Review: Monetizing with Buy Me a Coffee, Does it Work?

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A lot of people look for ways to monetize their blogs. Some pick eCommerce while others include systems like Adsense and affiliate marketing. But what about a donation button? Buy Me a Coffee is one way to accept donations on your site…and it works.

Well, it works in the sense that it does exactly what the site claims. You still need to drive supporters to actually use the donation button or links.

And that’s a different tale. Today, I’m focusing more on whether Buy Me a Coffee is a viable system or not. And based on my experience so far, it is a nice option for bloggers and video creators.

What is Buy Me a Coffee?

If you haven’t heard of Patreon, Ko-Fi and other financial support systems, Buy Me a Coffee provides a platform where your fans can make a donation. It’s a way that content creators, artists and other professionals can make a bit of money from supporters.

And in a world where YouTube can get stingy with the monetization, it’s not a bad idea.

Many creators make a living from their supporters. And if you enjoy someone’s work, there’s nothing wrong with showing it as a $3 donation.

NOTE: One downside to Buy Me a Coffee is the “Anonymous” donations. While the system doesn’t record personal information, it still shows you (the user) the payment.

So when you collect funds in PayPal, it will still show the individual making the donation. Donations may be anonymous on the front-end of your page, but you can still see who gave you money.

How Does the Platform Work?

Like other platforms, Buy Me a Coffee works by using a link to a profile where people can send you money. In a sense, you have a social profile on the system with your information and donors can send you various money amounts.

In my case, I linked PayPal to Buy Me a Coffee. However, Stripe is also an option to accept donations.

Building Your Page

Page Editing

On your profile page, you can have a few different elements to describe who you are and what you’ll do with the money. There are also social buttons available so supporters can share the page on Facebook and Twitter.

On your profile page, you basically have:

  • Your name and a link to your primary website.
  • An image or video to show visitors.
  • Any established goals you might have for what you’ll do with the money.
  • Your story to engage visitors.
  • An update section where you can comment with others and share upcoming news and events.

Obviously, the more fleshed out the profile is, the better are your chances of getting support from visitors. However, you’re only allowed a certain amount of space for images and text. So, be as succinct in your needs as possible.

Setting Goals and Donation Amounts

Buy Me a Coffee lets you set goals for donations. For example, I currently have a goal to buy an Elgato Cam Link so I can stream with a Canon camera. It’s of better quality than my webcam, but I can’t live-stream without an HDMI to a USB device like the Elgato.

Goals are easily set in the system, and you can modify how much each “coffee” is worth. You can set this in $3, $4 or $5 increments. Personally, I chose the lower option.

You also have the option to enable monthly support. This means Buy Me a Coffee will automatically withdraw money on your behalf from the supporter’s account. It’s kind of like offering a subscription fee to donators.

Instead of your patrons paying fees to systems like PayPal, you can opt to pay them yourself. Which means supporters will send the exact coffee amount instead of worrying about fees. This is something I enabled as I don’t see anything wrong with paying the fees myself.

On a side note, you can change the term “coffee” in your profile. So instead of asking someone to buy you a coffee, you could say something like, “Buy Me a Sandwich.”

Direct and Immediate Deposits for PayPal

I can’t speak for Stripe, but PayPal donations from Buy Me a Coffee are processed almost immediately. When I received my first donation, it was in my PayPal account rather quickly.

This is nice considering how some systems require a certain dollar amount to be met before processing the funds. Buy Me a Coffee does it on the spot.

Supporters also have the option of leaving a brief message within the donation.

Now, there is a “Partner Commission” taken out of donations. For instance, out of the $3.00 coffee I received, PayPal took out $0.39 and Buy Me a Coffee received $0.15. So, I netted $2.46.

PayPal Proof buy me a coffee
Actual screenshot from PayPal.

Still, it is $2.46 more than I had the day before.

Is Buy Me a Coffee Safe?

