The web as we know it today, does little to make the life of an independent content creator any easier. Creators have tried many ways over time to monetise their content over the internet, starting from including ads, adding paywalls, to putting their content on subscription based platforms. However, putting it across bluntly, ads butcher the experience of consuming the content, paywalls impede the reach of the content and there’s a limit to the number of subscriptions one can have. The process of making money against a content that’s informative, helpful and unique shouldn’t include these compromises on both, the creation and the consumption ends.
In his write-up The web began dying in 2014, here’s how André Saltz highlights the influence that big tech has over 70% of internet traffic. With uncapped budget and influence, companies such as Google, Amazon and FB would continue to control the helm of the internet, making it less and less diverse by each passing day. To fight this forced homogenisation, we desperately need to support technologies that allows internet to retain its equitability and idiosyncrasies more than ever.
As put by Stefan Thomas during MozFest 2019 while introducing @Coil Web Monetization -
“What makes it difficult for me to go independent is that there’s nothing native in the web that allows me to make money.”
The independence that Stefan is referring to here, is the one that comes without opting to be assimilated by a platform and cooking what’s already on the menu. Well, thanks to Stefan and other like minded folks, that’s no longer the case. Today, with Interledger Protocol and Web Monetization standards, the dream of having a web-native technology that lets creators monetise their content over the web in a more equitable, secure and fair way has started to take shape.
Although, I could go on and on explaining this part of the narrative, I’ll try to keep it simple and focus on the four key elements/approaches fueling the existing business models:
Web monetisation is a method of monetising over the web while safeguarding your privacy, your data and even saving your time. Using web-monetisation, you can stream money to a creator without having to sign-up for a subscription or membership and also get paid for your content without bowing to the rules of popular platforms. All you need to do to make this happen is to set-up a payment pointer/web-monetized wallet.
Web-monetisation is now a proposed W3C standard. It uses a technology called Interledger Protocol(ILP), which is a request response protocol that provides a ledger agnostic and currency agnostic method for transferring money. This technology provides the required base for the construction of an equitable money streaming process over the internet.
There are many platforms out there already that support this method of monetization and at the same time provide a great experience for content creator and viewers by providing the support of a community. On https://webmonetization.org/ you’d find a list of platforms that support web-monetization as well as a set of tools that enable this feature.
Lets look at how you could set up web-monetisation for yourself.
To set up web-monetization on your website as a creator you need to follow a few steps.
You could make many customisations to your site to differentiate the experience for visitors with web-monetisation enabled by checking if the `document.monetization` object exists. You can choose not to show ads or provide a more premium experience to paying visitors in different ways.
If you’re interested to explore further, here’s fun guide on how to set up the Interledger pointer on your website by Auden.
Using coil extension, you would be able to support other web monetised sites by streaming money to the creators. All you need to do is sign-up on Coil, link your digital wallet(preferably Uphold) , pay a small membership fee($5/month), install the coil extension for your browser and indulge in unlimited browsing. To know if your browser is supported, go to this link. Now when you visit a website with web-monetization enabled, you’re indicated through the extension icon in the browser that streaming of payment has started. The streaming of payment continues for as long as you keep consuming the content. For more clarity, visit Coil docs.
While the post might appear kind of lengthy, I’ve only scratched the surface. There are immense possibilities using web-monetization and interledger protocol that are yet to be explored. Its a given, that with the many positives, the technology also does expose some gaps in the attempt to close in on the equitable web experience. With a discursive approach and sense of shared ownership, we could easily resolve these issues.
If you’re interested in partaking in the larger movement to take web-monetization to another level, consider taking part in the Grant for the Web call for proposal.
Originally published on Prototypr.io