Looking to get started selling with WordPress?
As the world’s most popular way to build a website, WordPress spoils you for choice when it comes to options for selling products, content, time, or anything else.
If you want to create an entire eCommerce store, you have plenty of tools at your disposal. But you can also get more focused and create a simple form for one-off payments or donations. Or, you can even build a recurring revenue base and sell content with a membership plugin or eCourse platform.
In this post, I’m going to cover a few topics to help you start successfully selling with WordPress:
- 8 different methods/plugins that you can use to sell on WordPress, including everything from a full eCommerce store to a single payment button.
- Recommendations for when each method is your best option.
- The basic steps you need to take to get started with any of the methods on this list.
Let’s dive in…
Three Options To Create A Fully-Functional eCommerce Store
By the numbers, WordPress is the most popular way to create a complete eCommerce store in existence. And while a plugin called WooCommerce dominates the WordPress eCommerce scene, it’s not the only option you have to create an eCommerce store with WordPress.
Here are three great ways to get started with a full eCommerce store…
WooCommerce is, by far, the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin. It’s not just the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin, either…
If you checked out the stats link in the section above, you saw that WooCommerce is the most popular way to build an eCommerce store. Period. Yes, it’s even more popular than Shopify.
With WooCommerce, you can sell both physical and digital products. And you’ll also have lots of flexibility for setting up products with different variations (like sizes or colors).
The core WooCommerce plugin is 100% free. But one of the big benefits of WooCommerce is the huge marketplace of official and third-party extensions. There are thousands of free and premium extensions that can add all types of functionality to your store.
When To Use WooCommerce:
WooCommerce should be your first stop if you want to create a full eCommerce store. It’s not always the best option for 100% of stores. But overall – there’s a reason it’s so popular.
2. Ninja Shop
Originally named iThemes Exchange (and then ExchangeWP), Ninja Shop is the evolution of that brand from the same team behind the massively popular Ninja Forms plugin.
Like WooCommerce, Ninja Shop lets you set up a fully-functioning eCommerce store where you can sell both physical and digital products.
While Ninja Shop doesn’t have the popularity of WooCommerce, its unique value proposition is that it’s a lot simpler, while still giving you all the important core functionality you need to run a real eCommerce store.
WooCommerce stores can be difficult to set up, especially if you’re not familiar with WordPress or aren’t a developer. Ninja Shop flips that with an incredibly simple setup process:
That simplicity also shows up in other parts of the interface, like it’s more streamlined Edit Product interface.
When To Use Ninja Shop:
If you want a simpler solution that just works, Ninja Shop is a great option. It can’t match the huge third-party ecosystem of WooCommerce, but through the core features and official add-ons, it has all the functionality you need to run a standard eCommerce store, and it can likely do it at a more affordable price.
3. Easy Digital Downloads
Finally, as you can probably guess from the name, Easy Digital Downloads is a full WordPress eCommerce solution that’s entirely dedicated to selling digital products.
While both of the previous eCommerce plugins also let you sell digital products, Easy Digital Downloads’ singular focus means it can offer a more lightweight, streamlined experience (that is – you don’t have to wade through all the features for physical products).
When To Use Easy Digital Downloads:
Easy Digital Downloads is a great option if you’re selling anything digital – like photos, software, music, etc.
Three Ways To Accept One-Off Payments Or Donations
Above, I shared three options that help you create a complete eCommerce store. But what if you don’t need full store functionality? What if you just want to, say, sell a couple products/services or accept donations?
In that case, you can probably do everything you need with a much more surgical approach. These tools offer that…
1. Your Favorite Form Plugin
WordPress form plugins aren’t just useful for contact forms – you can also use them to create payment forms that integrate with payment processors like PayPal, Stripe, and more.
Form plugins make a great option if you’re just selling a few products, or if you want a simple way to accept payment for services.
You’ll typically need to pay to get access to payment functionality, but the benefit is that you’ll be able to get pretty creative with features like:
- Price calculator fields that calculate a different price depending on how the person filled out a form.
