How to Sell Digital Downloads with WordPress

How to Sell Digital Downloads with WordPress

So you’ve created your digital product or found one you’d like to sell online. You’ve decided you’d rather create your own online store instead of using a marketplace such as ClickBank or PayDotCom.

Taking this approach gives you more control over how your product is marketed and promoted, and it can also help you build a direct relationship with your customers. Also, being able to keep 100% of the revenue generated can also be an enticing proposition.

But how do you go about building an online store that can sell digital products for download? Thankfully WordPress and the assorted range of plugins available for the platform make this surprisingly easy.

Today we will show you how to sell digital downloads directly from your WordPress site by using a free plugin.

Easy Digital Downloads Review

Choosing an eCommerce Plugin

There are many popular eCommerce plugins available for WordPress which once installed, allow you to sell products from your website. WooCommerce is one of the most popular plugins of this type for WordPress however, this plugin is more focussed towards those wishing to sell physical products.

As this guide is for those who want to know how to sell digital downloads using WordPress, the recommended plugin is Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) by Pippin Williamson.

Why Use Easy Digital Downloads?

This plugin has been designed solely for the purpose of selling digital downloads. Sometimes it’s great to have a plugin that has a wide range of functionality and potential uses, but for simplicity and ease of use, a single purpose solution can be a better choice.

The developers of EDD claim it’s the ‘world’s easiest way to sell digital downloads through WordPress’, a bold claim that many happy users seem to agree with, according to its 4.8 stars out of 5 rating and over 250,000 downloads.

What’s more this is a free plugin which can be expanded and upgraded by installing one of the 190 extensions available for it, allowing you to add more features to your store in the future, without changing plugins. For these reasons, we recommend EDD for selling digital downloads through your website.

Easy Digital Downloads Quick Start Tutorial

Once you’ve got a digital product ready for market, you will want to get your online store up and running as quickly as possible. Thankfully using EDD to build such a store is a very simple process that can allow you to get your product online and available for purchase in no time at all.

This guide to Easy Digital Downloads will show you how to turn a WordPress installation into a fully functioning online store, capable of selling digital products.

Installing the Plugin

As EDD is a free plugin hosted at the plugin repository, it can be installed directly from inside your WordPress dashboard.

Simply login to your site, go to Plugins > Add New and then type ‘Easy Digital Downloads’ into the search box.

Digital Store Install Plugin

Then click on the ‘Install Now’ text and then ‘Activate Plugin’ to enable it.

Adding a Product for Download

Once the plugin has been installed, a new custom post type will have been created entitled ‘Downloads’. This will add a new button to the sidebar menu in the WordPress admin dashboard. From here you can configure the plugin, view any existing downloads, or create a new downloadable digital product to sell on your site.

To get started and create your first download, click on ‘Downloads’ and then ‘Add New’.

Digital Store Add New Download

As you can see, the download creation page is very similar to the page for creating a new WordPress post. This should make it very easy for anyone who has used WordPress before to quickly create a new product.

Adding the file to be downloaded to the product description on the site is as easy as clicking on the ‘Upload a file’ button, and then dragging and dropping the file into WordPress.

Some of the features available when creating a new downloadable product include:

  • Setting a single price
  • Setting variable pricing options to offer different versions of a product at different prices
  • Adding download notes that are sent out with the product
  • Setting a limit of downloads for a product
  • Adding download-only categories and tags

You can also view the stats for the download from the Add New/Edit Download page. This includes the number of sales and the amount of earnings for that particular product. You can also view stats for all the products on your site from the ‘Reports’ section of the EDD dashboard.

If you offer multiple versions of the same product, then the variable pricing option will be of interest to you. This allows you to list different products under the same product description, available at different prices, such as a consumer version and a professional version.

Digital Store Price Points

Once you’ve created your download, you can then preview it or publish it to set it live on your site.

Digital Store Product Page

It really is that simple to add a product to your WordPress site. However, there are still some more steps involved in setting up the online store functionality of your site.

Accepting Payments

In order to sell products, you need to setup a way to accept payments from your customers. To do this, click on the ‘Settings’ menu item from the ‘Downloads’ menu and go to the ‘Payment Gateways’ tab.

