The first time I needed a simple WordPress solution to sell a few ebooks, I checked out Easy Digital Downloads. It had been out awhile, and although I was also dabbling in other eCommerce plugins, I was intrigued with the fact that it worked solely for downloads. Needless to say, I got hooked.
In this guide for Easy Digital Downloads, you will learn:
- How to Get Started with Easy Digital Downloads
- How to Extend Your Easy Digital Download Metrics
- How to Customize and Add Checkout Fields in Easy Digital Downloads
- How to Send Unique Messages to Customers and Vendors with Easy Digital Downloads
- How to Offer Free Downloads with Easy Digital Downloads
- How to Track and Pay Out Commissions with Easy Digital Downloads
- How to Provide Custom Deliverables to Your Clients with Easy Digital Downloads
- How To Create Discounts for Your Customers with Easy Digital Downloads
- How to Add Terms of Agreement Per Product to Easy Digital Downloads
- How to Add Reviews to Your Products in Easy Digital Downloads
- How to Offer an All Access Pass or Membership Using Easy Digital Downloads
- How to Add Recurring Payments and Subscriptions to Easy Digital Downloads
- How To Create Custom Success Redirects in Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads for WordPress. There’s a Reason its Name Is Easy.
The plugin is free on WordPress.org, but I recommend that you look into their bundles of extended features that bring a lot more usefulness and functionality to your online store. I am going over the free version here, but at the end of the post are links to pieces we have written on select functionality that can be added to Easy Digital Downloads.
We’ll start with some general settings that allow you to assign the necessary pages you will need. These pages are automatically generated but you can assign existing pages as well— and add the shortcodes.
Next you will set your store location and choose to allow tracking from EDD.
Currency settings are available here:
Easy Digital Downloads works with a wide variety of payment gateways. PayPal standard and Amazon Pay comes with the free version, but there are add-ons that allow you to extend your options (see the end of this post) and can be added as needed.
You can add your logo, name and email to all email notifications:
When a purchase notification goes out, you can customize the content for that one here. You see several template tags are available.
You get the same options for the new sale notification with the added fields to copy multiple email addresses and toggle off the admin notifications. This is quite useful if you as an admin don’t need to be notified, but someone else on your team does instead.
If you would rather have your theme dictate the style of buttons, checkout fields, etc., vs. the style from the plugin, you can toggle that off and on. I would suggest testing both to see which you like better.
Also, you can choose your default button style and color.
And then there are taxes. Yes, we can’t get away from those. As more and more laws are put in place for taxes on downloads, when you set this up, you might want to do your research or get a professional to help you.
And as with any policy, you must offer to erase any consumer information. You will set up specific data and indicate if it is anonymized or erased.
Lastly, in the settings, there are several under miscellaneous, including checkout, button text, file downloads, accounting and terms of agreement.
Miscellaneous gives you a few random settings that you may want to check out.
For checkout, you are able to force users to a secure checkout page, toggle login on or off, allow for multiple discounts and enable cart savings, which is kind of cool. It lets shoppers create temporary links to their current shopping cart they can revisit later or share with someone.
In addition to the button style I showed you earlier, you are also able to customize the text for your various buttons.
You will also want to set some control over your downloads.
The accounting settings this give you a chance to organize your inventory better since your products are not physical. You don’t find this option in a lot of the eCommerce plugins for downloads, and it can come in handy.
Creating a New Download
Adding a new download is not different than adding products on other eCommerce plugins or adding a post, the only difference being the options you have to display and sell the download.
You will start with the name and description of your download as you would any post type in WordPress.
You have a couple of options for setting your price. A single price:
Or variable pricing with a multi-purchase option mode so customers can add more than one item in a cart at the same time.
Next you will add the download files with the choice of a single product or a bundle, which is a collection of downloads. You will notice that you have the option of uploading the file directly there or entering the URL. You will want to decide if you want your downloads stored on your hosting server or elsewhere. In most cases, I would recommend cloud storage, such as AmazonS3.
If you would like any special instructions or notes added to the purchase receipt with the file, you can do that here:
Aside from those options, on the side you will see download stats, categories, tags, and reviews. You will also add your download image there and have access to some download settings that will override the global setting I showed you previously.
Using the Easy Digital Downloads free theme, this is what a simple download product page would look like:
Depending on your theme, if you are using a page builder or any other variable, it could look different on your site.
If you are using WordPress 5.0 or higher, you can also take advantage of the download block that can be added. With the new editor this allows you to easily add a download or downloads to any page or posts.
