Taking subscriptions and donations through PayPal – How To

Hey peeps,

So – Patreon, eh? There’s been some upheaval over there since they announced they’re restructuring their fees and people aren’t happy. That’s an understatement. People are furious.

Here’s a post I made on Patreon explaining the fees in case you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I’ve lost Patrons over this – no where near as many as others, some people have lost $100s of dollars – but I realised I needed to quickly make a new solution in case any of my Patrons wanted to jump ship. That solution ended up being a donation button through my website (which you can see on the right) which can also be made into a monthly donation with a single click. I still get charged PayPal fees, but you get charged what it says on the tin. It’s a short term solution, and I’m still looking at alternatives, but I’ll probably keep the PayPal button open in case people want to continue to use that. It’s also currently only £1, but it is possible to set up multiple donation “tiers” in the same way as Patreon – I’m still working out how best to distribute rewards using this method though. Here’s a page on my site that goes into a BIT more detail of what I’m doing.

I want to share this info with you all, so if you want to set up your own donation button, it’s easy enough to do.

How to set up a PayPal donations / subscription button

You will need:

  • Your own website (I’m pretty sure you can do this through Tumblr, not sure about Wix or other sites)
  • A Business PayPal account (which is fairly straightforward to set up).
  • A VERY basic understanding of HTML – it’s basically just a bunch of code (I’ll take screenshots so you know what to look for)
  • I’d also recommend you make a “Thank you” page, for when people make a donation, and a “Confirm Cancellation” page, for when people unsubscribe. However you make a page on your website is fine. On the Thank You page, make sure to also include an unsubscribe button, and on the Confirm Cancellation page, include a link to where people can sign up again – this is just in case people do things by accident and makes your page a little more user-friendly. I go through how to make an unsubscribe button below, so keep following along and you’ll find it 🙂

Let’s get started

Figure out where you’re gonna put this on your website first so you have somewhere to dump the code. I recommend putting this on a seperate page on your website (see my own page above).

Log into your business PayPal account.

Select “Tools” and then “More Tools” from the dropdown menu.

You’ll be given a large list of options to choose from. You’ll want “recurring payments“.

That’ll take you to the Recurring Payments Dashboard, which is where you’ll be able to view your customers once you have some.

On the right there are a bunch of options. You MIGHT want to do something a little different to what I did here. I chose a donation button, which has the option of clicking “make this a monthly donation” option. But you can also chose a subscription option, which lets you chose from three different tiers from a dropdown menu. I’ll show you what I did, and then I’ll show you the subscription option as well.

Making a donation button

Click on “Make a Donate Button

This will take you to the donate button creation page. Keep the button type as Donations, give your button a name (mine was “Test Donate Button” for this scenario). Play around with the options a bit, it depends whether you want your own donation image or keep PayPals own image. Change the currency if you want to use something other than GBP of course. The options under that say “Contibution amount”, this is where you can decide whether to chose a fixed amount or leave people to choose how much to donate. On my button I’ve left it so people can chose their own amount, but it depends what you want to do. You’ll also have the option to use your merchant ID, or your primary email address, to be paid. I chose my email address. It just depends whether you might your email address being shown, but my email address is available elsewhere on my website anyway, so I chose it to display my email address. Up to you on that one!

After you’ve done that part, we can ignore Step 2 because it’s not necessary, and then click into Step 3. (The next part is exactly the same if you are creating a Subscription Button, so continue below to see what I’m doing)


Create a Subscription Button

A subscription button lets you chose different “tier” levels, so people cann subscribe to you at different amounts. Follow the above steps until you get to where I start talking about the Donate button. You should be on the “Recurring Payments Dashboard”, and on the right there is a link saying “Create a Subscription Button”. Click it.

This’ll take you to a similar page as the Donate Button, but this time the “subscription” button is selected on the drop down. (Actually, this is the same page, but for easy explanation I took you here this way in case anyone gets confused).

On the “Customise button”, click “Add a dropdown menu with prices and  options”, and add as many price tiers as you want. I’ve gone with three. You can change it to monthly or yearly if you want, but I chose monthly as it’s similar to Patreon.

I’d recomment ignoring the other two options to be honest as it’s not necessary!

Step Three – customising the button

Step 3 lets us customise things a bit more. Because we’re currently not setting anything up for tier rewards or anything, I’ve clicked no on the first two options about requesting information off people as well as their postal address, I don’t need that info.

The next two boxes are  why I suggested making a Cancellation Confirmation page, and a Thank You page. Put the URL for both of those into the boxes when prompted.

Now that part is done, so click “Create Button“.

Your button is done. In that little drop down box, is a bunch of code called HTML. Don’t edit any of it or delete any of it, you just need to copy it and paste it into your website. Click on the “Select Code” button to make sure you’ve got it all (the text will go blue), right click and select “Copy”.

Go back into your website and find the HTML editor. Usually it’s a button that says </> or “Plain Text” or something like that. Paste the code where you want the button to go, and then save your page.

Visit the page and test the button out to make sure it works! Clicking the button (Subscribe or Donate, depending on what you’ve chosen) will take you to the page to confirm your decision, and if you get that up it means the rest will work too (you can’t donate to yourself but you could get a friend to do a test run if you need to)

Easy peasy, right?

(Let me know if it’s NOT easy peasy, and I’ll try and walk you through it some more).


Creating an Unsubscribe button

You need a way to help people unsubscribe to you if you need to.

Go back to the “Add button to your website” page where you copied the HTML. On that page, at the bottom, there is a link that says “Create an Unsubscribe button”. Click that. It’s pretty straight forward from there, the page will ask you if you want to use PayPals button or your own, so if you’ve made your own unsubscribe button you can upload that and click “Create Button”. It’ll take you to a page where you’ll have some more HTML to copy onto your new site. Do the same thing here as you did before and copy and paste it onto your page.

I recommend posting it onto the same page as your Subscription / Donation button, so people can have an easy go to for it, as well as on your Thank You page, so people can quickly unsubscribe if they did it by accident.

Here are my thank you and cancelled pages if you want to have a look and see how I’ve done it.

And here’s my regular Subscription page, if you want to see how I set mine up.

Did you find this helpful?

If this helped  you, please consider donating something to say thank you 😉

Let me know if I have any questions by emailing me at


Or going through my Contact Page


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