Although bloggers may not use advertisements on their sites, donate links or widgets are something you might see. free to use image for buy me a coffee plugin or widget

I include a donate page on some of my blogs and am always grateful for those who have used it (you know who you are. :)), but…I don’t expect my visitors to make a contribution.

Unless I’m hired to design a custom header or ADvatar, the information I offer is free.

Today’s Lesson

I don’t mind seeing donate buttons considering how blog, plugin and theme authors are providing valuable information, for free. I see it as a way for them to be compensated for their knowledge, talent or services.

But the question is, do they work?

Or, do they make the blog, plugin or theme author seem greedy or needy? Or, make it look like they’re panhandling?

Based on what I’ve seen, I believe donate badges or pages can work, however unless we put the donate link in front of our readers, chances are they won’t see it, nor will a reader realize donating is an option.

I used a plugin named “Buy Me A Beer” which also had an option for “Buy Me A Coffee”. A click on the button would take you to the blog author’s PayPal account where you could enter the amount you’d like to give. (The plugin appears to be retired.)

I liked the plugin, but when I cleaned up my blog, I removed it and opted for a “Donate” page.

If donating is something you’d like to add to your blog, setting up a donate widget would be easy. Just find an image of a glass of beer, cup of coffee, tip jar, or…, add your own copy, code it to link to your PayPal account and voilà, there it is.

Or, set up a “Donate” page and include the link and button PayPal provides.

Today’s Assignment

Do you use a donate page or widget on your blog? If so, are readers using it?

Do you, or would you donate to a blog, plugin or theme author?

Or do you view a donate button/badge as a form of panhandling and ignore them?

Care to share?

signature for blog post

P.S. The coffee cup image in this post is free for you to use. Just right-click on it and hit “save as”.

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Look Who's Talking
  1. Hi Barbara.
    Yes, I’ve used the donate button to thank a couple of online friends for their support and advice :) It felt wonderful! I used to have the donate button on my blog, but I removed it. I think it’s great for sites that are offering helpful information, such as yours for example, and also for WordPress plugin and theme developers. In my line of work, word-of-mouth referrals are just as good as using the donate button.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Davina,

      That’s true. A donate button may not be applicable to all sites. For those who offer themes or plugins for free, PLUS keep them updated, a donate button is a great way for us to pay them for their work. Whereas on sites like yours, you could get a better return via a referral than a donation.

  2. Kelvin KaoNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t have a donate button. Or maybe I have one once upon a time and don’t remember where it went. It’s really just not a thought that came up.

    I don’t think I have donated to bloggers for written content. I have donated on multiple occasions to a musician whose music I use in my videos under Creative Commons. I have also bought books by several bloggers, but these are not straight donations.
    Check out Kelvin Kao’s awesome post.Theatre Puppetry Workshop Beginning- Week 3My Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Kelvin,

      That’s a good ideal to donate to those who have offered their music or videos under a Creative Commons license. Although they’re not expecting a donation, I’m sure they’re thrilled when they receive one.

  3. HilaryNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara .. I’m not that keen on donate buttons .. probably they’re alright if that’s all the advertising there is on a page – but I agree with both Davina’s and Kelvin’s comments – Kelvin’s particularly .. not to say I’ve gone that route yet (creative commons) – but I can see that logic.

    On the other hand there are some quite big blogs with ‘donate here’ on them .. with valuable information and acknowledged by the industry .. I’d be happy to donate there.

    Yet if I had the extra .. I’d be supporting my friends too .. I have bought some books though .. it’ll be interesting to read others’ comments …cheers Hilary
    Check out Hilary’s awesome post.Content is King – is it not How about Passion My Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Hilary,

      I hear you. Oftentimes when we do have extra money, we need to take care of those in our real life first. Online there’s so much we can find for free, so even if we can’t donate, with blogs we’re able to link to them and hopefully put their “works” in front of others and help get their name “out there”.

