Digital Download Protection: Primer on Content Delivery Options for Beginners

If you’re struggling with the mechanics of how to actually deliver information products to your customers after they pay you money, this tutorial will help you out a lot.  I will teach you everything you need to know about selling digital goods online, without having to worry that your customers will share the download link with others.

I’m NOT going to be covering content protection at all, such as preventing people from uploading your products to torrent sites, or emailing your ebook to their friends.  I’m also not going to cover things like copy-protection of PDF files.  Those are totally different topics.  This tutorial is about delivering purchased information products to your customers.  This is by far the most common question I see come up, hence why I created this.

Before we begin

There are lots of ways to protect your content.  Anything “good” involves spending a bit of money.  Sure, you can protect your files with free methods but remember that you get what you pay for.  If you are a total beginner and you aren’t sure where to start, I’ll show you how to sort-of-protect files for free.  But it isn’t a long term solution.

You need to ask yourself if your website and product is a business, or just a hobby.  If it is a real business (or if you aim to turn it into one), then you need to act in accordance with that goal.  Get a proper solution to protect your downloads.

So you want to sell digital products?

Ok, so you have a product and you need to automate the delivery of the product once people fork over their hard-earned cash.  There are a few steps involved as shown here:

  1. You need a sales page on your website.  At some point on this page you place a button that people click if they want to buy your product.  The button is really just some HTML code that you cut and paste on your site.  You can create this code using PayPal, or alternative software /services that we’ll talk about.
  2. Once people click the button, they get to an order page.  Most likely you won’t be worrying about the order form.  You’ll send them to PayPal, or another payment processor (1ShoppingCart, for example), and they handle the transaction.
  3. After people pay, they get redirected back to your website.  This part is all automated and you just usually need to enter in some URL to return customers to.  See the videos below.  The URL that customers return to will be a download page.  If you’re using a professional solution such as one that we recommend, you won’t be creating the download page.  They are created automatically based on what the customer bought.  If you’re using a cheap-o “do it yourself” solution, then you’ll need to slap together some sort of page that contains links to your digital products.
  4. That”s it!  Your customer has their product, and you have their money.

So now lets move onto how to actually make this all happen.

Free Method for Digital Download Protection

This simple and free method will help you reduce sharing of your download link, but it won’t stop it entirely.  For low-volume sales this is sufficient.  As you grow, it’s NOT sufficient and will lead to headaches.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create an HTML page and add your download links to the page.  Any WYSIWYG website creator will enable you to create such a page.  There are also a number of free templates you could easily download and modify.  I’m not going to create an HTML tutorial here.  There are plenty of good ones to be found using Google.  The point is that you’ll be creating a very basic page that contains links to your digital goods.  You will need to create one link for every file that you want your customer to download.  So if your product is a PDF + 2 audios + 2 videos, then you’ll be creating 5 separate links to those files.  And you’ll have to upload those files to your web host using an FTP program like FileZilla (free).
  2. Give your HTML page a very strange name that nobody can guess.  Something like “765sab.html” is ideal.  It means nothing.  It’s random letters and numbers.
  3. Tell Google and other search engines not to include the download page in any search results.  This way people can’t discover your page using Google.  To do this you need to add a line of code to the <head> section of your HTML file.  The line to be added is:
    <META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX”>
  4. Place your download page in a directory with another strange name.  Don’t name the directory “downloads” or something obvious.  You’ll be uploading this file to your web host using the same FTP program that you uploaded your files with.

That’s pretty much it.  When you setup your payment buttons, you’ll want to return your visitors to this strangely-named thank you page after payment is made.

Here is a video demonstrating how to do this with PayPal

Because Google has been instructed (see #3 above) not to list your download page in search listings, people won’t accidentally stumble onto it and download your stuff for free.  But customers CAN share the content with their friends, so it is not ideal.  The simplest way to prevent this in the beginning is to change the name of your download page ever once in a while.  But before you are making sales, this isn’t very important.  And once you are making regular sales, you should invest in a better solution.

Membership Plugins:

If your website is based on WordPress, there are plenty of software packages that you can purchase, and upload into WordPress as a “plugin”.  They will turn your website into a full-fledged membership site with a few clicks of the mouse.

Even if you don’t think you need a membership site, you can use this kind of configuration to protect a single product that you sell.  Most of the time people do this when their product consists of many files. For example let’s say you had a bunch of training videos that make up your paid product.  You could set them all up as “members only” content.  You’d sell your membership as a one-off payment.  Membership doesn’t always mean recurring payments!

The best way to setup a membership is to use Digital Access Pass (DAP). To really simplify things, you should also invest in a WordPress theme called OptimizePress (which is what we use on this blog).

