Whether traditional news publishers believe that user/reader donations represent a viable revenue stream or not, entrepreneurs are hot on the idea, judging by the number of variations of solutions under development for getting people to voluntarily give money to support websites and blogs. I’ve begun using this, my personal blog, to try out the early versions of some of these upcoming and new services.
The idea is that a user wishing to support free content made available by a variety of news sites, blogs, and other websites signs up for a $5/month (or a higher amount, if desired) SprinklePenny account, which is auto-billed to a credit card each month. Then whenever said SprinklePenny member visits a site that participates in the network (like this blog), the visit is counted and the $5 is split up at the end of each month depending on how often the member visited various SprinklePenny-enabled sites.
The primary difference between it and Kachingle is subtle, but perhaps important. Kachingle asks that Kachingle paying members click on a “medallion” when they see one on a site they like and wish to financially support. SprinklePenny credits every enabled site with a visit credit, and thus every site that a member visits receives some money from SprinklePenny members who drop by. But if you don’t want to support a site that you visited, you can remove it from the list of sites that receive some of your money.
In other words, Kachingle asks you to “opt-in” to financially supporting a site. SprinklePenny has you by default financially supporting every enabled site you visit, but you can “opt-out” for any visited site that you really don’t want to support.
It will be interesting to see which of these does better than the other. I suspect it will depend on the marketing plan of each company; the one that gets in front of the largest audience of potential members likely will be the winner.
I do see a potential problem with the SprinklePenny approach: Say, I am duped into visiting a site that I find offensive (perhaps by a Twitter recommendation) and it’s a SprinklePenny publisher; then I’ll have to actively turn off my support for that site.
With Kachingle, I’m in control of which sites I financially support; I have to click the Kachingle medallion to support a site. While I like that better, it’s an extra step that I don’t have to take if I’m supporting free content with SprinklePenny. So will I remember to click those medallions are thus start sending my favorite sites money?
Both companies will tell you their approach is the best one. We’ll see in time.