- Autoresponder integrations so that you can automatically send a confirmation email (or deliver a digital product – like an eBook)
- Appointment booking with a date picker field (or use a dedicated appointment booking plugin)
Most popular form plugins support this functionality, but three good starters are:
- Ninja Forms – you’ll need an add-on for your preferred payment gateway (~$49). Here’s how to set it up.
- Gravity Forms – you’ll need the $259 Elite package.
- WPForms – you’ll need the $199 Pro plan. Here’s how you can accept recurring payments.
When To Use A Form Plugin:
A form plugin is a good option if you’re only selling a few products. For example, if you want to sell your services or an eBook, all you need is a form plugin rather than full eCommerce functionality.
2. WP Simple Pay
WP Simple Pay is an easy way to start accepting Stripe payments on WordPress. You can either accept donations, or sell products on a one-off or recurring basis.
The free version works fine for two of those – donations or simple one-off payments. But if you want more functionality – like subscriptions, coupons, custom fields on your payment form, and more, you’ll need the Pro version.
When To Use WP Simple Pay:
WP Simple Pay is a good option if you want to sell a few products or services on either a one-off or recurring basis. Also, it only works with Stripe, so you’ll need to be happy using Stripe for everything.
3. PayPal Buy Now Button
PayPal Buy Now Button is basically the same concept as WP Simple Pay…but for PayPal. All you do is add the button to your site and your customers will be able to click it to pay via PayPal.
You can specify your item name and price, as well as where to send people after they pay.
That’s all in the free version…
With the paid version, you can charge extra for shipping/taxes, give discounts, and get a few other extra features.
The only notable exception is the lack of any subscription/recurring payment options.
When To Use PayPal Buy Now Button:
This one is a good option if you just want to accept simple payments via PayPal on a one-off basis.
Two More Niche Ways To Sell Content With WordPress
These final two methods can be helpful if you’re looking to sell content with WordPress, rather than physical products.
1. Build A Membership Site For Recurring Revenue
If you want to sell information or some type of “premium access”, a membership site might be a great way to sell your content and build a recurring revenue base.
With a membership site, you sell access to restricted content on your site. You could restrict all your content, or you could opt to just restrict some premium content.
There are several quality plugins that you can use to create a membership site with WordPress. Some of the best to get you started are:
When To Use A Membership Plugin:
A membership plugin is a good option if you want to sell access to certain restricted content on your site.
2. Use An LMS Plugin To Sell Your Own eCourses
An LMS plugin, short for learning management system, specifically helps you create and sell courses with WordPress.
There can also be some overlap with a membership site – for example, you can sell access to courses via a membership subscription instead of a one-time payment.
Two good LMS plugins to get you started are:
When To Use An LMS Plugin:
An LMS plugin is a good option when you want to sell online courses on either a one-off or recurring basis.
How To Start Selling With WordPress Using These Plugins
Ok, so you found the method to sell with WordPress that’s right for you. Now…how do you get started selling?
Here’s a brief rundown…
Choose A WordPress Host That Makes SSL Easy
Even if you’re just using something simple like WP Simple Pay, you’ll still need an SSL/TLS certificate and HTTPS to securely accept payments via your site.
If you’re on a budget, SiteGround is a stellar option that makes it easy to get set up with HTTPS. And if you’re willing to pay for something more performance-focused, Kinsta makes a good option as well.
Or, if you’ve got a technical-bent, you can host WordPress yourself using DigitalOcean.
Sign Up For Your Payment Processor If Needed
You might have a PayPal account already laying around – but most of the time, you’ll need to sign up at your preferred payment processor before you can set up whichever WordPress plugin you chose.
For example, to use Stripe, you’ll need to sign up for a free account and then verify your business information to start accepting payments.
Install Your Chosen Method And Get Selling!
Once your site is running on HTTPS and you’re signed up with a payment processor, you’re ready to start selling!
Install your method of choice, configure the basic settings, and start selling with WordPress!
Have any other questions about how to sell stuff with WordPress? Let us know in the comments!
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