The ability to sell digital products on Squarespace in the form of PDFs is a fantastic opportunity for various store owners or start-up businesses to make a quick profit and even a reliable income down the line.
Squarespace is arguably one of the most famous & intuitive website-building platforms you can use on the world wide web. The platform provides many features for anyone to build almost any type of website, online storefront, or e-commerce platform of their dreams.
We’ll discuss what you can sell as PDFs and the two primary ways you can sell PDFs on Squarespace in as much detail while keeping things easy to read and straightforward.
What PDF products can I sell?
There are so many various products you can sell in the form of a PDF. We’ll talk about each one you can sell and give some examples alongside them.
How-to guides/Online courses
These can range from anything between showing someone a niche skill you possess, such as crocheting/knitting, repairing clothes as a tailor/seamstress, or even repairing specific devices.
You can provide private lessons in martial arts in the form of videos, or you can share your expertise in any area you’re skilled or qualified. The possibilities are endless. You can even use this method to extend your otherwise local business into a worldwide online market.
Nutrition & workout plans
This is one of the more common products in the form of PDFs. Everyone wants to eat well and be healthy & happy at the same time. Sometimes, the only method of doing so may be in the form of a personal trainer or nutritionist.
You can sell your plans through your online store if you’re one of these or similar. It’s a proven way to increase your reach, especially if you only operate at a local capacity.
Digital magazines, newletters, E-books
Print sales have been declining for several years now, more & more magazines are joining the digital market, and it’s becoming more frequent to subscribe to a magazine through a monthly subscription rather than paying for each publication.
There are also plenty of online markets that sell digital magazines & E-books, but if you have a following or audience that is specifically interested in reading your newsletters or magazines, then it’ll be good to sell them on your site.
Comics & manga
Many platforms sell comics & manga online, such as WEBTOON, Viz (Shounen Jump), and Dark Horse Comics. But if you want to avoid any potential publication fees or can’t partner with more prominent publishers, then it’s strongly recommended you try to find a smaller, more welcoming publisher, such as INKR comics, or sell your own content on your own site.
The one thing to be careful of with selling comics & manga from your own site is that pirating is unbelievably prominent in this entertainment world. It’s easy for someone to steal your content once it’s been paid for, and it’s very difficult & expensive to track down.
This is where Squarespace is very limited. They can’t stop users from sharing your digital products once they’ve been downloaded. Downloadable Digital Assets can do this, and very well.
Artwork/Arts & crafts templates
Artwork and Arts & crafts fall into a similar category to that comics & manga. Work can be purchased and shared, and you won’t be able to do anything about it. In this case, you can place a watermark on your art, but this can’t stop someone from owning & sharing the product.
It’s worth noting again that with Downloadable Digital Assets, you can set IP limitations so customers can only download from one source & even limit how many times the customer can download the product.
This still doesn’t fully protect your product from being shared, but you can do everything else to discourage it as much as possible. You can read the best practices on 8 proven ways to protect your digital files with Downloadable Digital Assets.
Two methods of selling PDFs on Squarespace that work great
Using Shopify’s method of integrating the buy button on a Squarespace store is much better than using the built-in commerce tools. The buy button method requires you to have a $5/Month Shopify plan and a basic Shopify store setup.
The buy button will then bring whoever clicks it to an external Shopify store during checkout so they can finalize their purchase.
In short, this method uses Shopify as a backend system for processing payments and handling everything relating to e-commerce on your store and then uses Squarespace as the frontend visual part of your store.
Method 1 (No limitations): Using Shopify & Downloadable Digital Assets
Don’t be intimidated if you’re unfamiliar with Shopify. It’s very secure, easy to use and incredibly intuitive.
- A Shopify $5/Month plan
- Downloadable Digital Assets app (Free on the Shopify App store)
- Buy Button Channel app (Free on the Shopify app store)
- A Squarespace plan
First, you must ensure a Shopify account is set up and ready to use. You can do this by signing up for Shopify’s $5 plan. This is so you can create a Shopify store that will solely work as the backend system of your Squarespace (visual front-end) store.
1. Install the required apps (free)
Two apps are required for this process, but luckily, they’re both free. We’ll discuss the process below:
- Ensure you’re on your Shopify dashboard and select “Apps” > “App and Sales Channel Settings“.
- Select “Shopify App Store” or “Customize your store” towards the top-right.
Installing Downloadable Digital Assets
Once you’ve selected “Add App“, you can pick the 7-day free trial on the next page or choose the free plan towards the bottom.
Installing Buy Button Channel
After you’ve selected “Add App“, follow the on-screen instructions to install it to your Shopify store.
