package with yellow envelope

The un-recommended way to sell your digital goods.

Working on your first digital good for sale? Or just thinking about it?

Don’t let the technical details of “how to actually sell the damn thing” keep you from making it — or shipping it.

In this one little blog post, I’m gonna fill you in on aaaaaall the digital goods dirt — so you can get the decision over with, and get back to doing your thing. Oooh, and making money.

Digital goods meaning what now?

Just a note for clarity: by “digital goods,” I mean any kind of downloadable media that stands alone: PDFs, HTML, audio, video, little bits of software that don’t need licensing — like Wordpress themes.

This is important, because when you need to generate license keys tied to usernames and whatnot, things get a lot more complicated. So, for today: nice, simple, self-contained digital goods.

You’ve Got 5 Basic Needs

When it comes to digital goods, you as a seller have 5 basic needs:

  • collecting payment
  • delivering the content to the customer
  • staying in contact with customers (e.g. mailing updates, getting their contact info)
  • managing refunds
  • getting your money

Beyond those 5, you might want to offer an affiliate program, or upsells to other products, but let’s be honest – right now, you just have to finish your thing and get it online, and in the hands of your customers. Once it’s online, you have to be able to sell it, and talk to your customers, and get your money out.

That other stuff is cream! Worry about it when you’re rich.

And 5 Platforms to Choose From

Since you’re a sensible person, you’d assume that every platform on the market covers all of your 5 basic needs… but, sadly, you’d be wrong.

Coincidentally, there are 5 Platform Types that will help you sell your digital goods.

(No, I didn’t arbitrarily decide on 5 and work backwards from there. It just worked out that way. If there is a god, he’s clearly a marketer.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the 5 Platform Types:

  1. Roll Your Own. You don’t wanna do this. It puts you further away from making money, not closer — and that makes it a no-no. (I need a freshly shorn yak, embarrassed and baby smooth. STAT!)

  2. Classic Ecommerce Solution + Digital Goods Add-on. Example: Shopify with Fetch. While Shopify is splendid for physical goods, this approach is glommed on with duct tape. Fetch doesn’t cover all 5 Basic Needs (no way to send updates, email your customers, no affiliate program). And you’re paying for two services at once. To which one can only say: MEH!

  3. A Traditional Ebook Marketplace. Traditional? Ebook? Is there such a thing? Yes: Clickbank has been around for a coon’s age, if by “coon” you mean grotty old internet marketer. Upsides: works, well-tested, reliable. You can absolutely trust them and they hit 4 out of 5 Basic Needs (except email lists). You don’t need any kind of payment provider. Downsides: it has “the IM taint,” and worst of all, your customers pay ClickBank, and then ClickBank pays you later. By check. (Or direct deposit, if you qualify.)

  4. Full-Blown Digital Goods Ecommerce. There are several pretenders to this throne, but the only true heir is 1ShoppingCart. 1SC is for the pros and people who have the time/energy/money to integrate. Pros: Covers all 5 Basic Needs very nicely, offers the highest respectability, tons of payment integration options, including many credit card processors. It never touches your money. Cons: Expensive. Digital Download versions start at $99/month. Complicated set-up. Only offers password-protected areas for your customers to download your digital goods, as opposed to unique URLs. (So it’s hard to block out old customers, or limit downloads.)

  5. E-Junkie. Halfway between Clickbank and a full blown shopping cart lies E-Junkie, in a category of its own. Despite its sophomoric name, it’s totally on the up & up — and, offers PayPal, Checkout, and integration. It covers all 5 Basic Needs, although if you send out updates they charge you for bandwidth costs. (You can pay a slightly higher monthly fee to self-host your own files.) E-Junkie has a whiff of the taint, but it’s cheap ($10), your money goes straight to you, and it’s not too complicated to set up. Downsides: ugly as hell, Flash, user-unfriendly and time consuming to perform basic tasks, and, you know, “E-Junkie”?

So, as you can see, there’s no single solution that screams perfection and take-home-to-mama-ability.

5 Ways to Choose the Lukewarmest Platform for You

The key problem with choosing your platform is that all of the solutions suck, as you might have gathered from my snarking. They all have serious downsides.

Given all of the above — as much as it pains me to say so — I recommend E-Junkie. While the user experience is Double Plus Ungood, it’s cheap, functional, and available.

If you have a PayPal account, a domain name, and hosting, you can put up a sales page, set up your digital goods listing in E-Junkie, embed the Buy button, and be selling in 30 minutes.

As far as lukewarm things go, that’s not too bad. It’s more like lukewarm milk than lukewarm beer: not your favorite thing by far, but putting it in your mouth won’t cause you to spontaneously projectile vomit.

Bottom line: Set up E-Junkie today

Thus, I’m advocating that you go ahead right now and sign up for the lesser (in every sense) of two evils: E-Junkie.

E-Junkie’s only true competitor on features is 1ShoppingCart, which will take much longer to configure and costs, oh, about 10 times more.

Let’s face it: Your problem isn’t that you’re overwhelmed with sales. If only! Your problem is that you haven’t set up a payment platform because you’re unsure, and it seems like a lot of work. Ergo you are making no money. Ergo you are losing money.

That’s where E-Junkie shines: hard-eyed pragmatism. Which is exactly what you want, as a budding digital goods provider.

** I lied. There’s only one way to choose, and I just couldn’t bear to ruin a good thing.*

*PS — Suffice to say, we went with E-Junkie for JavaScript Performance Rocks!. > *PPS — Want the bullshit-free skinny on creating & selling info products? Subscribe below and get motivating kicks in the ass direct to your inbox. I guarantee they’ll earn you more than your weekly Farmville report.

How do you make your first sale?

Follow our FREE roadmap from $0 to $10k and start your product business one small, achievable win at a time.

When you subscribe, you’ll also get biz advice, design rants, and stories from the trenches once a week (or so). We respect your email privacy.