  4. I’ve donated a couple of times to plugins that I really liked.
    Check out Vered | Blogger for Hire’s awesome post.Reason 954-832 We’re Getting FatMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Vered,

      Yes. Plugin authors need to be commended and compensated; especially when they continually update the plugins so they continue to work with each update of a blog platform.

  5. AnnaNo Gravatar says:

    Well, I don’t like asking for anything, even donation. But in general I like the idea of having a button ‘Buy me a coffee’ (as I’m addicted to coffee).
    I guess I should consider this matter and have the following plug in installed in my blog. Thanks.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Anna,

      Like you, I don’t like asking for “things” and I certainly don’t expect to be paid for what I put online. But like you said, a “Buy me a coffee” button would be less intimidating and maybe nudge someone to donate if they’ve benefited from what we’ve shared or given away.

  6. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    My first year of blogging I donated to a number of blogs through their buttons of preference. I have a donate button and when I was in really awful shape a number of people did make donations which truly helped me get over a steep hill….My book reviews used to bring in enough money to support my blog, but then the rules changed and now it is not so good.

    My profession involves a great deal of fund raising and wow can I do that for others, but I feel like I am begging when I try to do it for myself.

    I try to think of it as though one is subscribing to a paperless, green magazine, which those cost quite a bit each year. I do tell folks that if they purchase the book off my site I will get a few beans in my bucket.
    My Dentist buys all her books off my site – she is a sweetheart and does my teeth up just fine – that is how we shake hands!
    Check out Patricia’s awesome post.Carbon FastMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Patricia,

      That’s a good idea; to tell our friends if they purchase off of our sites (if we review books, or…) that we’ll make a little bit of money. It doesn’t cost them anymore, but we’re able to earn a little from the “supplier”.

  7. suzenNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara! I donate all the time to causes – but on websites like Institute for Responsible Technology and the like. The only blog I ever donated to was Beth Mancuso’s Manic Mother two years ago when her little boy was diagnosed with cancer. There was quite a fund raising effort for their family. Other than that, I’ve not even noticed any donate buttons which is either a DUH on me or I don’t get “out” much anymore! :)
    hugs
    suZen
    Check out suzen’s awesome post.Emotional Eating and the Unconscious ShovelMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Suzen,

      I don’t think you’re blind to the donate buttons. From what I see, most bloggers don’t put them in conspicuous places. :)

      ((hugs)) to you, too.

  8. ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    I have not used a donate button on my blog in the past since I thought it was a bit cheesy. But I love the “Buy me a coffee” idea — it implies that the author is not asking for much but allows the reader to show their appreciation in a meaningful way.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Chuck,

      That’s true. Having a “Buy me a coffee” button is a lot less cheesy than a donate button. Although a lot of folk may not use it, it may be just what’s needed to nudge someone to say “thank you” in a monetary way.

  9. Keith DavisNo Gravatar says:

    Like the phrase “greedy or needy” might use that sometime Barbara.
    My guess is that they don’t work.

    How many plugins are we all using that have a donate button on the developer’s site?
    Lots – but how many of us donate?

    Confession time.
    I have donated to one person on the web via their donate button.
    One!

    Interested to know how many your commenters have donated to.
    Check out Keith Davis’s awesome post.Great Speeches in FilmsMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Keith,

      I agree. There’s a lot of donate buttons on developer’s sites. Although many of us may not donate, I’m guessing it’s just like page views – the more people who see it, the more money they “could” receive. (Good tactic, actually).

  10. Angel CameoNo Gravatar says:

    I have donated to certain sites that offered services for the donations they received but I have never and probably never will donate to a blog with just information on it. I don’t know maybe my wings might be on too tight or I just haven’t come across a blog I felt was worthy enough to give up my money for? I have to add your blog is very professional.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Angel,

      I think that’s pretty common; to donate for a “free” product or service but not for something that’s written in a blog post, even if it’s a fabulous find. I think we’ve gotten accustomed to believing if it’s online, it’s free.

