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How to Easily Sell Digital Downloads in WordPress

Do you want to sell digital downloads? You should!

Selling digital downloads is a great way to make money online and earn a passive income. Trying to figure out where to start might feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.

This post will help you decide what to sell and how to sell.

🔎 In this article, we’ll cover:

Why Sell Digital Downloads?

Selling digital downloads has become increasingly popular among entrepreneurs and content creators for various reasons.

Digital products ➡️
Virtual products ➡️️
Digital goods ➡️
Digital files ➡️
Digital content ➡️️

Digital downloads

Here are some of the best reasons to sell digital downloads:

  • Low overhead costs: Selling digital downloads eliminates the need for physical inventory and shipping, significantly reducing overhead business costs. This means higher profit margins and lower risks associated with maintaining physical inventory.
  • Unlimited scalability: Digital products can be sold and downloaded countless times, making them highly scalable. As your business grows, you won’t need additional infrastructure or resources to accommodate more customers.
  • Accessible to a global audience: Digital downloads can be sold and downloaded from anywhere worldwide, making them accessible to a global audience. This means you can reach customers in different countries and time zones without international shipping or logistics.
  • Easy to create and distribute: Digital products are relatively easy to create and distribute, especially with tools like WordPress and Easy Digital Downloads. You can quickly create and launch new products to meet changing customer needs and preferences.
  • Passive income potential: Once you’ve created a digital product, you can continue to sell it over time with little to no additional effort. This means that digital downloads have the potential to generate passive income streams for your business.

Overall, selling digital products offers many benefits for businesses and content creators, including low overhead costs, unlimited scalability, and the ability to reach a global audience.

Types of Digital Downloads to Sell

There are many types of digital products that you can sell online, and the best ones will depend on your skills, interests, and target audience. Here are some digital product ideas to consider:

  • E-books: If you have expertise in a particular topic, you can create an e-book to share your knowledge with others. Topics can range from business and finance to health and wellness.
  • Online courses: Online courses are becoming increasingly popular and can be a great way to share your skills and knowledge with others. You can create courses on various topics, from cooking and gardening to programming and design.
  • Music and audio files: If you’re a musician or audio producer, you can sell your music, audio books, podcasts, or sound effects as digital downloads. You can offer individual tracks or entire albums for purchase.
  • Stock photos and videos: If you’re a photographer or videographer, you can sell your work as stock photos or videos. These can be used by bloggers, marketers, and other content creators.
  • Software and plugins: If you’re a developer, you can create software or plugins to solve a particular problem or enhance the functionality of existing software. These can range from productivity tools to games.
  • Printables and templates: If you have design skills, you can create digital art like printable templates for planners, calendars, checklists, and worksheets. You can also create templates for resumes, business cards, and social media graphics.

Ultimately, the best digital products to sell are those you’re passionate about that offer value to your target audience. You should also consider the market demand and competition for your product, pricing, and marketing strategies to reach your target customers.

Where Should You Sell Your Digital Downloads?

There are, generally, 3 types of places where you can sell digital downloads:

  1. Your own website (it’s easier than you think!)
  2. Online marketplaces (other people’s websites)
  3. Pay-as-you-go service providers (SaaS)

Your Own Website

First up is selling on your own website. We recommend selling your digital downloads on your own website. It used to be pretty hard to set up your own eCommerce store. But now it’s easier than you might think. Skip ahead if you are ready to get started.

Like anything, there are pros and cons to setting up your own online store.

🟢 PROS | Your Own Site🔴 CONS | Your Own Site
Full control of the brand, voice, messaging Setting up your own storefront is more work than simply listing on a marketplace or SaaS
Full control of the shopping and checkout experience It may take more time
Your downloads aren’t surrounded by competitors and distractions You are responsible for maintaining and securing your website (you can choose a managed web host to take care of all that for you)
Optimize your site to convert visitors into customers with conversion optimization (check out OptinMonster), lead magnets, and cart abandonment
Communicate directly with your customers (and potential customers)
Upsell and cross-sell
More in control your overhead expenses
You get to keep all of your revenue (minus credit card transaction fees)

Online Marketplaces

Next up are marketplaces. There are lots of online marketplaces where you can sell your digital downloads. These include Etsy, Amazon, Envato, AppSumo, and Creative Market.

