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This article describes my experience of using Flattr to make and receive microdonations and what I learned about using it.
What is Flattr?
Flattr allows web creators and publishers to automatically receive microdonations from their contributors based on the contributors' attention and engagement with the content. Using microdonations allows contributors to support a wider range of sites rather than donating larger amounts to fewer sites.
How Flattr works
Flattr's algorithm measures engagement with websites and other online channels. Contributors choose an amount for their 30-day subscription period which gets divided proportionately between the creators of the websites they enjoy over the subscription period. Creators have to link their content to Flattr so Flattr knows where to send the money.
Becoming a Creator
- Sign up as a creator
- Link your sites and channels
- Tell your fans and visitors
1. Sign up as a creator
Go to flattr.com, make sure that the 'Creators' tab is selected, click the 'Sign up as a creator' button, fill in all the usual details and click the 'Sign up' button.
2. Link your sites and channels
If you have your own domain, you need to register the domain with Flattr and add a metatag to the
<head> section of every page of your site. You can register your domain by clicking on your name at the top of the dashboard, clicking on 'Profile settings', scrolling down to the near the bottom of the page, entering your domain and clicking on 'Add domain'.
The metatag that you need is above where your entered your domain's URL. Adding the metatag to every page of your site can be a bit of a chore so I use PHP (most web servers come with this language already installed) to automatically include the headers and footers on my pages. If you have a podcast, you can search for it using the search box at the bottom of the page.
You can also get donations when contribributors engage with your social networks (such as Twitter and YouTube). Click the relevant social network button on the Creator Profile page and sign in to your social network account.
3. Tell your fans and visitors
Use your blogs, social media, podcasts and web pages to let people know that you are a Flattr creator. In order to contribute, your fans and visitors will need Flattr so it would be a good idea to let them know how to get, install and use Flattr.
Becoming a Contributor
The temptation is to be a creator without being a contributor so that you will have income without any expenditure. However, if everyone were to do this, nobody would get any income!
- Sign up as a contributor
- Choose a subscription
- Set up your flattring
- Automatically share your contributions
1. Sign up as a contributor
Go to flattr.com, make sure that the 'Contributors' tab is selected, click the 'Become a Contributor' button, fill in your email address and a password and click the 'Sign up' button.
2. Choose a subscription
Decide how much you want to contribute to creators. You do this by clicking on your name or email at the top of the dashboard and click on 'Subscription'. You can now select the amount for your 30-day subscription. The minimum subscription is $3. You will also need to fill in your payment card details. Your subscription is distributed between all creators you flattr.
3. Set up your flattring
Automatic 'flattring' needs to use a desktop browser so it will not work with mobile devices. Supported browsers are Firefox, Opera and Chrome.
Your browser also needs to have an extension installed and you need to be signed in to Flattr before before you can flattr a website.
The problem I had at this stage was trying to install the browser extension (or 'add on'). The usual way of doing this is to go to the extensions section of the browser's settings and search for the extension that you require. I tried this but couldn't find any Flattr extensions. I also tried installing an extension I had found on GitHub but this didn't work.
The answer is that there is an 'Add Flattr to...' button at the bottom of the 'Contributor dashboard' and the reason I missed it was that it was hidden by the cookie announcement!
You can also add recurring contributions which you add yourself by going to the creator's Flattr page (e.g. flattr.com/@LearningPages) and clicking on 'Start contributing' for the channels you want to support.
Recurring contributions allow you to flattr creators even if you use unsupported browsers like Safari. An advantage of using recurring contributions with an unsupported browser or a supported browser without the extension is that you only support the contributors that you want to support.
4. Automatically share your contributions
Every 30 days Flattr uses your subscription to automatically reward the sites and creators you've flattrd by simply visiting and engaging with the sites. If you flattr a site accidently, you can try deleting the flattrs by going to your 'Contributor dashboard', clicking on 'Show me my full history' and clicking on the relevant 'trash can'.
I reported the problem I was having with finding an extension on a Sunday afternoon and I had a helpful reply the following morning.
How much does it cost?
On the first of the month you will be charged 10% (5% Flattr fees + 5% card-processing fees) of the revenue received during the previous month. Whenever money is withdrawn (currently a minimum of $10), a $3 fee is charged. If your main currency is not the US dollar, you will also need to take the exchange rate into account.
The minimum you can contribute is $3 every 30 days ($36.50 a year for non-leap years). Again, If your main currency is not the US dollar, you will also need to take the exchange rate into account. You may also be charged additional fees by your card company. If you flattr no sites in any one contribution period, then your contribution payment is rolled over into the next period.
As you have probably gathered, I am using Flattr both as a creator and a contributor. If you are already a contributor or are intending to join Flattr, I would really appreciate it if you were to flattr.com/@LearningPages>flattr my website (mwls.com) so that I can maintain my website, provide more free resources and remove advertising.
As well as providing resources for learners, trainers and educators, the site's blog is a learning adventure that shares what I am learning in many different fields. This article being one example.