As a non-fiction author, you probably sell ebooks. Maybe you also have reports, videos, MP3s or other digital files that you would like to sell. If your website uses WordPress, then Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) is a free plugin that makes this easy. It is specifically designed to deal with digital sales, so if you intend to also sell physical products on your website, you will need something like WooCommerce instead.
EDD can be downloaded from the EDD website, or installed within the WordPress dashboard, by going to Plugins -> Add New, search for “Easy Digital Downloads”, then click Install Now on the Easy Digital Downloads link (which should be top of the list). Activating the newly-installed plugin takes you to a welcome page, which details some of EDD’s features. At the bottom of this page is a link to go to Easy Digital Downloads settings.
EDD creates a number of new pages. Be sure to check any menus, and remove them if necessary. A Downloads section will be added to the sidebar in the WordPress dashboard. Everything related to EDD is located in this section.
Settings are fairly straightforward, but there is plenty of documentation on the EDD website, as well as videos showing how to perform particular tasks. There is a test mode, which allows you to test EDD without actually processing payments. There are two payment gateways installed by default: Test Payment and PayPal Standard. Enabling the Test Payment gateway and putting EDD into test mode allows you to give EDD a comprehensive test, including downloading files, without having to pay. I recommend that you do this, to see the process from the customer point of view, and identify any issues.
Add Products to Sell
Products are added through the EDD interface, using the Add New link in the Downloads section. Products are created in a similar way to WordPress pages. The page will typically contain a product description, image, etc. A purchase button will be automatically added to the bottom of the page (purchase buttons can also be added to other pages or posts, using a special shortlink). Products can have categories and tags (which are distinct from post categories and tags). Each download can have multiple files, so an ebook, for example, can be offered in ePub, Mobi and PDF formats.
As well as standard products, bundles of two or more products can be created and sold (as recommended in this NFAA blog post). These products are created in the usual way, but instead of adding files, select the products to be included in the bundle. This can be used to create bundles of related products, probably at a reduced price compared to buying the products individually.
Discount codes can be set up, in the Discount Codes link in the Downloads section of the EDD interface. By entering a code at the checkout, customers can be given a discount (either a percentage or a fixed amount). These codes are very flexible, with a number of options, including the ability to set a start and end date, thus allowing short-term sales.
A large number of add ons are available for Easy Digital Downloads, which extend the functionality in a variety of ways, such as adding new ways to process payments, or offer customers a chance to sign up to a mailing list at checkout. There is also a selection of themes available that are designed to be used with EDD to create a web store.