Simply search for the download block.
Once added, you can see the control you get over what you display on the post or page.
You can also generate discount codes for your downloadables. It gives you all the details you need to control the type of discount, included and excluded downloads, expiration dates and usage.
You will access to all your customers in a list and are able to view their profile, as well as make edits.
If for some reason the stats are not updated, you can have them recalculated.
Payment history would show all sales and where they are in the process.
Same with reports. Not much to show here but you can see the different reports that you can view by filtering them by time span.
The Free Plugin EDD Metrics
It’s free. It’s simple to add.
With this plugin you get:
- Net Revenue ( subtracts refunds)
- Average revenue per customer
- Estimated monthly revenue
- Earnings by download
- Earnings by gateway
- New customers
It also supports the EDD Software Licensing add-on for renewals and renewal rates, and EDD Recurring Payments for subscriptions and recurring income, if you have those extensions installed.
This is what you will see in your dashboard (minus the extension metrics and your own numbers added, of course):
That’s it. It does one thing, and it does it well. You can download the EDD Metrics plugin on WordPress.org.
Easy Digital Downloads Extensions for Added Functionality
As I mentioned previously, there are several extensions that you can get when you purchase an EDD bundle. This is just a sampling off the popular extensions; you can view all 150+ on their site.
Here are a few of the extensions and what you are able to do with them.
How to Customize and Add Checkout Fields in Easy Digital Downloads
Having worked with many coaching clients in the past, one of the biggest frustrations with many of the eCommerce plugins is the lack of control over the checkout page without having to mess with the code. But fortunately, many of them have extensions or plugins that will make that job easy. And Easy Digital Downloads is no different.
The Checkout Fields Manager plugin with its drag-and-drop interface lets you easily add 22 different field types. Of course, with some of these, their flexibility makes it even more functional.
As you can see here, you now have a menu item called Checkout Form and once you open it, you get your existing checkout form fields and a list of custom fields on the right that you can drag and drop anywhere on your checkout form.
You also note that in the above screenshot, certain EDD extensions will also add fields here for you. One example of that would be the Amazon S3 extension.
Now each field will obviously have its own setup, but to give you an idea of the options in these, I’ll just share screenshots of three of them.
Email Custom Field
Terms and Conditions
As you see in the first two examples above, you have some options of whether the field will show on the front end or not, as well as where the meta should be stored. For example, if the meta is ticked to store in the User Meta, then it will be shown in the customer-facing profile editor using a shortcode. And if the Payment Meta is selected, it will show on the payment history for the customer.
So between the number of flexible fields you can choose from and the ability to control where specific data shows up, this could be an a very useful extension for your Easy Digital Downloads checkout page.
Just think of all the information you could collect that would help you understand your customers and also better serve and meet their needs.
So check it out over on the Easy Digital Downloads site and start customizing your checkout field with an easy drag-and-drop interface.
How to Send Unique Messages to Customers and Vendors with Easy Digital Downloads
There are times when you just need to send your customers or vendors a specific message— easily. This kind of continued communication is important in sustaining your relationships.
Whether you sell your downloads to customers directly or manage a group of vendors, being able to communicate directly with them is crucial to keeping your sales running smoothly. The EDD Message extension does exactly that.
Once you have installed the plugin, you can go into any customer’s account. There you will find a new tab called messages.
If you click on that, you can create the message. And there are several additional fields that can be toggled. You can also attach any files, as many as needed.
You can review the history of the messages you have sent your customers as well.
And if you want an overview of all messages sent, they are available in your Reports > Logs.
If you have your Easy Digital Downloads set up as a marketplace, you can send messages to your vendor in the exact same way.
And for vendors, on the front end, when they are viewing their own customers, a message button will appear so they can compose unique messages to any of their customers as well.
If you are looking to keep up with those important messages to either your customers or your vendors, check out the EDD Messages extension.
Free Downloads Made Simpler with Easy Digital Downloads
One of the keys to making downloads as seamless as possible is to offer free downloads without any hassle. If someone wants your free eBook, heck, why should they have to go through a checkout process, that could lead to frustration and possibly even abandonment? With the Free Downloads extension for EDD, the process is now quick and easy for your readers and customers.
As you can see, the settings are straightforward.
