Easily take Online Payments with PayPal

Have you ever wondered how to take online payments via your website for your own products and services? Well, there’s an easy way: PayPal. Yes, you can accept donations, payments for products and services, even set up recurring payments and subscriptions. And the good thing is you’re not restricted to buyers who have a PayPal account, because this mechanism allows your customers to pay via debit or credit card if they choose.

There are a number of benefits to using this service:

  • Simplicity – PayPal handles all the technical details for you.
  • Security – no secure connection required by you – PayPal handles this too.
  • Trusted brand – because PayPal is one of the most popular payment methods on eBay, it is a very well-known and trusted service – and trust is vital when payment details are being exchanged online.
  • Cost-effective – setting up your own merchant account is expensive and simply not worthwhile unless you have significant turnover. PayPal doesn’t cost you anything until someone buys something, and even then you won’t be paying much more than 3.4%.

So, before this starts to sound any more like an advertorial, I want to show you how easy it is to set up a Donation button to allow your adoring public to shower you with gratuities.

First things first

If you don’t yet have a PayPal account, now’s the time to get one. Head on over to the PayPal site and complete the sign-up process. Note that I’m basing this tutorial on the UK site, but I’m sure it’s the same for any of the other regional sites. From now on, I’ll assume you’ve successfully completed the sign-up.

Generate your button code

Log in to your PayPal account, select the Merchant Services tab, then click the Donations link under the Useful Links section. You should see the following wizard:

The form comes pre-populated with default options which you can simply accept, or you can tweak any settings you wish, then press the Create Button button to generate the html code that you can use to embed the donation button in your site.

Paste the button code into your site

Copy and paste the generated html into your site where you wish the button to appear – it’ll look something like this:

Go ahead and click it – you’ll be taken to the PayPal site to securely process your payment (feel free to give that a try too if you like :) ).

And that’s literally how easy it is. Generating buttons to allow your customers to buy specific products and services is a very similar process.

WordPress PayPal plugins

If you’re running a WordPress site, there are a number of plugins available to help you manage your buttons (a quick disclaimer: I haven’t tried all of these or even most of them, so can’t guarantee that they work with the latest version of WordPress – you’ll need to liaise with the plugin authors or support forums if you encounter any issues).

  • EasyDonation – enables you to insert donation buttons into your posts using a tag, rather than cluttering them up with all that html and run the risk that you trample on it accidentally when editing.
  • PayPal Donate Plugin for WordPress. This one allows you to display a small donation form in your sidebar, and it looks like you can configure it from within your WordPress dashboard, perhaps without even having to go into your PayPal account?
  • Buy Me a Beer – similar to the previous one, except instead of asking your visitors to donate, you ask them to “buy you a beer” (or a cup of coffee).
  • EasyPayPal – this allows you to manage subscription-based access to your site.
  • ArtPal – helps you to sell one-of-a-kind items, by disabling the button once the item has been purchased.

More information

What I’ve told you so far is only the tip of the iceberg. Using standalone buttons is fine if you only have one or two items to sell, but more than that and you’ll want some sort of shopping cart facility. The good news is that PayPal integrates with many third-party shopping carts, and even has their own cart which you can use if you don’t already have one. For more information on these and other aspects of using PayPal to take online payments, visit their Website Payments page.

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27 Responses to “Easily take Online Payments with PayPal”

  1. Gravatar of Phil Taylor 1 Phil Taylor

    I’ve been using PayPal for several years now – both for buying online and also accepting payments. It’s the most commonly used and trusted online payment method – IMHO. Google checkout has a loooong uphill battle to try to displace PayPal.

  2. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 2 Rodney Smith

    Phil: I totally agree. Mind you, 10 years ago, who would have thought Google would have established such dominance over the search market?

  3. Gravatar of Phil Taylor 3 Phil Taylor

    Yeah Rodney – Google is indeed light years ahead of the other SEs – nobody will ever catch them (again MHO) but they are trying to play catch-up with PayPal. PP has so penetrated the online payment market to the extent that they are almost a generic term such as Kleenex for a tissue or Band-Aid for a bandage. The only thing I don’t like about PayPal is that their fees seem somewhat high – but I guess they are a business and are entitled to a profit. And with their ease of use I begrudgingly accept the slice they take out of my “payment pie”. :)

  4. Gravatar of Blog for Beginners 4 Blog for Beginners

    I agree with Phil, the only drawback about paypal is its processing fee which takes quiet a bit off your money. Well, if only paypal isn’t monopolizing the payment gateway….apparently, Google checkout isn’t available in my country…


  5. Gravatar of Make Money Blogging 5 Make Money Blogging

    With PayPal, your consumers will feel safer to buy products from you as well. I think the processing fee is well worth it for the security and convenience it provides.

