Once you’ve created a digital product, you’ll need to look for a way to sell them online. If you want to sell digital products with a website, you have the choice between building it on WordPress or other dedicated platforms.
Digital products are not just limited to ebooks and software—they can also be videos, audio files, or other types of content that you can download from the internet. Setting up a website for this purpose is an excellent way to reach new customers—but there are many different ways you could do it.
Different ways to sell digital products with a website
Digital products can be sold in many ways, either as one-off sales, through subscriptions, or by issuing license keys. The choice can vary depending on how you wish to structure the business model and the type of digital products you wish to sell. Let’s look at each in turn.
When you’re selling your own digital product on a website for one-time payments (for example $20), it’s called an “one-off sale.” This is by far the most common way to sell digital products with a website.
These are ideal for digital downloads that can be consumed in whole immediately. Digital products such as eBooks, short online courses, printables and graphic templates can be sold as one-off products.
A subscription is a recurring payment that allows the customer access to your product on an ongoing basis for a set price. This might be great if you want to provide new content or updates for your customers periodically, and don’t care about making one-time sales!
Subscriptions for digital products are usually sold when you have more products to offer that complement the original product.
Alternatively, these could include content that is constantly updated with new articles, premium offers etc. which only the active subscribers will have exclusive access to. Examples of this include memberships and software/web apps (SAAS).
When you use License keys, it’s less like buying something once (for $20) and more like getting access to it forever; they work much more like renting than owning in this case. The license key belongs only to the person who purchases it—in order for others with the same computer as them to have permission, they would need their own key too.
Though most commonly used for software products, these can also be extended to other digital products such as audio tracks, graphic templates, digital art and stock photographs.
How to set up your online shop on WordPress
Once you’ve decided the type of digital product you want to sell and the associated revenue model, you should set up your online shop that accommodates both. In this section, I’ve decided to use WordPress as an example as it is the most popular website builder and one that accommodates most product types.
It’s also a website builder that is flexible and can accommodate all the essential features listed above. Let’s look at how to build a WordPress website to sell your digital products.
Choose a domain and hosting provider
WordPress is a self-hosted solution, i.e. you’ll need a web hosting provider that can store your web files to get your website live on the internet. There are many hosting solutions optimized for WordPress but my top choice is Siteground for shared hosting and Cloudways for cloud
As for the domain, you could search for one that’s available either through Namecheap or GoDaddy.
Install WordPress and Choose a Theme
My go-to choices for a free and lightweight theme are Astra or Hello Elementor (if you choose to use Elementor as your preferred page builder).
This will provide you with a clean slate to begin with.
Install necessary plugins
Below is a list of plugins you would need to achieve various functionalities necessary to sell digital products with a website.
Design & Development: Elementor
This is a page builder that will let you design and customize your website based on your requirements. Whether you want to build a homepage, funnels or product pages, Elementor has pre-designed templates that can help you get started quickly.
Alternative Options: BeaverBuilder, Oxygen, Divi
Template Library: Envato Elements
This plugin lets you import template libraries into your website giving you additional options to get started. You could choose one that matches your requirements.
Alternative Options: Astra Starter Sites
Shopping Cart: WooCommerce
A good shopping cart will help process orders efficiently and collect payments on sales completed. To make sure everything runs smoothly when payments are processed there should be seamless connectivity between your chosen host and payment gateways such as Paypal or Stripe.
WooCommerce provides all the necessary features to convert the website to an online store. You can use it to sell your digital products, and also integrate with the other plugins mentioned below.
Alternative Options: Easy Digital Downloads, Sellfy, SendOwl
Customer Relationship Management: FluentCRM
This extends your website into a system that lets you easily manage leads and nurture them into paying customers. You can easily manage their buying journey and send customized offers. All of this within an automated system.
Alternative Options: ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp
If you want to track the number of visitors entering your website, analyze their behaviour and evaluate the popular pages/products, this useful plugin will integrate with Google Analytics to provide these insights right into your dashboard.
Alternative Options: ExactMetrics
Funnel Builder: Cartflows
Funnels are a great way to help take your target audience/customers through a series of steps in the sales process that will eventually nurture them into buying your ultimate product. It works great if you have high value sales items that you want to offer customers who’ve already purchased from you.
Alternative Options: WooFunnels
If you want your website to rank high on Google and drive organic traffic, this is a great plugin to help configure all your SEO needs.
Alternative Options: YoastSEO
If you want to make products available or share premium content only to certain registered members, you can extend your website to sell memberships using Memberpress. This is great if you want to monetize your audience by providing them gated access to specific products/pages, or even exclusive members-only discounts.
Alternative Options: RestrictContent Pro, WooCommerce Membership
Online Courses: Learndash
This is ideal if your digital product is an online course. You can create, deliver and get students to register to your online courses within your website through a Learning Management System such as Learndash.
Alternative Options: TutorLMS, LifterLMS
Other platforms to sell digital products with a website
WordPress is ideal for most types of digital products you want to sell. However, there are dedicated marketplaces that are designed to sell specific types of digital products which you could consider too.
For example, if you’re selling printables such as calendar designs, invoice templates etc, you could set up a shop on Etsy. Similarly, Envato for themes and templates, Shutterstock for photography and so on.
This will give you a good headstart as they have a wider reach/audience.
Let us know what your thoughts on this are.