I may have found a solution to both of those problems in ChangeTip. ChangeTip allows you to tip content creators on the Internet using Bitcoin. My comics have Facebook "Like" buttons on them, but liking a comic doesn't help me pay for the web server. With the ChangeTip "Tip" button, you can easily give me a dollar or two if you like my work.
Here's how I use it. I added the "Tip" button to the bottom of my comic page. When you click on it, a popup gives you the option to send me a tip out of your ChangeTip account or directly with Bitcoin. While you can tip in US dollar amounts, the tips are all converted to Bitcoins in my account.
|There's the tip jar.|
But there's more to this service than a Tip button. I haven't tried it yet, but you can also tip people via any social network just by mentioning both ChangeTip and the recipient in a post. For example, If you and I have both connected our Twitter accounts to ChangeTip, all you'd have to do in order to tip me $1 would be to tweet "hey @THECaseyLeonard, here's $1 @changetip" and I'd get a dollar's worth of bits from your ChangeTip account sent to mine. There's similar behavior on Facebook.
This seems like an interesting concept and, in my opinion, a good alternative to advertising as a way to make a few dollars as a content creator. My comic runs no ads, but my blog here does have some banners on it. In a good month, I'll earn maybe $2 from them. If people like just one or two comics per month enough to tip, I could easily replace that revenue.
The other benefit is that the money is more directly related to how people feel about the content I create. If I make $0.15 from an ad click here, it's not because someone really liked this blog post - it's because Google showed them an ad for something in which they were interested. If someone sends me a $0.15 tip, it's because they liked my blog post. The tip makes me feel better about the work I'm doing.
While I think the Tip button is a positive addition to my site, it is not perfect. It fits in nicely with the other social media buttons, but when you click on it the controls appear in a floating IFrame whereas the others typically use a separate pop-up window. I wouldn't mind that so much, except that it always expands down and right, which throws off the rest of the page - especially on mobile. Perhaps a mobile-optimized view would be in order.
I do feel a bit like the guy playing the saxophone in the subway station waiting for passers-by to toss change in a hat, but he and I have a lot in common I suppose. I guess I'll see what happens. It is a relatively new service, and my comic doesn't have a large readership, so I don't expect tips to start pouring in right away. Hopefully, though, the concept catches on and this service or one like it can usher in a new era of how the Internet is funded.
|Amphibian.com comic for 6 February 2015|