Back in October 2012 I reviewed the WordPress plugin Easy Digital Downloads here on WPExplorer. At the time I had a good tinker with the plugin and concluded that it was the best solution for selling digital downloads directly from your blog that I was aware of.
Fast forward four months and I am ready to put my money where my mouth is. I released an information product in late October and up until a few days ago had been selling it using E-Junkie. However, that all recently changed when I switched to using Easy Digital Downloads to handle the selling of my online freelance writing guide.
In this post I am going to provide you with a real-life case study of my implementation of Easy Digital Downloads so you can see exactly what is involved in the process of selling digital products via your WordPress blog.
Why Did I Switch To Easy Digital Downloads?
I should start by saying that I wasn’t particularly displeased with E-Junkie. Quite frankly, for $5 a month you can’t really complain. It’s a decent option.
However, I felt that I wanted better than decent. The interface isn’t particularly user-friendly and the reporting system is a little basic. Easy Digital Downloads had been in the back of my mind ever since I had reviewed it but I was a bit too busy to handle what I figured would be a slightly fiddly transfer process. I was sold on the plugin — I just needed to find the time.
Fortunately I did, which brings me to this case study!
Setting Up The Easy Digital Downloads Plugin
I was concerned that getting Easy Digital Downloads up and running was going to be a hassle, but nothing could be further from the truth. In reality the plugin is practically good to go as soon as you install it — you would certainly be well-served by doing some fine-tuning, but nothing major at all.
Once installed, Easy Digital Downloads appears appropriately named within your sidebar:
The number of options available may initially seem overwhelming but the interface is actually very user-friendly. Before I started adding products and initiated the switch, I checked over the Settings which is split into six tabs:
The only thing I did at this stage was enable test mode, select my payment gateways and enter my PayPal email address. By default Easy Digital Download comes with PayPal and a “Test Payment” option (the use of which is obvious). This is all I need at the moment as everything went through PayPal over at E-Junkie, but there is the option to add additional payment gateways with extensions.
I then added my product of which there are actually three versions (and price points). This was a piece of cake — I just entered a name then uploaded the file and set a price and download limit:
That’s it! Once I saved my download I was pretty much good to go — all that was left for me to do was add a shortcode for the Purchase button in my sales page.
Easy Digital Downloads makes this easy by adding a button above the rich text editor in your New Post/Page screens:
When you click the button there are just a few simple pieces of information to complete:
That’s it! Once you’re finished the button will appear on your sales page in whatever form you determined:
It is fair to say that the whole process was a lot easier than I thought I would be.
The Purchaser’s Journey Through My Site
To be quite honest, I thought it was all a little too easy. I was keen to explore the journey that any customer would take through my site when purchasing my information product. Fortunately doing so is really simple with the Test Payment option enabled — you can test the process as many times as you would like.
I soon discovered that Easy Digital Downloads creates a number of default pages when it is installed so that the checkout/payment process is ready to go straight away. Technically you do not need to touch a thing in order for the checkout process to work once you have added downloads and payment buttons, but it may well be wise to tailor those pages in order to make things a little more personal to your site.
Doing so is a piece of cake — those additional pages can be found alongside all other pages on your site and can be edited in the same manner as any other:
Each page contains a short code that provides the link between the page and the dynamically created content. All I did was add a little bit of text before this short code to get the desired result, so this…
Once I was happy with the process by which a customer would purchase an item on my site I turned to the purchase confirmation email that they would receive. This is another area in which Easy Digital Downloads excels as it allows you to customize this email to your heart’s content with a number of dynamic fields. Here’s what I ended up with:
Which produces an email like this in reality:
Simple yet effective.
Reports & Statistics
I don’t have anything in the way of reports to show you (since I only have screenshots of one day’s worth of sales) but reporting is one of the main reasons I decided to make the switch from E-Junkie to Easy Digital Downloads. Having all of your reports within the WordPress dashboard is extremely convenient and the reports themselves are really nicely presented.
You can check out data in list format (and click on each product for further information):
Or observe trends over time with reports:
It’s all pretty slick and a vast improvement on my E-Junkie experience. I can’t wait to dig deeper into these reports when I have some more data to play with.
There’s Much More Behind the Scenes
That pretty much wraps up the simple steps I took to get Easy Digital Downloads up and running — the whole process didn’t take me any longer than 30 minutes (of which a lot was curious tinkering). But although Easy Digital Downloads is easy enough to set up, there is a lot of depth in the options available to you so that you can tweak things to your liking. I’m not sure there are many (if any) ways in which you would like to offer digital downloads via your WordPress blog that Easy Digital Downloads can’t handle — Pippin really seems to have thought of everything.
There’s a bunch of stuff I haven’t even mentioned such as discount codes, categories and tags and more settings, but it’s all there for you to discover for yourself when you download Easy Digital Downloads at no cost (yep — it’s free!).
Furthermore, the plugin is regularly updated and as I mentioned above, there are a whole swathe of extensions that you can use to increase its functionality. I have already installed the Affiliates Pro extension and will be taking a closer look at other extensions to see if they can be of help to me too.
Having now installed and set up Easy Digital Downloads, I’m can’t think of any reason why I would go with an alternative option. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking to sell digital downloads via their blog.