Almost a year ago, I postulated a way to turn the tables on the News International paywall.
After playing around for a bit, I discovered that it was easy to block The Times from reading a blog, but I couldn't find an easy way to disable the paywall on receipt of payment.
So, I've set up a voluntary paywall. It's in the sidebar - and looks something like this...
This was partly a way for me to play with the Google Checkout API - which is surprisingly easy to integrate and works flawlessly on mobile. It's also partly a way to earn some money. I did consider flattr which - while cool - doesn't seem to have much momentum behind it yet. I know that PayPal has some great APIs, but I find them to be overkill for what I need.
It is, granted, a question of semantics. I run a business - I'm not asking for handouts or donations. You are paying my business in return for reading this blog.
I'm pretty sure this is an original idea. At the very least, I've conquered the SEO for "voluntary paywall."
Ideally, I'd like people to name their own price for what they think this blog is worth. Unfortunately, as Cory Doctorow and I found out - that's not that easy to do yet.
— son of an asylum seeker, father of an immigrant (@doctorow) October 22, 2010
I don't claim this blog to be the best thing since sliced-bread. At best, I reckon it's slightly more coherent than the hideous cloaca that is Richard Littlejohn.
There's also a good deal of technical content which, if my blog stats are anything to go by, is still interesting to the geeks of the world.
Occasionally I get linked to by some big names like Reddit, or Wired, or Boing Boing, or The Guardian, or any of the other fabulous blogs out there. It's a bit like getting name-checked by a celebrity; I know it shouldn't mean much - but it does put a smile on my face.
Overall, as I reach the third anniversary of this blog, I'm pretty happy with it. If you're happy with it, chuck a few coppers in the box. It won't make me rich, it may not even pay for the hosting costs, but it will let me know you enjoy what I do.
As ever, I'm happy to answer questions on how this paywall works, how you can set one up yourself, what the fees are, etc. Just leave a comment.
A big round of applause to Philip Oakley - who has just become my first paying customer. I guess that means I can stick "Professional Blogger" on my CV now...