Out of the box, Easy Digital Downloads works with PayPal, however by installing an extension, many other payment gateways can be added.

Digital Store PayPal

Setting up your site to accept payment via PayPal is as simple as checking a box and entering your PayPal email address for the payment to be sent to.

Digital Store Checkout

As the customer checks out, they must enter an email address for the receipt to be sent to, as well as their name.

Once the payment has been processed, the customer will get access to the downloadable digital product they have purchased.

Digital Store Purchase

The customer can then click on the filename and download the product to their computer. So in just a few minutes, you’ve created a product listing on your site, and configured your site to accept payments via PayPal.

Displaying the Digital Products on your Site

Now the next step is to display the products on your site so your potential customers can find them.

One option is to create a post or page to list all your products. This can be easily done by adding the following shortcode to the post or page content area:


If you want to configure how the products are displayed, you can arrange them using columns by using the shortcode with this parameter:

[downloads columns=”4″]

You can also choose which products are displayed, such as those in a particular category or tag, or using their IDs to only show certain products. The downloadable products can also displayed in a particular order, as well as setting how many will be displayed in the grid or list.

Digital Store Shortcodes 01

Another option is to simply insert the purchase button for a particular product. This can be useful when writing a post or page about a product, or when you mention a product in a post. By inserting just the purchase button you can make it even easier for your customers to buy the item, as they won’t have to visit any additional pages on your site.

Digital Store Purchase Button

The information displayed with the purchase button can be configured using shortcodes parameters. These include showing the price or not, changing the button text, and setting the styling of the button.

Digital Store Shortcodes 02

When using the purchase button, you can also opt to take the customer directly to the checkout page, or simply add the product to their shopping cart.

A further option is to add one of the EDD widgets to the sidebar of your site which displays the downloads taxonomies, either listing the tags or categories. You can of course, also use the WordPress menu builder to display links to individual products, your product page, or using the downloads categories and tag.

Digital Store Menu

The way the products are listed on your store can be totally customised in order to suit your site’s theme and design. More information on the different ways this can be done can be found on the theming section of the plugin’s documentation.

Other Settings and Features of Easy Digital Downloads

The above guide covers enough to get your site up and running with the ability to sell downloadable digital products. However, there are more features and settings of this plugin which you should explore further:

  • Discount code: offer discounts on your downloads, with expiry dates, and maximum number of uses
  • Reports: track sales, customers, downloads, and earnings over time
  • Change the currency settings
  • Setup a customer area and customer accounts
  • Edit the notification emails sent to customers
  • Set sales taxes for different regions
  • Create and display a ‘terms of agreement’ page
  • Import and export the settings of your store
  • Install one of the many addons

As you can see this plugin is very easy to setup and start using, but also contains a lot of depth and additional features that make it a powerful choice for selling digital downloads from a WordPress site.

Digital Store Reports

Interesting Extensions

When it comes to extending the functionally of EDD, there are over 190 addons available. Here are some interesting extensions available for the plugin:

  • Commissions: if you are selling products created by other authors then you can split the profits using the commission extension
  • Recommended Products: display other products to customers that they might be interested in
  • EDD Social Discounts: offer discounts to those that share your products on social networks
  • Widgets Pack: pack of 8 sidebar widgets for displaying your products
  • Recurring Payments: sell products on a subscription basis

There are also a number of WordPress themes that have been built to work closely with this plugin.

Support for Easy Digital Downloads

There are a couple of options for getting support for using this plugin. One is to use the free forums over at the EDD website.

There is also a premium priority support service which gives you better access to the developers and quicker responses to your issues. This is priced at $39 per month or $129 per year. There is also a video course covering this plugin too.


The free Easy Digital Downloads plugin is the perfect choice for anyone who wants to sell digital downloads directly from their site. Its ease of use makes it ideal for those looking to sell just one product as it can be setup so quickly.

However, its great range of features and selection of addons also make it a good choice for anyone selling multiple products and even selling products from a range of vendors, thanks to the marketplace extensions available for EDD.

If you want to offer a digital download on your WordPress site then Easy Digital Downloads comes highly recommended.

Have you ever built an online store with WordPress and what tool did you use?