or single-purpose illustrations, no matter how much talent you have invested in them.

This might sound unjust to professional painters, but that’s how the market works.

Paleontology Vintage Vector Illustrations [150 Items]

Paleontology Vintage Vector Illustrations.
Simple, yet highly usable.

Anatomy Vintage Vector Illustrations [96 Items]

Anatomy Vintage Vector Illustrations [96 Items].

Twigs & Flowers Vintage Vector [140 Items] Illustration


4. Your sales are a snowball. Don’t give up prematurely

Success is a result of consecutive efforts and perseverance. It comes with time and rarely arrives out of the blue.

I launched my first three products, but there were no sales for the first two weeks. After the first fruitless week, my only thought was: “Is it so difficult to earn my first bucks here? If yes, then how much harder must I work to generate a decent income?” But everything changed with the first sale: my store immediately received a massive traffic surge, which launched a chain reaction. Each subsequent release leads to a significant increase in traffic and sales.

Just a regular example of the snowball effect on CreativeMarket.

5. Ignoring the community is a mistake

Communicating on the Internet is much easier than in real life. Taking part in public discussions produces many benefits: exposure, useful advice and, what’s important, the possibility of being noticed by the administration of the marketplace. This helped me to get my very first visitors, likes, and subscribers, and made my snowball roll a little bit faster.

6. There is always room for a new player

The online market is extremely flexible. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, it is not limited by distances and boundaries. You can easily squeeze between two of your competitors, or even leave them behind just by offering a better product. Search algorithms of most marketplaces are based on such social signals as the number of likes and purchases, so only your customers decide, whether your products will make you a fortune. And your job is to convince them to make a purchase.

7. Diversify the assortment of your store

A great way to increase your income is to expand the audience. To do this, you need to stick to popular design trends. Don’t focus on just one type of product. Instead, try to put your skills to use in creating a more diverse store.


The AGATACREATE shop features lots of different product types, styles, and techniques: logos, vector illustrations, business card templates, and more.

Here is a small tip for you. In 2017, the most popular design resources are: watercolor illustrations, designs that use foil and marble textures, and all kinds of vintage stuff. Fonts and add-ons for Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom (presets, actions and brushes) also attract tons of customers, but their creation requires more advanced skills and deep knowledge of the respective software.

8. Don’t just sell products, be a game changer

Remember rooting for Sam and Frodo, the main characters of The Lord of the Rings, as they were up against all odds?

There's something inspiring and relatable about an underdog narrative, especially one with a positive ending. On some level, we can all identify with the idea that despite our challenges, we can still become game changers.

The underdog phenomenon is also apparent in the world of business and entrepreneurship. Whether fictional or non-fictional, we sure do love a good success story.

So when you start selling products, don’t just sell and advertise — become the personality and the face of your brand story. For example, many businesses use brand characters in marketing communications to tell a story.

But what if it’s just you and your products? Think of it as a one-man show. Share real-life experiences and struggles that your audience can relate to. Connect with them on a personal level. By implementing brand sincerity, you might even end up challenging the status quo in your niche. And that could actually make you a game changer.

Looking for a profitable web design marketplace?

Despite all its advantages, CreativeMarket is not the best choice for web developers: website templates don’t sell well there. If you want to earn a living creating website designs, I strongly recommend that you try out the brand new and shiny TemplateMonster marketplace. Get an “early bird” access, become one of the first sellers and then grab the biggest slice of the pie. Just drop an email to [email protected] and earn your first $1M as a theme developer.

Final Thoughts

Most of the top-selling products from the homepages of large marketplaces don’t require any extraterrestrial skills, overly expensive tools, and complicated techniques.

As I already said at the beginning of this article, anyone can join and achieve success. You are no exception. But that’s just my opinion based on my experience (perhaps I’m just lucky). If your experience tells you otherwise, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Jeremy Blackwood

Coffee addict, social media junkie, data miner contributing technical articles and informative pieces to MonsterPost. Reach him on Medium.

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