How to Get One-off Payments in Substack

Karen Cherry
3 min readJul 24, 2022

Tip Jars and Buy-me-a-Coffee options for Substack Authors

Image: Josh Appel on Unsplash

If you want to start a paid month-by-month subscription service, Substack makes it easy.

But if your readers are commitment-phobes, who don’t want to sign up for an on-going subscription, then a one-off payment option is a great idea. With a one-off payment you can get some dollars into your pocket without begging for sign-ups.

What are tip jars and coffee donations?

A tip jar is just a fancy way of saying “a place you can drop a few dollars to say thanks for being awesome

A buy-me-a-coffee tool is just like a tip jar, it’s a way to ask for one-off payments and donations.

Tip jars and buy-me-coffee tools are different to Patreon. Patreon does not support one-off payments. Patreon demands that donors commit to paying a monthly amount, it can’t be used to collect tips or single payments.

Tools for one-off payments*


PayPal is probably the easiest way to set up a tip jar. It also provides a beautifully frictionless way for people to pay. With PayPal, your fans can pay with their PayPal account AND — for those who don’t have a PayPal account — they can pay with a credit card using the ultra-secure PayPal gateway. Perfect!

To use PayPal to collect tips, first create a PayPal donation button from within your PayPal account. Get the link from the PayPal donation button. Then, use that PayPal link in a custom button in Substack. When a reader clicks your custom button, they will be directed to your PayPal donation page.

To ask your readers for a tip, add the custom button to your Substack posts and emails.


With Ko-Fi you can set up an account to start accepting money immediately.

After set up, get your personal Ko-Fi link, and add it to Substack posts or emails. You can also use the link as the destination in a Substack custom button.

Get a Ko-Fi account here:

Buy Me a Coffee



Karen Cherry

Substack writer. Secret tree hugger. Aussie business owner with >$13K revenue on Substack. Refusing to dumb it down.