Selling on a Marketplace Website – Is it Right for You?

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There are two main ways to sell your digital downloads. You can sell direct to your customers via your website or you can sell your items on a marketplace site. Or, you can do both!

Selling Digital Downloads From Your Website

What are the advantages of selling direct? The most obvious advantage is that you earn more or avoid fees associated with a marketplace site. However, a direct sales approach requires that you market your product and create a process for payment and delivery of the purchased product to your customers.

Driving traffic to your website or product can be difficult, and for this reason, many sellers choose to list their products on a marketplace site.  To demonstrate the business rationale for choosing a marketplace site, consider that Amazon’s Kindle store has nearly 80% of the e-book market.  If you choose not to place your e-book for sale in the Kindle store, your book will get far less exposure.  Taking time to consider the potential increase in your sales, compared with the fees charged, will help you to decide on the best fit for your product.

To learn more about options for selling direct from your website read this post featuring four popular options.  To see these shopping cart tools in action, this post features RDs that use each of the presented shopping carts on their websites.

Selling Digital Downloads on a Marketplace Website

Marketplace websites are popular with customers because they offer an easy way to shop from more than one seller.  Shoppers looking for a particular item can visit one site and easily compare prices, features and read reviews. Marketplace sites are widely available to meet this need.  For example, when you shop popular travel websites to book a hotel or flight, most of these sites feature options from many different sellers.

A marketplace website offers the convenience of a comprehensive selling platform in return for fees charged to sellers.  The structure for each marketplace site, as well as how/what fees are charged vary, so looking carefully at the cost will make sure you select the best fit for your product.

The most common reason for listing your items on a marketplace site is to broaden the exposure of your product and increase sales.

One example of a highly successful and popular marketplace site is Etsy. Sellers on Etsy have their own store and can directly message customers to coordinate custom orders. There are detailed reviews available about listed products as well as a convenient dashboard for sellers to manage their store.

These features offer convenience for the seller and eliminate the need to invest time and money into building in a stand-alone website for a direct sales approach.

Sellers can focus on developing new products or inventory of the products they have for sale.  Etsy is an excellent example of a highly successful marketplace that offers convenience for both buyers and sellers.

Marketplace Website Examples

A marketplace example which is highly relevant to RDs, is Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT).  It allows teacher authors to sell their original materials as well as share free resources. What stands out about this marketplace is that it was developed primarily as a peer-to-peer marketplace.

In their regular work, teachers develop a considerable number of resources. This marketplace has provided a way to monetize their wisdom and benefit their colleagues as well.  It is a remarkable example of a sharing community that provides benefit beyond the generation of income for sellers.

Benefits of Selling on a Marketplace

In addition to exposing your product to a broader audience and increasing sales, marketplace sites typically conduct advertising and provide comprehensive strategies to convert sales including following up on abandoned carts and email marketing to customers.

These sites also eliminate costs you incur to develop and manage a website if you do not chose to sell your products direct.  The services provided by a marketplace are paid for by the fees charged to sellers. Etsy for example, charges a listing fee for each item and then when you sell an item, a transaction fee and processing fee are assessed.

Digital Downloads are a Passive Income Opportunity

Generating passive income from your digital products is best achieved by getting your product out to a broad audience of potential buyers. A marketplace site achieves this and offers convenience, as well. The fees associated with selling on a marketplace site should be considered along with the potential for increase in sales. Selling direct as well as leveraging a marketplace site may be your best option.

RD2RD is a marketplace website designed exclusively for RDs to buy and sell digital products. Learn more about becoming a vendor by visiting the Getting Started Hub.


Selling digital products is a great opportunity for RDNs, both to generate passive income and support our colleagues. Chose to sell on your  website, marketplace or both.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.

guide for dietitian to sell digital products for passive income

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