How to sell digital downloads on your website

How to sell digital downloads on your website

by Sander VisserOct 23, 2021
How to sell digital downloads on your website

Are you looking to sell digital products online? You have probably found yourself considering all the options out there. Marketplaces like Etsy, E-commerce software like Shopify and WooCommerce, payment processors, website builders and so on. Alternatively, you can sell from your own website.

We’ll dive into what digital downloads are, and where you can sell your digital products online. We’ll share the pros and cons of each option. We’ll finish by sharing 6 tips on creating landing pages for your digital products and how you can sell digital products on your own landing pages with Checkout Page.

What are digital downloads?

Digital products are unique in the sense that they can reach an exponentially large audience. Anyone can purchase and use your products. At the same time, it doesn’t cost you extra effort to sell thousands of products. It’s scalable. You use your specific knowledge and experience and turn it into a digital download. You share it not just with a handful of customers, but potentially with hundreds or thousands of customers worldwide. Examples are:

  • Ebooks: Teach people the most used guitar chords or to cook with a certain ingredient
  • Whitepapers: Create an in-depth document explaining a complicated topic, such as optimizing websites for SEO or accessibility
  • Subscriptions: Start a niche email newsletter
  • Templates: Landing page templates that people can use to quickly promote a new product
  • Cheat sheets: A short guide or overview such as 20 rules for writing blog titles or Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Word
  • Online courses: Learn digital marketing for startups
  • Design tools: Adobe Lightroom presets for photography
  • Design resources: Vector illustrations to help people design posters or websites
  • Software: Paid browser extensions, Shopify plugins

Where to sell digital products? On a marketplace or your own website?

You can market and sell your digital downloads in different ways:

  • On a marketplace
  • On your own website or ecommerce store
  • On other channels such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok

Marketplaces such as Etsy, Amazon, Themeforest, CodeCanyon and Udemy let you open your store, add your products and provide all the infrastructure to let people purchase and download your digital products.

Alternatively you can sell your digital downloads on your own website or on social media. And there’s the option to develop your own ecommerce store to sell your products on.

Both channels have their pros and cons. Let’s look at the pros and cons of using your own website compared to using a marketplace to sell your digital products.

Benefits of selling digital products on a marketplace

  • You don’t need technical knowledge: The marketplace you choose develops all the software and tools you need to sell. There are payment providers you can choose from, purchasing flows are thought out, your store and product pages are pre-designed. The only thing left to do is adding your products to your store, adding information about your products and about your store.
  • No technical maintenance: You don’t have to maintain the marketplace, update plugins or think about security. The marketplace provides all of this. That will save you time and money. You can think of it as renting a market stall, but digitally. The market will provide you with your table and spot, and your role is to present your produce for customers to purchase.
  • The marketplace can bring traffic to your store: As a vendor on a marketplace, you’ll benefit from traffic on the marketplace itself. People go to the marketplace to look for something to buy, and are brought to the marketplace by other vendors. Therefore you can potentially reach more customers than you would on your own.

Benefits of selling digital products on your own website or store

  • Stay in control of fees: Many marketplaces will charge you fees for using or benefiting from the marketplace. Examples are On your own website, you are in control of which services you use to sell your products. You can find a provider who’s fees and functionalities match your needs and change providers when your needs change or fees get out of control.
    • Listing fees: Etsy charges you $0,20 for every item you add to your store (and each time it’s re-listed after a sale
    • Discovery fees: Gumroad charges a 10% fee for purchases
    • Advertising fees: Many marketplaces will offer you to advertise on the marketplace itself, competing with other sellers, or they will run off-site advertising to promote your products outside the marketplace (Etsy charges a 15% fee on “Attributed Orders”).
    • Marketplace fees: Envato (Themeforest) charges between 12.5% and 37.5% if you only sell on their marketplace, and 55% (!) when you also sell your products elsewhere.
  • Create the purchasing process you’re looking for: On a marketplace, you rely on the purchasing process the marketplace designed. You often can’t make changes to the checkout experience, to the way your products are displayed and the way you design your store. On your own website you’re in control of the customer’s journey through your site and or can choose a provider that allows you to customize your site and store to your needs.
  • Use your own branding: On your own website you can implement your own branding, logo, colours. Customers recognize and remember the way your brand looks and feels. While marketplaces allow you to upload your own logo and images, the experience often feels like the marketplace’s instead of your own.
  • Communicate with your customers directly: When customers have questions about your product or run into issues, they will contact you directly. On marketplaces on the other hand, direct customer communication is often more difficult. The customer will contact the marketplace with questions, making you less aware of issues they might run into. You also can’t control how quickly the marketplace responds to questions. When selling on your own website or store, you can communicate with your customers on your terms. You can add a chat widget, contact forms or email links where you want to, to assist your customers in making a purchase.
  • You’re not competing directly with others: A marketplaces goal is to make people purchase from the marketplace. But not necessarily from your store! This creates competition within the marketplace, where you end up competing with other vendors. Some marketplaces will recommend products from other vendors, right on your product pages! These products might be cheaper, have more sales or more reviews. Even when you bring your own visitors to your store they might end up buying from another seller on the marketplace. \ On your own website, you’ll only offer your own products. You might recommend other products on your product pages, but they’ll be your products! You stay in control of your visitors and your customers are precisely that: your customers.
  • Do your own Search Engine Optimization (SEO): On your own website you can attract more direct visitors, via Google, your social media and newsletters. On a marketplace you take advantage of the marketplace’s traffic, but they’re not necessarily looking for your products. On your own website you have more control on who’s visiting, and you can try to target certain visitors with Search Engine Optimization. Quality over quantity!

