How To Make Money With Downloadables


Harald Roine

Digital Vekststrateg

Downloadables (in the context of this article) are ebooks and software/scripts that can be easily downloaded onto a user’s computer at the click of a mouse.

This article will explain how anyone, with a simple web site, can profit from these highly sought after products.

Information is a commodity that is constantly in great demand – it seems humans can’t get enough of it. The fact that you are reading this article means that you require some sort of information. Ebooks that are in demand tell a reader how to do something, software/scripts enable a user to accomplish a task on a computer or on the internet. Now, take advantage of this fact and operate a small web site business satisfying these demands.

Why downloadables? Downloadables have some great advantages over other product lines. Firstly, a customer can order and get his product immediately after payment – this is great as most people are impulsive buyers and buy on the spot. Secondly, downloadables do not require any shipping and hence no shipping costs and all the hard work that goes with that. Thirdly, there is no need to store products – only one copy of a downloadable needs to be on your web server.

Confirm your downloadables

Your downloadables are your products that you will market via your web site. These can either be ebooks or software/scripts or a combination of both.

Sourcing of ebooks

If you have a flair for writing, are knowledgeable on a certain topic, then you can write your own ebook. Write using a word processor and then covert into pdf format or self-executing format, the latter made possible by the great many, often free, ebook publishing software available on the web – source them by searching on the search engines. It seems that “How to” ebooks are the most popular and the desirable length is around sixty to a hundred pages.

If you prefer not writing your own ebooks, then you may purchase reprint rights to ebooks that are written by someone else. Essentially this means that the copyright belongs to the original author but he/she grants you the rights to sell the ebooks. Some authors charge a once-off fee while others charge a royalty commission on every copy of ebook you sell. You can find these by searching on the web.

Sourcing of software/scripts

For these, you will follow the very same procedure as above. For the sake of clarity, I should explain a slight distinction between software and scripts. The term software is used to describe whole programs that run on your computer like a spreadsheet program while scripts are little programs that, being more internet based, are usually add-ons. An example is a script that adds a forum to your web site.

Establish a web site

If you don’t have one already, your next step would be to establish a web site. This has become a relatively easy, cheap and painless exercise. Think of a domain name, register it and get hosting. There are a number of hosting options available and your choice will usually depend on your needs. If you are uncertain on what you will need, speak to a reliable webmaster who has been in the industry for some time.

Secure payment processing

You will now need to establish secure credit card processing. This will allow your customers to pay with their credit cards and receive their product as a download immediately thereafter. The easiest way is to make use of the services of a third party processor who would also be willing to assist you with the setup and integration. The third party processor will debit your customers’ credit cards and remit the money to you after deducting their commission.

Setup and design your web site

You now need to design your web site taking into account your products and the technology your third party processor is using. It is advisable to make use of a developer/designer who is able to integrate third party processing.

Market your site

Now market your web site either by way of text ads, banners, link exchanges and other traffic generation methods. You may also want to use good Seo (search engine optimization) methods to get your site ranked high enough in the search engines.

How it comes together

A visitor browsing your site takes a keen interest in one or more of your ebooks/software/scripts. He decides to buy and is taken to the order page of your third party processor (by way of an order link on your site). He enters his credit card details and other information and confirms his order. After his order is processed successfully, he is either taken to a secure members-only page on your web site where he is shown the download link or your payment processor emails him a download link. Either way, by clicking on the link, he is able to download his ebook/software/script immediately.