It’s pretty easy to get set up on these platforms. They can be a way to get your download in front of a large audience. But there are plenty of downsides.

Here are some pros and cons of selling your digital downloads on a marketplace platform.

🟢 PROS | Marketplaces🔴 CONS | Marketplaces
Platforms and Marketplaces already get lots of visitors to their site. This may make it easier for you to find an audience (but there’s no guarantee).They take a cut of your revenue. The more you make the more they take. Plus you still pay the credit card fees on most marketplaces.
It’s easier to list on other sites than build your own websiteYour customers are not your customers, they are the marketplace’s customers
You may be able to build an audience more quicklyYour downloads are surrounded by competing products and distractions outside of your control
You can get help from a customer support team (at least in theory)No way to do direct communication with ‘your’ customers (or potential customers)
Limited or no conversion optimization available
Upselling or cross-selling not available (or very limited, and not limited to your own products)
No way to follow up with ‘your’ customers after purchase, you may want to help them succeed (sometimes called onboarding) and not be able to
No control of brand, shopping experience, checkout
You have to follow their terms of use, which can change at any time
Many marketplaces have limitations on what prices you can charge
Many marketplaces are designed for physical products, and don’t always have all the features needed for digital downloads

Pay-As-You-Go Service Providers (SaaS)

Last up is a third and popular option is to sell your downloads on what is commonly called a SaaS. SaaS stands for ‘software as a service’. A SaaS is a web-based application. It’s software you run in a web browser and all the magic is done in the cloud. Popular providers include Shopify, Sellfy, BigCommerce, Sendowl, and Ecwid.

We recommend running your own website, and not using a marketplace. That said, using a SaaS tends to have more pros and less cons than marketplaces.

🟢 PROS | SaaS🔴 CONS | SaaS
Using a SaaS/platform is easier than setting up your own website (sometimes, that could be debatable)SaaS’s are often expensive with large monthly or annual subscription costs, this is especially hard when you are just getting started
Using a SaaS/platform is faster to set up than your own websiteYou do have to agree to their terms of use, but often there is more flexibility than a marketplace
You have some control or full control over the branding, shopping experience and checkout (depends on the platform, look for white label options)You might find the control and customizations available for branding, shopping experience and checkout limiting (depends on the SaaS)
Your SaaS can only sell stuff. A website can grow and expand however you need it to in the future.
Many SaaS and eCommerce platforms are designed for physical products, and don’t always have all the features needed for digital products. This is true of Shopify where you’ll have to ‘bolt-on’ add-ons to sell downloads.

How to Sell Digital Downloads in WordPress

The best way to build your own website is WordPress.

  • WordPress offers the best balance of power and affordability.
  • WordPress powers 43% of the internet!
    • No other web technology has ever come close to even 5 percent.
  • WordPress has the world’s largest ecosystem of plugins, templates/themes, and professional service providers (for custom development). Your website will be able to expand at any time to do anything you need it to.

There are a few different ways to sell digital downloads in WordPress, but one of the easiest and most popular options is to use a plugin called Easy Digital Downloads.

⬇️ Already have a WordPress site? Below is a step by step tutorial you can follow.

Step 1: Get Easy Digital Downloads

The EDD and WordPress logos.

The best way to sell your digital downloads with WordPress is Easy Digital Downloads.

Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) is a complete, high-quality eCommerce solution purpose-built for selling digital downloads (or virtual/digital products).

You can set up a shop in mere minutes.

  • When you use EDD you are getting BOTH the benefits of owning your own website and using a SaaS platform.
  • EDD is a WordPress plugin, a platform unto itself. It’s one of the most trusted plugins in the world of WordPress.
  • EDD has a dedicated support team ready to help you if you need it.

Here’s what the free version of EDD gets you:

  • Protected product files, only paying customers will have access to your digital downloads
  • Full control over pricing
  • Shopping cart
  • Flexible checkout options
  • Discount codes
  • Customer management (basic CRM)
  • eCommerce reports
  • Stripe and/or PayPal integration
  • White label (full control over branding)

EDD free to use. Not free as in a 14 or 30-day trial. Free as in free. This is great if you are just getting started!

