If your new year’s resolution is to start that digital product store you’ve always wanted to profit from, look no further than Easy Digital Downloads plugin for WordPress.
It’s a great plugin, supported by a dedicated team, and it passes the FUSE test with flying colors. There’s a bunch of ways to make money with WordPress, and selling digital products like e-books or collections of audio/video files, is one of them. If you’re actually in the WordPress space, it’s the defacto platform for selling themes & plugins, too.
I know there are a lot of people that look to selling digital products to earn a side income, and even bootstrap their new entrepreneurial careers. Here’s an interview I did with Logan Nickelson of Music for Makers, where we break down how he uses EDD to sell audio tracks to his customers. Selling digital products is an attractive business model, with a charming low-cost barrier for entry — or so it looks. For those of you caught in the trance of passive income, here’s my 6 top pieces of advice you need to know before starting your store with Easy Digital Downloads.
You need products
(Hooked, pictured above, is a great book for first-time product makers.)
I’m hitting you with the big “duh” reminder first — you need products. I’m saying this because I see so many people waste time building out a site, designing their perfect theme, and making a bunch of pretty pictures, while their product is half baked — worse — not even in the oven yet!
Spend your time crafting and pitching your product before you spend the time building the store. It’s nice to have all the shiny tech tools in place, but it’s worthless if you don’t have a product to sell, or know exactly who you’re selling it to.
You need a payment processor
By default, EDD will work with PayPal standard, but that’s going to have some transaction limits as your business grows. Also, it pulls the user off of the site, which is a big no-no when it comes to conversions and user experience.
By switching to a processor like Stripe, your customer can checkout on the website, and not get off-loaded to PayPal. Pro tip: Don’t get rid of PayPal, you want to have as many options as you can to accommodate your customer, especially in non-US territories.
Luckily, EDD has many payment gateway add-ons to choose from.
You need security
I’m going to recommend a three-pronged approach to securing your online store. First up, you need an SSL certificate.
SSL Certificates, in most cases, can be purchased from your web hosting provider (I’ll recommend some below), but if they don’t, you can buy one at NameCheap. This is a must-have for on-site credit card checkout, otherwise your customer sees a big fat warning when they go to swipe their card. Bad experience!
You need backups of your Easy Digital Downloads store and WordPress website.
Use a plugin like BackupBuddy to make your own backups, off-site from your web host. Again, the severity of this stuff is all relative. In the beginning you might not be doing a ton of transactions, so relying your web hosts backup service is just fine for launch. As your store grows, and you have more customers, no one will get fired from making more secure backups of the data. They will if something catastrophic happens at the web hosting company, and no one has a copy of your database. Make backups with BackupBuddy.
What if you could have a watch dog, actively making sure your site’s core files are secure, free from malicious attackers? That’s where Sucuri website security comes into play.
Sucuri is a service that actively monitors your website for malware, malicious incoming traffic, and active break-ins. I trust it on my websites, and their weekly e-mail summary of my website scans gives me piece of mind that I’m as secure as I can be.
SSL, backups, active security scanning — get them.
You need to spend a little bit of money
Here’s the more theoretical part of the discussion, spending money to make money.
Yes, Easy Digital Downloads is free to start, but you will eventually find yourself needing to purchase some of their add-ons, and for good reason. Like I mentioned above, you might want to buy the Stripe payment gateway add-on to take credit cards on your website, or the MailChimp add-on to collect e-mails. There’s even more advanced add-ons that integrate with marketing automation software or cart recovery software like, Jilt app.
All of this extra expense helps you earn more money, or save boat loads of time integrating into 3rd party software. Luckily, the EDD team has a great starter package program where you can save 30%!
You need solid hosting
I’ll make this section short and sweet, because I plan on going deeper into this, in a future series. I recommend the three hosts I’ve been using for the last two years on all of my client sites. You might read reviews where people recommend 12 different hosts as a means to earn affiliate income. While the links I use in this article are affiliates to help me earn a living, I recommend the following hosts because I use them for my own sites, and my client’s sites, as well.
Siteground – If you’re looking for an affordable shared hosting solution with amazing WordPress tools and support, checkout this company.
WP Engine – If you’re looking for a host that you can call up on the phone, has exceptional WordPress knowledge, and great developer facing tools — like seamless staging sites — checkout WP Engine.
Pagely – If you’re building a big e-commerce store on WordPress, need cutting-edge technology, and a team that knows how to scale enterprise-grade solutions, look no further than Pagely.
More on this topic later.
You need time
Last, but not least, building and growing an online store takes time. If you’re interested in what it takes, listen to my interview with Beka Rice of SkyVerge. I meet with a lot of folks who were sold on the idea of passive income, and creating digital products as a means to quick revenue, but sadly it’s not the case.
You’re going to need time to build everything out, and more importantly, market your products — growing an audience. Don’t get caught up in the hype, and hire a professional if you find yourself stuck in a rut.
I wish you all the success with your new online store! Leave any comments or questions below.