Voluntary Paywall

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...
A picture of the paywall

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.

How Is This Different From A "Donate" Button?

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."

Google Results

How? Why? What?

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.

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...

One thought on “Voluntary Paywall

  1. I'm not sure if I can add much to this but I suppose it may be useful to know why I paid. I read and enjoy blogs all the time but generally do not often donate. In this case I must admit, in part, I was attracted by the anti-Times sentiment (at the time not realising the direct link and your earlier blog post) but more importantly it was the fact that I had actually gained useful information, I had indeed learnt a lot more about QR codes and mobile websites. In a way I felt I owed you something, possibly more than just gratitude. Don't get me wrong I don't value your knowledge at £2.50 but I thought that was a reasonable token of my appreciation at the time and would hope that others would do the same. If I was to continue to learn more direct useful information in the future I would have no issue with paying again.

    Unfortunately, I am probably a minority but as someone who works and profits from open source software everyday I think I understand the power of voluntary donation - both time and money. I happily pay voluntarily for creative commons works like Cory Doctorow and have reoccurring voluntary paypal payments to my favourite podcasts.

    I appreciate that The Times have issues that will probably not be solved by a Donate button but I do find that the whole enforced paywall lacks imagination and makes News Corp look innovatively bankrupt. As an ex-Times subscriber I am often targeted by post and email to try/buy the site but I just don't get why I would want to pay for what they are offering and can only see down sides for them as they lose out in a link economy. Maybe I am missing the marketing message. This is a shame because whatever I think of other parts of News Corp I thought The Times was a good newspaper, employing many talented people and they could be making a far more positive contribution to the web.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *