How to Use Easy Digital Downloads to Sell Online Courses

How to Use Easy Digital Downloads to Sell Online Courses

Easy Digital Downloads is a complete eCommerce solution for WordPress. As its name in implies, it makes selling digital products from your website a breeze. Upon activation, it’s ready for you to create a product, price it, and sell it. It does come with PayPal standard which is very easy to set up so you can begin collecting revenue from sales immediately.

My favorite thing about Easy Digital Downloads is that they have a massive library of extensions to enhance EDD on your WordPress site. In fact, Nate and I converted to a full Easy Digital Downloads shop back in 2014 and we absolutely love it. Our plugins are sold and managed with Easy Digital Downloads alongside several EDD extensions.

Although we have a video on how to set up EDD with WP Courseware, I thought it would be helpful to provide a step-by-step tutorial on how to get your first online course up and running with Easy Digital Downloads.

The Prerequisites

I will be starting off using the following plugins and WordPress theme:

First, let’s configure the payment gateway for EDD…

When you install and activate Easy Digital Downloads, you get 4 pages automatically created for you. The main page is the checkout page and the others are child pages for purchase confirmation, purchase history, and failed transactions. You don’t need to modify these pages unless you want to change the text, page title, or the permalink.

  1. First, we need to configure the payment gateway. To do so click on Downloads→Settings in the admin panel.
  2. Select the Payment Gateways tab at the top.
  3. Select the box next to Test Mode. This will allow us to run test transactions so we don’t have to spend money to test.
  4. Next, select the Test payment check box as this will allow us to run a fake transaction without having to use a sandbox. This is also a helpful if you are testing on a local development environment.
  5. For the Default Gateway select Test Mode.
  6. Click Save.


If you don’t see your desired payment gateway in the list, you may want to check the EDD extension library of payment gateways to see if they have your payment gateway available. Gateways aside from PayPal Standard and Amazon will likely be premium plugins, however, you could potentially tap into a huge benefit. What do I mean? Well, if you are using a payment gateway like PayPal Pro, you will be able to take payments right on your website granted your site has an SSL certificate. Another huge benefit is that you can use a plugin like recurring payments which will allow you to collect subscription payments automatically.

Now we can configure Email Notifications for EDD…

  1. Click on the Emails tab at the top.
  2. You can choose to use the text only email template if you are concerned with you customers inability to view HTML emails. Otherwise, you can simply use the default template which will create a very nice looking HTML email.
  3. Next, be sure to add your logo so that your email is branded.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Lastly, be sure to preview the purchase receipt and/or send yourself a test purchase receipt via email.


You can also change the purchase receipts and new sale email notifications text by clicking on the respective links. You will be presented with lots of template tags that you can use to provide additional information to your customers.

Let’s take a look at a few other EDD settings…

You can also configure styling on the Style tab, so that buttons match your site or you can simply disable the styles. For now, we will leave the styles as they are set. Also, you can configure your tax information on the Taxes tab, in the event you are required to collect taxes on goods. On the Misc tab, there are several configuration options. We are only concerned with two of them.

  1. On the Misc tab, click the link that says checkout settings.
  2. Select the checkbox next to Disable Guest Checkout.
  3. On the drop down menu next to Show Register / Login Form?, select Registration and Login Forms. This will allow users to log in at checkout should they already have an account. I will also give users the ability to register. WP Courseware requires that a user be registered on the site in order to be enrolled into a course.
  4. Click Save Changes.


There are other options that you may want to consider configuring on the Misc tab. For example, you could change the button text for elements like “add to cart”, “purchase”, or “buy now”. Another thing you may want to consider is creating a “Terms of Agreement”. It’s just helpful for people who actually read those documents to know what to expect from your service.

Now let’s create a course…

For this tutorial I will simply walk you through the process of creating a course, a module, a unit, and putting it all together. We do have a YouTube playlist that walks you through this process, however here are the steps.

