In this post I explain how you can offer files for download with WordPress and how you can measure the number of downloads. In addition to the WordPress media library and external statistical tools, file downloads can also be managed with additional WordPress plugins.
As a website operator, you often want to make certain files available to your visitors for download. PDF files for ebooks, brochures, flyers or forms are very popular. But ZIP files for freebies, EPUB for books and MP3s for music can also be found more often.
Offer a file for download in WordPress
The fastest and easiest way to offer a file for download with WordPress is to use the normal WordPress media library. In addition to images, PDF files and MP3s can also be easily added there.
You can upload your file under Media → Add file in the WordPress backend:
You can then click on the uploaded file to see all the details of the media file in a popup. Here you can find the URL to the file, which you can copy. This URL is also the download link for the file.
You can now add the URL as a text link in the visual editor, use it in a widget or use it as a menu link to make the file available to your visitors for download.
Allow upload of additional file types such as SVG, ZIP and PSD
By default, the WordPress media library blocks the upload of certain file types for security reasons. With a snippet of code or with the WP Extra File Types plug-in, however, additional file formats can be activated for the WordPress upload.
Provide file downloads in WordPress with a plugin
If you want to offer files for download on a regular and more frequent basis, the media library may not be the ideal solution for you. Especially with multiple download files, there is no overview in the media library and the downloads are difficult to manage.
For many file downloads it is therefore advisable to use a specialized plug-in for this. This means that far more features and functions are available. A download manager is particularly useful if downloads are a core part of your website.
There are a number of plugins for organizing downloads for WordPress. My personal favorite is the free Download Monitor plugin.
Download Monitor is a plugin for uploading and managing downloads, tracking downloads, displaying links and selling downloads!
With over 100k installs and numerous positive reviews, it's one of the most popular plugins. In addition, Download Monitor is updated very regularly and the developers usually answer support questions in the forum extremely quickly and helpful.
Manage files for download with Download Monitor
After installing the plugin, you can create new downloads under Downloads → New entry . Download Monitor provides its own custom post type and the creation of downloads works like articles and pages. Downloads can be sorted with categories and keywords. Different versions of a download are also possible.
The files for download can be uploaded directly, selected from the media library or selected directly from the root directory of the WordPress installation using a file browser.
A download URL is generated for each download created. With the standard settings, this consists of / download / plus the unique ID of the download.
e.g. https://beispiel-domain.de / download / 123
The URL can of course be adjusted in the options of the plugin. The download slug can also be used instead of the ID. In addition to the download URL, the download link can also be inserted very easily in posts and static pages with a shortcode:
In addition to the URL, the use of download hashes, log records and permissions for accessing files can be configured in the plugin settings.
Evaluation of file access with the logs and reports from Download Monitor
Each download of a file is recorded in a log, if activated in the options. You can find the download access under Downloads → Logs in your WordPress backend. The data can be exported as a CSV file at any time.
In addition to the tabular listing of the downloads in the log, the plugin also offers extensive reports on the download access. You can find the reports under Downloads → Reports .
In addition to a curve diagram, the most important statistics are shown at a glance.
Measure the number of downloads with external tools
If you don't want to use an extra plugin like Download Monitor and manage your file downloads directly in the WordPress media library, you can alternatively measure the number of downloads quite well with the common tools for web analysis.
With Google Analytics or Matomo (Piwik), the collection of download numbers is very easy and only needs to be configured in the tools. Instructions can be found in the respective documentation or in the WordPress plugins that you use to integrate the web statistics tools.