How to Sell Digital Downloads on WordPress (Beginner’s Guide)

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Do you want to easily sell digital downloads online?

Maybe you’re planning to sell ebooks, online courses, your own photography, digital art, music, or something else.

No matter the type of digital product, WordPress makes it easy to sell these premium downloads and deliver them to your customers in a secure way. 

In this article, we will show you how to sell digital downloads on WordPress.

Digital downloads are basically products that users can download to their computers after making a purchase. Products like eBooks, digital art, images, illustrations, printables, software, music, and videos are a few examples of the most commonly sold digital products online.

An eCommerce platform is a software that allows you to upload your digital files and offer them for sale.

You’ll want to choose your eCommerce platform carefully. That’s because moving platforms can be complicated and take a lot of time and effort.

Some platforms are better suited for selling physical goods vs digital ones. You want to be sure that you’re choosing a solution that has features to protect your digital downloads, have proper licensing, subscriptions, and other key features built-in.

WordPress has a huge advantage over other platforms like Gumroad, Sellfy, or Sendowl. It gives you full control over your website, and you can sell as many products as you want without paying a high monthly or transaction fees.

Now, it’s important to know that there are two types of WordPress software, and you don’t want to choose the wrong one.

First, there is WordPress.com, which is a blog hosting platform. Then, there is WordPress.org which is also known as self-hosted WordPress.

You need to use the self-hosted WordPress.org platform because it gives you full control over your website with complete freedom to sell any type of digital products.

We’ll show you how to easily setup your WordPress site with Easy Digital Downloads with just a few steps.

A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. This is what visitors will type into their browsers to reach your website, such as wpbeginner.com.

Basically, you can create and run your website for less than $5 per month.

Let’s go ahead and walk through how to purchase your domain, web hosting, and SSL certificate.  

After that, SiteGround will ask you to enter a domain name for your website. 

Lastly, you will need to add your account information. You will also be able to purchase some optional extras. 

You can always add these extras at a later date if you decide that you need them. If you’re unsure then we recommend skipping this step. 

After entering your payment details, SiteGround will send you an email with instructions on how to log into hosting account. This is a web hosting control panel where you can manage your new website. 

Simply log into your SiteGround account, and you’ll see that SiteGround has already installed WordPress for you, and it comes with Easy Digital Downloads (pre-installed as well).

You can then click on the ‘WordPress Admin’ button.

This will take you to your WordPress site’s dashboard where you’ll see Easy Digital Downloads pre-installed.

By default WordPress doesn’t include an eCommerce functionalityout of the box, and that’s why you’ll need a plugin in order to sell your digital downloads.

Plugins for WordPress sites are like apps for your phone. They add all kinds of different features and functionality to your website.

Now if you used SiteGround, then Easy Digital Downloads comes pre-installed. But if you’re using other hosting provider, then you’d to manually install the Easy Digital Downloads plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Downloads » Settings page in your WordPress admin area.

From here, first you need to set your store’s location.

You might wonder, why is your location needed if you’re not selling physical products? It’s because when a customer makes a purchase, Easy Digital Downloads will use the country and state information to auto-fill some fields. Also, your location may be used to calculate sales tax.

To add your location, open the ‘Base Country’ dropdown menu. You can now choose the location where your business is based.

Next, find the ‘Base State / Province’ field. Here you can type the base state or province where your store operates from. 

After entering this information, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the Save Changes button.

If you want to sell downloads, then you’ll need a way to process payments from your customers.

Easy Digital Downloads supports PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon Payments. These are all popular payment gateways.

To choose your payment gateways, click on the Payments tab. Then make sure the Gateways tab is selected. 

In the Payment Gateways section, select all of the gateways that you want to use on your new WordPress website.

The most common payment gateways are Stripe and PayPal, so we’ll show you how to set those up.

If you’re using multiple payment providers, then you’ll need to choose a default payment gateway. This is the option that will be selected automatically when the visitor loads your checkout page.

We recommend setting Stripe as the default since most people want to pay with credit cards.

Now scroll to the bottom of this page and click on Save Changes. 

Once the page reloads, it will have some new tabs. You can use these tabs to configure your chosen payment gateways.

If you want to use PayPal, then click on the PayPal tab. You can now type your PayPal email address and password. 

To set up Stripe, click on the Stripe tab. Then click on the ‘Connect with Stripe’ button.

This opens a setup wizard, which will help you connect your website to Stripe.

Now, depending on your location, you may also want to customize the currency used on your website.

By default Easy Digital Downloads shows all of your prices in US dollars. It also places the dollar sign in front of the price, so five dollars is shown as ‘$5.’

To change the default currency settings, scroll to the top of the screen and click on the Currency tab.

Next, open the Currency dropdown. You can now choose a new currency. 

Just be aware that some payment gateways may not accept every currency. If you’re unsure, then it’s a good idea to check the website for your chosen payment gateway. Most payment gateways have a list of the currencies that they support. 

If you’ve made any changes on this page, then don’t forget to click on the Save Changes button.

To create your first digital product, go to Downloads » Add New

You can now type a name for your product into the ‘Enter download name here’ field. 

