Last Updated on July 20, 2020 by Michael Brockbank
Buy Me a Coffee is a great platform for generating donations. But what about expanding beyond the donate button by adding membership rewards? In reality, it’s how a lot of creators are able to focus purely on their craft without interruptions of a full-time job.
For instance, let’s say you want to make more than minimum wage as a full-time creator. You would need at least 480 supporters at $5 each. That would replace a $15/hour job.
If you offer something completely amazing and market yourself well, you could easily amass more supporters than you need.
Today, I’m going to show you how to add membership rewards, ways to market yourself, and how to get ideas about what to offer.
Adding Membership Rewards to Buy Me a Coffee
Adding benefits to any platform is beneficial regardless of which one you use. If people are willing to donate to Twitch gamers, any creator can make a living with their craft.
It all comes down to how you engage your audience and what they want out of you as a creator.
Step 1. Come Up with Something People Want
This is perhaps the most difficult step when it comes to setting up membership rewards. You need to deliver something that the majority of your audience wants out of you.
This means that sometimes, you’ll miss the mark. But, you can always evolve over time to figure out which reward is the most appealing.
Coming up with something supporters want is the most crucial aspect, though. Because if you don’t offer something engaging or of high-quality, you won’t get many monthly supporters.
Step 2. Adding the Reward to Your List
OK, now we have an idea about what to add to our reward list. It’s time to add it to Buy Me a Coffee.
When you log into BMC, click the “Members” option on the left.
This will open the Members area where you can access all kinds of information.
The main Members screen will show you how much you generate per month, the total number of members you currently have, and how much money you’ve made overall. You can also change the view to see a 30-day and 90-day report.
Adding Special Offers
Special Offers are those you want to give people to inspire them to support you. Think of it as offering discount coupons or providing one-time extras to get people to sign up.
Click the “Special Offers” option.
You can provide:
You can offer a certain percentage special discount off your membership rewards for either 12-months or unlimited time frames. So, each month, they can get the discount when paying.
In the extras tab, you can send digital goods, your Discord link, affiliate coupon codes, and more through email when someone pays for a membership.
For this tutorial, I’m simply going to offer a 25% discount for the next year.
Choose which type you want to offer.
Fill out the information for the special offer:
This will be the name of the offer and the discount rate.
For extras, you input the title, description of the extras, and the option to automatically email supporters once a membership payment is received. So, you can input things like discount codes or Discord links in the email.
Select the date the offer expires. As of this blog post, you can set the expiration to 3, 7, or 14-day increments.
If you don’t have a large social following or a good-sized email list, I suggest setting this for the 14-day offer. This is to let as many people as possible join before the offer expires.
By default, Buy Me a Coffee will use your special’s title as the offer link. However, you can customize the URL if you’d like.
Now, this is a completely optional adjustment. If you’re OK with the link as is, you can skip this step. That is unless your title surpasses 12 characters. At which point, you’ll need to condense the URL.
You’ll need to keep the custom URL to 12 characters or less.
Customize your offer link with a short text. This is the URL you can use in emails, sharing on social media, and anywhere else you can add a link. You want to keep it short and sweet.
Keep in mind that this is a hyperlink. Which means you can’t use special characters or spaces. Buy Me a Coffee will prevent you from adding spaces and special characters, though.
In this example, I’m just using “Birthday” because it’s my birthday and I am sharing the goodness.
Click the “Create Offer” button on the bottom.
Now, when you want to share the URL, just click the copy button and paste it where you want.
Personally, I just created a link in a sidebar widget for WriterSanctuary. Until July 23rd, you can see it in action on the right of this page.
OK, now on to creating membership rewards for your supporters. Like I said earlier, the most difficult part of this is coming up with something people will pay money to access. Then, you need to give them a regular stream of high-quality materials to make subscribing worth-while.
For this tutorial, I’m adding a simple “Daily BTS Journal” series. I’ll add more to this soon, but I just want to show you how to set it up.
Click the “Rewards” option on the top.
By default, you’ll have two immediately available. Essentially, these are good places to start, and I suggest leaving them. They are simply telling people they’ll be notified anytime members-only stuff is published and how they need to support you on a monthly basis.
Let’s add something new. Click the “Add a reward” button.
Add the reward you wish to give members.
You can add as many rewards as you like. Just remember, you need to offer something of great value if you want someone to subscribe.
Think of it like this: what can you offer that is worth the amount of money you’re asking from each person every month? In my case, I am leaving the $5 per month fee. So, I would want to give something I believe is worth $5 per month.
I’ll show you how to change the monthly fee in the next section.
Next, customize the message for your new members. You can leave the default text, but I suggest making it more unique while including your own personality.
Now, this is simply a popup that appears when someone pays for membership access. You don’t have to go too extravagant with it, so, more like a simple thank you and what-not should suffice.
Click the “Save Changes” button when you’re done.
Adjusting Your Settings Page
Lastly, you may want to fine-tune how membership rewards work in your BMC profile. You may want to change to something more or less, depending on what you want to offer supporters.
Click on the “Settings” option at the top.
Here is where you can change how much money members support you with per month and per year. You can also upload a 350 x 123px image to show on your membership page.
One thing I want to point out is the “Membership giveaway” portion. In this field, you can add anyone’s email address to give them free access to the member’s area.
This works great for giving to friends and family to get the ball rolling and being interactive with supporters. Word of mouth works exceptionally well on the Internet, and your friends and family could promote your profile even further.
It also works as a way to market yourself through giveaways, raffles, or special events.
For instance, you can do something like, “Giving away a lifetime membership to the first 10 people who sign up with the blog’s free newsletter.” Not only do you start building an email list, but your supporter list in Buy Me a Coffee grows as well.
