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.
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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