Selling Videos with WooCommerce

Computer Screen Selling Videos

There are a few different WooCommerce Facebook groups and all of them have great discussions. Earlier today there was a question about selling videos with WooCommerce:

If I have video files in a cloud storage independent from my WordPress site can I link those videos and sell them as digital, downloadable products? I don't want to store videos in my WordPress site.

The short answer is yes – WooCommerce can sell downloadable videos (or any sort of downloadable product).

The longer answer is that there are a ton of ways of selling videos. You can do it with WooCommerce all on its own or you can enhance the experience with a few extensions.

How to Sell Downloadable Videos With Just WooCommerce

Alright – let's start with the easy option – you have WooCommerce (no extensions) and you want to sell videos.

You can start by creating a new product in WooCommerce. You'll want to check both digital & virtual.

WooCommerce Virtual Downloadable Product

Tick the virtual & downloadable checkboxes

Store Videos on Your Site

Under the downloadable settings you can upload a video directly to your WordPress site. When you do this the downloadable file URL will be set. And when a customer checks out they'll get the link to download the file directly from your site.

Streaming Videos

Unfortunately – videos do tend to take up a lot of hard drive space. So most hosting plans won't let you upload large videos. To get around this you can use a number of services. The easiest is to use a 3rd party streaming service like YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia.

I'll go ahead and use YouTube because just about everyone is familiar with it. When you upload a video you can set the visibility to Unlisted. This will prevent it from popping up in the search results of YouTube. The only way to get to the video is with a direct URL which only you have.

YouTube Visibility Settings

Visibility settings in YouTube

You then copy this url and under the advanced tab you can paste this into the purchase notes.

WooCommerce Link in Purchase Note

Link in purchase note under the advanced tab.

The customer will see the message:

WoocCommerce Order Received Video Link

Customer's see the link after payment

Downloadable Videos

Streaming is great but sometimes you really want to have downloadable videos. If that's the case YouTube isn't the best. You might want to use a service like Dropbox that let's you upload any type of raw file. And those files can be accessed via a public link that you create.

I'll upload something to my Dropbox, right click on the file, and then copy the public link.

Dropbox Public Link

Copy the public link in Dropbox

I'll copy that link into WooCommerce

WooCommerce Download Link

And as per usual once the purchase is complete an email will be sent with the link. Or customers can view it on the My Account page.

My Account Downloads

Piracy

But what about piracy!?!?

Someone is inevitably worried about piracy. And I get it. It's your hard work that created this video and you don't want anyone else stealing it and making money from it. That's a totally normal feeling.

Unfortunately there will always be (a small amount of) piracy and it's usually not worth the investment in time to protect your videos.

None of the methods above are fool proof. Someone could share the link or file with a friend. If you see lots of piracy then you can change links or you invest in something a bit more secure.

Downloadable Videos With Amazon S3

If you want to have a lot of storage for videos you can look into WooCommerce Amazon S3 Storage. Amazon S3 storage is a hosting platform built for hosting large files. It's very affordable. And the WooCommerce integration pulls all of that power into WooCommerce.

You can upload files to Amazon S3 and then copy those links into WooCommerce. WooCommerce will handle all of the download permissions which are far more secure than just sending someone a link.

Video Previews

If you're selling a course or an actual film it can be helpful to have a preview video. And WooCommerce handles that beautifully. There are a few featured video plugins for WooCommerce. I personally like YITH WooCommerce Featured Video which replaces the featured image with a video.

YITH WooCommerce Featured Video Screenshot

A screenshot from the plugin showing the video in the featured image spot

So when someone asks if WooCommerce can sell videos the answer is most definitely yes. You can stream the video and you can distribute the actual file yourself.

Happy selling!

7 thoughts on “Selling Videos with WooCommerce

  1. Nice roundup of techniques, Patrick.

    Regarding piracy, I sell a lot of digital products and agree that it’s not worth trying to put protection on the files. It’s an inconvenience to honest customers and can be easily broken by those who are determined.

    However, there are steps we can take to prevent the spread of our digital products. In the WooCommerce settings under Products –> Downloadable Products there are a few choices for File Download Method. If that’s combined with something like Amazon S3 then you can have expiring links that are unique to each purchaser and that don’t reveal a URL to your source file. That way if someone posts their download link online publicly at least it will expire and not be useful after a short time.

  2. I should also mention another method of selling videos since it may be helpful to others.

    We make the sale through WooCommerce and then use VHX to handle delivery. The VHX API is used to create accounts and grant access to videos for our customers at checkout. This solution requires custom software development but does have some nice advantages.

    It all seamlessly looks like part of our site but we let a company that’s really good at video delivery handle those details. Customers can watch the videos through a videos tab on their WooCommerce My Account page or use one of the VHX apps for Apple TV, iOS, Roku, Chromecast, and others.

  3. Great tutorial Patrick!

    I’ve built a Netflix style site for Indie Australian projects using WooCommerce and WooCommerce subscriptions: https://haview.com.au

    It uses a different Amazon S3 plugin that automatically loads uploads made to the media library to S3 and allows you to use the media library urls. It uses expiring links and some encoding as well to secure the videos.

    Each video is a product, so tags and reviews and all the other great WooCommerce features are usable.

    Once a subscription is purchased, the viewer visits the link to the view page, which then pulls data from the product to the player and displays related videos of that video below it, using shortcodes and built in WooCommerce functions.

    I didn’t have to make too many tweaks to templates. The site also uses a third-party plugin for credit purchases, but those are WooCommerce too.

    • Dear Bobbie,

      I would need your help!
      trying to set up a page where I sell my saxophone tutorials, I have signed up to amazon S3 (like it very much) and now I try to find out how to let my customers stream my videos but not downloading them.
      S3 is working on my site, that is looking great. But always after purchase my video, the customer receives a download link for the vid and the videos is downloading. thats not what I want.

      Do you have a few more hints for me how you did set up your site?
      thanks in advance and regards from Germany,Mario

  4. what if I want to sell a subscription to a private YouTube channel, with ALL my videos? Can woocommerce do that?

  5. Thanks for the great article. I’ve also used a service called HostStreamSell who have plugins which work with woocommerce really well. We sell videos as products with streaming access only with no options to download. Worth checking then out

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