May 29, 2010

Flattr: about to change the world, if we help make it happen!

I want to take a minute to tell you about something I think is completely awesome and could really change the way our community and the whole internet works.  The concept can be hard to grasp if you’ve never heard of anything like it, so I’m going to explain it as it relates to you, as a craft blog reader, but keep in mind that it reaches much further than just blogs or the creative community (actually, it currently has very little reach in our creative community, but I’m hoping that’ll change!)  So, here it goes…

Right now, this craft/knitting/blog world of ours has two kinds of content: free and paid.  There are free knitting patterns and for sale knitting patterns; there are tons of free craft tutorials, and then there are craft books and ebooks you can purchase (just a couple examples).  If a blogger you love writes a rad tutorial that you use and you want to show them your appreciation, you can comment on the post, share the post with your friends on twitter, facebook, your own blog, etc.  If they have advertising, you can click on the ads, which will help them, but kind of indirectly-ish… If the blogger happens to have a book, or an ebook, or a for-sale pattern or something else to offer, then you can purchase that to support them.  And now enter Flattr, adding a new, easy, direct, genius way to show your appreciation to your favorite creators!


Here’s how it works:

  • Once you have an account, you put some money in it, and choose a total amount you want to give out each month (this can be changed at any time) – as little as 2 euros (about $2.50) can be chosen.
  • When you read/see/hear anything you like online (Flattr calls them “things”) and it has a flattr button, click flattr to show it some love.
  • At the end of the month, your chosen amount will be evenly divided between all the “things” you flattred, and distributed between them.  (If you chose to give 2 euros, and you clicked on 5 things throughout the month, the creator of each thing would get a fifth of the total, about 50 cents, from you.)
  • If you have a thing you made/wrote, you can put Flattr buttons on your site/blog, add them into the Flattr list of things, and watch the counter add up as people flattr you.
  • The money that you receive from being flattred gets put into your revenue account (separate from your “for flattring” account) for you to keep, or for you to transfer over to use for flattring others.
  • You can have an account and flattr people without having any “things” yourself, but you cannot have things for people to flattr without giving back and flattring at least 2 euros total each month.

Make sense?  If you want a more visual explanation, click over to and watch the video on the home page.  Obviously, if hardly anyone is using it, it’ll be pretty worthless to us all, but if this really catches on and becomes regularly used within our community, it can seriously help sustain us bloggers and designers – if a blogger receives a bit of income each month from their free tutorials getting flattred, it will allow them the time to make more free tutorials and keep on being awesome!


A bit of a tangent…  Have you heard of the concept of micro-payments?  (I was first introduced to the idea through comics by Scott McCloud.)  I love it so much, but it’s pretty much theoretical because of the way the internet and payment methods work… If a blogger was able to charge just pennies for a tutorial, instead of offering it free, would you buy it?  Imagine an internet alternate reality in which you can buy something for any tiny amount (2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents) with one click of a button (no being redirected to paypal, no fees on either end) – if your favorite bloggers offered up their awesome tutorials (that they put hours of work into) for 5 cents instead of free, would you pay the nickle?  I’m guessing the answer is yes.  And then, on the blogger’s end of it, instead of putting all that effort and creative genius into the world for lots of non-monetary gain (which is great, but the bills still need to be paid), if 500 people enjoy your tutorial, you get $25, if 5000 people like it, you get $250, etc.  That’ll help you to keep on creating fabulous content, a win-win for everyone!

Sadly, the internet doesn’t work this way, and there are fees, and it’s basically impossible to offer something for 5 cents.  But, dude, you guys, Flattr comes pretty damn close to making this happen!  It’s a whole different thing from what I just described, but what I described was a concept that had been floating around in my head for awhile, this what-if frustration, wishing that when the internet was a baby and paypal was being born, things could have been different from the beginning.  So when I first heard about Flattr a few months ago, I was so excited that this could be our answer to this want for a micro-payments system.

By the way, paypal does offer a micropayments account, though it’s a bitch to get set up, it does help with knitting pattern sales – any purchase under $12 will charge a lower fee than a regular paypal account will.  But, with the fee rate of 5 cents plus 5% of each order, it’s far from a true micro-payments system that I daydreamed about above.  (Charging 5 cents for something is still impossible.)

flattr button on

Anyway, back to Flattr… it’s in beta now, so you have to get an invite – you can either sign up for one on the site, or find someone who just signed up, since every new member gets 3 invites to give out.  It’s based in Sweden and seems to be catching on much more quickly in Europe than over here in the States, and hardly at all in the worldwide craft community (a “things” search for craft brings up 8 results, and 2 of them are me), so let’s get it rolling crafters!  Spread the word – the more people who know about it, the more likely it’ll catch on, and if it doesn’t catch on, well then this thing will never happen and it’ll be a true shame.  Let’s make it happen!!

Comment if you have any questions, I’m happy to explain details further if needed!

Filed under: random stuff,self-publishing — leethal @ 5:45 pm
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