How to start a website with WordPress.com and sell downloadable products (via Download Monitor)

Here's how to start a digital products store on WordPress.com and sell downloads using Download Monitor.

Anyone can make money from selling digital products. Think about it: You could be a freelancer looking to set up a passive income stream. Or you might be working a full-time job and fancying the idea of developing a side project. You could also, of course, be an entrepreneur exploring a profitable digital product idea to build a business.

Creating a great digital products store is the most important thing when it comes to setting up such a digital downloads business.

Now, you need two solutions to create such a store. The first one is a website builder. Your website builder hosts your store and lets you build a slick and user-friendly storefront. And the second solution is a download management tool that takes care of everything right from allowing you to upload and enable deliveries of your downloads to processing payments for the same (and everything in between).

In this article, we’ll examine how WordPress.com is the perfect platform for starting a digital products store and how Download Monitor excels as the download management solution to power its logistics. However, let’s first see the must-haves of a good website builder and of a download manager.


What makes a good website builder for a digital products store?

Creating a digital products store website needs a versatile website builder that offers at least the following essentials.

eCommerce capabilities 

First and foremost, your website builder should let you create a store. You should be able to use a theme that makes your website look like a shop. Alternatively, you should be able to set up product/download pages on a simple website. This means your website builder should include a drag-and-drop editor that lets you create custom pages from scratch.

Good content management

From download (product) pages and blog posts to images, social media updates, and videos, it takes a volume of content to convert visitors into leads and then leads into customers. Therefore, a good website builder for a digital products store must support good content management and ideally be an all-in-one solution to power all these different content types and formats. 

Mobile-friendliness

Mobiles drive about 50% of all web traffic. So your website builder must let you build a mobile-friendly downloads store. Your users should be able to check out your products and even download them over their phones. Mobile-friendliness isn’t just a user experience essential but is also critical for SEO. Mobile-friendly websites tend to rank better for mobile searches.

SEO

Search channels consistently generate organic leads when properly optimized. Did you know that your website builder does a lot of the heavy-lifting when it comes to SEO? When you use a website builder that offers SSL, for instance, you get SEO points. Loading speed is another SEO ranking factor that your website builder takes care of for you. Mobile-friendliness is yet another SEO factor that your website builder needs to take care of. Then there are the more granular aspects, like setting up SEO-friendly URLs, adding alt text to images, writing SEO meta descriptions, etc. Your website builder must come shipped with all these SEO tools and more.

Extensibility

As your digital product store grows, you’ll need to extend its functionalities. Like many Etsy sellers, you may want to start selling customizable digital products at some point. You’d then want to add a form plugin or addon that allows you to collect your users’ personalization/customization information. You get the picture. To summarize, you should be able to add more features via third-party plugins/solutions as needed.


Why WordPress.com is an ideal website builder for creating a downloads store

A good website builder for opening a downloads store
WordPress

Before we see the reasons that make WordPress.com a great digital products store builder, let’s see how WordPress.com compares with WordPress.org:

WordPress.org

In general, when you talk about WordPress, you are referring to WordPress.org. WordPress.org is a downloadable software that you need to install on a web host’s server to build your website. It’s called a self-hosted website solution since you need to buy hosting for it yourself. Building (and maintaining) a website with the WordPress.org software is a fairly technical process.

WordPress.com

On the other hand, WordPress.com is a done-for-you website builder. Here, you get the WordPress.org software hosted on Automattic’s very own web hosting. Just sign up for WordPress.com and your website can be live within minutes. You don’t have to download any software, buy any hosting, or do any server configuration. WordPress.com takes care of your website’s security, performance, and maintenance — and all of this for a simple monthly or annual plan.

What many people don’t realize is that WordPress.com isn’t a slimmed-down version of WordPress.org. It’s just as powerful and you need to upgrade to the Business plan or higher to unlock the whole Wordpress.org experience on it. 

WordPress.com’s Business plan is, in fact, a great option to build your digital downloads store.

With a WordPress.com Business plan:

  • You get the best-in-class managed WordPress hosting. WordPress.com comes with hosting, which means that your website’s security, performance, automated backups, updates, and pretty much everything else that runs your website is taken care of.
  • You get to choose from thousands of WordPress themes. WordPress.com’s Business plan lets you upload any theme of your choice (even from a third-party seller) to give your digital store a look you like! You can also find several free themes.
  • You get a page builder! WordPress.com comes with a powerful blocks editor that gives you complete freedom to design custom landing pages, sales pages, and even simple product or download pages.
  • You can choose from over 50,000 plugins. With WordPress.com’s Business plan, you can easily install a plugin like Download Monitor to run your digital products store. You can even add more plugins and addons to extend your store’s functionalities. 
  • You get a host of marketing tools, including ones for SEO. WordPress.com comes with many SEO and marketing tools to grow your digital products business. In addition to SEO essentials like support for optimized URLs, meta descriptions, tags, etc., WordPress.com also brings native social media sharing to your store, that too with previews.
  • You can even book a domain name straight from your WordPress.com dashboard. By booking your domain name via your website builder, you simplify your web presence management as both your domain name and hosting live on the same solution. What’s more, you get a free domain name for the yearly subscription to WordPress.com’s Business plan.