  11. BestNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve seen those buttons in a few places but never considered putting in on my pages because I would feel like a beggar. Does that make any sense to you? Buy me a coffee seems a little bit more classy though and does not give out the starving artist or bum feel. Buy me a beer seems pretty cool as well. LOL
    Check out Best’s awesome post.Where can I buy electronic cigarettesMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Best,

      I know what you’re saying. A donate button can make us feel like a beggar, however I don’t think they can hurt – considering how some may “want” to contribute, but don’t know how. Like you, I also think a “buy me a coffee or beer” button appears to give a different message.

  12. AliciaNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve never considered putting a donate button on my blog, but have donated to sites that I frequently visit. In my line of work, I have not seen any websites that have a donate button…but do you think it is appropriate for business or professional services blogs to have a donate button?

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Alicia,

      As for donate buttons on professional or business sites, I think they would look rather tacky and could take away from the professionalism a site owner is trying to project.

  13. [...] Panhandling In Blogosphere | Blogging Without A Blog [...]

  14. Alien GhostNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    I don’t have a donate button or page in my blog, and don’t think I will add one in the future.

    My opinion is that it’ll bother people coming to my blog while not giving me more than to pay for the DNS once a year.

    If I don’t eat out once a year I’ll save the same amount and there’ll be no need to bother myself with the plug-in and bothering readers with the “guilt” of not donating. Everything is free and everybody is happy.

    It is the same reason why I don’t have ads in my blog. Just not eating out once a year will pay for my blogging costs that same amount of time.

    Raul
    Check out Alien Ghost’s awesome post.Back to the NetMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Raul,

      You’ve raised a good point. A donate button can make others feel guilty for not donating, and could even result in lost readers. In that case, a donate button could backfire.

  15. KenNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    I don’t personally use a donate button on any of my sites but when I see one it’s actually disarming to me. I don’t see the author as blatantly asking me to fork all of my hard earned dollars over to them instead I see the author giving the reader a choice of whether they want to contribute money and more importantly than that it’s the reader’s choice as to how much they want to donate. It makes the reader feel like they’re in control of the situation (which in reality they are) and to me that’s very important. I don’t know this for sure because like I said I don’t use a donate button but it seems to me like this method would be more effective.
    Check out Ken’s awesome post.Final Fantasy 14 Guide- UpdatedMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Ken,

      True. Readers do have a choice to donate or not. It’s really no different than when we see a “donate” jar on the counter of a convenience store where they’re trying to raise money for a cause. We can either drop a few coins or ignore it.

  16. Hi Barbara,
    I think the donate button is okay, if the blog does not have advertisements in it but if it does it really does seem like being too greedy.
    Even though I wonder do donate buttons really work. I really do not see many people would donate for a written content no matter how good the content is. Well, If the reader is very very close to you then maybe they may donate but that too they won’t until and unless you ask them to.
    Check out Shiva @ Money Making Ideas’s awesome post.How To Improve Alexa RankingMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Shiva,

      That’s true. If a blog is filled with ads AND a donate button, it does give a “greedy” appearance. Although bloggers are looking for ways to make money online, asking for donations may not be an easy route to go.

  17. ProxylandNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara, I don’t have a donate button on my sites. But, I love with your idea about “Buy me a coffee”
    Check out Proxyland’s awesome post.Al-Maisan Android 22 Froyo Arabic ROMMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Proxyland,

      From what the other commenters are saying, like you, they also prefer a “buy me a coffee” button over a donate badge.

  18. I have a “Donate” button which is used if the person wants to order an Intuitive Session from me. The only reason that it says “Donate” is that I suggest a minimum amount. I do not have a set charge.

    Someone contacted me and asked if I would forward a donation to a person I wrote about – a woman who privately funds an orphanage in Kenya. I directed her to the person, of course, but that was the only time anyone has wanted to make a “donation” for any reason other than a reading.

    I do not and would not expect anyone to make a donation simply for reading my blog.
    Check out Amy@ Soul Dipper’s awesome post.The Secret to Why Men Don’t Ask for DirectionsMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Amy,

      Like you, I don’t expect my readers to donate to me for what I share in my blogs. To me, blogging is such a joy, I happily do it for free. :)

  19. I include a donate page on some of my blogs and am always grateful for those who have used it but…I don’t expect my visitors to make a contribution. – Although it sounds daft, I have never thought of that… do people often ‘buy you a coffee’?

