Web Monetization, Challenges #3: Learning From Other Platforms

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.

Lord knows I spend too much time on the web – in general as a ravenous hog of a content consumer and in my day job as a web dev. In the course of that, I’ve catalogued some integrations and features that I think could add value to Coil, and have also kept tabs on other ‘products’ that are trying to solve the reader-engagement/support question in other ways.

Feature Idea

Widget (sorry) / Embeddable Sign-up

As it is, Coil is a thing you sign up for on their site, install a browser extension, and then browse the sites you like.

Would there be value in creating an embeddable Coil sign-up form, like the donate forms from Canada Helps, e.g. – https://freeingthehumanspirit.com/donate/ – or the sign-up widgets and modals from Pico, as seen here – https://discourseblog.com/subscribe/?

This could our sites to create a more integrated UX and do our own messaging or have perks and sign-ups on a single page, e.g.

Competitors and Comparisons

Here are some other sites/products that bring interesting ideas to the ‘website subscription’ space:

  • Pico
    • I like a lot of what Discourse is able to do with Pico. Maybe none of this is technically doable, but here’s some of the cool things they offer:
      • Comments are subscriber-only, including a weekly discussion thread;
      • Merch coupons are available;
      • Exclusive newsletters are available to subscribers.
    • The more integrations or features we’re able to offer with a subscription – MailChimp integration? Discord? WordPress commenting features (or other 3rd-party commenting solution)? – the cooler this could be. Though I get that may be asking for the world and pulling dev time away from more pressing matters. And again, some of these may limit payment to the referral bonus if the 3rd-party apps don’t pay micropayments.
  • Memberful.com
    • Check out https://memberful.com/features/ to see its features and maybe get some ideas. Not dissimilar to Pico: integrates with 3rd-party newsletters; has elegant handling of subscriber-only podcasts.
  • Patreon
    • Maybe the main thing Patreon does well is get podcasts to subscribers. Unless Coil is ceding that use-case to Patreon, web-monetised sites need an elegant solution to do the same, ideally that pays out as users listen to the show and ideally that meets them where they’re at – on their phones – and doesn’t force a hacky solution like listening from a page on the podcaster’s website.

When thinking about how to try and make money with your website and offer something of value to your supporters, there are enough options on ‘the market’ that site-owners would be well advised to not rush into a decision.

That said, there’s not really a reason not to run web monetization via Coil. It’s just a script tag and Coil-subscribers who visit your site will pay out micropayments while they read. (https://coil.com/creator, for more info.) The question is whether or not to make it the core of your business strategy and the main way you amass subscribers. That’s not such a one-size-fits-all question.

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