Selling Digital Products On WordPress? We live in fantastic times when just about anyone can start their own ecommerce website for a fraction of the cost it used to be before the WordPress era. But what’s the best solution when it comes to selling digital products? Let’s find out!
Selling Digital Products On WordPress
hello I’m Kaycinho, I’m a digital alchemist, and today I want to talk about selling digital products with WordPress.
There are other solutions out there like Shopify for example, and that’s a great platform, but it doesn’t quite have the flexibility of WordPress in my opinion.
And the business model of Shopify means it can quickly become expensive if you want to extend the basic features.
Now that wouldn’t be a problem if you were already making money but many people who start an online store start with limited funds so that’s not always the best alternative.
So if you use and love Shopify, I totally get it, but in today’s episode we’ll focus on WordPress and the solutions I’ve been using.
Now I’m well aware there are more solutions than the 3 I’ve been using but this is based on my experience after creating several ecommerce websites with WordPress.
In order to help you better understand what’s at stake, I will present each solution as well as a quick case study.
The case study will be about selling online courses on your website with each solution.
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: 1 – Woocommerce.
Now of course, the number one plugin mentioned everywhere is Woocommerce.
WooCommerce was initially a new project of the WooThemes company.
The project became so huge that WooCommerce gained a huge marketshare in the world of ecommerce solutions.
So huge that Automattic, the company behind WordPress itself acquired WooCommerce in 2015!
WooCommerce is now a mature product with many third party addons that can extend the functionality of WooCommerce beyond your wildest dreams.
Now of course, even though WordPress and WooCommerce are free, not all addons are free.
Quite to the contrary actually, especially if you want to make sure that the plugins you add will still be maintained and supported, let’s say a year from now.
Because the open-source strenght of WordPress can also be one of its downsides!
Anyone can create a plugin and add it to the WordPress marketplace for free. And we see a lot of enthusiasts create promising plugins, only to abandon it a few months later.
Because they are moving on to another project, getting married, or just feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of free support they have to provide.
So even though you could create a Woocommerce website literally for free, it wouldn’t necessarily provide the best experience long term.
Now of course there are some exceptions. Because some of the best free plugins are actually developed by companies that make money with premium versions or other premiu products.
In that case, you can feel quite confident that they’ll still be in business for a while.
That being said, lets move onto our case study.
Let’s imagine you want to start creating and selling online courses on your WordPress website.
There are a few solutions available.
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: Online courses with Learndash
However, bearing in mind what we’ve just talked about, I’ve narrowed it down to the Learndash plugin, which is considered by many as one of the best tools for the job.
That also means that it’s not a free solution, they currently have 3 packages, and for what I want to do, I’d have to go with the Plus Package, usually priced at 229 dollars per year.
- if you want to connect Learndash to Mailchimp, add an addition $29 per year for one site.
- if you want to customize the branding of your Learndash course as well as adding the ability for your students to take notes, for one site, add an additional $49 per year.
- if you want to add a gradebook, add an additional $79 per year and per site.
- if you want Slack integration for one site add $29 per year.
- last but not least, if you want to have multiple instructors on your Learndash website, add an additional $79 per year and per site.
So, that’s $494 per year.
While it may seem a lot, it’s actually not, if you take into consideration how much you’d have to pay if this was custom developed (probably in the 5 figures range at best).
Plus, depending on how you price your courses, you should make your money back in no time.
But I wanted to outline the costs involved because there are a lot of people teaching how to create free ecommerce websites.
But usually it only works for very specific scenarios, and as soon as you want something more polished and a bit different there are ususally costs involved.
So that’s just for the first part, because if you are familiar with online marketing, you know that selling leads straight to your online store is not always what works best.
That’s when funnels come into play.
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: WooCommerce Funnels
Luckily for us, there is now a great solution to create funnels for WooCommerce and it’s called Cartflows.
CartFlows is a must have when it comes to creating funnels for WooCommerce and it comes with a free version and a premium one.
Want to know the difference between free and pro versions? Click here.
Basically with the premium version you get the ability to add:
- order bumps
- custom thank you page
- 2 steps checkout
- cart abandonment
- A/B testing
- and much more!
The pro version is usually priced at 349 dollars per year.
So if we add it on top of our previous amount, we are now at $843 per year (without the discounts).
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: Getting Paid
With all of that in place, you now need to connect a payment gateway in order to get paid.
Depending on where you live, you may have access to several payment gateways.
The most popular being PayPal and Stripe.
While PayPal is the most available solution it is not available everywhere. On the other hand as much as I love Stripe, it has less coverage than PayPal.
Now this is just the tip of the Iceberg.
Because even if you have access to a payment gateway and actually get money into your account, neither Stripe nor Paypal will help you when it comes to making sure you comply with the vastly different tax regulations rules on planet earth.
Let’s just mention two of the main ones: the US and the EU.
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: In the US
In the US, you have different rules from state to state, which you are supposed to comply with.
Now of course, if you live outside the US, you may not care, when you actually should.
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: In the EU
And the same goes for the EU, which may ask you to comply with the new EU VAT rules, where you are supposed to pay the VAT to the member state of your European customer if you are selling digital products.
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: In the rest of the World
And I’m not even talking about the tax regulations of the many other countries on planet earth.
I’m not an accountant and it’s actually much more complex than that, but that’s actually my point!
Technically, Woocommerce is one of the best solutions in my opinion. especially if you consider what it used to cost to create ecommerce systems from scratch.