2. Create your products in Shopify
The process to create your products in Shopify is actually quite simple & straightforward. We’ll show you how:
- From your Shopify dashboard, select “Products” then “Add Product“.
- On the next page, it’s up to you to fill out the boxes. Enter all necessary information for the digital product you will sell and click “Save“.
- Ensure you have “Digital product or service” selected when creating your product. This is crucial to selling your PDFs on Squarespace.
3. Upload your PDF to Downloadable Digital Assets
Open the Downloadable Digital Assets app on Shopify (“Apps” > “DDA – Digital Assets”). This is where you will upload your PDF file and link the product on Shopify to the file here.
- Select “Assets” > “Upload new assets“.
- Upload your asset by selecting “Add URL asset” or “Upload your files“.
- Attach the asset to your product, as shown in the image below. Remember, if you are on the free plan, you can only attach 1 asset to each product. You can see pricing on DDA’s site for more options.
Once you’ve completed this, you’re finished. All we need to do now is add the ability to purchase the product from your Squarespace site.
4. Adding the product to Squarespace
Now, we need to create a buy button on Squarespace for people to purchase your product. This is where the Buy Button Channel app comes in.
- Open the app in “Apps” > “App and sales channel settings” > “Buy Button“, then select “Open Sales Channel“.
- On the next page, select “Create a Buy Button“.
- Choose “Product Buy Button” and select the product you’d like the button to be linked with.
Customize this however you like. It’s just visual changes to the button. Click “Next” in the top-left once you’re finished.
It should now give you the option of copying the buy button code. Leave this page open while we return to Squarespace.
Now all you need to do is copy your code and ensure you have your pages panel open before you follow the below steps:
- Click “Copy Code” on the buy button page on Shopify.
- Go to your “Pages Panel” on Squarespace and go to where you’d like to place your buy button.
- Select “Add block” and then “</> Code“. Select the Pencil icon.
- Paste your code into the content box.
Your buy button should look a bit odd, but this is because you’re still in the editing process. If you save your changes and exit the pages panel. You should see your new buy button.
This is now fully linked with Shopify, and any products you add in the future using this method should be a piece of cake and take much less time.
Method 2 (Limited): In-built Squarespace commerce tools
You can use Squarespace’s in-built commerce tools, but they’re limited. For one, you can’t generate any unique license keys. This is a proven method to help prevent offline file-sharing of your products.
You have limited file protection features, file size & type limitations. It limits what you can do in a large number of ways. In short, only use this method if you have no other choice. (Although that’s unlikely as there is a fantastic alternative, such as using Downloadable Digital Assets with no limitations).
Before you follow the method below, ensure you’re on your Squarespace dashboard and select the website/store on which you’d like to sell your PDFs.
- Select “Commerce” on the website of your choice, and you should be where you need to be once done.
Note: Alternatively, you can choose “Website“, then “Commerce” on the options menu to the left.
1. Creating your digital product
If you’re on your commerce page, select “Products” and choose “Digital Download“.
This will start the process of creating your product and bring you to a settings page where you can set up everything from the details of the product to the organization, inventory, and marketing.
2. Digital product settings
Pretty standard settings will appear that will seem familiar if you’re used to the Squarespace platform. You’ll want to optimize these here and now before you continue with anything else.
If you choose not to optimize your settings here and now, it will only cause problems in the future, best to get it out of the way now.
Seven menu options should appear on the next page. These are listed:
We will go over each of these in detail where we can, along with some professional advice & best practices in various settings.
This involves creating a name for your product along with providing a description. Don’t think too hard about this if you sell a complex product. Just state the facts and create a product description that gets straight to the point.
You’ll see another option called “Additional Info“. This is for people who want to add as much information to their product as possible with no character limitations, along with tons of customization options.
You can add videos here to your product description, photos, and almost anything else you can think of to provide as much information as possible.
If you want to increase your chances of success when selling your digital products on your Squarespace store, we strongly recommend providing as much necessary information as possible.
There’s not much to say about this option. Just click the “+” icon where it says “Add Images“. You can upload a new file from your PC or select an existing image from your media library on Squarespace.
This involves uploading your digital file that will be the product that’s sent to customers. Here, you can choose the product’s price and decide whether you’d like to put it on sale too.
Everyone loves a good sale, even if it’s just a few dollars off the original price.
Many website owners dismiss using tags & categories when in the early days of creating a new store or site. You don’t really need them at that point in time. But trust us when we say you will need them in the future.
Use these wisely, and create appropriate tags & categories for all products you create on your store. This will only help with organization on your store or site further down the line.
