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Why I think Flattr is awesome for Webcomics

Flattr - Easy donations, tips and micropaymentsSo. Flattr. You are probably wondering “Flat-err-WHAT?!” having never heard of this thing. I only heard about it last week.  It was released in 2010 so it’s relatively new – less than a year old in fact, and still in beta. Nonetheless I am going to use my powers of prediction to foresee Flattr as a success – at least for webcomics!

I have a webcomic (Coo! You don’t say!) and with it terrific fans – in fact I’d go so far as to say the whole webcomics community is terrific. Fans and creators alike want to see the comics they love thrive and are incredibly supportive (and since you’re reading this I’ll take this opportunity to say, a little tearfully, Thanks Guys!) Yet, despite all this, only a small minority will send a donation. Don’t feel guilty – I have never donated myself. Sometimes I’ve hovered over the PayPal button, occassionally clicked, but gone through with it? Never.  Here’s why:

Tip or Donation JarI have to log in, or fill out my credit card details or whatever. I have to decide how much to give, and I’m not sure whether that should be a lot or a little. If it’s a little is it really worth giving at all? I don’t want to appear stingy and I chat to the creator online so they probably know me. This isn’t anonymous, it’s a payment and somewhere between feeling generous and clicking that button it suddenly seems like a Big Deal. Why am I donating anyway? I don’t have to. The creator’s still going to make comics anyway; I’m not getting anything extra. And PayPal will take their share. Not worth it for a dollar, and ten? Why don’t I just go to their store and but a book? Or wait til they have a book. Do I really want a book?

So I don’t go through with it. It’s possible I’m unusually miserly (I’m not apologising; I’m poor) but I’m sure I speak to other peoples experiences. So what’s the solution?

Flattr – which makes tipping creators as easy as hitting the LIKE button on Facebook.

This is how it works: You create a Flattr account and pay a monthly fee, which can be as little as $2 – call it a donation kitty. The money in the kitty is shared between creators you like, and you like them by clicking the Flattr button. If you want someone to get a larger share hit that button a few times more. At the end of the month the pot is divided between all the things you liked: If you liked lots of content created by one person they’ll get more, otherwise it is equal. The creators of Flattr don’t take a cut (unless you Flattr Flattr) and if you don’t Flattr anything your money goes to charity!

Hmm, I’m not sure if I explained that very well, fortunately there’s a video (with a cake analogy! Mmm cake):

Personally I think it’s great! Just what we need to make donating easy. I know some people might be put off at potentially spending $24 a year, but it’s prepay not subscription. If you don’t want any more going out just don’t add any more funds! And as miserly as I am even I think $24 doesn’t sound too bad. It’s good to give and in my opinion this is better than subscribing to one charity because you have more control; that money can go to different charities each month or other deserving people who you like. Personally I see it as the opportunity to be generous without getting out of pocket (see? Miserly again)! The name Flattr is a combination of FLATTERY and FLAT-RATE. The fee never goes up no matter how much content you like, it only comes out of the pot: $2 or whatever you can spare to spread the love.

I’ve signed up. Unfortunately a lot of the creators I like haven’t yet, but if/when they do I’ll be Flattring them. In the meantime Green Peace gets it. (Now, now. Don’t start flaming about Green Peace). The Flattr website also acts a bit like StumbleUpon allowing you to discover new sites you might like. There’s also an option to suggest sites.

Finally, (you’ve been waiting for it) if you enjoyed this article would you mind…?

[flattr /] 😉

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