  6. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 6 Rodney Smith

    Phil/Yan: It’s never nice when you have to give someone else a slice of the pie. But at least you only pay to actually receive money – which lessens the blow a bit.
    By the way, where are you from, Yan?

  7. Gravatar of Blog for Beginners 7 Blog for Beginners

    Paying to receive money is one thing, paying to withdraw the money is another…but then I can’t think of any other payment gateway as secure as paypal.

    Anyway, I’m from Malaysia the eastern part of the world..


  8. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 8 Rodney Smith

    Yan: well, I don’t get paid that often that I have to worry about the withdrawal fees LOL. But seriously, if you wait til your balance reaches a certain threshold, it’s free to withdraw isn’t it? I believe the UK balance has to hit £50 to be eligible.

  9. Gravatar of Blog for Beginners 9 Blog for Beginners

    You know what, it’s rather difficult to withdraw it in the country I’m residing. I know it’s free in UK if you hit certain threshold but the situation is different here in Malaysia.


  10. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 10 Rodney Smith

    Oh, I hadn’t realised that. It’s somewhat similar in South Africa, where I’m from originally. The banking system is a lot more regulated, foreign exchange is a nightmare. I think that’s the reason Paypal isn’t even available in SA.

  11. Gravatar of Mitch 11 Mitch

    Very nicely written for the novice. In the ebook I wrote for small business owners who have websites they don’t know what to do with, I mentioned that they could actually set it up so that they could take credit card payments by using Paypal and sending people links to pay them on. Very good stuff here.

  12. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 12 Rodney Smith

    Thanks Mitch. Of course you still have to figure out how to drive traffic to your pages, but this does provide an easy way to convert what traffic you have into sales.

  13. Gravatar of Mitch 13 Mitch

    Actually, that was kind of the point. For small businesses that don’t actually do anything on the web, but at least have a website, they can set up links to email to clients so they can get paid through Paypal by credit card without actually having to purchase a full program or product to accept those payments. So, those folks don’t have to worry about driving traffic to their sites; they only have to hope that their clients have email.

  14. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 14 Rodney Smith

    Ben: good point about security – I don’t think I’d sleep too well at night if I was responsible for protecting all my customers’ financial details!

  15. Gravatar of Armen Shirvanian 15 Armen Shirvanian

    PayPal is quite useful to work with, because the many different ways of linking to PayPal from one site all lead to their clean and easy to use interface. I can’t think of any competition for PayPal in the category that they currently reside in.

  16. Gravatar of Webmaster Forums 16 Webmaster Forums

    Nice article. I use Paypal a lot, and I also use alertpay since Paypal doesn’t allow PTC and similar sites.

  17. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 17 Rodney Smith

    Webmaster forums: I’m afraid I’m not familiar with PTC – what’s that?

  18. Gravatar of Webmaster Forums 18 Webmaster Forums

    Paid To Click – You get paid to view advertisements. Google PTC and you will get lots of info.

  19. Gravatar of Air Jordans 19 Air Jordans

    I use Alertpay too and it is good. Much like Paypal but fees are a lot less.

  20. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 20 Rodney Smith

    OK, now I’m going to have to check out Alertpay!

  21. Gravatar of Phil Taylor 21 Phil Taylor

    I’ve never heard of Alertpay… how long have they been around?

  22. Gravatar of Magnar 22 Magnar

    For anyone considering starting an online business, arranging a facility to accept credit cards is a necessity. No-one who wants to keep his online business profitable is going to only offer checks or money orders as the only way to pay for orders.

    A good way to see your potential customers leave is to make them wait for the order. Perhaps we have become impatient, but whatever the reason, customers to any website that offers goods or services, demand an instant payment facility.

  23. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 23 Rodney Smith

    Magnar: yes, you have to try and close the deal while you’ve got the customer; anything that helps to make that happen is going to be of benefit. Thanks for commenting!

  24. Gravatar of Tlaga Jaya 24 Tlaga Jaya

    beside paypal i use payoneer also for few site because they work with payoneer to pay the check, they will give us a debit card but also we can use that card to do online shopping as credit card.

  25. Gravatar of e-payment in europe 25 e-payment in europe

    Hi, im also a bi fan of paypal. Especially when buying in ebay from forreign person, so i habe an insurance. When having an online shop for myself, my sales increase about 50% when implemnenting payment with creditcards, because its faster and also secured.

  26. Gravatar of Aviation Earth 26 Aviation Earth

    Great article. What I need is a WordPress plugin where users can buy a link on my site by just entering their link details and then they are directed to Paypal. Once the payment has been made then the link shows up on my site or a notification is sent to the administrator to approve the link.

    Isthis possible? Thanks

  27. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 27 Rodney Smith

    Aviation: I believe OIO Publisher offers this functionality. It’s a premium plugin, but everything I’ve heard about it says it’s well worth the $47, and that you’ll most likely earn it back very quickly. Let me know if it works for you.

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