A Beginner’s Guide to Selling Digital Goods with WordPress

In the previous post on creating an ecommerce store with WordPress, we learned how to set up an ecommerce store in WordPress with the help of WooCommerce. We covered topics such as shipping, inventory, adding new products, WooCommerce themes and extensions, and more.

However, we’ve yet to discuss what to do if your focus is not on physical goods, but instead you’re just selling virtual or digital goods that can be downloaded — such as ebooks, images, fonts, templates and Sketch/Photoshop brushes, themes or plugins, etc.

For such stores, WooCommerce can still get the job done with ease. With that said, many WooCommerce features — such as inventory management, shipping settings, etc. — will be of little use here and might just appear to be an overkill.

As a result, it’s probably better to turn towards a dedicated solution for selling digital goods.

Easy Digital Downloads is a handy and totally free WordPress plugin that specializes in building ecommerce stores for digital and downloadable goods. Much like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads too is very popular and has millions of users.

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the various features of Easy Digital Downloads WordPress plugin.

What is Easy Digital Downloads?

As mentioned, Easy Digital Downloads is a free WordPress plugin meant for ecommerce stores that deal in downloadable digital goods. The core plugin in itself is free, but you can opt for membership passes that allow you to access all or some of the extensions of the core plugin.

Building an Ecommerce Store with Easy Digital Downloads

Using Easy Digital Downloads is straightforward to set up. You can install it from the official repository, just as you would install any other free WordPress plugin. Once it’s installed, you simply go ahead and activate the plugin.

Unlike WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads doesn’t group your products as “Products” but instead as “Downloads”. After activating the plugin, you’ll notice a new menu in your WordPress admin panel named Downloads. This is where all the action related to the management and functioning of Easy Digital Downloads tends to happen.

Like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads comes with its own set of integrations and payment gateways, and added features such as discount codes, coupons, customer records, and more.

Also like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads has its own ecosystem of extensions that can be used to extend and enhance the functionality of the core plugin. Commonly called “add-ons”, such extensions are available in both free and premium flavors. For the premium extensions, it might be a good idea to look at the official Easy Digital Downloads store. The free add-ons for Easy Digital Downloads be found in the official WordPress plugin repository.

You’ll most likely need to install some add-ons. For example, when selling downloadable goods, it’s often a good idea to capture leads and encourage your buyers to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. Similarly, you may wish to integrate a payment gateway that may otherwise not be natively supported by the Easy Digital Downloads core plugin itself. For all such features and more, there are reliable add-ons that can make life easier for you:

It’s worth noting that Easy Digital Downloads has a subscription model for pricing, and if you’re planning to be a long-term user of the plugin, it might be a good idea to opt for one of the subscriptions. For agencies and freelancers, $499 per year provides an all-access pass to all the add-ons and extensions of the plugin and also the ability to use those extensions on an unlimited number of sites. On the other hand, for single-site licenses, pricing options range from $99 per year up to $299 per year.

Easy Digital Downloads has a subscription model for pricing

Using Easy Digital Downloads in WordPress

Easy Digital Downloads adds a custom post type, Downloads. This means there’s a set of custom taxonomies as well: your downloads can have their own categories as well as tags. Furthermore, all your downloads can have a featured image that’s prominently displayed on the front end.

Adding a new downloadable item to your store, as a result, is as easy as adding a new blog post to your site. Simply navigate to the Add New Download sub-option in the Downloads menu. Once you’re done adding details such as title, content, download category and tags, you can scroll down for advanced options.

You can choose to use a simplified pricing for your download, or you can have a variable pricing as well (ebook+code files, for instance), in which you get to specify different prices per option. It’s noteworthy that Easy Digital Downloads lets you select between two product types. On one hand, there’s the Default product type that’s just a downloadable item, complete with a target URL to the ultimate file.

Default product type

On the other hand, there’s also a Bundle product type — which is, as the name suggests, a bundle of multiple products clubbed together as one.

Bundle product type

There’s also an option to limit the number of downloads for a given product. Perhaps, say, you only want the customer to access the download link five times. You can also disable or modify the default behavior of the Download/Buy Now or Purchase button.

Easy Digital Downloads also generates a default shortcode for each product that you add. You can then use this shortcode to add a Purchase link for the given download on any given page or blog post of your site.

Download settings

Once you’re done editing, you can simply hit Publish to take your download live for the world to see and purchase.

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