The Perfect Website to Sell Digital Downloads

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sell digital downloads on your website

Sell Digital Downloads on Your Website

If you want to learn how to sell digital downloads, you've come to the right place. With no physical product to manufacture, selling digital downloads is one of the easiest ways to set up your first online store and make a little extra cash.

You should already be familiar with the digital download world. Digital downloads include things like music, software, ebooks, photos and videos; your store should focus on any one of these items.

Shift4Shop makes it easy to sell your digital downloads to customers everywhere. Drive traffic and expand your business with cutting-edge marketing features, advanced SEO tools, multichannel selling, CRM, a built-in blog, plus countless built-in features that make selling downloadable goods fast and simple – for you and your customers.

How to Build a Digital Downloads eCommerce Website

Not sure what a CD player is for? Us either. It’s the era of the music file and a good time to learn how to build a digital downloads eCommerce website. Why stop at music? Sell movies, books on tape, software applications and more when you start your own online business. It may seem like an intimidating project, but it’s a lot easier than you think and could be your first step into entrepreneurship.

Entertainment is and always will be a huge market

Entertainment is and always will be a huge market. Get in on the action with your own online store. You’ll need very little overhead to get up and running—and you don’t need to be super tech-friendly right off the bat. As you learn how to build a digital downloads eCommerce website, you’ll realize how easy it is to manipulate today’s technology. Check out some of our tips below.

Getting digital means

You’ll need strong software. To manage your library of digital products, you’ll need a strong software suite, backed by a company with a long history, a large community and an unflinching support line. These features are important to the survival of your own business and represent a brand that the company backs with a passion—and passion is important as you learn how to build a digital downloads eCommerce website.

Choose a design that represents your store

With digital downloads, there really isn’t a mold that your store design and brand must fit. Decide who your target audience is and implement a design you think would appeal to them. Your shopping cart software program should include some prebuilt designs that you can jump in and perform minimal customizations on.

Or, if you’re ready to go fully customized, work with a designer. But make sure your software lets the designer into the system. Customizability is an important stepping stone on the road to learning how to build a digital downloads eCommerce website.

Select multiple payment methods

Consumers tend to buy only when they feel like they can trust the website. That’s why it’s important to tie in different payment gateways (like Amazon Pay, for instance) to give your customers more options. Brand trust leads to store loyalty. You have a moment early on in the customer relationship to establish that trust; if you do it correctly, you’ll have plenty of return business.

Launch your website

Eventually, it’s time to launch your website to the world. If you’ve spent time collecting a mailing list, use your integrated email marketing management tools to send out the announcement, along with promotions. Of course, before you’re ready to launch, you should test your store out to make sure everything is working properly. Follow these tips and you’ll successfully understand how to build a digital downloads eCommerce website.

Accepting Online Payments for Digital Downloads

Any online store selling digital downloads, regardless of type (ebooks, music, etc.), is at an increased risk of fraudulent purchases. There are a few reasons for this; for example, the lack of shipping and package tracking often emboldens fraudsters to do a chargeback, since there won't be proof of physical goods being delivered to them. Because of the intangible nature of digital products, even honest customers may not understand how to "return" such a product (if you allow returns) and may simply initiate a chargeback and delete the file rather than going through proper channels. In addition, the super-fast nature of eProduct purchasing can also make them targets for fraudsters using stolen credit cards that could be canceled at any moment.

Because of these factors, digital download products have been designated a high-risk industry for payment processors, so many providers aren't available to a merchant selling these products. To sell digital downloads, you'll need to connect your store with one of the high-risk merchant accounts available for digital downloads stores.

