How-To Sell Digital Downloads, The Easy Way

mp3’s ~ .pdf’s ~ ebooks ~ and more!

how to sell digital downloads mp3 ebooks pdfThere are two types of sellers out there. Those starting a company specifically retail devoted to selling digital goods, and those I like to refer to as more of the indie biz professional or artist wanting to share their work and voice with the world, on the side and in addition to, the core work they do. Allow me to guide you through some options.

If you are the first, and have real money to spend, it may be worth paying some higher monthly fees for various sites/services like Shopify or hiring a designer to create a custom website using open source eCommerce software like Magento and the like. But if you are the latter, clearly you’re on more of a DIY journey and budget is a “consideration”, (translation: as close to “free” as possible please!). Fortunately there are some very inexpensive, even nearly free, and easy options to fit any budget.

It goes without saying you need a good website with proper content about yourself and what you are selling along with a solid marketing strategy to get the word out ( you can read some of my other posts about that). But once you have that, you can just sign-up with one of the many companies that offer a seamless selling platform where all you do is basically drop in a piece of html code for the “buy button” onto your site, and WHALLA, you’re done. Even a few that allow you to sell directly off of their site. It’s really quite simple.

~ Meditations ~ Music ~ .pdf documents ~ eBooks ~ magazines ~ software ~ whatever you can create, you can sell!

The main issue is the need for a secure sales tool, meaning when someone buys your item, they receive a secure and unique link to download the product. Don’t just use a direct paypal buy now button on your site and have the return “Thank You” page with your download link on it. Well, you certainly can, but that’s technically a public page and not so secure and will be indexed on google unless you code it right.

So when you want to sell your digital downloads here are the main options and basic cost features, just keep in mind three main things when comparing companies:

1 – READ: Each company has MANY features and there is no way to compare them all*, so be sure to read all the fine print and know what features it comes with and what it doesn’t and what may cost extra! On the other hand you may not even know what kinds of features may be most valuable to you just yet. Don’t worry about it. As you get going and get selling you can always switch, none of these lock you in or are forever! (*I noted a few here and there on the list to give you an idea of what may be available.)

2 – DO CONSIDER: Your PRODUCT FILE SIZE, the NUMBER OF PRODUCTS you want to sell, how much STORAGE SPACE all your files will take up, and how much BANDWITH will get used when customers download your product. These ARE the 4 features you DO actually need to consider right out of the gate to make sure the company you choose will work easily and cost effectively at the start with your products.

3 – FEES: Most will handle your normal credit card processing fee that gets deducted and then they have their own fee structures on top of that. But don’t get too bogged down into differentials of 1 point percentage differences or a few dollars per plan – it doesn’t matter. When you are selling thousands of dollars of downloads per month, then we’ll talk!

True DIY solutions…

– One flat price – $14.95 per month + 4.9% of each sale + .49 transaction fee
– Free trial for 7 days; Supports eBay auctions
– Multiple currencies supported; offers turn-key affiliate system
– Can have a product on a Payloadz store page.

– Pay only when you sell. 5% of transaction fee (on top of your processor fees like paypal)
– Unlimited products, bandwidth, and storage (up to a 2GB per file),
– Get a buy now button for your website, facebook or twitter
– Offers standard .pdf stamping & new feature of email updates to customers
(Here is one of my personal websites where I am currently using Sellfy & Gumroad:

– Flat monthly prices
– You keep all the profits (minus your regular paypal/credit card processing fees of course)
– Starts at $5 per month for 10 products, 25 MB of storage space
$10, 20 products 100 MB storage space…and on up and up.
– You can sell off their site. Here is a random example.

– Flat monthly price.
– Starts at $6 per month, 25 products, 100 MB of storage, Unlimited bandwidth & orders
– Then $12 per month, 50 products. 250 MB storage…etc., etc., on up.
– You keep all profits (minus your regular paypal fees)
– 2 week free trial

Fetch App
– Starts at $5 per month for 25 MB storage space + Unmetered Bandwidth
Then $10 for 1 GB, $20 for 3GB, $50 for 10 GB, etc., etc. on up.
– free option for up to 5MB of space