You can use the Free Download extension with your email extensions for collecting emails and building your lists. You can ask for their names as well. The Show Notes field is cool. You could get pretty creative with this part, depending on what happens once they have completed the download. And if registration is what you want, you can also require that for logged-out users. This could be helpful with a membership site where you want only members to access the free download.
On completion, there are three options, which makes it nice: from a simple confirmation, to auto download, to a custom redirect. Also, the two options under the Processing Settings > Disable Emails and Direct Download give you even more advantage over streamlining this process. See the example for Direct Download later in this post. You will have the same options for mobile as well.
Setting Up Your Free Download
It’s simple to assign any download as free. Just leave the price at $00.00 and set it up as you would any download with EDD. You will notice on the right that there is an option to Disable Free Downloads modal. Here you can see that I am using the external Amazon S3, which is a great option to have.
The Download Modal
As you can see from this screenshot, clicking the download button calls up this window. Since I have it set for Auto Download, all they need to do is put in their email, and it’s downloaded.
Yep, that easy.
The other option they have created for this is a direct download link in that window. This gives the user the opportunity to download it without having to give their email. So depending on if you choose to make this an option, and collecting emails isn’t a must-have, this is a useful option to give your users and likely will result in more downloads. Of course, you can always continue the relationship via the downloaded content.
If we go back to our settings, and tick this box, we can add our message.
If we were to go back and click on the download button, this option would now be available to the user. They can bypass putting in their email and get the download easily.
This extension is a must-have if you want more control and additional options for your users.
How to Track and Pay Out Commissions with Easy Digital Downloads
First you will have your global settings and a default rate you can set as well. It can be calculated a few different ways. As far as payment goes, you have two options. You can generate a CSV file and upload it to PayPal’s mass payment system. Or you can use PayPal Adaptive Payments, which gives you the ability to pay commissions instantly.
Adding a New Commission
Creating a new commission for single users is very straightforward. Of course, these commission rates and specific downloads will override the general settings for this add-on.
Commission Settings per Product
You can also set commissions on a specific product:
You will be able to see the status of all commissions here as well as generate the payout file if you are uploading it to the PayPal mass payments.
And a commissions-paid-per-month report lets you easily preview all commissions paid out over a period of time.
Lastly, if you need more control over your commissions, there are several free 3rd-party extensions that include taxonomy rates for commissions, thresholds, tiered rates, fees, notes and flat rates. You can learn more about the Commission Add-on for Easy Digital Downloads here.
How to Provide Custom Deliverables to Your Clients with Easy Digital Downloads
You may have been in this situation before. You provide a service for a client. It might be:
- Designing a logo
- Doing a photo shoot for some products
- Creating voiceovers
- Composing custom video tutorials
Or dozens of other deliverable end-products.
It typically works like this. You might attach the download to an email. Or maybe you send them a link to download it from Dropbox or Amazon S3. Those two methods work, but:
- You don’t know if they actually downloaded it.
- You don’t know if they received the email.
- You have to search your sent email to verify that you did send the email.
- You cannot easily send it to them when they ask you for the download.
The Custom Deliverables extension gives your clients will add an easy way to download files from their account. They are protected and even tracked, so you know when they have downloaded it.
On your end, you can email your customer with a simple click and if you need to confirm that it was done, it is marked as fulfilled.
Setting Up the Deliverable
Once you have installed the extension, you can find the Custom Deliverables by going to Downloads > Payment History, choosing the payment and clicking on View Order Details. Then scroll to the Custom Deliverables section.
You have three options for the files you want the client to access. You can send both the custom download and a download that is part of the product, bought together or separately.
Next, add the file or files that are the custom deliverables. For example, someone purchased the a 30-second voiceover and I will add the finished audio file for them to upload.
Then you are able to notify your customer.
You can also customize this email as well.
If you look at the screenshot above where you download files, you see a Mark job as fulfilled button. Once you have sent the email, you can do that for your records and this will now show instead of the button:
On your payment history, you can see which orders have been marked as fulfilled.
Once this is all done, your client will get an email notifying them of the download.
Your clients can also find those specific downloads on their account page:
You can track if a client has downloaded the file. For example, if I go to my Easy Digital Download Reports > Logs, I will see who has downloaded. A recent email to Jen Forest shows that she hasn’t downloaded it yet.
But when check back later, I see that she has downloaded it:
So if you are looking for a way to add custom downloads for your clients, check out the Custom Deliverable Extension for Easy Digital Downloads.