This will cost you some coin.  For a single site license, DAP runs about $167. OptimizePress is $97, but you can then use it on as many websites as you own. So the grand total investment is $264 to OWN a very high quality solution to deliver content to your customers.

We made a video to explain how it works here:

Digital Download Protection with DL Guard

DLGuard is another product that has a fantastic reputation in the download protection business.  It does have support for memberships, but I’ve never used it for this purpose and I never hear people talking about it for that purpose. It is, however, one of the best packages for delivering digital products to your customers and it can carry you through a LOT of growth, changes in payment processors, etc.

Price of DLG: It has a one time fee of $147 and you can install it on two separate domains if you want, but you can manage ALL sales via one installation. A maintenance contract is not required, but worth having if you want free updates and support beyond the one year that is included. You can let your support contract expire and simply renew it when you need it, which is nice. Support (I believe) is $47/year beyond the first year.

One domain is all you require. The beauty of DL Guard is that you only need to install it on one domain that you own.  You can control all of your products from this single installation even if you own multiple websites.  You can add “buy now” buttons anywhere you like, on any website.  The customers will all be directed back towards your DL Guard domain for their downloads.

Here’s a video of me walking you through the product:

What I like best about DL Guard is:

  • You can customize the look and feel of your download pages, but you don’t need to.  They look professional right out of the box
  • Your customers will get download links that expire after a certain number of hours (you can control this).
  • You can limit the number of downloads each customer has access to, meaning that if somebody buys your product and immediately shares the download URL, it won’t work more than the first few times.  In my experience it is very rare for this sharing to happen, but it’s nice to have the protection.
  • You can easily reset links for customers manually
  • You can manually import customers for things like promo copies, or free copies of a product.
  • You can block people who are serial refunders – people who buy and request a refund instantly.
  • If somebody requests a refund, DLG knows instantly and blocks their download link from working.  This is all done behind the scenes and you don’t need to do anything to make it work.
  • DLG allows you to setup any number of products in its admin panel.  You can also attach as many “bonus” products as you like so customers automatically access all bonus material
  • It has a great interface for adding discount coupons, allowing you to hold sales if you want.
  • Most important – DLG supports a huge variety of payment processing solutions, so whether you are using PayPal, 1ShoppingCart, Clickbank, PayDotCom, Authorize.net, or pretty much anything else out there, DLG supports it. Oh, and you can setup free products too.


Built-in support for Clickbank One Click Upsells (Pitch Plus).
Aside from the bullet list above, I also want to emphasize that DLG supports Clickbank very well, so if you want to list your info product on the Clickbank marketplace, I think DLG is probably the best solution available (unless you prefer the membership setup I mentioned earlier). Pitch Plus, the new feature that Clickbank introduced for one time offers (known as upsells) is perfectly supported. In fact, I recently upgraded to the most recent version of DLG so that I could use this feature. It was very easy to setup my upsell flow in Clickbank and then paste the “flow ID” into the product settings in DLG.

Amazing support:
Best of all, the support from DL Guard founder, Sam Stephens, is outstanding.  The guy has personally helped me solve every single question I’ve ever asked him (which has been many times throughout the 4 years I’ve been using his product).  Buying DL Guard is a safe bet because Sam will continue to be around supporting the product.  This is his baby, and his full time source of income.

To learn more about DL Guard visit their website here.

We’re offering a bonus for those who buy DLG via our affiliate link. I’ve come up with what has proven to be a HIGHLY effective way of getting customers off my “leads” list and onto my “customer” list in my autoresponder (Aweber or whatever).   The importance of doing this is to separate your high-value customers from your lower-value leads.  This helps you market your product to leads (via special offers, etc) without bombarding actual customers with promo emails for something they already bought.  When you use our affiliate link I’ll show you exactly how to accomplish this (video + PDF, no fluff).  The method i’m using is superior to the built-in Aweber integration that DLG provides.  

File Download Protection with E-junkie

E-junkie is a well known and trusted platform for selling digital products.  I know several people who sell their products using E-junkie and they’re all pretty happy with how the system works.  I have personally never used it, but I’ve done enough homework to explain it to you here.

Complete system for payment, secure delivery and affiliate management.   In short, E-junkie is a complete solution.  You pay a monthly fee to use their service, and they handle the entire sales and product delivery process.  You create products using their dashboard.  You upload your file to their server, and they give you HTML code to use with your “buy now” button.  So when somebody clicks on your “buy now” button, they get redirected through E-junkie to a PayPal payment form, for example.  The buyers will be paying you directly into your PayPal account, and E-Junkie will then send the buyer to a download page where they can access their purchase.   E-junkie also sends out download links to your customer by email.  Everything is automated for you.  Download links are specific to each customer, and they expire after a certain number of downloads or after a certain amount of time.