So far, I haven’t seen any negative effects on my profile or through donations. But, I’ve only started using Buy Me a Coffee recently. It’s a secure website while using PayPal’s own secured portal to donate funds.

Which means, it’s powered by PayPal’s own security systems. As I’ve been a user of PayPal since 2003, there are few systems on the Internet I trust more.

I know some people have had bad experiences with PayPal. Fortunately, I am not one of them.

How Do I Use Buy Me a Coffee?

You can use the system in a variety of ways. In reality, it all depends on your platform and marketing campaign for donations. And yes, even donation buttons and links can benefit from strong marketing campaigns.

As a Link

Buy Me A Coffee Link

A common option is the Buy Me a Coffee link. This is a link to your profile page where you can accept donations. This is a branded URL displaying your name to help inspire confidence and trust.

For instance, the link for my account is Notice the page extension is for Writer Sanctuary.

You can use links in a variety of ways, which makes them one of the most efficient methods for sharing. You can use them in:

  • Emails and newsletters for your website.
  • Social media updates such as Facebook and Twitter posts.
  • Links on your blog like I did a moment ago.
  • Link for banners and images you create on a website.

You can distribute the donation link as you would any other. Personally, I’ve used the links in my YouTube videos in the description area, which is where my first donation originated.

And recently, I received three “coffees” during a live stream from a viewer.

On-Site Buttons

Buy Me A Coffee Button

The system comes with the ability to create a button for your website. You can choose specific colors, the text and even modify the font. However, the block of HTML that comes with this option is quite large.

Still, it’s an easy way to add a donation button, especially if you don’t have experience creating your own.

For Writer Sanctuary, I made a button in the sidebar with the URL using the Shortcodes Ultimate plugin. But I believe there are a number of button plugins you can use to add the URL.

Because it is a link, you can also simply create your own graphic and use a href coding. For example, I’ve created some cool-looking button images in the past with Photoshop.

If you don’t have Photoshop or other graphics programs, Canva is an awesome free tool that delivers a lot of flexibility for specific images.

Offering Supporter Rewards

One aspect of Buy Me a Coffee is being able to offer specific rewards to supporters. I’ve seen people on the system offer a collection of sketch drawings, books and other digital products.

In other words, you can offer supporters exclusive content.

This is a common aspect of many platforms such as Patreon. It gives people more of an incentive to donate as they’ll get access to stuff not available to everyone else.

For example, you could show behind-the-scenes videos or prime text content only to those who donate.

WordPress Plugin

Because I use Shortcodes Ultimate, which gives me the ability to create a button, I haven’t really explored the WordPress plugin for Buy Me a Coffee. But it is available if you want a simple way to get donations to your account from a WordPress website.

The only real thing that bothers me about the plugin is how it hasn’t had an update in over a year…well, at least at the time of this post.

I’ll update this review if and when the developers bring the plugin in line with the last major releases of WordPress.

Does Buy Me a Coffee Actually Work?

PayPal Payment Proof
PayPal Deposit from 3 Coffees

Although I haven’t had the account for very long, I can say that I do get direct deposits into PayPal almost immediately. As of September 23, 2019, I’ve had five “coffees” given to me by viewers and blog readers.

After fees, this amounts to about $13.70 in tips. However, the page gets enough attention on a regular basis that I am trying to put together a “thank you” package of some kind. Probably an exclusive eBook for freelance writers.

At any rate, I have made money from this system and will continue to use it until I see a better alternative. For now, though, the money does go into PayPal where I have instant access to the funds.

So, yes, I can say that Buy Me a Coffee does work for donations.

Get Donations from Your Blog or Videos

There are all kinds of ways to monetize a blog or a YouTube channel. Among them, I’d say that Buy Me a Coffee has great potential. So far, I’ve seen a positive impact and like how easy the site is to manage.

The biggest issue you’ll have is how you share your donation link with the world.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 6,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel.

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