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Web Monetization, Challenges #1: User Personas

We’ve been thinking about the sort of person who might want to kick a few bucks to Widget and sites like ours every month, and the best we can come up with anecdotally (i.e., by just guessing) is that everyone who might support our site can be lumped into one of two groups.

In the interest of trying to look at web monetization objectively – even if it’s our main/only means of supporting Widget at the moment – we’re going to occasionally post about the challenges we see to it becoming a standard, ubiquitous technology. We do see it as a promising tech, but at the same time we need it to be financially viable for us to commit to it indefinitely.


Who are our potential readers and, more to the point, potential supporters?

We’ve been thinking about the sort of person who might want to kick a few bucks to Widget and sites like ours every month, and the best we can come up with anecdotally (i.e., by just guessing) is that everyone who might support our site can be lumped into one of two groups.

User Personas

For our use case at Widget (widgetmag.com), we anticipate two potential user personas – not that we’ve converted a single damn person, though our full court press on pushing subscriptions hasn’t happened yet.

  1. People who want to patronise comedy content ‘charitably,’ i.e. they don’t need convincing, they just want this stuff to exist;
  2. People who can be convinced to subscribe by the quality/quantity of perks offered, i.e. those who need to be ‘sold’.

My suggestions are informed by that POV. If the Coil team has found users to be motivated differently, that would be cool to know too.

Persona 1

These are people who you might say just want to donate to support sites they think are doing good work. They might read and enjoy the stuff; on the other hand, they might just be voting with their dollar – basically, telling us to ‘keep up the good work.’

What might it take to convert this category of user?

Well, for our site and those just like ours, they may already be covered: e.g. the Coil comedy site lists out all the logos of the sites they’d be supporting with a subscription (and provided they actually visit those sites). If they like those sites and think that it is a net-positive that they exist, well, they know what to do: sign up with one of our referral codes and visit our sites.

What else could we be doing?

Maybe we could do more to thank them or preemptively thank them – a video on the Coil page from all of us telling them what they’d be supporting? better calls-to-action on our individual sites?

I think the main thing is a) to be a good community member and web citizen. Be the sort of person and publisher that earns trust and goodwill and that somebody can feel good about supporting. But beyond that, obviously you also need a way to get the message out about how they can support you. It’s probably good to think like a charity/nonprofit: grow your mailing list and your social follows; continually communicate about the good work you’re doing; and periodically ask for money – whether that’s through dedicated ‘fundraising’ periods or just peppering in the calls-to-action.

TL;dr: do good work and be a good community member; showcase this; and occasionally ask for support.

That’s the best we’ve got, but curious to know other publishers’ thoughts.

Persona 2

These are fans who can be converted, not out of the goodness of their heart, but because they’re getting something. We’ll write about these users in our next post on perks.

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