How to Set Up Payment Plans & Subscription Orders Using PayPal


Getting paid up front is ideal for any business. No one likes to wait for checks, chase checks, or deal with problems resulting from check payments. Credit cards are quick, and payment plans that auto-bill can be set up on them which saves you time and helps make collecting money easier and faster.

No matter what industry or niche your business is in, you can set up an auto-payment plan that bills your customers or clients in advance and up front. This way, you don't need to invoice or bill each month or week, and the payment just goes through as a sales receipt! Of course, if you are in the service-industry world, I highly recommend sending your clients a report of work that was completed for their retainer or job contracted with you, but that's another story for another day.

Here's where we can get creative with payment plans that are automatically billed, and even call them "Subscriptions":

  • Classes, such as pottery, music, or any type of class where the students or clients sign up on a regular basis. Auto-billing could be offered as a discount.
  • Subscriptions to your favorite food, like perfect granola, specialty brownies, divine chocolate, hand baked bread, spreadable cheese. All of these items get used up in your customer's cupboard, so why not save them the trip of firing up their computer, finding their credit card, and placing another order? Shouldn't chocolate just show up in the mail on the 15th of each month? YES.
  • Coaching or Consulting Services: Why not set up regularly occurring weekly or monthly appointments?  This makes it easier for you, and for your clients to commit and make payments.

If you have fancy website this is do-able, but may involve a little programming wizardry from your programmer or web team. And setting up a subscription payment via your fancy website is ideal. It's the most branded solution and you keep your customer data the way you want it.

If you were on a budget and needed to bootstrap the creation of a subscription payment, here's how you can do it via PayPal:

Upgrade to PayPal Payments Pro.
You can of course have a "free" PayPal account, where you only pay for transaction fees. But upgrading gives you added benefits, like sending a branded invoice, and building these payment subscription buttons. Click here for details on upgrading to PayPal Payments Pro.

Visit the My Buttons Area.

My Buttons for Subscriptions and Auto Payments

NOTE: These screenshots are from my PayPal account, and it's a really old interface. You will most likely have PayPal's more modern interface, but the wording of the navigation may be the same.

You'll see a "My Saved Buttons" link. Click it. It will take you to all of your payment links. You can also store payment links for specific amounts, like a flat fee for a service that you need to send someone via email. They click the link in the email, and are brought to a screen where they can input their credit card through the secure transactor of PayPal.

Create a New Button.

My Saved PayPal Buttons List for Subscriptions

The next screen shows you your list of buttons (if you've created some already). This will include one-time-payment links, as well as any subscriptions you offer. For my digital marketing brand, I've created payment links for clients to click on to start a new project. No time to wait for delayed payments! This way, everyone is on the same page. For service-industry folks, it's best if you have a "one-sheet" PDF that explains what the service includes, if not already presented on your website pages. If you don't have a website, and only send people PDFs, you can place this link right into your PDF, and a potential client can click from a PDF.

To the right, click on the "Create New Button" link. If you already have a payment link and you want to duplicate it, click on the "Action" tab with the down arrow, and select "Create similar button".

Now Comes the FUN Part! Create Your Subscription Offering!
Hook these folks up to your chocolate!! Or whatever is the amazing offering you sell. From this payment plan screen, you can write in different names for your subscription plans. See how I've done it in my plans, like for this SEO Audit Strategy. From the drop-down area, you'll see where you can write in text, like:

  • 1 per month $45/month
  • I'm Hooked! $15/week

Write whatever works for your business personality, but is also very clear to your customer.

If you are extra tech-savvy, you can custom design your own buy button. You'll need to click under "Customize button" area, click "Customize text or appearance". From there, you'll be able to paste the URL to where your custom designed button lives. You will need to upload it to your server.
CHEAT HINT: If you don't have access to your server, but if you have a blog on WordPress or Blogger, you can upload your photo to your blog, then right click on it, View it in another window, and copy the URL from there!

Mine looks like this:

Alright, you have your bootstrapping method for creating professional looking payment plan buttons that your customers can feel secure in hooking up to!

Getting paid just got a whole lot easier.