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

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

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.

Buy Me a Coffee 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?

YouTube player
WPForms

Buy Me a Coffee is an easy way for others to support a creator through tips or donations. It can be used in a variety of ways, such as on websites as a button or links in YouTube video descriptions.

Buy Me a Coffee works by creating a platform where supporters can safely send money to their favorite bloggers or video creators. This platform comes with a blogging section, image gallery, audio files (podcasts), and other nuances to engage an audience.

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 “buy” you a coffee to show support. It’s a way that content creators, artists, and other professionals can make a bit of money from patrons.

And in a world where YouTube can get stingy with 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.

How Does Buy Me a Coffee Work?

Buy Me a Coffee gives the audience a way to support a creator through the use of donations or tips. If someone enjoys the content you create, then they can buy you a coffee at a set dollar amount you determine.

The payouts are processed immediately using Stripe, depending on how the creator sets up the account. Creators can also set up monthly subscription plans, membership rewards, or sell extras from their BMC page.

Building Your Page

Edit Buy Me a Coffee Page

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 a better camera for YouTube videos. I would like more flexibility and quality with what I create for viewers.

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 those who donate.

Or, you can enable a yearly fee with discounts.

Instead of your patrons paying fees to systems like Stripe, you can opt to pay them yourself. This 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 Stripe

As of December 2021, Buy Me a Coffee no longer supports PayPal. Money sent to your account will have to go through Stripe, which I’m not a fan of, especially when Stripe charges an additional $0.02 per subscription fee.

From Stripe
From Stripe

This means for a $5.00 monthly subscription, you’ll actually receive $4.28. Buy Me a Coffee pulls 5% of anything you make and then Stripe tacks on its fees.

Though, you don’t suffer this $0.02 fee for one-time supporters.

You can change when Stripe processes payments to go to your bank account in the “Settings > Payout settings” screen. Or, you can set it to a manual payout, which means you’ll need to log in and tell Stripe when to send the money.

Set Payout Schedule in Stripe

Personally, I have mine set to every month on the 1st. But this is completely optional to how you want to get money from Stripe.

In any case, Stripe is a secure platform trusted by millions. It works for what it is, and I receive payouts in a timely fashion. I’d just rather have PayPal as I have a PayPal debit card.

Upload an Image Gallery

One of the newer features to Buy  Me a Coffee is the image gallery. You can upload and share photos from the “Posts” section of your account.

These galleries are shareable to the public or you can make them “Members Only.” If you’re a photographer, artist, or graphic designer, this might be a great way to engage your audience and inspire memberships.

Personally, I might give it a try to share images of my home life to members only. Then again, I need to find time to manage that as well.

Creating Audio Files (podcasts)

Members Only Podcast

One of the latest additions to Buy Me a Coffee is the ability to include audio files. In essence, it works much the same way as creating podcasts for something like Spotify or using Anchor.

You can upload the audio directly or create the recording directly on Buy Me a Coffee.

This could be used to pique additional interest from supporters as you can provide platform-specific podcasts that people can’t get anywhere else. Since 41% of people in the United States alone listen to podcasts on a monthly basis, it’s something that has great potential to drive a larger audience.

Is Buy Me a Coffee Safe?

So far, I’ve collected quite a few donations from supporters. I haven’t experienced any negative effects or received any kind of spam through Buy Me a Coffee. It’s a secure website while using Stripe’s own secured portal to donate funds.

This means it’s powered by Stripe’s own security systems.

As Stripe is a widely trusted website for a myriad of online shops, stores, and businesses, its platform is touted as safe and secure.

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.

In fact, I am going through the process of fine-tuning my membership rewards for monthly subscribers.

WordPress Plugin

The WordPress plugin is probably one of the quickest ways to add both the donation button and widget to your blog. After adding your profile username to the plugin, you can add the button as a sidebar widget.

As a Link

BMC Page 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 https://www.buymeacoffee.com/writersanctuary. Notice the page extension is for WriterSanctuary. It also works how it’s displayed in the image above using: https://buymeacoff.ee/writersanctuary.

It just redirects back to the first URL.

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.

The links are great because then you can use them on free blogging sites like WordPress.com or Blogger or simply sharing them on social media. This gives you a way to monetize free platforms you might use as a creator.

Using Buy Me a Coffee’s Link on YouTube Videos

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.

In reality, it’s no different than if someone has Patreon or Ko-fi in the video description.

If you do decide to use Buy Me a Coffee for YouTube supporters, make sure you let people know in the video that it’s an option. It could boost engagement and help generate additional memberships.

On-Site Buttons

Buy Me A Coffee Button

The system comes with a way 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 membership 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.

The platform also provides ways to offer individual membership reward tiers based on what you provide. So, if you want to create a $2 basic membership as well as a $5 premium one, you can offer different rewards for the two.

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.

Delivering Extras to Supporters

One of the newer aspects of Buy Me a Coffee is the Extras you can provide. You can sell eBooks, commissioned art, exclusive video content, or create your own from scratch.

In fact, you can set up your own ZOOM event and sell tickets to supporters directly from BMC. Going over the templates that are available, I’ve even come up with a few ideas of my own.

At any rate, the Extras in Buy Me a Coffee are available to help you generate even more revenue. By offering something more engaging, it has the potential to drive income.

Does Buy Me a Coffee Actually Work?

Although I don’t promote my Buy Me a Coffee page all that often, I’ve still generated a couple of hundred dollars so far and am currently building up monthly subscribers. Between the blog and YouTube channel, my audience is diverse.

I have no doubt that if I did more to promote myself, I’d make far more in support.

Still, it’s money that I didn’t have before and is direct-deposited to my bank from Stripe at regular intervals. There’s quite a bit of potential to generate a great deal of income if you can offer some amazing incentives while being engaging with your supporters.

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Can You Use Buy Me a Coffee on Sites Like Blogger?

Using the code snippet from Buy Me a Coffee, you can add the donation link easily into Blogger and other free websites. However, you’ll need to keep in mind the terms of service for those sites.

Some platforms, such as WordPress.com, will actually strip away iFrame coding when you try to save the button.

Since there are a few methods to add a BMC button to your site, there are some ways to get around coded widgets. For instance, you can make your own little graphic button and simply add your BMC profile link.

In fact, I’ve demonstrated how to use a simple graphic from Photoshop to create a donation button for free websites, including WordPress.com.

Just remember that not all free platforms are going to allow money-making systems in this fashion. Take a quick glance over the TOS and make sure you’re not doing something that can get you banned.

Because you don’t want to spend all that time building up a free website only for the host to kick you off.

How Does Buy Me a Coffee Differ from Ko-fi?

When it comes to what you can do with Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi, it all boils down to two distinct differences: fees and memberships.

For instance, Buy Me a Coffee is free to use but charges a 5% transaction fee. Ko-fi is free unless you want to unlock all of the goodies on the platform. Then, it’s a $6 per month gold membership. All of these goodies are already available on Buy Me a Coffee.

Now that Ko-fi supports membership levels, it’s a bit more attractive than before. And it’s continuing to expand.

It all really comes down to personal preference and how you want to engage your supporters. I suggest giving both platforms a try to see which one better suits your needs.

Since Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi are free, you really don’t lose much by giving them a once-over. Just keep in mind that Ko-fi does have a lot of great stuff locked behind a monthly paywall, which Buy Me a Coffee gives you right off the bat.

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. Though, coming up with membership rewards is another chore of its own.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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