Micro-Transaction Your Blog with Paypal

Get paid with PayPal’s new microtransactions feature.

On October 26, PayPal announced that it would begin offering micropayment rates to merchants at the PayPal X Innovate Conference 2010.  The concept of microtransactions isn’t new but because of PayPal’s position in the industry, their announcement presents a new opportunity for virtual goods merchants.  Paypal defines micro-purchases as those less than or equal to $12.  For example, in the past, merchants paid $.33 for a $1.00 transaction and now they only have to pay $.10.  In the virtual world of Second Life, an entire economy functions with micropayments and on the World Wide Web, e-commerce will flourish far more effectively when a microtransaction based economy is properly insituted.

Enabling micropayments on your blog in 6 easy steps

Getting started with accepting micropayments through your blog can be accomplished by executing the 6 steps below and I will go over each of them in more detail in subsequent paragraphs.

  1. Get a new paypal account or convert your pre-existing account to one that supports micropayments
  2. Log on to your blog
  3. Search google for a video tutorial (often found at your blog issuer’s site or youtube)
  4. Generate html code at paypal
  5. Create a customized button with wikipedia photos and photoshop (and/or use the standard button)
  6. Paste the button code into your blog

Paypal account

Establishing an account is simply a matter of providing PayPal with some basic information and if you already have an account, it takes two business days to have it converted to the micropayment system.  There are two types of accounts, Premium and Business that accept micropayments and both are merchants accounts.  A Premium account is free and a Business account has a $30/mo subscription rate.  Since I will have a fairly low sales volume and intend to manage the account myself, I went with the premium account.  You can read about both accounts on www.paypal.com website and make your own choice.  They do a nice job of comparing the two and have lots of informative videos but in addition, I googled “premium versus business account” to see what other information I could find.  It’s nice to get two different perspectives.

Log on to your blog

My blog is written with a WordPress content management system because it’s easy to use, SEO friendly and free.  Since I want to own my domain www.virtualworldblog.com, I installed the wordpress software independently on my own host.  I’m careful to differentiate information that pertains to WordPress blogs that are independently hosted.

Video Tutorial

WordPress is well supported by it’s community which means that I can find information and tutorials from WordPress sources and/or by simply searching on the Web.  Although I often find tutorials on youtube, in this case I was able to find one on the wordpress website via google.  If your blog is not independently installed, there is a separate tutorial video.  Tutorials for most major blog issuers can be found on youtube.

Generate the HTML Button Code at PayPal

Go to the Merchant Services section of the Paypal website and then Create Buttons.  For the Donate button there are 3 steps to follow.

Create a customized button with wikipedia photos and photoshop

You have the option of creating a button from a photo, icon or some other image.  You can also create a standard orange button that is universally recognized as a paypal button and includes the logos of various accepted credit cards.  I chose to do both.  I like to give people options so they will find the one that is easiest and most comfortable.

The custom button I created is designed with a familiar image that helps the reader make a connection between the donation and it’s impact.  I chose a loaf of bread and the caption, “feed the writer” because it conveys my message simply and in a concrete way that is serious and humorous at the same time.  I found the image at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page and reduced it’s size using Photoshop.  I made several different sizes of the photo and uploaded them to the blog so I had a few options to work with.

Go to the media library in your blog (or wherever your photos are stored) and after selecting the photo, press view.  Right click on the image and select properties.  In the properties section select and copy the photo URL.

Assuming your session with PayPal has expired, log back in. Navigate your way back through Merchant Services and Create Buttons.  Paste the URL into the Use Your Own Button dialog box and press save.  The photo is referenced by the HTML code which you can then paste into your blog.

Paste the HTML Code into Your Blog

After selecting and copying the HTML code from PayPal, go to the Settings/Widgets section of the blog control panel.  Since I wanted to locate the button in the blog footer, I pasted the code into a textbox that I had dragged into a footer dialog box.  Direct the reader to take action with a textbox title that is clear and succinct.  Once those steps are complete you can refresh the browser to see your button revealed in the blog.  Congratulations, your blog is now ready to accept micropayments!

-Anastasios Aurotharius


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