‘Tis the Season to be Flattr-ing

Craig Buckler

Posting articles, videos, photographs, music, podcasts, code or any other content to the web can be hard work. It’s great to be rewarded for your efforts, but the financial options remain limited:

  • Advertising. That won’t be suitable in every situation and could be tricky if you’re hosting content on a third-party website. There’s no guarantee anyone will click your banners either.
  • Donation buttons. Small payments are possible using systems such as PayPal but, realistically, the donor must send a few dollars to make it worthwhile and it takes a few minutes of their time.

Wouldn’t it be better if hundreds of people decided to pay a few cents each?

Flattr is an alternative “social micropayments” system from Sweden. Here’s how it works:

Flattr button

  1. Sign-up for a user account at Flattr.com
  2. Choose to pay a monthly amount to Flattr via PayPal or Moneybookers — a minimum of €2 per month is required to remain registered.
  3. Click the Flattr button whenever you see it on content you like.

At the end of each month, 10% of your donation is taken by fees and the remainder is split between everyone you’ve Flattr-ed. If you’re paying €2.00 and clicked 18 Flattr buttons, Flattr will take €0.20 and every author will receive €0.10. Your funds are donated to charity if you don’t Flattr anything.

Authors are free to add Flattr buttons to any content. Popular items appear at the top of Flattr’s directory and, as such, are likely to receive more viewers and increased revenue. However, you must be willing to give before you can receive: it’s not possible to join the network unless you donate and Flattr others.

Flattr is an interesting idea. It makes micro-payment donations quick, easy and practical without having to resort to advertising. The big question is: will it work? The system can only be a success when membership achieves critical mass.

Will you sign-up?