In our opinion, selling digital products on your own website has the most advantages. Marketplaces can be a great way to kickstart your store if you’re not certain how to attract customers, but they have their own dynamics.

You’ll spend time learning the ins-and-outs of the marketplace, instead of focusing on your business and brand.

We think it’s important to reduce how dependent you are on a marketplace. Use them to your advantage, but think about how you’ll eventually build your own brand, have your own customers and worry less about competition, the marketplaces algorithms and ever changing rules.

Selling digital products on your own website may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to set up an entire ecommerce store either. With a well designed landing page and checkout for your digital products, you’re good to go.

6 tips to sell digital products on your website

Let’s begin by deciding where you want to sell your products. When you’ve already got an ecommerce store, you can create a landing page there. Most ecommerce software have some way of selling digital products. If you want more customization than your ecommerce software offers, check out how to setup Checkout Page at the end of this article.

Don’t worry if you don’t have an ecommerce store — you probably don’t need one at this stage. You’ll need some way of creating a landing page. If you have a website and are able to make landing pages yourself, follow your usual routine with the tips and tricks below. If you’re not certain how to make a landing page or website, have a look at Unbounce or Instapage to easily create landing pages for your product(s).

The goal of your landing page is to make it convert. After all, you want people to buy your digital products. Let’s look at these 7 tips for making landing pages for digital products.

  1. Who is your target audience and where do they come from?

Make sure that the landing page is tailored to your intended audience and the way they arrive on your landing page. Are they brought in via a social media campaign, via Google or via an email newsletter? Make sure that the landing page continues where you caught your visitors attention and that it fits their expectations.

  1. Write decent copy

Copy is key. The right copy shows that you understand your visitor, that you’re familiar with the problems they experience and that you’re the one who they’re looking for. Use a copywriting formula such as AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) or PAS (problem, agitate, solve) to explain and sell your digital product.

  1. Make the page readable and scannable

Is the visitor in the right place? A title that speaks for itself, clear headings, short paragraphs, bullet points, enough whitespace, likeable or informative images and a clear call to action. These elements make a page easily readable and scannable for your visitor. Your visitors want to quickly determine if the page contains what they’re looking for.

  1. Avoid distracting elements

Focus on a single goal per page, and make the page as much as possible about that goal. Get rid of other elements that only distract your visitor from learning about your products (and from purchasing them!). Use call to actions or inline links to other areas of your site when they’re relevant.

  1. Make your landing page work on any device

If you already have a website or store, take a look at your analytics data to see how many people visit your website on mobile phones and tablets. It may be obvious to you, but mobile traffic continues to grow, especially when selling to consumers. Consider making your landing pages mobile-first, to ensure that the mobile experience is top notch. From there, increase the screen size and make your pages look good and work well on larger screens too.

  1. Structure your page well

Even when you have all the elements in place, how do you structure them in a way that converts? The following steps will help you create a well-structured and conversion driven landing page.

First impressionStart with a strong title, a striking header of a pretty image or video. You’ll only make a first impression once.

Start with emotionShow that you understand and/or recognize your customers’ pain points. What are they dealing with? And why do you have the solution to their problems?

Create trustUse reviews, testimonials, amount of customers and trust badges to make it believable. Social proof is one of the most important aspects of selling online. Who bought this product before your visitor and were they satisfied?

State the benefitsDescribe the benefits of your product or service for your customers. What do they gain from it? What’s in it for them? Keep it short, but powerful. Here, try to focus on the Unique Buying Reason instead of the Unique Selling Point. Why should the customer buy your product or service? Do this for example with bullet points: easy to read, particularly on smaller screens.

Take doubts away with frequently asked questionsIntegrate a simple FAQ with 3 to 5 questions you expect your visitors to have. The FAQ is a great place to share information that is difficult to integrate in the rest of the page. Here, you don’t need to sell and only need to take away doubts.

Make the next step easy with a CTA that stands outYour page has one single goal. At the end, you’ll make it easy for your visitor to purchase your product. Make a call to action button that stands out and has a clear but convincing text. Make sure that the button does what it describes. When your button says “buy now”, link directly to the checkout page for your product.

Selling digital downloads on your website with Checkout Page

With Checkout Page you quickly and easily create a checkout for your digital products. Add your checkouts to your landing pages to let your visitors purchase your products, with delivery, email confirmations and everything else taken care of.

You can sell digital products on any page of your site, without setting up a complicated ecommerce store.We have created digital product checkout form templates that you can customize & add to your site in minutes. Or you can follow these steps to start from scratch:

  • Create an account and complete the onboarding process
  • Create a new checkout Add your product’s title, a description and upload an image. Upload your files, add fields to collect information to your customer and add an order bumps with variants.
  • Match your brand Change the design and messaging in the Design settings. Add a custom email confirmation and perhaps make the page match your branding by using Custom CSS.
  • Start sharing your checkout Add your checkout to your landing page as a pop-up or with buy buttons, share it to your email list or with your audience on your social networks. Get ready for those sales!
  • Monitor and analyze How are visitors behaving on your landing pages? Which pages do they visit and how much time do they spend there? How many products have you sold? What’s the conversion rate? Use Checkout Page’s and third party analytics tools to see how your products are being received and gain insights in where to improve your product’s positioning and presentation.

Looking to share your knowledge with the world by selling your own digital products? Sign up for Checkout Page and get started today.

Ready to start selling? Start your free Checkout Page trial—no credit card required.

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Sander Visser

Sander Visser

Sander is co-founder of Checkout Page and has over 10 years of software engineering experience. He is fascinated by technology and helping people reclaim their freedom by making a living online.

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