Now, in terms of accountancy, and operations, you are still left with a huge amount of tax regulations headaches. So is there a solution?
Actually there is, and I will talk about it later in this video.
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: 2 – Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads, also known as E D D.
Easy Digital Downloads is a nice alternative to WooCommerce.
It was created by Pippin Williamson and offers an ecommerce solution focused on digital downloads, as the name suggests.
Now although it’s been a while since I last used EDD, I’ve had a very good impression about the product.
On one hand though, in the first stages it felt that it was built only for the US.
But the thing is that the original developer was really listening and deploying fast.
So in a matter of weeks missing features were deployed. And I appreciated that.
Since then I moved on to other projects for which I had to work with WooCommerce.
Now let’s adapt our Learndash case study.
Let’s say I still need:
- the Plus plan for Learndash
- the Mailchimp integration
- the visual customizer and the note taking app
- the gradebook
- the slack integration and the multiple instructors.
So that would still be $494 per year.
On top of that:
- if you want PDF invoices, add $29 per year
- and if you have a need for advanced sequential order numbers, as in my case, then add another $49 per year and per site.
So, adding it all we’re now at $572 per year.
CartFlows For EDD
Unfortunately CartFlows is not compatible with EDD.
But while CartFlows was initially a funnel for Woocommerce, they’ve added the ability to use CartFlows as a universal funnel tool so you could use it even without WooCommerce.
That means you could use it with EDD, but bear in mind you won’t have access to order bumps, upsells, downlsells and so on.
Unless they release an integration for EDD one day, but I haven’t heard anything about that.
So, in case there are some premium features you could benefit from with CartFlows, you’d need to add another $349 per year, so we’d be looking at $921 per year.
And we’d still be left with a problem that could cost us much more: dealing with local tax regulations.
But as I said, there is a solution, there is another way!
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: 3- FastSpring
FastSpring is a global solution enabling subscriptions and payments for thousands of digital businesses around the world.
It is mainly designed for companies selling software, content or apps online.
But if I stopped there, you may answer “So what?”.
Well, what if I told you that FastSpring takes care of complying with all the tax regulations nightmares?
To be complete, FastSpring deals with:
- Customer Acquisition
- Growth and Retention
- On-line, Mobile, and In-app Commerce
- Subscription Management & Billing
- Global Payments & Settlement
- as well as Back-office Operations.
But once again, in all of that, the biggest pain point they take away is dealing with the local tax regulations.
Another cool thing is that FastSpring offers many payment methods that you don’t have to configure.
FastSpring has a WordPress plugin so that you can sell your digital products straight from within WordPress, but all the back-end stuff is handled by them.
The only downside is that technically it is not a payment gateway, so actually, it’s more like FastSpring is selling your products and retain a commission.
That also means that in our example, we’d need a way to let our WordPress and Learndash website know that a user has made a payment through FastSpring, and allow that user in a specific course.
What’s the solution then?
Luckily there is a plugin that allows to create license codes in bulk and then require a license code for registration.
And on the other side, FastSpring natively allows you to import codes in bulk.
That plugin is Uncanny Learndash Codes and it costs $129 per year per site.
So the process would be the following:
- The user purchases a course from your site through the FastSpring plugin.
- He or she then immediately receives a license code that needs to be entered the first time he or she wants to access the course. They only need to enter it one time, just like you would do for any software or premium plugin.
So yes there is an extra step involved, but it’s very straightforward and at this point they’ve alreay purchased your course.
Now of course it would be better without that extra step but in the balance, I much prefer this solution to the previous two.
Because in this third solution, my customers can pay with a lot of payment methods. Cherry on the cake, I don’t have to spend time and accountant money to deal with local tax regulations because FastSpring is doing it for me.
That solution would amount to $623 per year.
And on top of that you’d need to take into account:
- either an 8.9% flat fee on the total value of the transaction (option 1)
- or a fee of 5.9% of the value of the transaction, plus 95 cents for each transaction processed, (option 2).
Depending on the price of your products you may choose option 1 or 2.
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: 4 – Wait… there’s a fourth way?
To be crystal clear there is actually a way to mix FastSpring with Easy Digital Downloads.
This way, you wouldn’t have that extra step I mentioned in the previous point in our case study.
That solution is called ProteusPay and basically it connect WordPress, Easy Digital Downloads And FastSpring.
It allows you to enjoy all the benefits of running your WordPress website but enhances the experience by adding full integration with the FastSpring eCommerce platform.
Now this service costs around $199 dollars per year and if you want them to do the installation, add to that a one time fee of $300.
So if you choose that solution in our cast study, it would cost you a grand total of $1120 per year
On top of well as the $300 for the initial installation if you need it.
ProteusPay For WooCommerce
Unfortunately I haven’t found such a solution for WooCommerce. Which is kind of weird.
But that’s the way it goes.
Hopefully, someone connects the dots and creates something like ProteusPay but for WooCommerce.
So, as you can see, we’re far from an easy free WooCommerce setup here.
But once again, if you think like an entrepreneur this is a required investment if want to start making money selling online courses on your website.
Now, you could always get started with online courses platforms, but that’s a story for another episode!
Selling Digital Products On WordPress: What Will You Create?
So, I hope that you now have a better picture of some of the solutions to sell digital products on your WordPress website. Now which solution do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!
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So, that’s it for this episode, I hope to see you around here or on the Youtube channel, and in the meantime, don’t forget to invest in YOUR success!