August 17, 2019

Want to thank me? Buy Me a Coffee.

You give people advice on Quora. You write a blog post to review something you’ve found useful. You do a quick video to show how to do something and save yourself the time of showing people how to do it over and over again. Or you even bake your next door neighbor a cake on their birthday. A lot of people just do nice things for others because, well—that’s what they do. If this is you, Buy Me a Coffee is an unobtrusive way for others to show their gratitude in return.

What is Buy Me a Coffee?

Buy Me a Coffee is essentially a tip service, but can be used as a mini-Kickstarter to fund small projects and even a way to sell your digital wares. If you have a following, it’s also a great way to understand who your most dedicated fans are. The way it works is:

  1. You do something nice for someone.
  2. They ask how they can repay you.
  3. You say “buy me a coffee”.
  4. Link them to your Buy Me a Coffee page.
  5. They can tip you as much as it would cost to buy you a joe.

Who’s using Buy Me a Coffee?

It’s code developers who help out novice coders on GitHub. It’s fan fiction writers who give away their books. It’s podcasters looking to pay for the bandwidth that keeps their show going. Mostly it’s people who are giving of their time and would love a little monetary encouragement in return. Your success will be based on how helpful you are, what content you provide and how many are in your fan base. (If you have three followers on YouTube, you really can’t expect much.)

Tips on getting the most out of Buy Me a Coffee.

Here are some pointers to get you started and successful on Buy Me a Coffee:

1. Choose an existing category, if possible.

Everyone who creates a Buy Me a Coffee account is automatically given the title of Artist in the “What do you do?” field. You’ll find a list of standard categories on the Explore Creators page. If you fall into one of these categories, choose it. If you’re a photographer, you want to let people know that. Just leaving your title as Artist or calling yourself something clever, like Supreme Painter of Light will make it harder for people to find you in search.

2. Price yourself accordingly.

Buy Me a Coffee has made pricing simple and tempting. You set your own price of $3, $4 or $5. These are all small asks, so going for $5 is certainly not outrageous.

3. Pay the credit card fee yourself.

Buy Me a Coffee costs you nothing up front and takes PayPal and Stripe. (It’s recommended you set up both so you make it easier for the grateful to pay.) There are transaction costs associated online money exchanges and one of the two parties, either you or your tipper, has to pay those. To me it seems ungracious to say: “Hey thanks for the $5, but could you also give me a few more dimes to cover processing?” The exception is if you’re using your tips to do social good. For example, every time someone buys you a coffee, you use all that money to feed animals at a local no-kill shelter. Supporters are more likely to pay the processing fee for that.

4. Enable monthly, only if you’re worth it.

Asking someone to give you money monthly is a huge request. Think about it: If they give the minimum $3 a month, that’s $36 a year. What you’re doing for them has a to be worth that. Monthly coffees are most useful for those that provide content or a service on a regular basis. If you do how-to videos, product reviews or podcast episodes, monthly support is fine, since supporters can get tangible results each month of what their support is going towards.

5. If you want money for something specific, set a goal.

A goal is like a mini-Kickstarter. If you want a goal to succeed, you need it to be a worthy one. It’s best not to make your goal a Fiji vacation. (If I haven’t been able to take a vacation in years, why would I pay for yours?) On the other hand, if you’re a developer, who’s helped out a lot of people on forums and was invited to speak at a conference or receive an award there, the goal of financing your trip could be a worthy one.

6. Make your goal honest.

If you’re a musician and trying to replace a guitar that was stollen and need $1,000, then it’s fine to set your goal at $1,000. You’re basing your request on a need and your supporters will be more likely to give.

Also, state things in tangible terms that are easy to grasp. If you’re a photographer who shares incredible photos and can’t afford to pay the $120-a-year subscription for Photoshop, you can set a goal for that. Explain that you only need two dozen coffees to hit your goal. Or if five people are kind enough to buy you five coffees, you’re there.

You can also use a goal as a mini-fundraisers for a cause you care about. For example, you could set a goal for February and give all money received to cancer research during National Cancer Awareness Month.

7. Offer them something in return.

Those you’ve done something for are more likely to buy you a coffee and expect nothing back. But you can develop a new following of people who get a little something in exchange for supporting you. If you’re a writer working on a new book, you can give them a copy in exchange for a coffee. If you’re a designer working on a 3D print creation, you can offer to send backers the creation in exchange for buying you five coffees.

8. Ask for something other than coffee.

You can change coffee to something that better fits your personality or something your followers will better relate to, like buying you a tea, a smoothie, ramen, a flower or beats. (Those are all real, by the way.)

If you’re shying away from Buy Me a Coffee because it seems like you’d be panhandling online, realize that’s not what this is about. If you do something nice for someone and they want to do a little more than saying thanks, Buy Me a Coffee can easily make that happen. If you don’t have a vehicle set up for people to show their gratitude with a tip, it’s very likely you’ll never get any.

So, did you find this article helpful? If you did or like my other articles, feel free to buy me a coffee. Thanks.

Why buy me a coffee? No third-party ads, no affiliate links, no tracking cookies. Just honest content. Thanks.


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