Then, later on, you can expand your store’s functionality as you grow. Grab one of our Passes to add features like:

Even with an EDD Pass, it costs less per year to run a store (that you have full control over) than many other SaaS solutions. You get to decide if, and how much, you want to spend.

EDD is used by more than 50,000 digital creators. People like you and me. We use Easy Digital Downloads and WordPress every day to run our business. EDD’s first customer was EDD!

Step 2: Create a Download

After you install Easy Digital Downloads you’ll see a new menu item called Downloads on your WordPress admin menu (left side).

The EDD Downloads menu item.

First, we recommend selling your download files as ZIP files, unless you have a specific reason not to.

On your WordPress dashboard, hover over Downloads and click Add New.

You need to give the Download a name. Then add a description in the main text area below:

Adding a new file in WordPress.

Next, set a price for your download under Download Prices.

The Download prices secton of EDD.

Next, we need to configure the Download File. This is file (or download link) that the customer gets after purchase. They’ll get an auto-expiring link on their purchase confirmation page and confirmation email. This helps prevent piracy.

  • Under File Name type in a phrase that describes the product. We suggest, for this example, typing something like “My Download”. This is the clickable link text that will be used on the confirmation page and email.
  • Under File URL click Upload a File and upload your ZIP file. It will automatically be protected from search bots and unauthorized file downloads (by non-customers).
The Download Files section to easily sell digital downloads.

Last, you need to add an attractive Download Image. This is important. It’s the product image. It’s what the customer sees as they are shopping. Make sure it looks nice.

Not sure how to make a Download Image right now? Snag one of our free Canva templates below to get a jump start on making a nice graphic.

You can edit the pictures, text, colors and all layers. You just need a free Canva account!

Screenshot: free Canva document image template

🎨 Free Document product image template
🎨 Free Spreadsheet product image template

Once you have an image ready, go under Download Image and upload your image.

Screenshot: EDD settings | download image

Step 3: Publish & Preview the Product

Good work! It’s ready. Click Publish.

Your download is set up on your WordPress site to sell. Next, look at it as the customer will see it on the product page.

Click on View Download on the top notification banner that appeared after you published.

Screenshot: EDD settings | view download

You’ll see your download on the front-end of your website. This is the product page or download page. We are using the free WP Astra theme in the example screenshot below. Your site look will vary depending on which WordPress theme you have.

Screenshot: Sell Documents with EDD, product on frontend of site

Step 4: Set Up A Payment Method

Last, you need to set up a way for customers to pay with a credit card (or Apple Pay or Google Pay).

We recommend using Stripe for it’s great features and ease of use. With Stripe you also can set up Apple Pay or Google. Pay. If Stripe is not available in your country, or you need certain currencies, PayPal is a good option.

Click one of the links below to get started:

Once a customer makes a purchase they’ll get a purchase confirmation email that looks like this:

Screenshot: Sell Documents with EDD, confirmation email

The presets for this email work fine. Or, you can customize this email under Downloads » Settings » Emails » Purchase Receipts:

The EDD Purchase Receipts settings tab.

The ‘My Download’ link that you set up above is what the customer uses to grab their new download. The link provided expires after 24 hours.

  • You can change and set that link expiration time to be whatever you want
  • You can easily reissue a link at any time

🎉 It’s that easy to sell your digital downloads with WordPress and EDD. We think it’s the winning mix of pros and cons to help you build a successful business or side hustle.

FAQs on How to Sell Digital Downloads

Let’s wrap up with some frequently asked questions about how to sell digital downloads in WordPress.

What is the easiest way to sell a digital download?

The easiest way to sell digital downloads is to use Easy Digital Downloads. Whereas WooCommerce is ideal for selling physical products, EDD is made specifically for digital products and downloads.

What strategies can I use to increase sales of my digital downloads?

Optimizing your site for search engines can help drive traffic to your store. I also recommend using conversion tools, email marketing, and social media.

Use EDD to Sell Digital Downloads

Sweet! You just learned how to sell digital downloads online. Now you can put your valuable mix of skills and expertise into a digital download that makes money and helps others.

That is our promise. Most eCommerce solutions limit your creativity
…not Easy Digital Downloads!

or try the free version.

We have plenty of great resources for digital creators and entrepreneurs. What do you want to learn about next?!

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