  1. Click Training Courses→Add a Course
  2. Type in a name for your course as well as a description and click Save All Details.
  3. Click Training Courses→Add Module.
  4. Enter a title for the module.
  5. From the drop down select the associated course.
  6. Type in a description and click Save All Details.
  7. Next, click Course UnitsAdd New.
  8. Give the unit a title and enter the unit content and click publish.
  9. Now that we have all our components required for a course, we need to put it together. Click Training Courses, then find your course in the list. Click on the Module, Units and Quiz Ordering button.
  10. Click and drag the newly created unit into the module created in step 3.

Now you have a complete course setup. Obviously you may want to add additional modules, units, and perhaps you may want to create quizzes which can be added to units in the course. There are also some additional course options that you may want to configure such as:

  • Admin notification email address
  • User notification messages
  • Email templates
  • Enable certificates
  • Add course prerequisites

Time to give your students a course outline…

One important thing to do when creating a course is to provide your student with an entry point into the course. The best way to do this is by creating a course outline. WP Courseware offers 2 types of course outlines.

  • Course progress page – This is my favorite option because it dynamically detects all courses a student is enrolled into and will display them in a singe outline. The caveat to this is that your student must be logged in to view it.
  • Course outline – The course outline is a basic outline for a specified course. This is a great option if you want to show your course outline to the public. Users don’t need to be logged in to view the outline, however, they will need to be logged in and enrolled in order to actually click the links to the units.

For our tutorial I am simply going to create a course progress page which is the dynamic outline.

  1. Click PagesAdd New.
  2. Give your page a title. For example, My Courses, might be an ideal title.
  3. Insert a shortcode for the course progress page. [[wpcourse_progress]]. For additional shortcode attributes see the documentation page located by clicking Training Courses→Documentation.
  4. If you are using the Vendd theme, you could use the Full-width Page template.
  5. Click Publish.

Now we’ll create a download and course listing page (course sales page)…

Now that we have our course set up we need to create a product with Easy Digital Downloads. I purposely added this step after creating the course because we recommend naming your products after the course name.

  1. Click DownloadsAdd New.
  2. Give your download a name that is either identical or similar to the course name.
  3. Insert a description into the body of the product.
  4. Next set a price for your course product in the Download Prices box.
  5. Add a download image in the download image metabox. If using the Vendd theme, this image will appear on the products page.
  6. Click Publish.

To create the course listing page or sales page follow these steps.

  1. To  click PagesAdd New.
  2. Give your page a title.
  3. In the content area, add a shortcode

    S3 Media Maestro

    FacebookTweetLinkedIn S3 Media Maestro is an HTML5 media player with Amazon S3 link protection Encryption and Protection Features Encrypt & Protect video to prevent internet sharing Encrypt & Protect audio…

    WP Courseware

    FacebookTweetLinkedIn WP Courseware is the leading Learning Management System for WordPress. FacebookTweetLinkedIn

  4. If using the Vendd theme change the page template to EDD Downloads.
  5. Click Publish.


You have now successfully set up your first EDD Download and setup a new sales page.

Time to connect your course to your download product…

This is where the magic happens! Basically we are going to associate a course or multiple courses (if you have multiple courses) with your download product. Then when someone purchases your product, they will automatically be enrolled into your course(s).

  1. Click Training Courses→Easy Digital Downloads.
  2. Find your download in the list and click Edit Course Access Settings.
  3. Select your course or courses that you want to associate with the download.
  4. Click Save Changes.


That’s it! You are now fully integrated with Easy Digital Downloads!

A few final setup steps…

Before we actually look at our site, let’s perform a couple of final steps that will complete the setup. One of the steps we need to take is adding a redirection to the course progress page (outline), that way when users log in they will immediately be taken to the course outline page. To do so we will simply create a login form using a shortcode.

  1. To  click PagesAdd New.
  2. Give your page a title like Login.
  3. In the content area, add a shortcode like this: 
    Log into Your Account

    Lost Password?

    . Be sure to replace the redirect URL with the URL to your course progress page that you’ve already created.
  4. If using the Vendd theme change the page template to Full-width Page.
  5. Click Publish.

At this point you are pretty much ready to go as far as functionality. However, I would recommend creating a main menu so that you can add a Course Outline or “My Courses” menu item. You could also add a Login menu item so that users can log in from the page you just created. Remember, if they don’t login using that form, they won’t be redirected. Lastly, be sure to add a Course Listing (sales page) menu item.

