Digital Products vs. Online Programs: Which One is Right for Your Business?

When it comes to growing or scaling a small business, it usually entails one or more of the following:

  • Bringing on new clients
  • Expanding your products or services
  • Creating brand-new offers

That’s all good and fine on paper, but actually executing those goals? It can quickly become overwhelming. This is especially true for creating brand-new offers. How do you know what kind of offer to create? Which one will be more successful? Or more helpful to your audiences?

Thankfully, we’re here to break down two of the most popular launch offers: digital products and online programs. What are these offers, exactly? And how can they best benefit your business now and in the future? Let’s find out!

What’s the 411 on digital products?

The first thing you should know about digital products is that there are tons of different types. This is both good and bad – good because you have so many options to choose from, and bad because you have so many options to choose from. However, for the sake of scaling your business and diving into new ventures, we’re going to choose to only think of the good. 

In simplest terms, a digital product is sold only online and doesn’t have a physical form (it’s all in the name, right?). Digital products often look like:

  • E-books
  • Templates
  • Tutorials + guides
  • Workbooks
  • Podcasts
  • Subscriptions + memberships
  • Software programs
  • Art (like digital prints, patterns, backgrounds, etc.)
  • Photos + photo presets
  • Gift cards
  • And so much more!

Even though there’s a lot to choose from here, you can probably start to hone in on a few of them based solely on your current offers and experience.

Pros of digital products

Just like there are lots of digital products to choose from, there are even more reasons they’re good for growing and scaling your business.

  • They’re evergreen. In other words, digital products don’t expire or run out. Once it’s created, you can sell it over and over and over again.
  • They help grow your passive income. All that re-selling we just talked about? That all accumulates to passive income. Meaning you can create another revenue stream without having to do any work (for the most part). Since everything is digital, you don’t have to handle inventory, packaging, or shipping – it’s all automated!
  • They provide more value for audiences. Sometimes, your audiences don’t need the full depth of your current offers and services. Maybe they just need a quick resource or a website template. By meeting them where they are – and fulfilling their needs – you’re automatically providing more value for them by saying, ‘Hey, I got you!’

Cons of digital products

We’ll be honest: There aren’t a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t have a digital product (or several!). In fact, we encourage you to expand your business in this way! But, like with everything else, there can be a few downsides to creating, launching, and selling digital products.

  • They take time to craft. Bringing your digital products can take a lot of time. But remember what we said earlier? Once they’re finished, they’re finished. No more re-inventing the wheel each time!
  • They require some maintenance. We like to coin digital products as a set-it-and-almost-forget-it type of offer. Because, in reality, you should never leave something alone indefinitely. With digital products, you always want to make sure they have the most accurate and up-to-date information. And if you’re selling items like templates, you want to ensure they can integrate with the most updated version of the software they’re created for. Our advice? Schedule quarterly or bi-yearly reviews of your products. That way, you’ve already set time aside to update them as needed!
  • It can be overwhelming knowing where to start. Even if you already have an idea for a new digital product, how do you even begin bringing it to life? We know first-hand that there are dozens (maybe even hundreds) of platforms out there that can help you build your product. It’s all about finding which one works for you.

A closer look at online programs

To get a basic grasp of online programs, we typically break them down into three categories:

  • Self-service programs: These might include classes, on-demand courses, or lessons that are accessed through a portal or sent directly via email.
  • Group programs: These typically come to life in small groups – like coaching or educational – and contain structured lessons, a private online community, and ongoing support.
  • Masterminds: This is usually direct 1:1 support with clients and customers that includes weekly meetings, customized lessons and plans, and on-demand support.

Pros of online programs

  • They can be evergreen. Different types of online programs, like courses and webinars, are evergreen and can be packaged and re-sold indefinitely. Cha-ching! 
  • They have a higher value. Education is an investment, and your online products should reflect that. 
  • They offer more personalized support. If coaching, mentoring, or educating is your passion, an online program is a great way to fulfill that for you and your audiences! 

Cons of online programs

Just like digital products, there aren’t a lot of cons to online programs…just some things to consider when you’re choosing the best next step for you and your business.

  • They’re (more) time-consuming. Even more time-intensive than digital products, online programs can take a while to bring to life. But once they are? It’s all about getting people on board and sharing what you have to offer!
  • They require (more) updating. More often than not, updating courses is more involved than digital products. But just as you would for your digital products, make sure you schedule regular reviews and audits of your online programs to make sure they are relevant and have the most up-to-date information in them.

The best of both worlds?

So, when it comes to choosing the best new offer for your business…why can’t you have both?

Think about it: Digital products and online programs both have a lot in common. Not to mention, they can essentially be repurposed into one another. For example, say you have an incredibly detailed online course about organizing your home. That’s amazing! But how does that come to life as a digital product? In tons of ways, like:

  • Creating an e-book with all the details, just in a different format
  • Breaking down sections of your course into multiple resources (like how-to guides or downloadables)
  • Creating a workbook that accompanies the course
  • Launching a monthly membership with exclusive resources and discounts on your favorite products
  • And so much more!

Remember: You don’t have to be limited to just a digital product or online program. Start with one, then challenge yourself to expand into the other! And eventually, when it’s time to package all of your offers together, you can check out different offer platforms that can help. How amazing is that?

Ready to bring your new offer to life? You’re invited to join Launch University!

Now that you have a clearer picture of what new offer you want to bring to life, it’s time to put together a plan of action. The best place to start? Launch University!

It’s our brand-new educational experience that shows you how to conquer every single step of your launch. From initial product creation to full-blown launch execution, Launch University has you covered. So, if you’re ready to see what it’s all about, make sure you join our waitlist and be the first to know about open enrollment!

Waitlisters may also get access to special, early bird pricing… so make sure to join now! 


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6 Week Email Launch Plan