About 4 years ago, inspired by a local writer’s conference, I created a WordPress-powered website to independently sell digital copies of my books as well as offer a subscription-based video library of instructional how-to videos. I haven’t given that project much attention or “care and feeding” in awhile, since I transitioned to a new job role at a new school and have (overall) focused less on my secondary consulting work. Clearly I need to do a better job checking my personal email…
This evening I discovered that last summer, my eCommerce plugin (iThemes Exchange) was being rebooted as ExchangeWP. That transition didn’t work out, however, so now the plugin is now being developed as an open source project by Ninja Shop. There are not too many folks running this, as the official plugin repository on WordPress.org shows it has less than 10 current installations.
I’ve contacted Ninja Shop to see what my migration options are.
AJ, who was a co-founder of the now defunct ExchangeWP, recommended the following alternatives for WordPress-based eCommerce in a May 2018 email:
- WooCommerce is the biggest and best eCommerce solution when keeping it within WordPress.
- Easy Digital Downloads is another.
- If you are looking at doing something small, you could always look at WP Simple Pay, or even Gumroad.
I do like the idea of continuing to run and build my own subscription-based video library, and hope to do this with WordPress since it’s the content management and website publication platform with which I’m most familiar. This is a cautionary tale, however, of how important it is to regularly monitor and manage any eCommerce-related websites you operate, as well as consider the risks of having to migrate your website and eStore in the event a plug-in developer (or more than one, in this case) decide to go other directions.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to migrate an online eStore for eBooks and digital content, however. My first foray into this arena was in 2011, following the publication of my first book, “Playing with Media: Simple Ideas for Powerful Sharing.” After doing my research, I setup eCommerce digital sales on my website(s) using E-junkie, and it worked really well. I don’t have those statistics in front of me now, but as I recall I had over $10,000 of gross eBook sales in the 2-3 years I used the site. Those were the “early days” of enhanced eBooks for the iPad, and it was tricky (i.e. a multi-step process) to help a customer download an eBook outside of the official iBooks Store or the Kindle eStore and open it on their iPad. I eventually stopped using E-Junkie because my sales volume went down, and it didn’t seem worth it to pay a monthly subscription. I saw the iThemes Exchange plugin as a WordPress resource I could license along with other helpful plug-ins on an annual basis, and avoid monthly eCommerce subscription fees.
If you’d like to read more posts about these past experiences, search my blog for “E-Junkie.” Some of the posts worth perusing on this subject include:
- 5 Advantages and 5 Disadvantages to Consider Selling an eBook on Your Own Website (Jan 2013)
- Options for Distributing a FREE eBook: Amazon, Apple, Smashwords and More (Nov 2013)
- Lessons Learned Publishing to Lulu, Amazon and the Apple iBookStore (July 2014)
- Introducing the PlayingWithMedia.com Video Library (Nov 2014)
- Add Kindle MOBI eBook to WordPress Online Store (Nov 2014)
The October 2015 conference presentation which further inspired me to continue a subscription-based video library, “Selling Well for Non-Fiction Writers by Chris Maselli,” is also worth reading. You can follow Chris on Twitter @cpnm and online at WritingMomentum.com.
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