How to Web Monetize your Content and Support Creators Online with Micropayments
What if every time someone visited a website, that site’s owner could make a small amount of money?
With just a few lines of simple code, you could monetize just about any content online, so that each visit to a page would result in a small payment directly to you.
This is the idea behind Coil, a startup that allows its users to pay small amounts of money to website creators using a surprisingly simple set of tools.
This post will show you all you need to know to monetize your website with micropayments.
Micropayments are small amounts of money, between .0000001 — $1. A new web protocol called Interledger allows creators to receive money from people browsing their website, without the need to charge a credit card or pay heavy transaction fees.
Micropayments are one way to do web monetization, and we’ll show you how, in three simple steps.
First, we’ll show you how to sign up for a Coil creator or member account and add the Coil plugin to your browser. A creator account will let you monetize your own content, and a member account will let you support Web Monetized creators.
Second, we’ll cover how to set up a personal wallet so that you can receive payments yourself.
And Third, we’ll show you how to put a payment pointer on your website so you can get Micropayments anytime someone who supports monetization visits.
How to get a Coil Account and Pay Creators as you browse
1—Sign up with a Coil account at Coil.com as either a creator or a member/supporter.
First, Coil will want to know what you’d like to use it for — to access content, or to monetize content.
If you choose “Monetize Content”, you’ll be able to add Web Monetization to your site for free! Coil creator accounts are free and allow you to monetize content on your own site, YouTube, Twitch and more.
Not a creator?
Support creators as a Coil Member! If you don’t yet have a site to monetize, a $5/mo Coil membership account will let you support web creators who have monetized their own sites.
By signing up as a Coil Member, you’re not subscribing to a single service, but for content all over the web, while supporting a system which can send payments automatically to any site you visit.
Coil Members get a lot more than just a subscription service. The small monthly fee can support hundreds of thousands of creators — any time you visit a web monetized site, a small amount will be streamed towards the digital wallet of anyone the site’s owner wants to get paid. Many sites feature special options for Coil subscribers not available to everyone — special content like bonus levels in games or extra tracks on online albums.
In either case, you’ll need to create a username and password, then verify that email with an access code.
Install the Coil browser plugin
Regardless of whether you’re a Creator or a Coil Member, you’ll want to install the Coil browser plugin for the browser of your choice.
Coil Browser Plugins
The Coil Extension lets the website know that you’re a Coil subscriber and sends the creator money directly.
It also shows you how much money is being streamed to that creator, which can be helpful if you want to support a site by visiting it often.
This lets the website know that you’re a Coil subscriber and sends the creator money directly.
You’ll also be able to use this plugin to verify that your own site is monetized.
On Mobile? Use Puma Browser!
Puma browser has Coil support built right into it! Puma is a fast and private mobile browser that makes it easy to support creators, game & app developers just by browsing.
2 — Sign up for a Web Wallet
The next step is to sign up for a digital wallet. This is where all of your payments will arrive via a technology called Interledger, a universal exchange system built with the web in mind.
Interledger is particularly interesting because it allows you to send payments across different currencies, whether that is internationally or crypto-based. If someone pays in Dollars, but you’d like it in Euros, Interledger calculates the values and pays the appropriate amount. It can do the same for cryptocurrencies.
Currently there are two main wallets that work using Interledger: Uphold and Gatehub.
We’re going to focus on Uphold in this post, because not only can it transfer almost any type of currency, but it does so while maintaining a minimal look and an excellent user experience.
Create an Uphold account
When you sign up for Uphold, you’ll have to verify your identity, which could take a day or two. Once you’re accepted into Uphold, you’ll find your payment pointer.
Find your Interledger Payment Pointer
Once you’re signed up, you can find your Interledger network payment pointer in the Uphold app and copy it.
This ILP address can be referenced anywhere on the web, and used by others to send money directly to your wallet.
Setting it up is a lot easier than you might expect, but it can still be a little hard to find.
3— Add your Interledger Payment ID to your website
Add your Interledger Payment Pointer into the Header of your website, wrapped in meta tags.
<meta name=“monetization” content=“$yourpaymentpointer” />
<link rel=“monetization” href=“$yourpaymentpointer” />
These two lines of code — one with the meta name, one with the link rel, both featuring the ILP address. Adding these lines into the header of your page means that visitors who have set up web monetization will stream small amounts of money your way every time the page is loaded.
Adding your payment pointer to a static HTML page
Here’s an example on the free web host, Neocities. All you need to do is add the code to the header of every page you want to monetize.
Adding Web Monetization to Wordpress with the Coil plugin
If you are using WordPress, all you need to do is install the Coil Web Monetization plugin. Then add your payment ID to the Coil plugin settings. Your entire site will be monetized!
If you are using Webflow, click on project settings, add custom code, then add in the payment ID in the header, and you should be good to go.
That’s it! You’re monetized!
Check your wallet over the next week!
If you have a friend with a Coil member account, you can let them know you’ve monetized your site! When they visit it, you should be able to check your Uphold wallet, and start to see small bits of money coming in.
What’s next for Micropayments?
Coil is currently the only provider of micropayments to creators with the Web Monetization API, but there may be more in the future.
With the Web Monetization API, you can even share revenue with a team. This is extremely important, because sometimes creators who are doing a website, a photoshoot or a video have multiple creators involved. It’s not just one director that gets all the money. You can actually split up and add weight to each person on the team.
Think of your makeup artist, your special effects artist, your director, your producer, and your actors — you can add all of their payment pointers and have their revenue share paid out when somebody visits the site, books their content, or reads their blog.
You can currently choose to split your income between up to 10 payment pointers. This is an extremely versatile option which can benefit any small team or group..
You can also set up your team’s Payment Pointers to have specific weights — so that each party will receive a certain percentage of the revenue.
These fractional payments are much more versatile than a one-size-fits all payment system.
And there are some interesting options as well — such as probabilistic revenue sharing, which can be used to randomly pay a different party every time someone loads the page.
Sign up for Grant for the Web!
It’s one of the missing gaps in the web: how we pay for things online and how we support creators. Having more people working on tools and solutions in this space means a more diverse and healthy ecosystem for micropayments in the future.
If you want to create something else that supports the Web Monetization API: there are many funding options a lot of money available. Grant for the Web is a $100M fund to boost open, fair, and inclusive standards and innovation in Web Monetization.
If you’d like to learn more about Web Monetization and its future, check out the talk on Micropayments I gave at MozFest 2021!
The First Web Monetized Conference!
Late last year, Anselm Hook and I hosted a conference about the Future of Micropayments on November 5th, 2020. We added Web Monetization, making it the web’s first conference to be monetized with Micropayments. We ended up getting receiving about $10 over the course of the conference, which was pretty nice considering it was a one-time event which we kept small on purpose.
What are you looking forward to most in the world of Web Monetization? What would make it easier for you to add Web Monetization to your site? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This post was created as part of my work as a 2021 Mozilla Fellow researching web economics, alternatives to advertising and Micropayments. The fellowship was made possible by a generous grant from Coil.
Thanks to Toby N. from Puma for help on the content and clarity of post!
Thanks to Ben G. for general structural and content editing!