This guide will go over the main software used for making and selling hand-crafted digital assets such as Lightroom presets, Photoshop actions, fonts, graphics, templates and much more.
I’m going to feature a bunch of products from Creative Market as examples of what is selling well. Of the various platforms I sell my assets on, this site has been the most profitable. Hopefully you will find the product collections helpful and inspiring.
Table of Contents
Software for Making Digital Assets
You can make and sell almost anything you can think of for a variety of software. I’m going to list the main apps you can use to make digital assets for sale and a brief description of each.
These are all robust tools that require some learning and practice to master. It’s worth it to learn for both personal creative reasons and the income they can bring.
There are additional apps for making things like fonts but those are too far from my skillset to include here.
Adobe Lightroom Classic and Lightroom Mobile
If you want to make desktop or mobile Lightroom presets for sale you will need an Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription. If you only want Lightroom and Photoshop, you can get the Creative Cloud Photography plan for $9.99 per month. That $9.99 will pay for itself quickly once you make a sale or two.
There are two versions of the desktop Lightroom app and a Creative Cloud subscription allows you to install both to your computer. But, Lightroom Classic is the only version you can use to make mobile presets for sale. Mobile presets are DNG files. DNG is actually an image type with all of the Lightroom settings embedded. Since only Lightroom classic offers the ability to export a DNG file, you will need to use this version to make mobile presets for sale.
Lightroom Classic is what I still use to edit my photos and make both mobile and desktop presets. It offers many more features and advanced options than the new CC version. The CC version is designed for casual use and the Classic version is suitable for professional work.
The original desktop file type of a Lightroom preset was .lrtemplate. Adobe changed the file type in mid-2018 to .xmp making them also compatible with Adobe Camera Raw.
You can download and use the mobile version of Lightroom to your phone for free, but it’s not possible to make mobile presets for sale this way.
Here are some sets of Lightroom presets on Creative Market, both desktop and mobile, that are making lots of sales. Click on the image to view the collection.
There are many different types of assets you can make and sell for use in Photoshop. Actions, layer styles, gradients, brushes, digital backgrounds and more can be created and then exported for sale from Photoshop.
Here is a collection of popular Photoshop Addons on Creative Market to help give you ideas. Click on the image to view the collection.
Photoshop is also the most common software used to design editable templates, digital backgrounds and photo manipulations. Beautiful clip-art with a transparent background for use in design can be made and used in Photoshop. Popular clip art includes hand-painted or illustrated sets of items for use in design.
You will need a Creative Cloud subscription to do this. Right now there are multiple types of subscriptions offered by Adobe. The photography plan will give you both Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 per month.
I’ve purchased many tools on Creative Market that have helped me make and sell assets. For, example, here is a product I’ve used to make profitable sets of digital watercolor clip-art. It comes with good instructions and is easy to use.
If you plan to make things like vectors and other assets for use in Adobe Illustrator, you will need a subscription for the full version of Creative Cloud. If you are a student or educator you can get a full subscription for 60% off of the normal price of $52.99 per month. So, for $19.99 per month you will get access to all 20+ CC apps.
Adobe Illustrator is graphic-driven software used primarily for creating vector graphics. Vector graphics are used by graphic designers, artists and web designers. They are infinitely scalable making them suitable for very large printing.
Like Photoshop, you can make and sell addons forAdobe Illustrator. Brushes, palettes, gradients, actions and editable vector templates are all popular items to purchase.
Here are some examples of popular products for Illustrator.
Canva is an online graphic design site, where you can make and then sell any type of design you can think of. It has an easy drag and drop interface and has over 65,000 customizable templates you can use for free. Canva also gives you access to millions of stock images and illustrations. You can also upload your own and use them in your designs.
Social media templates for sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook can be easily made on Canva. As can other templates for things like presentations and infographics.
Canva Pro gives you access to premium stock photos and graphics, branding tools and lots more features that will improve the sale-ability of your designs and help you stand out in a crowded design category.
I’ve put together a collection of some of the most popular Canva templates for sale on Creative Market, to give you an idea of what sells. Click on the following graphic to view the collection.
Procreate is an app compatible with iPad and iPhone for creating realistic digital paintings and illustrations. Brushes for Procreate have become immensely popular and are worth making if you have artistic skill.
I don’t have any personal experience with this app, but I study what’s trending and brushes for Procreate sell as much as brushes for Photoshop and Illustrator.
Here are some examples of trending products for the Procreate app.
You can read my interview on the Creative Market blog, conducted by Angelina Samadhi of Skybox Creative, by clicking the following link.
I started selling digital assets online in 2010 as a stock photographer. As much as I loved taking photos, the long process of uploading, describing, tagging and categorizing each photo and then waiting days for approval wasn’t fun at all. I gave up.
I also wrote articles about photography for various sites as a paid contributor. One of those sites commissioned me to make sets of Lightroom presets to share with their audience and I somewhat reluctantly took on the challenge.
I had literally zero experience with Adobe Lightroom at the time, as I had grown used to using Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw to edit my photography. My trepidation was unnecessary. Lightroom has the exact same basic functionality as Adobe Camera RAW but is much faster and easier.
From the comfort and happy isolation of my living room, I made something that other people enjoyed and got paid to do it. In March of 2012 I created an Etsy shop and started selling sets of Lightroom presets, Photoshop actions and to a lesser degree graphics, overlays and textures.
Within 3 years I was selling on 4 different platforms, including my own website and earning $6,000 to $18,000 per month.
I grew bored with making presets and complacent because it seemed that money rolled in effortlessly. I spent all of 10-20 minutes per day answering customer support emails and then went about enjoying my life and raising my children.
Complacency was a big mistake. There was a sudden increase in the number of shops selling Lightroom presets and actions. The days of only having a handful of direct competitors was over. Sales went way down as the number of potential customers was roughly the same but they suddenly had many more products to choose from.
Learn from my mistakes! Keep growing your business. Keep up with rapidly changing trends so your products don’t grow stale. Pay attention and be ready to diversify when a new type of digital asset becomes popular and in-demand.
I went back to work full-time in 2018 but recently gave notice and find myself grateful to be home again with my children. I have a renewed love of making assets, but this time I’m focusing on turning my website into a huge repository of quality free downloads and helpful tutorials.
There are indeed some new premium products are on the way soon that cater to the blogging, social media influencer crowd. Sometimes a fresh take on an old, tried and true formula for success is what it takes to renew your ambition.
Plus, I’m on a spiritual journey of sorts and I’ve learned that I really like to give things to people. Providing quality free resources to other people makes me happy. The world could use more giving and more happiness. Don’t you think?
If you have any questions, I’d love to answer them in the comments below. Your questions and comments will help me to improve this guide and give me an opportunity to help you and others.
Hello! My name is Rachael Towne and I am the creator of Presets Galore which was acquired by Imaginated.com. The presets I make reflect my love of dramatic imagery and film. Each preset is tested on many photos and finely adjusted to give gorgeous results with a wide variety of images.