You can also choose to enable the Membership view as the default in your primary widget. This means “Memberships” are the first thing people see instead of the one-time donation.
Once you’re done making your adjustments, click the “Save changes” button.
Alternatively, you can also turn off memberships entirely by clicking the link below the “Save changes” button.
You have your membership rewards set up and you’re ready for people to start paying. The next thing you should do is share your add-on in a post.
The reason you’ll want to do this is so that anyone who visits your Buy Me a Coffee profile can see you offering new membership rewards. It also lets you send an email to anyone who has supported you in the past.
This includes the one-time supporters.
Click on the “Posts” option on the left.
Click on “Write a post” from the top right.
Here, you’ll simply write a blog post about adding the membership rewards, what you’re offering, and other bits of information you want people to know.
In this area, you’ll need a few vastly important settings changes.
Make sure you keep this particular blog post “Public.” You want everyone to read the content and inspire them to become members.
Check both of the options for “Pin this post” and “Notify supporters.” This does two things:
- Pins the post to the top of your feed in Buy Me a Coffee. It’ll be the first thing people read when visiting your profile.
- Sends a message to anyone who’s given you money in the past that you’re offering membership rewards. Might as well get the ball rolling with someone who has already supported you with a donation.
Once your post is up and live, it’s a good idea to share it on your social platforms. This is so anyone who follows your accounts can see that you have new membership rewards set up and ready to go.
Click on the “Share” button near the bottom of your BMC post.
This will open up different ways to share. As you can see, I can post the link directly to Twitter, Facebook, or copy the link. This way, I can add the post to an email, newsletter, or share it on other social platforms or forums.
Choose the platform you wish to use.
Why Do Membership Rewards Matter?
So, do rewards really matter when using BMC with your content? That depends on the type of content you develop, but it does make a massive difference to how much you can make.
However, you still need to deliver what you promise if you want to keep those subscribers sending you money. Like any subscription-based platform, it all comes down to providing a consistent quality service.
For example, I know of many gamers on YouTube who offer members-only videos through platforms like Buy Me a Coffee. Other creators will hold live events, opinion polls, and more engagement that is out of the public eye.
Now, you can rely strictly on one-time donations. But offering more engagement through a members area ultimately helps you build a large audience of those who appreciate your work.
And if you want to make the move to a full-time creator, monthly membership fees can help you achieve those dreams. Now, you’ll just need to accumulate enough supporters to supplement your full-time income.
Depending on the type of content you create, it may be easier than you think.
Ideas for BMC Membership Rewards
Some creators are in niches that are easy when it comes to reward ideas. For instance, artists can provide monthly sketches or digital art to those who sign up.
However, some of us still need to do a bit of research. After all, why would someone want to give us $5 per month to become a member?
What Do You Offer?
What kind of creator are you, and is there something you can offer? That is perhaps the most difficult aspect of coming up with membership rewards. Especially if you’re someone like me.
But, even I can come up with something that may entice my subscribers. For example, I could write up a small eBook every month about succeeding as a freelance writer. I could publish it as monthly digital volumes.
A common method for membership rewards is showing YouTube video content a week in advance before the general public gets to watch. It’s a sneak peek of what is to come.
Using BMC Extras to Entice Supporters
The Extras addition in Buy Me a Coffee can deliver quite a few ideas. This is a section where you can sell things to your supporters and visitors.
For example, you can offer a one-on-one consultation for a set dollar amount. Why not give your monthly members discounts to these extras?
What if you have an eCommerce site? You could give all of your supports a membership discount, like you’d see at Costco or Sam’s Club.
Doing Some Reconnaissance
There’s nothing wrong with doing a bit of recon work for your offerings. In fact, I’m going to dive into some myself as soon as I publish this blog post.
Take a look at what other people are offering and see if you can do something similar with your membership rewards. Most creators will at least tell you what you can expect by becoming a member.
Now, you don’t want to completely rip off someone’s ideas. But, other creators similar to what you provide may help guide you to what you can offer.
Membership Rewards Give Access to…You!
One of the biggest reasons why many people become paying members is because of the personal access. In fact, I know a lot of people on various systems who offer behind the scenes videos and audience participation streams.
People are more likely to toss money at a creator who is interactive and personable. Perhaps one of the things you can do is offer some way for supporters to access you directly.
For example, you could set up a Discord channel for members only or some other type of real-time chat system.
Set Up an Insider Publishing Schedule
One of the things you can do with posts in Buy Me a Coffee is set them to publish on a schedule. This a great bonus if you want to offer a members-only stream of blog posts.
Especially if you don’t have your own blog and web hosting.
This is one I plan on setting up for myself even though I have WriterSanctuary.com. This is because the content in Buy Me a Coffee is going to focus more on stuff I don’t share on the blog.
For instance, things I’ve struggled with, ways I’ve overcome obstacles, and specific details on how I went from Textbroker to Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks.
My point is that you can offer highly detailed blog posts as part of your membership rewards.
Another thing I plan on doing for one of my other blogs is setting up a charity-sharing platform. By telling people that a portion of their membership fees go to support a charity, it adds inspiration to sign up.
In this case, ColoradoPlays.com donates one-third of anything it makes directly to Extra Life. This is on top of the other charities and donations the brand makes throughout the year.
You don’t want to sound too altruistic when you mention helping charities. But, letting people know where the money is going is greatly beneficial.
What Kind of Membership Rewards Do You Give?
There are all kinds of ways you can promote a membership rewards platform in Buy Me a Coffee. Spend some time analyzing who you are, what you offer, and the type of audience you attract.
With a bit of brainstorming, you might come up with a few winning ideas.
How do you monetize your donation platform of choice?
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