Not just that, you get 200 GB of storage and unlimited video hosting (via VideoPress). This is your very own dedicated video hosting solution! Imagine how helpful this is if you happen to sell video-only files — tarot readings, therapy sessions, or workshops. 

Next comes your downloads management solution.


The role of a downloads management and selling solution in a downloads store (and how Download Monitor stacks up)

Download Monitor - a WordPress plugin to open a digital products store
Download Monitor

Your website builder manages your store’s front-end or what the users see.

But a digital products business has many moving parts that need handling on the back-end—uploading products (and allowing downloads), charging for the downloads, collecting users’ emails, setting access rules, tracking downloads, designing download experiences, enforcing usage terms, and more. A download management solution powers all these and more for a digital products store.

Download Monitor and its Complete Extension Bundle bring all this and more to your digital products selling mix. 

Download Monitor is a digital product store builder plugin with a minimal setup. It’s built from the ground up to help digital product entrepreneurs quickly set up and grow a digital products business. The free core plugin lets you quickly set up a shop on your WordPress.com website and start selling downloads.

And its premium extensions help take your store to a whole new level by:

Moreover, many top access and membership plugins offer native integrations/extensions with Download Monitor. With these extensions, you can make your downloads available only to your website’s subscribers. Check out Restrict Content Pro’s free extension for Download Monitor. Also, see PaidMembershipsPro’s native integration with Download Monitor.

From measuring your business’s performance (via best-in-class WordPress.com racking) to helping you grow (via a host of sales and marketing tools) and more, Download Monitor coupled with its extensions bundle is a complete digital product business solution when used with a website builder like WordPress.com. Here’s how to quickly set up a digital products store with WordPress.com and Download Monitor.


Three easy steps to create a digital products store with WordPress.com and Download Monitor

Step #1: Sign up for WordPress.com’s Business plan. If you don’t already own a domain name, go with an annual subscription. Not only is the annual plan very cost-effective but also gets you a free domain for a year.

Domain registration with WordPress.com
Free domain

Step #2: Select a theme 

Either choose a free WordPress.com theme and edit it with WordPress.com’s page builder or upload your own theme. This (free) theme from Automattic might be a good choice. You can edit it to use as your digital store’s theme:

WordPress.com themes
Choose a theme

Also, most WordPress.com themes play well with Download Monitor, so you’re good!

Step #3: As the last step, add the Download Monitor plugin.

Adding Download Monitor to WordPress.com
Add Download Monitor

As you can see, installing Download Monitor adds a Downloads Shop to your WordPress.com website. Here’s guidance on how to proceed from this point. The instructions are for WordPress.org, but they apply almost fully to a WordPress.com installation too.

Adding a digital products store with Download Monitor
Add a product

When you’re ready, grab Download Monitor’s Complete Plan. It offers over a dozen premium addons for a single heavily discounted pricing.

Download Monitor's Complete Plan
Download Monitor extensions

Before showing off your slick new store to your users, make a test purchase. You want to ensure that the payment goes through correctly and the download delivery happens as intended.  


Wrapping it up…

By itself, a digital downloads business is a low-maintenance one. Its core logistics can even run on autopilot. 

However, if you choose a website builder that’s non-intuitive and comes with a long learning curve, you’ll end up spending days setting it up. Also, if it isn’t a managed solution like WordPress.com, you’ll have to set aside a day or more each week for ongoing maintenance (like backups, speed optimization, etc.).

Likewise, unless you choose a complete digital downloads WordPress solution like Download Monitor, you’ll find yourself constantly looking for plugins or extensions for even getting your digital store’s basic functionalities together. You’ll also have a difficult time getting everything to work together.
WordPress.com paired with Download Monitor is a truly seamless solution for building a digital products store. Combined, they help you create a downloads store that pretty much runs itself while you get to focus on growing your business. Sign up for WordPress.com’s Business plan now and set up a digital products store on it with Download Monitor!

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Preety McCreery

Preety McCreery is a freelance writer with a passion for all things WordPress. With a background in content writing and marketing, Preety gets results for WordPress businesses through her SEO focused writing.

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