How do I create a customized PayPal payment button?

When I demonstrate how easy it is to add a PayPal button to your website, I’m commonly asked this question:

I want a button that matches the colors of my website. But PayPal only lets me have one color (yellow) and two text choices (“Buy Now” or “Pay Now”). Can’t I customize this somehow?

Why yes, yes you can. I’m about to show you how. And you don’t need to hire a designer or buy Photoshop to do it.

Here’s one of the basic PayPal buttons (it’s a real, working button for my Website Wish Kit):

You can change the size a bit, or remove the credit-card logos, but there’s not much customization available beyond those basic tweaks. So, what if the traditional PayPal golden-yellow clashes terribly with your website color scheme?

1. You head on over to a free button generator like CoolText (yes, it’s completely free). You play with colors, fonts, and size. You snag yourself a great button or three.

2. You save the button(s) to your computer with CoolText’s handy “download image” link, or right-clicking (on a Mac, Control-clicking) on each image and selecting “Save Image As” from the pop-up menu.

3. You give your button(s) a home online by uploading them to your WordPress Media Library, or if you don’t use WordPress, to a free service like Photobucket. Here’s Photobucket’s FAQ on “How do I upload an image?” Other free services include Flickr (owned by Yahoo) and Picasa (owned by Google).

4. You copy the unique URL (web address) of your button image, now that it’s got a permanent home. Here’s Photobucket’s tutorial on “Linking Basics” which shows you how to get the address (you want the option called “Direct Link.”

5. You log into your PayPal account and start creating a button (click on the blue “Merchant Services” tab at the top of the screen and then click either “buy now” or “add to cart” to get to the main button-generating screen).

6. You paste the URL that you copied in Step 4 into the field labeled “use your own button image” (you’ll have to click on “customize appearance” to see this option). Don’t worry if “buyer’s view” stays blank. It will still work.

Continue through PayPal’s button-generating process, and paste the HTML code into your website just as you would with any PayPal button. Here’s a real, working PayPal button that uses one of the custom designs I created with CoolText:

7. People visit your website and pay you! Of course, it helps to have something to sell, fans who visit your website, and clear language on your site that describes your offering…but this post is just about the buttons.

Go have fun creating buttons! But don’t let choosing the perfect font and color get in the way of installing that first button. If you need more help with PayPal, you can ask me a question or leave a comment here.