If you’ve never sold anything on your website before then you’d be forgiven for thinking that this lesson might turn out to be complex or technically challenging.
I hope to surprise you (and relieve you) with the knowledge that selling your recording on your own website is actually quite easy to do.
I’ve spoken to plenty of people who are keen to sell their recordings from their website, and many of them express a sense of trepidation and unfamiliarity with the process.
“It’s too complicated” or
“I have to install this software and I don’t know how” or
“I have to get in touch with my web designer and talk to him about it...”
The truth is, these days it’s fairly quick and easy to start selling products on your own website and it costs almost nothing to set up or operate.
I will make a few assumptions at this point. I assume that you already have a website of your own (or that you are planning to launch one in the future) and that your website does not already have shopping cart facilities. That being the case, the only thing you will need to implement is a user-friendly shopping cart facility that will allow you to sell digital downloads.
A realistic tip for newcomers
Please keep in mind that if your website is absolutely brand new and has no traffic yet, then you are probably not going to sell many downloads unless you have an actionable plan to attract visitors to your site.
If you have no marketing plan and no web traffic, then setting up an online store might be a step too far for you at this stage. A simpler approach in the early days of your website is to use your site only to provide information and previews of your recordings, along with links for people to listen to your recordings on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Alternatively (or additionally) you can set up a store for people to purchase downloads of your recordings on www.Bandcamp.com This way you will make it easy for people to find and experience your creations, but without you having to go through the process of setting up an online store.
A brief overview of how to sell your recording as a download
Before we get into step by step details, let’s start with a basic and brief overview of how to sell your recording.
1. If you have followed the advice in previous lessons, you will have created your beautiful, relaxing recording and prepared it as an mp3 file, ready for the internet, along with some nice album artwork. If you already have a PayPal account, then you’ll be able to start selling your recording within a matter of hours.
2. To sell downloads on your site, you will need to sign up to a shopping cart service like DPD, E-Junkie or Shopify. Depending on the platform you used to build your website, you may also be able to access other e-commerce services. For example, Woocommerce is a popular option for Wordpress sites.
Each e-commerce platform behaves a little differently, but the basic approach for each of them is as follows:
Upload your MP3 recording to your e-commerce platform.
Set the price for your recording.
Copy and paste a little bit of code to your website to apply an “Add to Cart” button that your customers can click on.
Sit back, relax and let your website sell for you. Your e-commerce provider will process your customers’ payments before delivering them your recording automatically.
That’s it! That’s the basics of what we are going to cover in this lesson. If you don’t already have shopping cart functionality on your site then you shouldn’t need to pay a web developer to build a digital download facility for you, and you shouldn’t need to buy or install any software. Bolt-on shopping cart services like DPD and E-Junkie may take a little getting used to, but they are relatively straightforward to use, very efficient and very cheap.
The cost of e-commerce providers
E-commerce providers do vary in their pricing. Most of them charge a flat monthly fee, but some others may also take a small percentage of your earnings.
Most providers vary their payment plans according to the total number of products and/or storage space you require.
For example, DPD charges $10 per month, which allows you 20 products and 1GB of storage space. This is quite an appropriate plan for anyone new to selling online, and for some this may be the only plan they will ever need.
File storage, security and delivery
Once you upload your MP3 recording to your e-commerce provider it will be stored on a secure server for you. There it will be safe from unauthorised access.
When a customer buys one or more of your recordings, your provider processes the transaction from beginning to end. It ensures that you receive payment and then sends the customer an email that contains a unique link to download their purchase. You can usually customise the content of this email to give it your own personal touch. From there your customer can simply click to download your recording to their computer.
In short, your e-commerce provider will make sure you get paid, before delivering your recording to your customer for you. It’s all automatic.
Setting prices, currency and tax rules
Your e-commerce provider will allow you to set your own prices and will allow you to sell your products to the entire world as there are no geographical restrictions of any type. You can choose what currency your prices are displayed in, and you can even configure tax rules to your liking so that if you need to apply tax to people in certain regions then they will be charged appropriately.
Setting appropriate download limits
Most e-commerce providers allow you to set limits on the number of times a customer can download their purchase and limits on how long their download remains active. This is an essential feature that helps to secure your products and protect them from illegal file sharing.
Download limits should be set for all your products. I recommend a setting of between 10 and 20 downloads. 5 is too few. 50 is too many. Here’s why…
Let’s say a customer purchases a guided meditation from you and clicks on their download link to initiate the download. Your e-commerce provider counts this click as a “download attempt”. But what happens if there is a problem with their internet connection and the download is interrupted? Your customer will need to be able to retry the download again. Any number of technical hiccups can disrupt a download (including user error) so you need to make a reasonable allowance for this by permitting your customers to download their purchase multiple times.
On the other hand, there needs to be an upper limit on the number of times a customer can download their purchase. When your customers receive a download link, they could (in theory) forward that download link to all their friends or publish it publicly on the internet so that everyone could download your guided meditation for free! Now I don’t expect that this happens very often, but you should eliminate the possibility all the same. By setting a limit of say, 20 download attempts, your recording will be relatively secure even if one of your customers turned out to be naughty and shared their download link with others. Once that limit of 20 downloads is reached, the link simply stops working and the customer’s product becomes inaccessible.
I should mention that you will have the ability, with just a couple of clicks, to reactivate a customer’s download link should the need arise. For example, a few times in the past I’ve encountered customers who sat at their computer and repeatedly clicked on their download link with machine gun speed, as if doing so would somehow make their purchase download faster. The e-commerce provider counts all those clicks and within a few moments – bam – the link is automatically deactivated. An email requesting technical support is then inevitable, but reactivating the customer’s purchase and providing them with another 20 download attempts is easy.
Just to clarify, each and every one of your customers will receive their own unique download link, so each and every customer will have as many opportunities to download their purchase as you define. The whole process is both flexible and visible.
Other features your e-commerce provider may offer
Check to see if your e-commerce provider will allow you to create discount coupons that you can share with your customers. It can be very beneficial to have the option to share a discount with your customers, whether for one specific product, or all of your products.
Some e-commerce providers will allow you to create product “bundles”. If you have more than one product to offer, and if grouping them together into a bundle makes sense, then I highly recommend that you create some “value bundles”. Many of our customers have used our royalty free meditation music to create courses consisting of multiple titles, or products that can be bundled together. These can be very successful provided that you are willing to offer them at a significantly discounted price compared to the price of the individual products they include. For example, three products for the price of two (33% discount) or five products for the price of three (40% discount).
Some e-commerce providers will allow you to launch your own affiliate program, so that other people can earn a percentage of any sales that they generate for you by referring customers to your website. I certainly don’t view affiliate programs as an essential undertaking, and I wouldn’t recommend that you launch one if you are just getting started online, but it’s nice to know that the option is available to you. If a day comes when you have a significant number of products to sell then you may start receiving inquiries from potential affiliates who wish to promote your products.
Detailed sales reports
Your e-commerce provider should provide you with detailed sales reports so that you can keep abreast of your sales. Here’s an example of DPD’s sales Dashboard:
Your next steps
Now that you know how to implement a shopping cart service on your website, let's take a moment to talk about how to present your recordings in their best light. It's important that your sales pages are both compelling and user friendly...