Very cheap at $5 per month.  It starts at $5 per month for a basic plan.  For full pricing details see this link.  If you’re selling an ebook or any product smaller than 50 MBin size, you’ll never pay more than $5 per month. They don’t even charge you a transaction fee, but you also need to understand that they do not actually handle the transaction for you.  They allow you to take payment viaPayPal, Clickbank, Authorize.net, Google Checkout, 2Checkout, and a few others.  So even though E-junkie is not charging you a per-transaction fee, the payment processor WILL.  You need to be aware of that.

Affiliate management.  E-junkie also allows you to have affiliates sell your products.  You can either use their own affiliate system (which allows you to approve individual affiliates), or you can list your product for sale in the Clickbank marketplace and simply use E-junkie to handle the digital delivery.  If I wanted to allow anyone to promote my product, I’d list it on Clickbank and not use E-junkie.  If I wanted a private affiliate program where people had to apply to promote my product, then I’d prefer E-junkie.  With E-junkie you are responsible for paying affiliates via PayPal, but they make it easy to do.  I’m told, by friends who use it, that it’s a one-click process per month to send out affiliate payments.

Limitations:  In my view, E-junkie is a good simple way to get started, but it’s not going to allow you to customize your download page like DL Guard does, or control the customer experience the way Digital Access Pass or other membership plugins will.  You can’t do one-click upsells with it, and it’s harder to get your customers to join your customer mailing list.

If you’re really unsure about spending $100-300 for software and you’d prefer to spend $60 per year on something like e-junkie, that’s totally fine.  You can always switch platforms later.  I would personally never use e-Junkie in my business because it doesn’t give me the control I want.  But like I said, there are TONS of people who love it, and they don’t mind not having as much control.  E-junkie is fantastic for providing you a simple service that just plain works, and costs very little.

Do you STILL have questions?

I have tried my best to make this tutorial straight forward and informative.  Yet I realize many of you will still have questions.  So, feel free to ask them below in the comments section.  I’ll answer them to the best of my ability.

 

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Leave A Reply (7 comments so far)

  1. Very clear information on digital download. I am using direct paypal buy button integration and have couple of people asking for refunds. I use the first simple method and my download pages are on another domain.

    There are few countries which block paypal so I want to accept credit card payments. Do you know if e-junkie allows accepting credit card payments. Thanks.


    • Chris
      7 years ago

      I don’t use E-junkie myself, but I’ve checked out their site. PayPal is the most common processor they help you use. They also use Authorize.net so this means you can get a merchant account and handle credit card transactions yourself, using E-junkie’s order form. PayPal DOES take credit cards through. So that solves most problems.


  2. Bre
    7 years ago

    Hello, =)

    I have a question, though I’d first like to quote;

    “you can list your product for sale in the Clickbank marketplace and simply use E-junkie to handle the digital delivery.”

    My question is how is this done? I’d like to actually sell my product through e-junkie, though allow affiliates through both e-junkie and the entire clickbank marketplace affiliate area, is this possible? If so how can you set it up in just that way?

    If this isn’t possible, then would you reccommend promoting your first eBook (with affiliate allownace) through just E-Junkie, or just ClickBank?

    Thanks for the great post as well, very informative and well-written!!


    • Chris
      7 years ago

      Hi Bre,

      I have never gone through the setup process of using E-junkie myself, so I’m not sure if you can take advantage of both CB and EJ affiliate programs at the same time. You probably can if EJ is handling the delivery. As for how to setup with CB and use EJ for delivery, check the EJ website. Here is their tutorial on the process: http://www.e-junkie.com/ej/selling-with-clickbank.htm


  3. Don Schenk
    6 years ago

    Hi Chris,

    I just saw your helpful reply to deborah over at the WF, and thought I would come check out your site.

    Nice job, and easy to understand run through of the download process. One of my cohorts just started using e-junkie, and he said it was brain-dead easy.

    You mentioned Optimize Press. How was that to learn? I am looking for a new platform for WordPress, and have been looking at several including OP.

    Thanks

    :-Don Schenk


    • Chris
      6 years ago

      Hi Don,

      Thanks for the kind words. Optimizepress is pretty easy to learn. It comes with a big range of video turorials. The member support is pretty good for other questions. Written documentation is weaker than I’d like but the theme is really straight forward.

      Our aff link:
      http://outsourcefactor.com/op


  4. Don Schenk
    6 years ago

    OhOh the site turned my :- Don into a smilie face. :)

    :- Don (There I got it right.)