How To Create Discounts for Your Customers with Easy Digital Downloads
The ability to give customers discounts based on specific criteria is a valuable option when it comes to boosting your online sales. Easy Digital Downloads is by far one of the most popular plugins for selling downloadable products. When you combine it with discounted options, it’s perfect.
With the add-on Discounts Pro, you can easily give discounts to all of your logged-in customers, or only specific ones based on their role. You can also give discounts based on the number purchased, or if certain downloads are bought together, to give you just a couple of examples.
In fact, you can do it with a flat or percentage discount based on several conditions as you can see here:
You will add the value of the discount whether it’s a flat price or a percentage. You can use this to give away something for free as well.
Then you will be able to choose what the discount is based on, whether it’s products, categories, tags, users or roles.
You can also control the span of time the discount is available:
And lastly, this is a nice touch. You can reward only customers who have made previous purchases vs. new customers.
Examples of Discounts for Easy Digital Downloads
Let me show you a couple of examples of how this could be used.
Buy Two eBooks, Get 30% Off
Here we are basing it on quantity. So anytime someone buys two books, they get the discount no matter who they are and which books they choose.
The discount is reflected in the customer’s cart when two books are added:
After Purchasing 2 eBooks Get 50%
Narrowing it down, we are now giving a larger discount but the customer has to purchase two ebooks. For anything after that, they get a discount.
In the cart, anything beyond the first two books will have the discount:
Displaying Original Price
Under the Settings > Extensions, is the option to display the original price on both the page with all your downloads and the single download page.
Here is the example of the setting toggled off and on:
So with the seven options you have for how you can configure your discount, there are dozens of ways to use the Discount Pro add-on for Easy Digital Downloads.
How to Add Terms of Agreement Per Product to Easy Digital Downloads
By default, you can create a global terms of agreement for all your downloads. You will find that under your EDD advanced settings. This will create the terms customers agree to at checkout.
Terms of Agreement For Specific Products in Easy Digital Downloads
There are cases where certain products have specific terms that go beyond the general terms covered in your Terms of Agreement. This can happen with downloaded products. And when it comes to those terms, you want to make sure you have covered yourself.
This can be done easily with a free plugin available for Easy Digital Downloads called Terms Per Product. And when I say easy, I mean easy.
Just install the plugin and when you edit an existing download or create a new one, you will find this field where you can add the custom terms for that specific download:
It’s really that simple. You can download the Terms Per Product plugin for free here.
How to Add Reviews to Your Products in Easy Digital Downloads
It’s a great idea to be able to let your customers review and rate your products.
This EDD extension is super easy to use. Once it’s installed, it will add the option for reviews to your products. You can also disable or close a review on any specific product.
On the product page, you have the option for the customer to leave a review.
When reviews are lcompleted, they will be put into moderation for approval. This helps a lot with SPAM.
And here you can see what the reviews look like:
Settings for the Review Extension
This extensions has some settings you might want to fiddle with. They give you much better control over who can leave reviews, whether they need to be logged in to write one, etc.
Most of the settings are straightforward, but there are a couple I would like to explore a bit deeper.
Enable Review Breakdown
This gives you an added rating overview on your page that potential new customers might find more useful.
Here is what it looks like once it’s activated:
Since most people love to be rewarded for taking the extra effort, it would be a nice surprise after rating a product if they got an email for a discount on the next product they purchase from you.
Here is what they would receive:
This extension comes with two widgets:
With this widget, you can select a specific review and display it in your sidebar or some other widget area of your theme.
This is what it looks like in my sidebar:
EDD Reviews Widget
This widget lets you display the recent reviews.
And this shows what that will look like:
Lastly, for more flexibility, you can display any review within a post or page by using a shortcode.
If you are ready to start adding reviews to your Easy Digital Downloads store, check out this plugin today.
How to Offer an All Access Pass or Membership Using Easy Digital Downloads
One of the best ways to ramp up sales of your downloads when using Easy Digital Downloads is to offer all-access memberships. It’s no different from other membership levels on your site. EDD offers these and brings more value to the customer by bundling specific add-ons at various levels.
In the past, we have saved considerable money—for our clients and for ourselves—by purchasing access passes for different WordPress plugins.
Learn the basics of the All-access Pass add-on.
