If you are a content creator or developer and you’re looking to sell creative products such as music, photos, videos, eBooks, artwork, and other digital products online, then you’re going to want to see this list. I’ve compiled a quick reference of the best platforms to set up a digital sales business without committing to a monthly subscription plan or complicated fee schedule.
Let’s face it; nearly everything we do in today’s digital world will require some form of subscription fee… be it monthly or yearly. There was a time when the only things we paid monthly for aside from utilities and phone service was perhaps cable television and magazine subscriptions. But today we have Internet and cell phones and countless other digital and physical services that we pay an ongoing fee for.
We pay ongoing subscription fees for our entertainment services such as Netflix and multi-purpose sites like Amazon. We subscribe to paid social networking services like Meetup Pro and Ning forums and educational programs like Lynda and Adapted Mind . Many of us even subscribe to boxed services for food, make-up, books, games, surprises and more. For anyone today, especially those with a family, keeping up with all these subscription options can get a little crazy.
So, when we think about signing up to a service that gives us the ability to manage, market, and sell our own creative goods, it’s actually pretty understandable that we would be put off by one more subscription service that charges by the month. Especially when first getting started in a creative content business, we may have a tendency to see such a service as a high risk – after all, how do we know if what we offer will bring much reward, especially in the beginning stages, and how long will it take just to be seen by potential buyers? The idea of paying indefinitely on a monthly basis for a service that we’re really kind of unsure about can be intimidating and even scary, especially if the price is quite high – and some of these marketplace platforms can reach up into the hundreds for a monthly buy in. For this reason, it’s frequently more appealing for a content creator to utilize a service that charges the seller only when they’re making money.
Yes, I know, I know. No risk no reward. It takes money to make money. Have faith in your plan or plan to fail. I’ve heard all this too. But I’m here to set your mind at ease… it is perfectly acceptable and understandable – even warranted – to begin in a way that fits where you are. And, there is nothing wrong with utilizing a great online company that provides the features you need while making the selling process easier for you by cutting out some of the normally imposed fees. In fact, there seems to be some evidence to suggest this is more in line with how things are turning and evolving for many types of online business platforms.
The following online marketplace services do vary in many ways and you’ll find that not all of them will cater to your specific need. Also, some are not standalone marketplace services and will depend on your having a website or blog to integrate into. In some cases, this means that you may incur costs associated with hosting and domain setup, etc. Looking over the list, however, I have no doubt that you’ll be able to find something great to help you on your way.
Each of those listed have been selected because of their straightforward and clear advantages fee structures that allow creators to get started selling with a plan that doesn’t charge monthly or hidden fees. While this is true for each of the sites listed, some do offer upgrade options where monthly fees are implemented. But, at least you will have a way to begin selling that isn’t an immediate monthly subscription plan or only an introductory free period. If you like, you can stick with a plan that only charges transaction fees for as long as you want to. Now you have no excuse as to why you can’t begin right now. You’re welcome. 🙂
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This is a pop-up checkout service that can be added to a website or blog. With the free plan you can have a maximum of 3 products. Product files can be up to 4gb. All of their plans limit the amount of products that can be added, but they are moderately priced.
Fees: 3% per sale. Stripe fees apply. No monthly fee.
With the free plan you can have a max of 5 products, which can be added to a website or blog. Their upgraded plans are paid annually rather than monthly and those prices are quite reasonable – the upgraded plans allow you to build a store and have access to more features. But if you’re just getting started or only have under five items anyway, this would make a good option.
Fees: 2.9% + $0.30 per credit card transaction or 2% per transaction through a payment gateway. No monthly fee for the Basic plan.
Supports physical and digital products. You can leverage Digiresults, Clickbank and PayDotCom at the same time. It reminds me of Clickbank in the way the marketplace is presented. Affiliate and Vendor focus. Instant payouts. Worth a look, although I had trouble signing up here – requested a link four times but never received it.
