Paid Subscriptions

Whether you’d like to set up a formal paid subscription program or a fluid pay-as-you-wish model, Buttondown offers a number of different ways to collect revenue from your subscribers—while also rewarding them with exclusive perks!

Getting Started

To jump-start your paid newsletter, you’ll need:

  • A Stripe account. Don’t worry if you don’t have one yet—our integration guide will help you to get your account up and running!

  • A paid Buttondown account, starting at our "Basic" tier. Buttondown keeps the lights on by charging for premium tools like "Paid Subscriptions." This business model not only incentivizes us to create the best writing tool possible, but it also means that we’ll never need to take a cut of your hard-won newsletter earnings.

Got it? Good! Now let’s dive in.

Setting Up a Paid Subscription Model

So you’re thinking of switching your newsletter from a free subscription model to a paid one. Here’s what you need to know about Buttondown’s default settings for paid newsletters:

  • Paid subscriptions will automatically renew at the end of your designated billing cycle, whether that’s once a month or once a year. This spares your subscribers from having to manually renew their subscriptions—while also generating more revenue for you!

  • If you’re a subscriber and you decide that you no longer want to receive a paid newsletter, simply click "Unsubscribe" as you would with any other newsletter. Pro tip: You can downgrade your subscription by unsubscribing and then re-subscribing for free.

While these practices are defaults in Buttondown, you can always alter your payment settings in Stripe.

Integrate Buttondown with Stripe

Buttondown works hand in hand with Stripe to automate payments and taxes related to your newsletter. We’ve even built a shortcut right into the "Paid Subscriptions" section of your Buttondown settings.

Looking for a step-by-step guide to help you activate your Stripe account? We’ve got you covered!

Add a paid subscription plan

Once you’ve integrated your Buttondown and Stripe accounts, head back to your Buttondown settings—specifically your "Paid Subscriptions" section. This section may look a little different now that it’s connected to your Stripe account. For starters, a button marked "Enable Paid Subscriptions" should have appeared. Click that button to allow paid subscriptions. (And don’t forget to save changes!)

At this point, you can also choose to prohibit free subscriptions. This means that subscribers will not be able to access your newsletter or archives without opting in to your paid subscription plan. Don’t worry—you can change this setting at any time!

After you’re happy with your "Paid Subscriptions" settings, click the "Add Plan" button. You’ll be greeted by a pop-up that will prompt you to choose your subscription style, price, currency, and cadence (a.k.a. billing cycle).

For a paid newsletter, let's go with the "Fixed" style. Alternatively, if you'd rather set up a pay-as-you-wish model, skip down to that section below.

Hop back over to Stripe and toggle to your "Payments" page. Here, you’ll be able to create your very own payment link using one of Stripe’s many no-code, low-code, or custom checkout pages. For simplicity’s sake, let’s use the no-code checkout page.

First, make sure that your checkout "Type" is set to "Products or Subscriptions." Then add a new "Product" by filling in the name, description, price, and billing cycle for your newsletter. Last, but not least, double check that your selections match your paid subscription plan settings in Buttondown. If everything looks good, go ahead and publish your payment link!

Once you publish your payment link, you’ll have the option to share it as a URL, send it as a QR code, or configure it as a "Subscribe" button for your website, blog, or newsletter landing page. Time to choose your own adventure!

If you prefer working with URLs, copy your payment link URL and format it as a hyperlink using either Markdown or HTML.

Want to go the QR code route? Download your QR code from Stripe and insert it into your webpage as an image.

Finally, if you’d like to create a "Subscribe" button, copy Stripe’s code snippet and paste it into your webpage. Be mindful that the code’s spacing may not carry over correctly; you may need to manually remove any erroneous line breaks.

And there you have it! Choose whichever payment link adventure your heart desires.

Customize your paid subscription confirmation

Offer your paid subscribers a warm welcome by writing a custom confirmation email in your Buttondown "Lifecycle Settings."

Subscribers will receive your email when they opt in to your paid newsletter.

