Web Monetization, Challenges #2: Perks

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.

In our previous post on this topic, we spitballed about what we envisioned as the two user personas of our potential (Coil) subscribers.

The first group was basically those who would support sites like ours just because they think they should exist – a donor, basically.

The second group is those who want something in exchange, or as we described them before:

People who can be convinced to subscribe by the quality/quantity of perks offered, i.e. those who need to be ‘sold’.

So, how do we convince these people their getting bang for their Coil buck?


Many subscribers will likely be converted by the perks unlocked with their subscription. How do we sell these users better on what they’re getting? How can our sites deliver better perks? And how can these perks be better communicated to the potential subscriber?

Here are some thoughts on how we can communicate our (network’s) perks better and what form those perks might take:

Improved Communication

As it is, perks are spread out on our individual sites. There’s no reliable way for a user to know what sites are on the network and what perks those sites offer.

Would-be users may need to know what they’re getting before they consider converting. How do we do this? Here are some possibilities – purely spitballing, and many of these outside of our (Widget’s) authority. But maybe it gets some ideas churning:

  • For us ‘Coil comedy bundle’ sites, perhaps a microsite, landing page, or block of content at, e.g., coil.com/comedy? For example, is there a minimum-viable-product version whereby everything tagged with a consistent tag on our individual sites could be cross-posted via Zapier/IFTTT to a subscribers-only microsite, so that users can instantly have access to a bunch of stuff in once, centralized place?
  • Or a more manual version – we editors each manually provide to the Coil team [x] number of pieces of content for a central site or page? Very crufty and manual, but at least it would be curated… Maybe curation beats volume, I sure don’t know.
  • Or, can our sites be better at consistency? E.g., all of us editors agree to some sort of standard set of practices where we can showcase our perks on our site, even if it’s just a menu link – “Subscribers” – or a home page CTA. This is as-fragile-as-it-gets and subject to all sorts of human error and inconsistent UX.

The TL;dr is only identifying a problem, unfortunately, not offering a very good solution: The problem is, a potential Coil subscriber cannot be given a clear view of what they’re getting.

AFAIK, the best we have is the ‘discover’ page at https://coil.com/explore, which does list a bunch of cool sites but isn’t great at saying what perks you get from each site or from the network as a whole – “10 exclusive podcasts, which you can find here! Subscriber-only posts from over 20 leading humour sites, which are all collected here!

As a subscriber, there maybe perks out there I have no way of knowing are available to me. I guess I’m just counting on the Coil blog to notify me of anything cool and subscriber-only(?).

Can the communication and/or collation of perks available to Coil subscribers be improved?

Better Quality Perks

How can we actually create something valuable that boosts subscriptions? If all we’re doing is paywalling 1 exclusive post for every 10 we give away free, of no appreciable difference, would a potential user really give a shit about the 1 they’re missing, or would they just make do with the 10 they get for free?

We may, as a network of content creators, need to come up with more ambitious, collaborative perks. I’ve got no idea what we could actually coordinate to deliver, but here are some ideas if the will exists among our community members. All of these a) are just a partial, brainstormed list, of course; b) assume collaboration among a critical mass of Coil comedy participants:

  • Subscriber-only podcast
  • Subscriber-only Twitch/YouTube livestream
  • Subscriber-only newsletter
  • Subscriber-only web forum or Discord channel

Drawbacks: These are not perfect fits for Coil’s micropayment solution – yes, we may get the referral bonuses, but:

  • A newsletter doesn’t pay while someone reads it in their email app;
  • A Twitch stream could, if we have the subscriber counts to pay out and a solution to divvy up payments among participants;
  • A forum could be web-monetised pretty easily, obviously; I don’t know about a Discord or Slack channel (or equivalent) – don’t think so, which is unfortunate as one of those is probably otherwise the ‘default’ option.
  • A podcast can’t be web monetized if consumed in a standard podcast app (though could if made available only in-browser or monetized YouTube channel).
  • More on that…


Coil could be a Patreon competitor: the problem it solves – supporting content creators – is similar, and the value proposition – one payment to unlock all bonus content – is compelling.

But to try and peel off some of Patreon’s users (both subscribers and content creators), an elegant solution to deal with podcasts is needed. A way for podcast creators to be paid while users listen to their shows.

Stopgap solutions are possible, such as embedding playlists in our sites, but what is the longer-term vision to handle web-monetised podcasts?

These are just some thoughts we’ve grappled with in trying to figure out how we could actually entice people to sign up for this ‘strange, new payment technology’ and convince them that this is worth their money and – god help me – mindshare.

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