6 Easy Digital Downloads Extensions for WordPress Plugin Sellers

Easy Digital Downloads is my WordPress tool of choice to offer website visitors a simple way to download digital products from your website. It’s a free download right from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, you can have it running in minutes and be selling ebooks, photos, music, videos and software.

Since this is a site about WordPress plugin development I’m going to focus on how Easy Digital Downloads can help you start your premium plugin business. Out of the box EDD is sort of suitable for your basic needs as a WordPress plugin developer but if you want to get serious about selling your plugins you’re going to need a few extensions to get all of the features you will really need.

With all of that in mind and since I use EDD to sell my plugin, WP Word Count, I thought it would be worth the time to take a look at some of the extensions I use. Hopefully other plugin developers trying to get started in the premium plugin game can get an idea of what their options, and associated costs, will be if they go with Easy Digital Downloads as their sales and distribution solution.

 

Software Licensing Extension for Easy Digital Downloads

Software Licensing

This is the first extension you should start with in my opinion. The rest of the extensions I’ll discuss are arguably optional but you really need Software Licensing to give the basic premium plugin experience to your customers.

If you’ve ever wondered how plugin and theme authors sell and manage licenses and updates for their products this is most likely the answer.

The License Key system is obviously the big sell here. When a customer purchases your plugin they receive an email with a license key that will allow them to verify their purchase after the plugin has been installed. The code for implementing license key checks in your plugin is stupidly simple to do and you should be up and running with a full-fledged licensing system in a few minutes.

The one click updates are great as well. Whenever you are ready to release a new version of your plugin you simply upload it to your site, update the product information inside of Easy Digital Downloads and then you are done. The next time your customers log in to their WordPress sites they will automatically ping your server, see a new version is available and the standard WordPress upgrade path will begin. They’ll see a notification in their menu and their plugin list will ask them to click a link to download and activate the new release. It works just like any plugin you would get for free on the directory at WordPress.org does.

Key management and the one click update features were the most important to me but these other features are nice as well:

  • Licensing API (Great for non-WordPress products, by the way)
  • License Renewals
  • Upgrade Paths
  • Offer Beta Version Downloads to Customers

I could write a full post just on this extension alone but if anything on that lists intrigues you you can learn more at the EDD site.

The amount of time and effort you save with this extension is immense. You’ll never have to worry about building your own licensing system or figure out how to automatically push plugin updates to paid customers if you use this extension. It’s well worth the price.

Single Site 2-5 Sites Unlimited
$199.00 $329.00 $419.00

 

Recurring Payments Extension for Easy Digital Downloads

Recurring Payments

I don’t use the Recurring Payments myself because my plugin is a one-time purchase fee but I am definitely in the minority and yearly subscriptions for premium WordPress plugins is the norm. With this extension all of the heavy lifting is taken care of you so you can just focus on getting that first sale and letting Easy Digital Downloads handle the rest.

The extension let’s you setup different recurring payment models for every plugin you sell, gives customers the ability to have multiple subscriptions on one account, delivers automated emails to customers when one of their subscriptions is about to renew and it supports multiple payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, etc. There is also support for free trials and signup fees to give you added options for your plugin pricing structure.

Recurring Payments ties into the Software Licensing extension as well so it’s the perfect one-two punch for getting up and running selling premium plugins on a yearly basis.

Single Site 2-5 Sites Unlimited
$199.00 $329.00 $419.00

 

Stripe Payment Gateway

With this extension you’re going to get all of the features of Stripe instantly built in to your checkout process. Stripe Payment Gateway offers support for Stripe Checkout, saved cards and works for customers in all countries Stripe is offered in. And, of course, it connects to the Recurring Payments extension as well so your customers can renew each year via Stripe.

If Stripe isn’t available for you then EDD has extensions for multiple payment gateways:

  • Authorize.net
  • Braintree
  • Moneybookers
  • Dwolla
  • PayPal Pro and PayPal Express
  • 2Checkout

That’s not even half of the list so if Stripe won’t work for you then you will still have plenty of options.

Single Site 2-5 Sites Unlimited
$89.00 $129.00 $209.00

 


Intermission!

WordPress Site for Marketing OutreachIf you’ve made it this far I’m going to assume you are currently, or want to be, a WordPress plugin developer. If I’m right then you might be interested in checking out our list of WordPress websites. The list is a great resource to get started with marketing outreach for your plugin (or theme, for that matter).

Ok, back to the extension talk…


 

Auto Register Extension for Easy Digital Downloads

Auto Register

I never understood why this extension wasn’t just a base feature of Easy Digital Downloads right out of the box. Auto Register creates WordPress accounts for every customer after they complete the checkout process. By default, EDD comes with a basic registration form that asks for user information at the time of checkout but with this extension you can shove that process off to the regular WordPress process of user account creation.

