Friday, February 6, 2015

Now Working for Tips

I'm trying something new this week. In the past, you may have read my posts about how I have no Bitcoins and how I lament the fact that the Internet is all advertisements.

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