All This Flattry Will Get You … What, exactly?

ETA 2018: For the moment, I’m not using Flattr, mostly because I haven’t vetted the plugin for compatibility with the new privacy law yet. Also, even though this post shows it to have started pretty well, I haven’t really made any much money with it in the long run. I’ll keep the post anyway because I might put it back anyway.

I’ve been a guest at the Webcomic Beacon the other day. (If you don’t know that podcast, check it out. I’ll wait. It can’t take you much more than 250 hours to get through all of the back episodes.) Not about my favorite topic, which is me, or more to the point, my comics. But about Flattr.

Here’s how it came to pass: Beacon host Fes asked around on Twitter if anybody knew about ways to make webcomics sites pay other than The Usual Ones. I suggested Flattr since it’s pretty popular with the German webcomics crowd, and because I want more people to use it so more people can click on my own Flattr buttons. So Fes asked me to present it on the show the next day, and I did.

I explained it pretty much the way I did on Comixtalk last year, with the added bonus of Having Actually Done That Thing by now. For three whole (and one half) months. Which is as good a cue as any to look into how my Flattr experiment worked for me so far. As I pointed out when I started, I was a bit cautious about getting my money back, this being a niche site and all. And now is when my original funds (the money I uploaded to get it started) ran out.

Before I get to the financial bit, my personal experience: The system of paying in advance and then awarding sites as you pass them? Totally works! For me, anyway. I’ve never donated much to websites because it’s too messy and there are too many decisions involved: How much do I want to donate? Why this site rather than, say, that, or both? Or maybe there are even worthier sites? How much did I spend so far? Can I afford more? When does it stop? Oh please make it stop!

None of that with Flattr. Because the money is already spent. All that’s left to do is click that button if you liked a page. Every other decision has already been made by the time you set your spending limit. I love it that way, and it turned out to be a great incentive for me to actually use it. A lot.

So, here’s what happened to those first eight Euros.

Flattr-fund as of April 2nd or so.

First, I did get my money back. Just about. No extras. That means I’m either higher up the Long Tail than I thought or this thing actually works. I didn’t get much more than that, but that’s okay, because…

I didn’t have to pay any more for the next four months. I invested my revenue back into the next four month’s funds. This means, I get four months of free Flattring out of it. And four months of free Getting Flattred. Or, in other terms: four months to maybe promote it more and actually make some money with it.

Also, it’s not like I promoted it much. I think I mentioned it about once a month on Twitter, and that’s it.

By now, three things can happen:

  • I’ll make another 2€ a month and just keep going. That’s okay with me because I’ve discovered that Flattring others is actually fun. Free fun, in that case.
  • I’ll make more, and everybody’s happy.
  • I’ll make less, and I’ll have to let it die whenever the new revenues run out. (Or pay up, and continue flattring others, ’cause it’s really fun.)

So, even though I didn’t get any more money out of it (yet) than I put in, I consider my experiment a success, on many levels. Including, but not restricted to, the financial level. From this point on, all I can do with it is win. It’s just a question of how much, and how long it’ll last me.