“We’re taking a different approach to marketing online. An approach that makes it easier than ever before for both vendors and affiliates to make money. An approach that allows you to get the affiliate exposure of a large network with the convenience of Paypal.” – site quote
Fees: “No setup fees. Merchants simply pay a small transaction fee of .50 + 5% (.25 +7.5% on sales of $10 or less) on every sale…deducted automatically, right at the point of sale.”
This platform can host and deliver secure reliable downloads to buyers utilizing our S3 hosting via Amazon.com. There are premium monthly upgrade options, but they are not transparent – so the cost of upgrade is most likely quite steep. This option is probably better aligned with a company or software developer, but it’s definitely worth looking at.
“You have the option to pay either 8.9% flat or 5.9% plus $.95 per transaction. If you prefer the 5.9% plus $.95 per transaction pricing, please make a request through our support team; the default setting otherwise is set indefinitely at the 8.9% flat pricing. It’s risk-free to sign up and use FastSpring. There are no sign-up, setup, or “special” add-on or hidden fees. You are not locked into a contract term and there is no exclusivity. Pricing includes fraud protection, management, unlimited support and much more.”
Fees: Pay as you Grow plan is a Pay Per Transaction, No contract, cancel any time, with base benefits package.
Mostly a place for physical goods that is similar in design to Ebay, but you can offer digital downloads here as well. “No fee marketplace and low cost multi-channel eCommerce solution allows sellers to give shoppers the best prices… Add products using TrueGether UI or upload using Inventory file or import your listings from other marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Shopify.”
Fees: Payment processing fees via PayPal, Amazon Payments or Stripe apply. Premium plan charges flat 4.0%* fee per sale. See breakdown.
Here you create digital product pages that can be distributed through websites, blogs, and social media. Sell and promote your eBooks, memberships, software, design assets, music or any type of digital products directly to your customers. Basic plan allows up to 100 digital products, 2 membership plans, and unlimited revenue. That’s pretty impressive! Their upgraded, pay monthly plans are moderately priced and allow unlimited products and membership plans. All file types are supported.
Fees: No monthly fee. 5% transaction fee in addition to PayPal or Stripe fees. Payhip pricing
Gumroad enables you to sell directly to your audience, either from your own website or through social media. With a free account you can create as many listings and sell as many products as you like. You can also send out 4 updates per month. The largest single file you can upload to Gumroad is 16GB. You can create landing pages too. A fantastic, must see option.
“Gumroad is for independent writers, designers, software developers, musicians, artists, teachers, filmmakers, and anyone in-between. Whether you sell digital goods or physical goods, you can use Gumroad. Simply put, if you make stuff for people to buy — Gumroad is for you.” – site quote
Fees: 8.5% + $0.30 per transaction. No monthly fee.
Here you create your digital product page and share the link via websites, blogs, and social media. So, you get an online store with unlimited file storage and unlimited product listings with PayPal integration. It’s simple and straightforward, making it one of my favorites.
Fees: No Monthly Fees. No Hidden Fees. Only a fair 5% fee from a successful sale.
Cody Landefeld over at WooCommerce gives us the breakdown of how costs can potentially add up with this option – see here. Being a WordPress plugin, in this instance, you would need to have your own web host and domain. Additionally, integrating Woocommerce into your WordPress installation requires a theme that has been designed for this. Since themes are not always free, this can pose a potential extra cost.
Fees: None, aside from self hosting costs and transaction fees for payment processing tools.
Zipsell is a super simple digital downloads e-commerce platform written in Ruby on Rails. It’s free and open source. You host it yourself and all payments go directly to your stripe account! You can list an unlimited number of products and have an unlimited amount of customers. Since it’s a download that you self-host, it will cost only in that you will need a web host, domain, etc. And, of course, there are transaction fees associated with using Stripe.
Zipsell is a project launch via Jon Yongfook as a part of his 12 startups in 12 months challenge.
Fees: None, aside from self hosting costs and transaction fees for payment processing tools.
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Be sure to let me know in the comments if you’ve had any experience using some of the platforms listed here or if you plan to!