Hey everybody! Remember this thing down here? The blog? Me neither, since I update it pretty infrequently. I’m considering getting a Tumblr blog, but I’m not sure what good that’ll do. Maybe I need to redesign again since I don’t like how the sidebar looks. It seems cluttered, and I need to get a link to my twitter put up (and maybe remove some old links to my LiveJournal and my Blogger, since the content is somewhat old and embarrassing). Maybe some more images would be helpful, to create a sort of unified design, and to hide the WordPressy look that I’ve grown to despise since it makes my comic look like all the other comics on the web.
What was I saying? Oh yeah, Flattr. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve recently put up a button that you can use to Flattr me. Basically, Flattr is a type of micro-donation system that, in a way, combines the Paypal donation button and the Digg button. When you get an account, you pay a small monthly fee of about 2 Euros or more (I ended up paying 3 dollars because of the exchange rate and since Paypal takes a cut of your transactions) and you go around and click on Flattr buttons of things you like and, at the end of the month, the money in your Flattr account is divided amongst the things you Flattred. Apparently, it’s been pretty effective, and some people are making more money off Flattr than they are off of ads.
For all of you comic nuts out there who’ve read any of Scott McCloud’s books like Understanding Comics and Making Comics, you may recognize the concept behind Flattr as micropayments, which is described in his less popular book Reinventing Comics. In Reinventing Comics, McCloud believed that a pay-as-you-go method of reading webcomics was a great idea (like paying a penny each time you want to read a new comic in the archive). Many creators rejected this method since they were doing so well off of T-shirt sales and believed that all web content should be free and accessible.
The reason that I find Flattr interesting enough to try is because it keeps content free but leaves the option of paying for content. Have you ever wanted an album but decided to buy it off iTunes instead of pirating it since you would have felt bad taking it from the creator? Or have you ever been in a bookstore and decided to buy a book that you know you’ll like because you’ve read it before and you’d like to own it? Keep in mind, Flattr is created by the same people who created Pirate Bay, a site where you can download free content.
With Flattr, I feel like its possible to accommodate both sides of the argument between free content and paid content. It keeps content accessible and you can receive payment for your content rather than for products that relate to your content. And the price is small enough that you can give to multiple creators that you like without breaking the bank.
It is important to be realistic, of course. A lot of people can’t afford to pay for content, and many people just don’t want to pay at all. And it’s not like Paypal donation buttons are anything new. People still want something for their money. Sure, the price for Flattr is low, but how many people really want to go through the hassle of setting up an account? And even with an account, Flattr buttons are mostly on German and other European sites, and browser translations aren’t perfect.
Still, I’m going to give it a shot. I like the idea, and it may catch on over here in North America. Plus, it may give my comic more European exposure, which would be nice.