Digital Download Payments

The Best Digital Products to Sell Online

Check Out All the Digital Content You Can Sell on Shift4Shop

Whether you're a content creator or you resell digital products, you can sell them all with a powerful online store from Shift4Shop.
Here's a list of digital products that see great success in online sales.

sell ebooks online

Sell Ebooks Online

The ebook market is huge, with many apps available for readers to use on their favorite devices. Whether you write fiction, instructional manuals, guides to video game secrets, cookbooks, or any other type of content, your customers will enjoy reading on their desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones. With Shift4Shop, you can easily sell PDF files, .mobi files, .epub files, and any other preferred formats to sell ebooks. If you have physical books too, you can sell them alongside your ebooks with no hassle.

sell games online

Sell Games and Software Online

Tired of losing 30% of your sales to PC and mobile app stores? Sell your games and software from your own online store instead. Shift4Shop doesn't charge transaction fees, so your only loss per sale will be the small percentage levied by every payment processor. Attach your premade license keys to each customer purchase to prevent software piracy, and relax knowing your customers will have immediate access to the software and games they buy from you — while keeping more profits in your pocket. It’s selling software online made easy

sell photos online

Sell Photos and Videos Online

Why submit your hard work to stock photo and video sites just to compete with millions of others submitted by other freelancers? There are many content creators out there who specialize in stock photography for websites and editorials, stock video for educational and commercial projects, and even stock sound effects for similar use. You can sell photos online as well as sell videos online. Don't let your unique content get lost amid the competition, create your own website to sell your content with Shift4Shop.

Sell music online

Sell Music Online

Stop losing 30% of your profits to iTunes and other music marketplaces, and create a fully-branded eCommerce website where your fans can gather to purchase your music and interact with you. Sell individual songs, whole albums, bonus content like video of live performances, and more. You can even create a separate pricing group to handle select customers interested in licensing your music to use in projects, much like with the stock content mentioned above. Shift4Shop offer everything you need to sell music online.

sell courses online

Sell Courses Online

Millions of people every day turn to online resources to learn a new skill. With a Shift4Shop store, you can sell fully-realized courses including materials like ebooks, videos, and more. You have plenty of options for setting this up — e.g. sell a complete course together, or sell its lessons individually so customers can choose when to move ahead. Offer free sample downloads to pique visitors' interest. You can also offer hard copies of your courses, including books, DVDs, and even additional learning materials used in your courses. This way, your customers can get everything they need in the same place.

Sell Website Templates Online

Sell Website Templates Online

Are you a web designer who creates templates for popular website platforms like WordPress or Shift4Shop? Open your own template store and reach customers worldwide looking for a fresh design for their websites. Upload high-quality images and even video to show off every feature of your templates in action. Your customers will be able to download the needed template files right from your website for the price you specify.

How Digital Product Downloads Work

In order to sell digital products successfully, you need a means of storing the products on your website and allowing them to be downloaded only by customers who have purchased them. Ideally, you'll also have a way to prevent your eProducts from being shared or pirated once they're in the hands of customers. Shift4Shop comes with the features you need to set up a digital product store that works along these criteria.

Digital Storage and Delivery

Shift4Shop provides you with unlimited disk storage so you can keep as many eProducts on your online store as necessary, and FTP access so you can upload them all quickly to your storage space. When you're setting up an eProduct, you create a product page on your online store and then choose the file path where the specified digital product is found. When a customer purchases the product, they'll receive an email with an encrypted download link from which they can obtain the product. You can configure these download links to expire after a certain period of time, if you wish.

Serial Numbers and License Keys

License keys are a useful method for preventing unauthorized reproduction of certain types of eProducts. For example, while programming your game or software, you could generate a list of license keys that would be needed to activate the product on a customer's PC. License keys help ensure the use of legitimately-purchased copies of your product. If you've created license keys or serial numbers for your digital products, you can upload them all at once to Shift4Shop where they'll be automatically delivered with customer orders. You can limit each license key to a single order or allow your store to reuse the keys as needed. You'll also be able to see the number of uses of each license key in your Shift4Shop dashboard. License key information is shown in customer order records as well, so you can find out which key was issued to a certain customer.