Next, type out a description for this product. WordPress will show this description to your visitors, so you’ll want to make sure it’s descriptive and convincing.

You can create categories and tags in the Download Categories and Download Tags sections. 

After that, scroll to the Download Prices section. 

By default Easy Digital Downloads will offer your product as a free download. If you’re going to sell your digital downloads, then you’ll want to set a price. 

To add a price, scroll to the Download Prices section. You can then type the amount that visitors will need to pay in order to download this product.

The next step is uploading your product. This might be an ebook, a recorded webinar, a PDF guide, photograph, or any other file that WordPress supports.

To add your downloadable file, simply scroll to the Download Files section. 

In the File Name field, type a name for your downloadable file. Then you can click on the ‘Upload a file’ button.

This will launch the WordPress media library. Here you can choose the file you want to offer for download.

The final step is adding a product image. 

When you’re selling digital downloads, you may need to get creative with your product images. For example, if you’re selling a recorded webinar, then you might use a screenshot from the video. 

To add a product image, you just need to scroll to the Download Image section.

You can then click on the ‘Set Download Image’ link. This launches the WordPress media library where you can choose your product image. 

When you’re happy with the information you’ve entered, click on the Publish button. 

Your first digital product is live! You can now preview your product page in action.

You can now create more digital downloads simply by repeating these steps.

Themes control how your WordPress website looks to the people when they visit it, including the layout, colors, and fonts.

Another option is to create your own custom theme from scratch.

It is the best website builder plugin in the market and is used by over 1 million websites. You can use it to create beautiful layouts that are professionally designed and optimized for conversions and sales.

SeedProd also comes with lots of ready-made templates. This includes designs that are perfect for promoting your digital downloads. 

Every time someone buys a digital download, Easy Digital Downloads will send an email to that person.

This email has a link that the customer can use to download the file they just purchased.

You may want to customize this email to add your own text and branding. Strong branding can make your business look more professional and inspire loyalty.

To customize your emails, go to Downloads » Settings and click on the Emails tab. Then, make sure the General tab is selected.

This logo will be shown at the top of your purchase receipt emails. 

To add a logo to your emails, click on the Upload File button and upload or choose an existing image from your WordPress media library.

You can also add a ‘From Name.’ This name will be shown in the customer’s inbox. You’ll want to use something that immediately lets customers know who you are, such as the name of your website.

You’ll also need to add a ‘From Email.’

Once you’re happy with your email branding, click on the Purchase Receipts tab. In this tab you can write the email that customers will get every time they make a purchase. 

You may want to start by checking how this email currently looks. To do this, click on the ‘Preview Purchase Receipt’ button. This will show your email in a new tab. 

In the Purchase Receipts tab, you can add an email subject and heading. You can also change the email’s body text. 

Here dynamic text can be your secret weapon. Dynamic text is simply text that changes based on factors such as the buyer’s name and the date. 

Easy Digital Downloads supports dynamic text. If you scroll down, then you’ll find all of the different dynamic text that you can use. 

You can copy and paste these different pieces of dynamic text into your emails. 

Every time it sends an email, Easy Digital Downloads will replace this placeholder dynamic text with real values such as the customer’s name.

When you’re happy with your purchase receipt emails, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the Save Changes button.

Easy Digital Downloads publishes each product as a new page. If you’re going to sell your digital downloads, then you’ll need to drive traffic to these pages. 

To add these links, you’ll need to know the product page’s URL. You’ll find this information directly beneath the product’s title.

Another option is adding the product’s Purchase Shortcode to a page or post.

To create a Purchase button, scroll to the product’s Download Settings section. You can then copy the Purchase Shortcode.

You can then add the shortcode to any post or page, or even a widget area like your sidebar.

The shortcode will add a purchase button. Whenever a visitor clicks on this button, it will add the digital download to their shopping cart. 

The purchase button will also turn into a checkout button. Clicking on this button will take the customer to the Easy Digital Downloads checkout, where they can enter their payment information and buy their download.

You’ve successfully added digital downloads to your site! Your next challenge is convincing visitors to buy those downloads. 

Here are some of our top picks for plugins that can help you sell more digital downloads. 

Many of our readers regularly reach out to us with questions about selling digital downloads. We have tried to answer some of the most frequently asked questions below.

1. Can I start selling digital downloads for free? 

The Easy Digital Downloads plugin is 100% free. It has everything you need to start selling digital downloads on your WordPress website. 

While Easy Digital Downloads is free, you’ll need a domain name and web hosting account to run it which will cost money. 

2. How much does it cost to create a WordPress website? 

It depends on your business plan and budget. You can start with Bluehost for $2.75 per month and use free plugins and themes to limit your costs. We recommend a business model where you start small and then spend money as you start to sell more digital downloads. 

3. Can I also sell physical products? 

Absolutely! It’s not unusual for a successful business to expand into new areas.

4. Will my customers’ digital download links expire?

By default every digital download link will expire after 24 hours. This is designed to stop customers from sharing your links, or even posting them publicly.

You can change this 24 hour deadline by going to Downloads » Settings in your WordPress dashboard. You can then click on Misc » File Downloads

Now, find the Download Link Expiration field. Then simply type in the number of hours you’d like the download link to be available before it expires.

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