Send your first paid email

Now’s your time to shine! Send your very first paid email by toggling to the "Recipients" button in your Buttondown writing interface. From here, select "Premium" to limit your email recipients to paid subscribers.

After you send your email off, it’s time to kick back, relax, and start collecting your hard-earned newsletter revenue.

Offering Perks for Paid Subscribers

Looking for incentives to draw in more paid subscribers? These premium features are a great way to win them over!

Share your paid newsletter archive

Did you know that you can reward paid subscribers by giving them VIP access to your newsletter archives? There are two ways to go about this: Using shortcode or inviting subscribers manually.

If shortcode’s your style, use this code snippet to generate a unique-per-subscriber link to your newsletter archive:


Buttondown automatically includes an extended version of this shortcode to the footer of your paid newsletter emails. The additional code ensures that your archives link will only appear in your emails to paid subscribers.

{% if subscriber.subscriber_type == "premium" %} You can always view your full archives [here]({{premium_archive_url}}). {% endif %}**

You can always edit your footer in the "Scaffolding" section of your Buttondown settings. Here’s what that process looks like.

And here’s how that code will translate to your email footer.

If code's not your thing, we’ve got a shortcut. Start by venturing to your "Subscribers" page in Buttondown and clicking any given paid subscribers’ email address. Then select the "Archives" button from the menu that pops up. This button will generate a link that you can use to manually invite that subscriber.

One last thing: No matter the method you choose to share your paid newsletter archives, the link will expire when a subscriber’s paid subscription lapses. One less thing for you to worry about!

Offer free trials

Want to give prospective subscribers a sneak peek of your paid content? You can do that through Stripe by editing an existing payment link or creating a new payment link. Either way, check the box to "Include a Free Trial" in your payment link editor.

This setting will allow all prospective subscribers to register for a free trial. If you'd rather only offer discounted content to a select few subscribers, we recommend sending promo codes.

Send promo codes

The Buttondown team is happy to help you create and send manual promo codes for discount subscriptions. Reach out to us at, and we’ll get your promo code set up ASAP.

However, it’s also possible (and likely faster) to create promo codes through Stripe. You can do that by clicking "Allow Promotion Codes" in the advanced settings of your payment link editor.

We recommend following along with Stripe’s "Discounts For Subscriptions" doc for more information about creating and applying promo codes.

Give gift subscriptions

It’s someone’s lucky day! If you’d like to give a gift newsletter subscription to any friend, family member, or subscriber, go to your "Subscribers" page in Buttondown and click the three dots to the right of their email address. Then select "Gift" from the resulting drop-down menu.

Your recipient will get a notification via email once the gift subscription goes through. Should you wish to rescind the gift subscription—yikes!—then return to the drop-down menu and click "Ungift."

Setting Up a Free Subscription Model With Paid Features

There are several ways to earn money for your newsletter without charging paid subscriptions. Talk about the best of both worlds, right?

Send both paid and free newsletters

Buttondown lets you specify whether emails go to all your subscribers or just your paid subscribers. You can categorize emails as either "Premium" or "Free" by clicking the "Recipients" button in your Buttondown writing interface. By sending both kinds of emails, you can create a loose approximation of "Paid" and "Free" subscription tiers.

Offer a pay-as-you-wish model

The beauty of the pay-as-you-wish model is that it encourages subscribers to support your writing without limiting their access to your content. To set up a pay-as-you-wish model, you need to go through both Buttondown and Stripe.

In Buttondown, toggle to the "Paid Subscriptions" section of your settings and click the "Add Plan" button. Here, choose a "Pay What You Want" subscription style. By choosing this style, you’ll have the option to leave your subscription price blank or request a minimum price for subscribers to pay each billing cycle.

Next, jump over to Stripe. Here, you can create a pay-as-you-wish payment link by changing your payment link "Type" to "Customers Choose What They Pay." You’ll also have the chance to add a suggested one-time payment amount. As always, don't forget to double check that your Stripe and Buttondown settings match before you publish your payment link!

Curious to learn more about setting up and customizing your payments using a pay-as-you-wish model? We recommend Stripe’s doc on "Letting Customers Choose What to Pay."