Successful Digital Download Stores

eProduct Sellers Thriving on Shift4Shop

Infinite Vapor

How to Get Started Selling Digital Downloads Online

To start selling digital products, first you need to come up with some unique product ideas to sell. This doesn't mean creating a whole new type of digital product — instead, it means creating a unique product within the existing digital content types. You may decide to write your own ebooks about an area in which you have expertise, or you could decide to sell your own games or software. Check out our list of digital goods above to get some more ideas.

Alternately, you could resell digital products such as game license keys or other content you have permission to resell. Game and software license keys can be some of the most profitable digital products because you can often buy numerous license keys at a discount, and sell them individually at full price.

Once you've created your content, the next step is to sign up for your Shift4Shop account and start building your online store. You'll have the best eCommerce software on your side, complete with integrations with the high-risk payment providers required for selling digital content.

How to Sell Digital Downloads Online

For Any Industry and Any Business Model,
Shift4Shop is the eCommerce Solution You Need

Frequently Asked Questions

How to sell software online?

You can sell digital games, apps, and other types of software through Shift4Shop easily. We recommend you use single-use license keys unless you want to allow your customers to install the software on more than one computer. When selling software, it's crucial to keep track of your customers so you can replace their software key if needed — for example, if a customer contacts you because their computer's hard drive died and is unrecoverable, it's excellent customer service to be able to issue them a new software key.

How do I market a digital product?

Marketing digital products is similar to marketing physical products: it all starts with research. Ideally, you should research your market before you even create the product, while you're still in the initial planning stages. When your product is ready to sell, you can market through the usual channels like email newsletters, pay-per-click advertising, and social media posts, but you can build even more effective strategies depending on what type of product your digital content is. For example, you can market a video game by posting gameplay footage on social media and YouTube and offering a free demo version. For videos and music, you could offer trailers and demo cuts. For ebooks, you could release the first chapter for free. Each type of eProduct has its own special potential for marketing.

Can I sell digital products on Amazon?

Amazon only allows the sale of certain types of digital products in specific formats. Here are the digital goods allowed on Amazon:
  • Kindle ebooks
  • Audible audiobooks
  • Videos released through CreateSpace or Amazon Video Direct
  • Software, apps, and games
  • Music

No other downloadable products can be sold on Amazon. If you're planning to sell ebooks, audiobooks, or videos, please read Amazon's requirements as you may need to use Amazon's proprietary tools and formats.

Can I sell digital products on eBay?

You can sell digital products on eBay by uploading the files to a storage provider, listing the products under "Information Products" on eBay's categories, and then sending buyers a link to the product once their purchase is completed. However, this is a clumsy method that doesn't have any of the advanced features Shift4Shop employs for digital downloads. For example, when a customer buys your product on eBay, they'll need to wait for you to email them the download link — which may cause complaints since instant delivery is one of the primary reasons people shop for digital downloads in the first place. With Shift4Shop, however, the customer will automatically receive the download link (and license key, if applicable) immediately after their purchase.

How to price digital products?

The price of your digital products should be based on their cost to you plus a markup that will allow you to profit. Setting this markup too high can reduce digital content sales, so do your market research before you set this price. Studying your competitors can be a great place to start. If you're reselling digital products, your costs will be different than if you're creating them yourself. Reselling means you've purchased a specific number of a product for a specific price, so you can only sell up to the quantity you have and at a price that exceeds the cost of your purchase. However, if you create your own eProducts, you can decide to sell unlimited copies. If you're able to pull in a large number of customers, you can sell your digital products at extremely low prices and make it up with volume.

Digital products you create yourself often don't have a "cost" in physical materials, but they can have costs for time, labor, and equipment needed to create them. However, keep in mind that you can sell as many copies of these products as you need. You should always work out how many of a product you'll need to sell in order to make up the cost of creating it.

A note on costs: never be afraid to invest in the proper tools for the creation of digital content. These tools include professional software that is often better suited to your work than any similar free app. Plus, better software often has a great user community that can help you learn how to create digital products fast while retaining great quality.