These are your main settings and they are global, but some can be overridden on specific downloads you set up. The first two give you an option to customize your download button text and expiration message. On the message, you can choose to have it redirect to another page instead:
Here are a couple more messages you can set up, for both products that are not available according to their category and and product variation, also with the option to redirect to another page:
And for download limitations, the same, in addition with an option for your download area:
Once you have installed the add-on, on your single download page you will find this option so you can add any individual product to a pass:
Once you have toggled it, you will get these options:
One thing to note: the All Access Duration gives you specific time spans, but if you have the extension Recurring Payments in use, you will have the option to sync any All Access Pass to the subscription.
When a customer purchases the All Access Pass, a tab is added with details of the passes they have purchased. Additional information is also available giving more details: start and expiration dates, status, the settings that were set at the time of purchase (which is great if you have changed details on any full access pass) and any custom specific settings you gave as an option to override the other settings in their profile.
Commissions and All Access Info
The extension EDD Commissions easily integrates with this extension. You will be able to see single- commission breakdowns and the combined prices of all the items a customer chose to download with their All Access pass, as well the cost of the pass.
So if you are looking to grow your online sales by offering all-access passes, this is a slick way to easily set them up using Easy Digital Downloads.
How to Add Recurring Payments and Subscriptions to Easy Digital Downloads
Selling services or products on a recurring basis is nothing new, but it is becoming more and more popular all the time. Especially in the download space and yearly, or monthly, licenses or access. One of my favorite eCommerce plugins makes it easy to add this to your online store.
There are several elements to Recurring Payments Extension that you can set up to make sure you are ready when that next payment is due from your customer.
Setting Up the Recurring Download
When you are setting up your download, the fields in the Download Prices reflect all the options you have. You can choose to just have one option or, by clicking on the Enable Variable Pricing, you can create several pricing options. For each one you can choose to have it as a recurring payment and also include a signup fee (which is optional). You can enable free trial subscriptions as well.
Customer Email Reminders
You can also set a Subscription Renewal Reminder and a Subscription Expiration Reminder.
I know that as a customer I appreciate being reminded on renewals. Here you are able to control when they go out and customize your message as well. You get the same options and settings for both the Reminder and Expiration email.
Manage Your Subscriptions
Subscriptions are easily viewed and managed.
Subscriptions are also available to view in the customer profile.
All renewals are tracked in a Renewal Revenue Report.
For payment gateways, this extension works with Stripe, PayPal Standard, PayPal Express, PayPal Website Payments Pro, 2Checkout and Authorize.net.
A couple of other nice features: you can restrict the downloads of any recurring product to your customers who have an active subscription. Also, you can set up discount codes to apply to the first payment or to all renewal payments.
It integrates with the Software Licensing extension ( read about it in a post we wrote).
If you are looking for a way to add subscriptions to your downloads, the Recurring Payment Extension is your best bet for a smooth and easy integration.
How To Create Custom Success Redirects in Easy Digital Downloads
As you may know, one of the most missed opportunities with your online store is what happens after a customer has successfully bought a download. There are many ways to approach this, but in the end it’s all about what you want the customer to see besides a simple purchase- made message.
It may be an upsell you want to put in front of them.
Or it might be a coupon or some other special discount they can use then and there, or in the future.
Or maybe a free download to thank them for their purchase.
It could be as simple as a nice, customized page that thanks them for being a customer and gives them a warm, fuzzy feeling.
In any case, you will need to redirect them somewhere. Or better yet, redirect them based on a specific download, which gives you even more control. This is where the Conditional Success Redirects add-on for Easy Digital Downloads comes in.
What I like about this add-on is, it’s not rocket science. When someone selects a specific download, you send them to a specific page. That’s it.
When you click Add New, you get this page where you simply select the download and the redirect page.
And the cool thing, if you want to deactivate an existing redirect temporarily, without having to delete and recreate, you can do that with a single click.
This is an easy-to-use add-on, but there are a couple of things you should know.
If someone adds several products to their cart, including the one that has the redirect, this will not send them to the custom page. It only works if they have the single item in their cart.
In addition, as you can see from above, you can only set one redirect per product.
But again, sometimes you just need it to be a simple yet effective process. If you are using Easy Digital Downloads, I would suggest using the Conditional Success Redirect add-on. You may be happily surprised to find that not only can it help additional conversions, but it also make that last moment for your customer one to remember, so they come back again and again and again.
Whether you are selling a handful of downloads, or hundreds or thousands, you cannot go wrong with Easy Digital Downloads and the ability to extend it to me your own needs.
Hear About the Landscape of Digital Downloads
If you would like to hear the founder of Easy Digital Downloads talk about the landscape of digital downloads, you can listen to your podcast here as I interview Pippin Williamson.