How to giveaway e-books on your site using Headway theme

Gifts? Already?
Creative Commons License photo credit: mysza831

I’ve been asked by a couple of people how to set up a process to giveaway or sell eBooks on their websites. It’s a relatively simple process to set up and I’ll describe it below. For this article I’ll base the instructions on using Headway as your WordPress theme. If you don’t use Headway, the steps are still the same; it’s just the way you do it may be different.

There’s not a lot of difference between how you set things up to giveaway a book, or to sell it. I’ll show you how to do both in this example.

Looking at it from the customer’s point of view, here is the process:

Process to create a download page

The instructions here show you how to do it in reverse. It’s easiest to do it in this order, as the steps link to each other. Before you create your download page, you need to upload the e-book. Before you set up Aweber or PayPal, you need to create the download page.

Step 1 – getting your book onto the site.

Firstly, you’ll need to upload your ebook.  Make sure it’s a pdf file and saved to your hard drive. Within WordPress, you add the e-book just like you’d add a picture. You go to the add media section, browse to the file on your hard drive, and upload it to your site. Once it’s uploaded, a box will appear with information about the file – name, etc. Take note of the ‘file location’ and save this URL – you’ll need it later.

Step 2 – Create a download page

The next step is to create a page that people can access your book from. In WordPress using Headway, this is simple. You create a hidden page in WordPress, insert whatever text you want, and insert a link to the book. The two most popular ways to link to the book are via a text link or a picture. To do this via a text link, you do it, just like you would link to any external URL through WordPress. You highlight your anchor text, click the link button in the WordPress menu, and insert the URL. In this case, the URL you will insert is the one that you obtain from step one – the location of the PDF file.

If you’re linking to it via an image, it’s a slightly different process. You may have an image of your e-book front cover that you wish to display on the page and you may prefer that people click on this image to download the e-book. If that’s the case, you insert the image the same way you would insert an image in WordPress (after first uploading it to your site) and as you’re inserting the image, WordPress will give you the option of creating a link location. You simply cut and paste the link from step one and insert it here. Now, when people click on the image, they’ll be taken directly to the PDF file.

In most cases, you’ll want to keep this download page hidden, because you want people to perform an action before they can access the page. To keep it hidden, and to minimise the chance of someone finding it, make sure you don’t call it ‘download’. Make up a name with lots of random characters in it.

Step 3 – Set up your ‘gateway’ page and third party details.

Now that you’ve uploaded your book to your website and set up a page that people can download it from, its time to look at the front-end of the process.

The two parts to step three are:

  1. Setting up the gateway page on your website.
  2. Setting up your details with the third party – this could be PayPal or Aweber.

So, what we’re doing here is setting up a page on your website that is visible to everyone. On this page you want people to perform an action – either giving you their e-mail details, or clicking on a Buy Now button. In exchange for doing these actions, they will be taken to the page you set up in step two.

Setting up the page on your website is easy. You just create a new page as you usually would and insert your text. If this is a sales page, and you are selling a product via PayPal, the next step is to you to go to the PayPal website and set up a buy now button. I won’t go into how to do that in this blog post, but it is a relatively simple thing to do. Once you have set up the buy now button, you’ll be added copy some code from PayPal that you will insert on your website. In WordPress, as you’re editing the page, switch to the HTML view, position the cursor where you want the buy now button to appear and paste the text you obtain from the PayPal website.

If all has gone well, when you preview this page there should be a PayPal online now button included in your sales copy.

So, how do they get from buying the product via PayPal to the download page? When you’re setting up your buy now button within PayPal, there will be an extra field you can add into the shopping cart setup, which is the URL of your download page. So, when the transaction is completed, PayPal will automatically redirect the customer to your download page.

An alternate option if you’re not selling a product is to give it away in exchange for a customer’s e-mail address. I do this using Aweber and it’s a really simple thing to set up. Again, I won’t go into detail how to create that in this article, but will do a follow-up post with these details.  Copy and paste the HTML code from Aweber into your sales page in the same manner that you would paste the PayPal text.

When you’re setting up the new e-mail capture formed in Aweber, there are a couple of things to be aware of.

Firstly, Aweber works on a double opt in system. This means that the customer receives an e-mail from Aweber that contains a confirmation link in it. The customer isn’t subscribed to your list until they click on the link in the confirmation e-mail. Once they complete step one, direct them to another page on your site that tells them that they’re close to the download page, but they need to check their emails to complete the subscription.

Within Aweber, you also have to nominate a URL that the subscriber is redirected to once they have clicked the confirmation link. This URL will be the URL for your download page.


So, that’s the process. From the customer’s perspective, they start on a sales page, where they take action, either to sign up to an e-mail list, or to purchase something. To facilitate the sign up/purchase they are directed to PayPal or Aweber, where they complete the transaction. Once the transaction is completed, or they have confirmed their e-mail subscription, they are taken to your hidden download page. The item that you are selling or giving way is linked to from this download page.

If you have multiple products, then there are a couple ways you can do this. If you’re selling multiple products, then you will need a separate download page for each product, because you don’t want a customer to have access to all the books if they have only bought one.

On the other hand, if you are giving away different e-books, you may be comfortable having all the free e-books on the one download page.

Finally, a quick thought on your download page. Whilst it is possible to have the e-book delivered by e-mail through your Aweber service, I prefer to direct the customer to your website to download the e-book. When they are on a page on your website, you are able to direct them to other pages that could be of interest. So if your e-book is on a certain topic, direct them to other articles you’ve written on the same topic. The download page could also be a good opportunity for you to promote other products, either from yourself or from other people.

Thanks for reading through this article. I hope it has been helpful to you. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. If there are other articles that you’d like me to write on a similar theme, please send me a message via my contact page.

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Allan lives in Adelaide, South Australia with his wife and two boys. He is the founder of Blogger Business Plan and loves helping bloggers learn how to transform their blogs from hobbies into sustainable businesses.
When he's not blogging or working in his financial planning business, you'll find Allan playing guitar, reading or coaching his son's soccer team.

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3 Responses to How to giveaway e-books on your site using Headway theme
  1. Karen
    June 9, 2011 | 12:19 pm

    Thanks for this timely article. As usual your gift for making tech issues seem easy is apparent. I am just about to this point in developing my site and was trying to figure out how to make all this work. I can’t wait to put your plan into action!

    • Allan Ward
      June 11, 2011 | 11:13 pm

      Hi Karen, Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you’re learning from my articles.

  2. […] couple of weeks ago I wrote about how to set up the process to give away or sell books on your blog. This is the next article in that series, and today I’ll show you how to integrate PayPal […]

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