Monday, 15 February 2010

Blogging and Money - Flattr a Potential Step Forward?

A virtue of good personal finance blogs is their neutrality and their consumer viewpoint. To produce regular, solid content instead of fluff takes a lot of time and effort. Bloggers often start because of a passion for the subject but praising comments and mounting readership can make the blogger think of making a bit of money from it, perhaps even do it as a full-time occupation.

One way to do that is through ads. But there are two problems: threat to neutrality and low, low payoff. Any time an advertiser is paying, it gets more awkward to criticise their product and praise becomes suspect. Google ads make money for Google but not the blogger (after three years of blogging I am still waiting to break through the $100 barrier in Google revenue - I consider the Google ad block as a way of paying for the "free" Blogger account). Sponsored ads can make more money but unless the blogger caters to an enormous readership (like a US audience, as opposed to a Canadian one), it is small pocket money.

Along comes Flattr, which allows a reader to show financial appreciation and support for a website/blog by one click on a button. You as a reader sign up with Flattr for a monthly clicking fee, which can be tiny at a minimum of 2 euros (CAD $ 2.86). Flattr tallies up your clicks then apportions your monthly subscription dollars amongst all the websites clicked according to the proportion of clicks received. Flattr takes 10% for admin, which seems pretty reasonable. For the reader there is the convenience of the single click of a button, a single place to pay and control over the monthly total spent. For the blogger, the big plusses are not having to do any billing and tracking of advertising and receiving the money passively and automatically (i.e. allowing more time for creating content). One downside may be that a reader would feel pressured to use the Internet and to click so as to not waste the monthly fee and thus not be willing to sign up at all.


Michael James said...

The real test of this idea is how many people sign up to give away their money. I have no doubt that bloggers will sign up to accept money. Do you plan to sign up to accept Flattr money? Is that even possible yet?

CanadianInvestor said...

Hi Michael,
I submitted my contact info this morning on their website but have not heard back yet. But it does interest me to try it. Putting myself in consumer shoes, I'd sign up to give away money in small doses and click on the coin icon when I saw a post I found worthwhile ... you'd get some clicks from me.

Neil said...

I suspect the personal finance crowd is a more challenging one for things like this. I've heard some political and general interest bloggers make a fairly sizeable amount of money off of those Paypal "donate" links, so flattr just seems like a more price-controlled way to do that.

But in general finance readers of all kinds tend to be kind of stingy. I mean, we all want to get rich, right? So it seems like it's probably a crowd that is less likely sign up to give away money than your average internet user.

CanadianInvestor said...

Neil, don't have proof but I suspect you're right. It's the opposite of spending willy-nilly - the penny wise pound foolish danger that can happen when cost saving is taken to an extreme.

Thicken My Wallet said...

Thankfully, you don't blog on frugality too much! It would be a little odd to be a frugal blog and telling people how to be frugal and then asking them to contribute.

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