DPD: Digital Product Delivery
– Starts at $10 per month for 1 GB product space, 20 products, Unlimited Bandwidth and Orders
$16 per month, 1.5GB storage, 30 products, etc., etc, on up.
– Can also sell Content subscriptions
– Offers customer newsletters & .pdf stamping with placement control

– This is slightly different, it’s a sale page on their website only, though they do have some new page integrations that are evolving.
– 5% per sale, that’s it.
– They take credit cards and now also accept paypal and will handle VAT taxes.
But hey, it’s easy, upload and send the world a link to your product!
(Here is one of my personal websites where I am currently using Gumroad & Sellfy

[Note: January, 2015 – Since I first wrote this post, less than 2 years ago much has changed. The use of smartphones and payment methods are always changing at lightening speed. I deleted 2 companies from my list that no longer exist and there are several new ones, some around for at least a year or two, which in internet dog years is like middle-aged at least, LOL! These are some of the newer companies on the scene, each with their own parameters: Selz, PlassoContentshelf, Simple Goods, Send Owl)

For the advance DIY’er familiar with WordPress.ORG software (not wordpress.COM) and if you don’t know what the difference between the two then skip right over this one :-), but something like eCommerce plug-in WooCommerce or Cart66 (which has the option to buy) may be a good option to turn your WordPress blog website into a digital download store. There are many plug-ins out there.

For .mp3’s specifically…

CDBaby  (For .mp3s)
This is where you sell off their site, which also opens you up to more potential customers as they are well known for music and mp3’s. You can just link to their site/create a mock “buy button” that links to your page on their site.
– $12.95 per single to upload/$49 per album + 9% of direct sales
– 9% of net income from distribution sales
– You can sell on Itunes, Amazon, in retail stores, and more.
– Can create a widget to see from your own site, social networks, etc.
Here is a Sample CDbaby Page

Now we are getting into another level of selling you should be aware of. CDbaby is also known as what’s called an aggregator, which is a third party approved to distribute your items for sale onto Itunes, Amazon, and more. You cannot go direct and sell on iTunes or get a contract with them generally unless you are a publisher with a catalog of at least 20 volumes/albums. They are structured differently in terms of features and pricing than the above list, but if iTunes is your goal, start reading!

Here it the list of Apple Approved Aggregators as of the initial writing of this post:

for iBookstore: Smashwords accepts indivdual authors

for Itunes: Catapult, CDBaby, VirtualLabel, TuneCore, The Orchard, Reverbnation

Retail Hosted eCommerce Stores…

Then there are also what are known more as hosted eCommerce Stores. Which means you are specifically building a retail store via their templates, they host the site, are a one-stop solution if you don’t have a website and your goal is mainly retail sales.

– This is more of a total website solution.
– Starts at $29.99 per month plus they take approximately 5% of sales for the credit card processor plus their own transaction fee on top of the monthly premiums.

– Starts at $15 per month, with a 100 product limit and 1 GB of Data Transfer
– $35 for 2GB, $65 for 5GB, etc., etc., on up.

– $14 per month, unlimited products, 1GB storage space; $29 for 5GB
– Deliver by Streaming or Downloads for audio/video files
– Optional custom store url
– Email marketing integration with Constant Contact and others.
(free option for 2 products up to 25MB of storage)
Here’s an example using thier service (you can truly sell anything, like these sewing patterns)

A few final thoughts…putting your goods up for sale is the easy part, getting people to buy it is a whole other ball game. While I love the film Field of Dreams as much as the next person, “If you build it they will come” does not apply to selling something online (though we can certainly go off to another blog for a whole other metaphysical energy vibrational shifts on that note, LOL). But in reality you need a solid marketing and advertising plan and you need to truly get out there and make yourself known to the masses AND be a good salesperson OR hire someone to do it. If you already have some kind of measurable, active, engaged audience, whether online or in-person, then you are at least off to a good start. Maybe you have a popular blog or large email newsletter list, or maybe you teach workshops around the country, though just sending one note to people about it, isn’t going to flood your bank account, you need that solid marketing plan :-)

I hope these resources will be helpful in your digital selling journey and I wish you good luck and sign off by singing….LOL….Happy “Sales” to you…LOL….


One Response to “How-To Sell Digital Downloads, The Easy Way”

  1. Thank you, Heather, for the helpful and well-informed information to make the digital publishing process a little easier to manage from the get-go!

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