We've reached the end of the grant period, and we're happy to say that we've managed to achieve all of our main objectives.
In terms of technical implementation, things went fairly smoothly. All of the bonus features we planned for Web Monetization users were implemented, and the last couple of months were spent refining them.
As for our community intiatives, it was great to have fellow grantee Kult at our last event, where we talked about what Web Monetization is, how to implement it, how it can help creators monetize their work.
While things have gone well tech-wise and there seems to be interest from the community about Web Monetization, we're still facing a couple of challenges.
The first issue is to do with the wallet/payment provider. Our account was frozen early on in the grant period, and it took several months to get answers from them about what we needed to do to get our account working again. This means that for the majority of the time, we have not been receiving payments from Web Monetization users, and it's unclear whether we'll receive any payments that were sent during this time once the account is working again. Last week we emailed the extra documentation the provider asked for, so hopefully things will progress on this front soon.
The second challenge we have is the slow uptake from our audience to start using Coil/Web Monetization. According to our analytics, over the last six months only 0.1% of visitors had Web Monetization enabled. We feel that our users might be a bit hesitant to sign up for a Coil membership because of language and currency barriers: the site is only available in English and payments need to be made in USD. It could also be that we're the only (or one of the only) media outlets in Portugal that uses Web Monetization, and if we can get other groups to implement it, it'll become a more "normal" option for our users.
We've implemented all of our planned bonus features:
- Bonus fonts
- Bonus themes
- Audio player for audio versions articles
Some of the implementation needed tweaking a bit (we realised we were spamming users with thank-you messages whenever they changed page), but it's fair to say that things went fairly smoothly, helped greatly by the fact that the Web Monetization API is so easy to work with.
As mentioned in our last report, we released a small package on npm for using Web Monetization in React: @interruptor/react-monetization.
This event was originally going to be two separate events - one for giving an overview of Web Monetization at Interruptor and a second for talking about our experience - but we combined them due to time, and also because it seemed natural to not only give an intro to Web Monetization but to give a more in-depth explanation of our experience. Together with @patrickrahy from Kult, we were able to cover what Web Monetization is, how we've implemented it and what we've learned along the way.
Due to Covid, the event was live streamed on YouTube, which you can see here (in Portuguese): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMbgqXLXBSU
Over the last six months, we've released a number of posts about Web Monetization on our new tech blog (available in English and Portuguese), which includes a couple of tutorials on how to get started with Web Monetization:
The code for the blog is also available under an MIT license here: https://github.com/InterruptorPt/tech-blog
Given the slow uptake of Web Monetization users on our site, we're going to think about some ways to make it more visible as a way to support us - maybe by having a section on the homepage about it.
We'd be curious to know whether other grantees from outside the US/from non-English-speaking countries had issues with payment providers and/or getting users on board, and whether they have any tips.
Despite the issues we've faced, we're happy with how the grant period has gone, and we're excited to see where Web Monetization could take the us - and the web as a whole - in the future. The privacy-friendly nature of Web Monetization fits right in with our values at Interruptor, and it's great that our users have a way to support us without us needing any personal or financial information and without us needing to build the infrastructure to handle that. The grant has given us the chance to work on some features that we probably wouldn't have done otherwise, and we're now able to reward users who support us, which is awesome. 🎉