After checkout your customer will receive an email with their login credentials (their email address and a random password) which you can modify using the EDD admin tools. Customers are also automatically logged into your site after completing their purchase. This gives them quick access to their account without having to jump through additional hoops.

This one is not flashy and the price is right because Auto Register is completely free. There’s very little reason for you not to install this extension immediately after getting the base Easy Digital Downloads setting in place for your plugin.

 

Free Downloads Extension for Easy Digital Downloads

Free Downloads

I find that one of the hardest things to do is getting contact information for people using the free version of your plugin. The WordPress.org directory is by far the best way to get exposure for your work but all downloads there take place anonymously. This is a tough problem to crack on your own but the Free Downloads extension helps you at least capture some of your free users email addresses.

The typical landing page for a premium WordPress plugin includes a direct link to the free version on WordPress.org. If you use EDD’s Free Downloads extension you can turn that free download link into a popup that asks for an email address before directly downloading the file to your visitor’s computer. The extension lets you gather more information like first and last name and you can dictate what happens after they submit: immediate download or redirect to a page of your choosing.

This isn’t the perfect solution to the problem of knowing more about your free plugin audience but it’s a step in the right direction. I highly, highly doubt we are ever going to get improved marketing tools from the official plugin directory so hack solutions like this are probably our best bet long term.

Single Site 2-5 Sites Unlimited
$49.00 $89.00 $129.00

 

MailChimp Extension for Easy Digital Downloads

MailChimp

EDD offers extensions for all sorts of email marketing services but I’ve chosen to highlight the MailChimp one here as it’s what I use personally.

This extension does obvious stuff like let you include newsletter opt-in flags on your checkout form but what I really like is you can subscribe customers to lists based on what they purchased. You will also get data inside of MailChimp about what list subscribers have purchased from you in the past. You’ll find this useful for segmenting out your list which will be nice during an initial marketing launch of new plugins you might develop in the future.

My favorite use of this plugin is to couple it with the Free Downloads extension I recommended just a few minutes ago. You can setup a simple sales funnel by subscribing everyone who downloads the free version of your plugin to a list and then dripping emails to them afterwards looking for feedback, reminding them of features of your plugin they may have missed and ultimately trying to convert them into customers of your paid version.

Single Site 2-5 Sites Unlimited
$49.00 $89.00 $129.00

 

Let’s Talk About Cost

I think Easy Digital Downloads is pretty great, and I have very few complaints about it, but the startup costs can be sort of steep. While the core functionality of the free, base version is enough to get you started you will quickly come to realize you just need more features to get to where you ultimately want to go with a solid checkout and admin solution.

This is especially worrisome if you are selling your first WordPress plugin like I was and were taking the leap without any real sales expectations. Of course, there is no success without risk in business and the functionality you can get from the extensions I’ve listed here was certainly worth the cost to me in the end.

With all of that said here’s the final tally if you were going to purchase every extension I’ve recommended here today individually (spoiler alert: don’t do this):

Single Site 2-5 Sites Unlimited
$585.00 $965.00 $1,305.00

That’s a lot of money.

Thankfully, Easy Digital Downloads offers a handful of pricing options and starter packages. You can get what you need for less than what you would pay if you bought individually. You’ll have to do your own research and pick-and-choose what you feel you need the most but it’s worth the time and effort to save some money and help mitigate the risk of selling your plugin.

 

B-B-B-Bonus Plugin!

One of my least favorite parts of Easy Digital Downloads is the reporting feature. During the time I’ve been a user it’s just been repeatedly bug ridden and generally painful to use. Thankfully, there is a free solution to get better and easier to understand statistics.

Scott Bolinger, friend of the site, has released a free WordPress plugin called EDD Metrics. This plugin is greatly inspired by Baremetrics, as Scott indicates in the description, so you get a bunch of useful stats all in one place right from the EDD menu like:

  • Sales
  • Refunds
  • Discounts
  • Net Revenue
  • Renewal Rates
  • Subscriptions
  • Earning by Download and Gateway

These are the kinds of figures you need to know to understand how your plugin is performing in the market and you can get them with a single click of a menu item inside of your WordPress admin. I really can’t recommend it enough.

 

Wrapping Up

There you have it. My recommendations for the best Easy Digital Downloads extensions you can use to improve the experience for your plugin customers while at the same time making your development and sales efforts simpler.

Easy Digital Downloads just seems like the best solution to me for selling premium WordPress plugins. You can go with WooCommerce, or Gumroad or another third-party service provider but I think EDD gives you the best functionality and control. Their extension choices, while overwhelming at first, ultimately offer all of the business functions you’ll ever need.

I hope this list is helpful to you in making your extension buying decisions. If you have recommendations of your own please leave them in the comments below.

Filed under: Easy Digital Downloads, WordPress