16 May 2011

Will FLATTRy Get You Anywhere?

Courtesy Kevin MacPhail

Blogging can both be an exhilarating and excruciating endeavor.  While it is wonderful to share your perspective with the world, developing a quality product can be time consuming with virtually no renumeration for your blood, sweat and tears.

Some bloggers compensate for the time benefit analysis by posting lots of web ads on their blog. Granted some of the bigger blogs seem more like information age newspapers and merit the ads. But many beginners buy into the get rich quick internet illusion and succumb to commercialization, only to clutter their pages to unreadable eyesores or living with commercial content that is counter to the creator’s worldview.

I have also seen “Tip Jars”, but based upon the begging that I have read on some site, they seem just as empty as the counter clutter at most Starbucks.

However, it was called to my attention that there is a Swedish startup called “FLATTR” which presents itself as Social Micropayment system.  Basically, a subscriber willingly designates a flat monthly allowance to reward good providers of internet content.  The FLATTR subscriber essentially likes websites and the sum total (minus 10% administration charges) is spit equally amongst all liked websites.  If the pie is split into a thousand pieces, the net payout to each provider may be minuscule, but as they say in Swedish “Many small streams will form a river”.  If no websites are rewarded, then the money defaults to “charity”.

Online News has truly become mainstream since last year when “The Daily Beast” bought Newsweek, the venerable weekly news magazine.  Earlier this year, AOL bought “The Huffington Post” for $300 million. This shows how blogs have in some ways surpassed dead tree editions and that their content is valued.

However, I am skeptical how well efforts to pay for content or push subscriptions will work.  Paywalls have worked for websites with unique content and loyal audiences, such as The Wall Street Journal, and Excellence In Broadcasting.  But when the New York Times made a second attempt to prod people into subscribing after a reading a score of articles, these pieces seemed much less appealing.

It remains to be seen if bloggers and other content creators will be sufficiently FLATTRed. The decision to partner with Twitter to allow donations to Twitter users who have not registered with FLATTR gives it a fighting chance. But there are many skeletons that clutter the pathway to internet micropayment success.

In general, would you be willing to reward websites for outstanding content? If so, how much would you earmark each month? And how many pieces would you “like” each month? Inquiring minds would like to know.

H/T: http://kmacphail.blogspot.com/2011/05/flattr-twitter-logo.html


Jim said...

It is the logical progression of FaceBook's "Like" button.

Freeloaders will be freeloaders. But for people who realize quality content deserves a pat-on-the-back and an occassional drink on the house, then it makes great sense to have a system available to do this (micropayments for content) with.

I can see it becoming the custom in a few years to have $5 (or $10) a month out for $-Likes. The only question is whether it will be Flattr or another system.

El Barroco said...

Standardizing a voluntary Social Micropayment system is tricky. Paypal gained credence as being attached to E-bay while other internet payment systems floundered.

A tip jar is a kindness, but if it makes one's blog professional (and open for taxation ala Philadelphia http://tiny.cc/dshze), is it really worth $5 of "likes" a month?

The article will help with the cost/benefit analysis.