Of course, you can throw a PayPal button up on your site and manually email your customer the file she purchased, but if you have a high-volume business – or just want to minimize your workload in the future – you can set your blog up so that your customer can immediately download her purchase.
There are a few ways to do this, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
aWeber and PayPal
I set up Conquer the Universe With Astrology so that the customer would automatically subscribe to an emailing list after her PayPal purchase. This can be done with AWeber (affiliate link), a highly-reliable email marketing service. You need to follow this tutorial to allow PayPal to communicate with AWeber. (And you don’t have to use PayPal – AWeber is compatible with other payment gateways.) Essentially, PayPal sends an email to AWeber subscribing your customer to a particular mailing list. AWeber sends your customer a confirmation email (to opt-in). After your customer clicks on the link in the email, she is sent her first “follow-up” email. You set up this first email so that (1) it is sent out immediately; and (2) so that it contains a link to the digital download within the body of the follow-up email.
Advantage: Your customer is automatically signed up to an email list, which allows you to send her a combination of updates (“broadcasts”) and more follow-ups. You can pitch more products to her, or just send out weekly forecasts – it’s up to you.
Disadvantages: (1) You have to communicate to the customer that she has to confirm her subscription to your newsletter. Otherwise, she will not be able to receive the follow-up email that contains the link to the digital download. You can set PayPal up so that your customer is sent to a “Thank You” page where you can make it loud and clear that she has to click on the confirmation link. Nonetheless, some customers will not read these instructions, and will email you about why they haven’t received their products. (2) AWeber is expensive. I personally think it’s worth it, because an email list is valuable. However, I would not suggest this option if you don’t plan on making use of a list.
A WordPress Plugin
If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can take advantage of a free plugin at GetShopped. I am currently using this plugin for my Sasstrology Store. After you install it, you can add digital products in your dashboard. After the customer “checks out” using PayPal, she is sent back to a transaction page that includes temporary links to download her purchased ebooks. She also receives an email containing these links.
Advantages: This option requires less work on the customer’s part. Also, the barebones version of the plugin is free.
Disadvantage: You have to worry about plugin compatibility with your current version of WordPress. When I automatically upgraded to the most recent version of the plugin, my store “broke.” I had to delete the plugin and re-upload the older version that I had originally downloaded. Although there is a forum, I’ve seen complaints about product support, and you do need to be savvy with the back end of WordPress to really take advantage of this plugin.
I have no experience with E-Junkie, but I learned about it when poking around at Love Astrology. According to the website, “For merchants selling downloads, we automate and secure the digital delivery of files and codes.” This service can take the headache out of setting up email parsers at AWeber or an e-commerce plugin in WordPress. They have a clearly defined pricing structure based on the number of products you are selling. For example, you can sell up to 10 products for $5 per month, and “there is no limit on the number of sales or bandwidth.”
I can’t really speak of advantages and disadvantages for this service, but it looks like it’s the easiest to implement.
About the Author
Jeffrey Kishner is publisher of Sasstrology. He is also a blog consultant.