Should We Add PayPal 'Donate' Buttons to Our Blog Posts?

May 2020

 

I read this article, which suggests an underused way for writers to monetise their blog is to put PayPal 'Donate' buttons at the end of their articles. The author claims more readers are willing to donate than you might think. 

 

The author also says bloggers are reluctant to take this measure. I certainly understand this. These are my thoughts:

  • Is it asking for a handout? 

  • As a full-time writer, I monetise my blog through affiliate links and by promoting my lyric writing services. Is it unfair to ask for donations when other forms of monetisation are in place? 

 

These are my initial feelings, but sometimes your first instinct isn’t the right one. Let’s play devil’s advocate and argue against the above points…

 

When I think of a handout in a negative light, I think of giving or expecting something for nothing. But if someone supports your blog through a donation, are they actually giving you something for nothing?

 

Not if the article is professional and useful to the reader. If it’s full of typos, one paragraph long, and doesn’t offer anything of substance, it would be hard to justify including a donation button. But what about articles the writer grafted to create?

 

My articles take several hours to format and upload to my website. Let alone writing, editing, and image sourcing. With this in mind, is it wrong to give readers the option to donate?

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Making money in creative industries is tough. Many creatives devote their lives to their work for little or no financial gain, despite releasing high quality work. I think we live in a society that’s coming to realise this.

 

I’m not sure Patreon would have found success twenty years ago. But in this day and age, with voices like Amanda Palmer’s telling us it’s acceptable to ask for help as a creator, we live in a world where fans are increasingly willing to support their favourite musicians, artists, and writers. 

 

Donation buttons in a blogging context provide an alternative to Patreon. It means supporters can make a one-time payment, without committing to anything long-term.

 

If your blog is monetised by other means, this complicates matters. However, bloggers with small audiences won’t earn much from affiliate links. If a huge blogger were to use donation buttons, it could be seen as odd considering they potentially earn hundreds of thousands every year from affiliate marketing and brand deals. Smaller bloggers might only earn a few hundred (or less) per year from affiliate links and sponsorships. 

 

I think it comes down to the individual. If you’re regularly purchasing items to review out your own pocket, most of your audience will realise and appreciate this, and some of them may be willing to contribute. 

 

If you’re thinking about giving readers the option to donate, it will be worth stating how the money is used. Would a % be used to purchase equipment or hire relevant professionals to improve and grow the blog? Maybe you would use some/all the money to advertise the blog and grow your audience.

 

After consideration, I see sense in using donation buttons. However, the thought of actually doing it makes me uneasy. Would it put readers off? I asked this question on Twitter. Here are the results:

 

What do you think? Would you put donation buttons on your blog? Let me know. I’m @justine_perry on Twitter and @alittlebitjustine on Instagram. I’m interested to hear your thoughts. 

 

This is the second time I’ve published this article. The first was published 1-2 years ago but accidentally deleted. The first time, I didn’t add a donation button because I felt too worried. This time, I’m biting the bullet! I might do a part two on this topic, letting you know how it went. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to be notified when new articles are published.

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