Easy Digital Downloads makes two claims (1) No other WordPress plugin has made selling digital downloads on a WordPress site quick, easy, and inclusive of the right features; and (2) That they have. That’s a pretty bold claim and if I’m honest I can’t speak to every single digital download plugin out there, but what I can do is give you a preview of what this free plugin does and how quick, easy and inclusive of the right features I found it to be. After which, you can compare my experience with your own and make a choice on whether or not this plugin is right for you.
Installing the Easy Digital Downloads Plugin
The Easy Digital Download plugin can be downloaded itself over at the WordPress.org plugin directory. Once you have the zipped file, go to your WordPress Admin > Plugins > Add New > Upload and install the zipped file.
Upon activation you will notice a new menu in your Admin sidebar called “Downloads”.
Configuring the Easy Digital Downloads Plugin
It is within this menu that you will be able to configure the digital downloads you wish to offer your site’s readership. The first submenu you will notice is called All Downloads and it is similar in style to the page for posts called All Posts where you can see a history of all the downloads you’ve created. This is also one place where the shortcode needed to insert the downloads you create into posts or pages can be found.
When you click on New Post at the top of All Downloads or in the sidebar menu, you will be brought to the page below. This is where you create the downloads you will offer. You are able to give the download a name, description, price, and much more.
When you’re creating a new download, you will most likely want to add some categories and tags to make finding the right download easier for your readers after you’ve created several. You can do this by creating categories and tags within the Add New page or you can go to the Categories or Tags pages and create them there.
Next we have the Payment History page. This page is basically what it sounds like. A place where all transactions associated with your downloads are chronicled for your reference and tracking.
Speaking of payment, any time you want to begin selling something there is a good chance you’ll want to provide coupons, freebies, and the like. With the Discount Code section you are able to create and track the use of discount codes you’ve made available for use when people purchase your downloads.
Of course, anytime you have sales you will want some form of reporting that visually displays your sales and earnings. This can be found in the page labeled Reports. The reporting is pretty simple and straightforward but extremely useful. You can track your earnings per month as well as your sales per month. This report can then be downloaded as a PDF if you need to share it with others who cannot log into your admin.
Next we have the Settings page. This page consists of four tabs: General, Payment Gateways, Email, Styles, and Misc. All of these tabs on the settings page offer extremely important and helpful features for making a digital download plugin work smoothly. On the General tab you’re able to activate Test Mode so that you can test your process and the purchase experience. You’re also able to create a Purchase and Success page that will be seen during and after each transaction. You can set the currency, choose your symbol preference for noting the separation of thousands, and of course choose your symbol for notating decimals.
In the Payment Gateways tab you’re able to choose between making your gateway live via PayPal or making it strictly at Test Payment gateway. When live you will have the option of offering your customers the ability to pay with MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover, or PayPal. This is also where you will be able to sync up to your PayPal account.
The Email tab is nice as well. This tab allows you to create an email receipt that will go out automatically each time a download is purchased. This is a professional touch that will go a long way and opens up a lot of possibilities in the pursuit of creating a memorable customer experience.
Under the Styles tab, there’s really only a few options. You can choose to disable all auto styling – of buttons, etc. – or you can choose to have just one button color option.
Then there’s the Misc tab. This is basically what it sounds like. Any needed setting that doesn’t really fit under the other labels found its way here. You’re able to disable ajax, enable jquery validation, disable guest checkout, choose to show or not show the register/login form, set an expiration date on download links, and disable redownloading. You can also create a Terms of Agreement and make it mandatory for your customers to agree to it before purchasing.
And finally we have the Add Ons page. This page is – in my opinion – AWESOME! I’m a huge fan of all the options and add ons the makers of the Easy Digital Downloads plugin have included. On this page you can get add ons that allow you to track the exact path through your website a customer took before purchasing, get extra email templates, track and award commissions for multi-author products, and SO much more. If you’ve been wanting to go all out with digital products then this page will really get you exciting with all of the fun possibilities they’ve included.
But what about getting a download you’ve created into a post or page? Well, once you’ve created a download and configured your settings all you have to do is open a page or post and you’ll notice a new “download arrow” next to the Upload/Insert media button. When you click that you’ll be able to insert the shortcode that corresponds to the download you want to include and then style the button that will appear as a call to action.
And when someone clicks that button, they will be brought to a page like the one below where they can make their purchase.
While I was able install, configure, and run some tests on this plugin I’m really excited about going live with a few products to see how my practice plays out in reality. I’m a big fan of what seems to be possible here and the fact that it’s free is extremely exciting to me as well. I for one will definitely be using this on some of my own sites and if you choose to do the same after reading this post I’d love for you to share your experience with me. If I find this plugin especially effective you can bet I’ll be following this up with another post about optimization.