This covers the ability to make your digital product a featured product. If you choose this, your digital product will appear in the summary blocks on your store.
We recommend this for your best-selling products, or if starting out, try using this for your best-value products.
You can also choose to show related products to the digital product you’re currently creating and change product review settings.
However, you’ll need to edit product review settings in Commerce on Squarespace, so we recommend doing this once you’re finished creating your digital product.
This involves changing how your product appears on Google and therefore involves Search-Engine-Optimization (SEO) to some extent.
Click “Edit” below the preview of the Google search result. A pop-up window will appear showing the “URL“, “Title“, & “Description“.
URL – Keep it slightly under 50 characters. This is around the recommended amount for a good-length URL. You don’t want it too short and definitely not too long. Ensure it involves your product name too.
Title – This should be the page title. Again, this should include your product name where necessary. This doesn’t need to be too long. Keep it short and pleasing to the eye.
Description – Google cuts off descriptions after 155-160 characters. Therefore, try to keep it under this where you can. Anything more, and there won’t be any point as the text won’t be displayed.
Include your product name if you can, and add a summary description of your product. Keywords are essential when working with SEO optimization.
Social Accounts – This allows you to integrate any social media account into your product, so you or potential customers can share the product on their social media profiles.
Social Share – This is the exact same as “SEO and URL“. However, instead of changing how you’d like your product to appear on Google SERPs, you can change how it will appear on social feeds.
These settings let you change the text of your “Add to cart” button and allow you to create custom forms to collect any necessary customer data you may need to ship the product.
Since this guide is for a digital product, we strongly recommend adding an email address form option and name, time, date, etc… Anything necessary to sell your product would be ideal.
3. Adding payment methods to your store
Once you’ve finished optimizing the settings for your product, we need to add a payment method to your store. If you’ve already set up these, you can safely skip to step 4.
From your pages panel, go to “Commerce” > “Store Payments“. If you can’t see “Store Payments“, scroll down the left side menu, and you should see it.
Once you’re Store Payments. You’ll see payment methods appear. Although these may vary depending on your location in the world, you’ll likely see the three main ones, these are:
Each payment method has its own processing fees and a setup process on top of any Squarespace fees you’re already paying, such as your payment plan. We’ll discuss the pros & cons of each payment method in detail below:
Stripes processing feeds will vary depending on which country you’re in, but from what we’ve seen, out of the other options, they’re one of the more forgiving payment methods for processing fees.
On average, you’re looking at a processing fee of 2.9% + 30¢ (American fees) per transaction.
You can view more about Stripe’s pricing in each country on their website.
PayPal is slightly infamous when it comes to high processing fees. They’re known to be slightly more expensive than almost all other alternatives, and they can do this because they’re so widely supported.
PayPal processing fees average around 3.49% + Fixed fee. The fixed fee depends on the country you’re operating your store in. For the US, it’s 0.49 USD.
You can view more on PayPal processing fees on their Merchant fees page.
Square processing fees are a little more forgiving than PayPal, but only depending on your customers’ payment method. The fees vary between 2.6% + 10¢, 3.5% + 15¢, and 2.9% + 30¢.
View more on Square processing fees on their site.
Each of these payment methods has its own setup instructions and requirements. Although they’re very straightforward. Once you’ve set up an account, you should be brought back to Squarespace, and the payment method should be available and set up for your store.
4. Adding the product to your store
You’ll want to go to your pages panel for this since we’re directly editing pages on your store. Ensure you have your store set up with a visual aesthetic & layout of sorts. You want your store to look good.
We’ll start by creating a new shop page. You can do this by selecting “+ Add Page” > “Store” in the pages panel editor.
A new pop-up window should appear, giving you a selection of templates. You can pick one of these, which we strongly recommend as it’ll save some time, or start from scratch by selecting “Blank Page” instead of “Store“.
Suppose you’ve selected a template with the “Store” option. From here, you should see your product showing on the page automatically. If not, go back to “Commerce” and go to “Inventory“.
Click on “…” to the right of your product and select “Edit“.
Now we need to change the visibility of the product. It should have been on “Hidden” or “Scheduled“. Let’s change it to “Public“, click “Save“, and return to our store page.
Once you’re back on your store page, you should see the product appear. You can change your product’s price, image & details however you see fit.
From here, as long as you have everything set up regarding details, price, and inventory for your product. You can publish the changes to your page, and site visitors should be able to start purchasing your product.
These are two of the best methods to selling PDFs on Squarespace, one with limitations and one without. Hopefully, you’ve learn a lot from the above content.
If you have any questions, if we’ve missed anything or got anything wrong, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll help you out.