I’ve been neck deep in building my first educational e-book website, and it’s served as a catalyst for great Easy Digital Downloads content here on PluginTut.

Having been in the online product space for about 8 years, and while you don’t read about any major “TechCrunch” wins in my career, I’ve sold well over a quarter-of-a-million dollars worth of digital products. When I launched The Podcast Starter Kit, I decided to keep a running journal of the experiences I went through. I wanted to uncover what a beginner might experience, setting up her first digital shop, eagerly looking to build an online empire.

It got me thinking, how much does an Easy Digitals Downloads store actually cost someone with a fresh new product, like mine?

Let’s dive in.

WordPress Hosting Costs

If you haven’t reviewed my 6 Tips Before Launching a Product, you should get it on your Pocket App. It’s a pre-launch checklist, that will put you in a better mindset for jumping into the digital product market space.

A sticking point within the post, I highlight the cost of WordPress web hosting & SSL certificates. These are requirements, not only for selling products with Easy Digital Downloads, but with any e-commerce platform.

You can start with an affordable plan from SiteGround, or level-up to a WP Engine managed account, or go big with a Pagely enterprise-grade offering — you make the choice depending on the size of your business. If you decide to go with your own home-grown hosting, or another vendor, you might have to purchase your own SSL certificate, if they don’t offer something like Let’s Encrypt. Check with them first.

You should also consider a backup plan (a literal backup plan for your data — not your business!) with the most affordable solution being a plugin like BackupBuddy, UpdraftPlus, or VaultPress from Jetpack. Some hosts, like SiteGround have basic backup included, so we’ll roll with that for now.

Easy Digital Downloads Cost

Zero! Zip! Zilch! Nada!

…in the beginning. 🙂

I also wrote a post about the 7 EDD Add-ons to Complete Your Online Platform, which are paid, not free. If you’re stomping your feet about why you have to pay for add-ons, please read How to Pick the Best WordPress Plugins, which will help you better understand where your money goes.

Let’s use my “7 Add-ons” article as an example, if you were to purchase all seven, you’re looking at a first-year cost of: $553 in add-ons. (Scroll to the bottom to learn how to save 30%)

Which doesn’t include the popular Stripe add-on at $89, bringing you to $642 in add-ons if you bought them all the day your doors opened.

Making business decisions

  • Why do I need these add-ons?
  • What about my other costs like lead capture, automation, design and CRM/Helpdesk?
  • Why aren’t these features included?

Let’s start with that last question: why aren’t these features included? I’ll sum it up short & sweet, maintaining add-ons is a lot of work, and the EDD team is already providing you with a platform to feature, sell, and deliver products for free — this stuff is icing on the cake.

Even more so, some of the add-ons, like recurring payments, can greatly increase your revenue year-over-year, even. So the investment, while it might seem heavy in the beginning, is offset by adding time-saving features, or revenue generating channels.

Is there an alternative?

Maybe you can find a hosted SaaS solution that has some of these EDD features, at a small monthly fee, versus the upfront add-on cost?

Sure, Shopify does (some) this. The first issue is, you don’t control all of the aspects of your website, which is crucial to success as you grow.

Second, it’s not modular. You get whatever Shopify has to offer, at the monthly fee they are charging you. When Joe and I launched The Podcast Starter Kit, we opted not to purchase any add-ons at launch. We kept our startup cost to a minimum, as we were already in the red, getting the book published.

Third, moving to a hosted solution comes with additional costs, like payment processing, to name only one. Here’s what the pricing looks like for a basic plan:

  • $29 monthly fee
  • 2.9% + 30¢ transaction fee
  • Additional 2% fee if you don’t use their payment processor

There is no monthly fee for EDD, you’re just paying for your hosting plan, and losing the percentage depending on the payment gateway you choose.

Other Costs

Web hosting + EDD isn’t the cost in your new endeavor. I started to hint at other areas you might need to spend on above, than just your store add-ons:

All three are paid, but have alternate free solutions. If you want to see how I built my first e-book store, with paid & free services, watch this video:

Pay nothing now; Invest later

This is an investment.

Purchasing add-ons shouldn’t frighten you, but at the same time, don’t be foolish with your money. This is business after all.

While my friends at EDD would love that I told you to go buy all of their add-ons on day one, I think the scrappy product launcher needs to know when she’s ready to make the leap.

It’s a balancing act. Understand that you might be losing out on sales with no on-site credit card payments now, but plan to invest profits from future sales, into the Stripe add-on. A small example that you can apply to many of the add-ons you think will help your new digital product store.

Oh, if you must have all your add-ons on launch day, they offer 30% off your customizable add-on startup bundle.

Posted by Matt

Host of The Matt Report & PluggedIn Radio. WordPress service & product business owner. Publisher at PluginTut.com.

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