Serials on the Web: Paypal Subscriptions for Readers, Illustrated

Setting up an easy way for people to donate money is one of the most important things, after the writing, for a web serial to bring in money. Obviously. Creating a Paypal donation button is all good and well, and many people do this.

However, if possible, a writer should also set up a Paypal subscription button for readers to use. This allows the reader to easily donate small amounts regularly without fuss, especially if they themselves are already Paypal members (which many people are). Writers can even offer multiple subscription options, any recurring amount weekly, monthly, even bi-monthly.

Here’s how to most easily do so, with screenshots. You can click on screenshots to enlarge them.


Getting There

After logging into your account on Paypal, go to the Merchant Services tab. Under Create Buttons, you’ll see a Subscribe link to click. Here’s a screenshot:

Screenshot 1: Getting to the right page

After this, Paypal presents you with a number of steps. I’m listing them here with screenshots with the most basic options (optional stuff mostly left out) to easily get off the ground. This example is for a monthly subscription.

Paypal’s “Step 1” Section

1. Name Your Subscription: Something descriptive, like “Monthly Subscription”. You don’t need the inventory tag.

Screenshot 2: Name Your Subscription

2. Subscription Pricing and Timing: Here’s where you can set up options for subscribers. The important fields are outlined in red. Everything else in this section you can leave as defaults.

Screenshot 3: Subscription Pricing and Timing

Paypal’s “Step 2” Section

You can leave this section at its defaults.

Paypal’s “Step 3” Section

Make Shipping Address Optional: You don’t need the shipping address unless you’re planning on sending something in the mail to your subscribers (unlikely and unnecessary :) ), so switch this option to “No”:

Screenshot 4: Make Shipping Address Optional

Create Button

Click the “Save Changes” button, as per the usual with creating Paypal buttons, and you’re done! Now all you need to do is add your button to your site with an appropriate description at the top.

Suggested Subscription Cycles

I suggest monthly or bi-monthly. Weekly will result in amounts too small, and monthly/bi-monthly is just right if you’re updating one to a few times a week.

If you get established, you can have 1-year subscriptions for a suitable amount. You can even include “lifetime” subscriptions (a 99-year subscription, for instance).