    I read on and found “But the question is, do they work?” no need to answer my earlier question!

    Do you use a donate page or widget on your blog? If so, are readers using it? – I don’t, so no.

    Do you, or would you donate to a blog, plugin or theme author? – Currently, no, but in the future I may well do.

    Or do you view a donate button/badge as a form of panhandling and ignore them? – Currently yes. If you want to charge me to read your blog, make me pay on entry. Similarly if you want to charge me to use your theme/plugin, make me pay. I would consider donating to outstanding plugins, but I have only found very good plugins so far :-)
    Check out Christopher Roberts’s awesome post.Thought for the day 4th of MarchMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Christopher,

      That’s a good point. If a blogger expects to be paid for their content, then they need to state and set up an “entry page” where they collect money prior to letting visitors read their material. Although I’ve heard these types of sites can be profitable, chances are, with a little bit of research the information they share could also be found online for free.

  20. Tony HurleyNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara, I do use a donate page on my blog but have made it my policy to use that to collect donations for a cause I believe in. This way it’s a win win for everyone.
    Check out Tony Hurley’s awesome post.How To Throw a Wine and Cheese PartyMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Tony,

      That’s a fabulous idea. Like you said, it’s a win-win and the money goes for a good cause.

  21. John HoffNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara… remember me ;-)

    Yes I’ve used the tip thing on my blogs before, but have achieved little success as far as tips go.

    One of my blogs is a video tutorials blog and about a year ago someone tipped me $5. I tried placing it in various places on the site, none really worked.

    I also tried using an Amazon Wishlist so people could buy me a “gift” rather than just send money, never had anyone buy me anything.

    It’s okay though, like you said, it’s blogging and it’s free. If I wanted to make money from that video or article, I’d of charged for it in the first place.

    Today’s world is all about FREE content. What people pay for is access.

  22. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    John, how could I forget you? :)

    It’s good to see you. You know, I often wondered if the Amazon Wishlist worked. You’ve answered my question.

    What I like is, even though we blog for free, what we can accomplish by having a blog is priceless. It not only becomes an online resume, but we get to meet wonderful folk plus can use our blog as a stepping stone to an online (or offline) business. The possibilities are only limited by our imaginations.

  23. MeganNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    I was just looking at the “Buy me a coffee/beer” plugin for WordPress and I was wondering how effective it would be. Reading through a few reviews I see mixed results. I guess it can’t hurt to test it out and see what happens.

    As for whether or not I have donated to a site…yes, specifically when they were giving away a free plugin or script. Not sure if I’ve done so for a blogger but I suppose I would if the content was valuable enough to me.

  24. Hi Barbara,

    I have never used a donate button on my blog, but I have seen them around and think they’re a nice idea. However, for my own blog, I’m not so sure that I’d ever use one.

    While donations do seem like a good exchange for the blogger’s time, energy, and knowledge, for myself I’d just feel more comfortable actually selling a product rather than asking for donations.

    Rather than asking people to dictate what they think I’m worth, I prefer resenting the confidence to tell people what I know I’m worth.

    Delena
    Check out Delena Silverfox’s awesome post.epc BelfastMy Profile

  25. Hi Barbra, i have a friend who runs a popular personal development website. He has his own e-book and accepts donations. He told me he gets around $200-$300 a month in donations and it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

    I think it really comes down to how well you connect with your audience or if you evoke some kind of change. I know if i read something that allows me to substantially change my life for the better i am definitely likely to donate money to that person.

    Great post, good luck with your blog.

  26. TrudyNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with Bingo Babe (nice name) on this one. Too many times people overlook the actual connection with their readers/clients etc. The principle of giving to receive will never go out of style. Thats my .02 cents anyway.
    Check out Trudy’s awesome post.backlinks seoMy Profile