Time to test a transaction…

Now it’s time for us to test a transaction. To do so, I recommend opening a separate browser that way you can leave your primary browser open incase you need to tweak something on the fly.

  1. Navigate to your Course Listing page.
  2. Select a course to purchase by clicking the little plus symbol and clicking the purchase button.
  3. Click Checkout.
  4. Be sure that Test Payment is selected for payment method.
  5. Fill in all the information in the purchase form.
  6. Click Purchase.
  7. Now click back over to your browser where you have admin access.
  8. Click on Users.
  9. Look for the user that you just created in the list. Check to see if that user is now enrolled into the course. If you see the progress bar with the course name next to the user, then you know they have successfully been enrolled into your course.

You can also test logging in as the newly registered student to ensure that the redirect works as expected.


Once you have all the above steps completed, your site is almost ready for showtime. One of the final things you will need to take care of is inputing your PayPal information. We could have done it earlier, however, since we just wanted to perform a test transaction, I felt it would be good to get a successful test transaction completed before we set up PayPal. Let’s get that set up so you can start making some real money!

  1. Downloads→Settings.
  2. Click on Payment Gateways.
  3. Deselect the checkbox next to test mode.
  4. Also deselect Test Payment next to Payment Gateways and select PayPal (if you will be using PayPal Standard).
  5. Be sure to select your payment gateway icons. Make sure if you select an icon that your payment gateway supports it.
  6. Click Save Changes.
  7. Click the PayPal Standard link.
  8. Enter your PayPal email address and click Save Changes.

You are now ready to begin collecting payment for your courses!

Do you use Easy Digital Downloads? If so, what’s your favorite EDD extension? Let us know how you are using EDD to sell your courses in the comments below!

Last Updated August 23, 2017



  1. anand on August 18, 2016 at 8:34 am

    i want to provide tips for computer service pdf and for only registered user and for visitors i want to force them to register or login how can i achieve that

    • Ben Arellano on August 28, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      If you are using Easy Digital Downloads, I suppose you could setup the downloadable PDF as a “free product”. Just be sure to turn off guest checkout as it mentions in the step by step process above. You will need to disable guest checkout for WP Courseware integration anyway.

  2. Alessio on May 2, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Hi, is it possible this integration using another wordpress theme or you have to install the same theme of EDD producer (Vend theme)? If so it could be very frustrating..
    Thanks in advance

    • Nate Johnson on May 3, 2017 at 11:04 am

      Hi Alessio,

      You can use any WordPress theme with this configuration.

  3. Rizwan Ali Haider on August 1, 2017 at 1:34 am

    Hello Ben,
    I only want to sell courses as a product/service like this site and want to allow different providers to add courses from front-end dashboard.Please suggest me some themes and plugins for this purpose.

    • Ben Arellano on August 30, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      Hi Rizwan,
      You can use just about any theme with WP Courseware. If you are not going to build a custom theme, we would recommend looking at themes by our friends at or checkout BeaverBuilder. Those are two pretty solid choices. As far as plugins, you could probably use GravityForms or NinjaForms to allow users to submit courses from the front end. Then you can simply use an eCommerce plugin like Easy Digital Downloads or WooCommerce which integrates with WP Courseware to sell courses. Hope that helps!

  4. James Back 2 The Future on January 24, 2018 at 9:49 am

    My family runs a business selling courses online, and we are looking to create a marketplace. Typically, a course consists of say 5 to 15 videos that you watch online through a website, and the videos are hosted on, say, Vimeo. We’re looking to create a marketplace where others can put their videos up, a little like Udemy, but with the goal of supporting the community of authors by keeping fees down, maybe hosting their vids, etc.. Would WP Courseware work with EDD Front End Submissions to create a multi-author courses site? Best.

    • Ben Arellano on May 9, 2018 at 9:27 pm

      This is a great question. I’m sure it can be done, however, you’d need several plugins to make that work. You could use frontend submissions, however, you’d still need to manually setup the courses. Then you’d need a method to payout commissions when videos are purchased. I think EDD has a plugin for that as well. Seems like a cool project!

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