The third hurdle for Flattr to clear deals specifically with their visibility–or lack thereof.
Not many writers have Flattr buttons because most writers have never heard of Flattr. The way around this should be simple: tell them! Spread the word and welcome our literary brethren to the Flattrverse.
Too bad that makes you look like a jerk.
The problem is this: Flattr is communal. Yes, there are people just giving money or just making money but it is, in essence a community of people supporting each other. Nice, right? Yeah, but from the outside it can appear as though you’re recruiting people specifically to increase your support base.
This is the problem I faced when struggling with the question of whether to put a button on my site. My solution was my “Don’t Flattr Me” posts–my attempt to make it absolutely clear that I wish to promote the community rather than myself. I can do this because, as much as I love the idea of making money from my writing, I don’t need to do that right now so increasing my own support base isn’t exactly my top priorities. But others, even those who don’t want to self-promote may still not want to hang out a sign that says loud and clear: Don’t give me money!
What Flattr requires now is evangelism. But anyone who’s ever chatted with the Jehovas Witnesses at the door knows that evangelists don’t usually get invited in for tea. And evangelism for writers may be just as challenging.
Here’s why this isn’t really a problem : We’re not missionaries. We’re not building a Flattr chapel, or asking people to Flattrize their babies before Flattr-geddon so they can get to those pearly green gates.
It’s just a button.
Right now, people don’t go to a writer’s site or blog and think “Hey what a nice green and orange and green button, I want to click it!” or “Oooh I want one of those!” They don’t think that because they don’t see that little green and orange button.
What if they did?
You don’t have to tell people to click it.
You don’t have to tell people not to click it.
Do you remember anyone telling you about “Like” buttons? Yeah, me neither.
You just have to put it there, so people can see it.
The more these little buttons appear around the internet, the less like zealots we’ll look with them on out sites. They’ll just be part of your everyday online scenery. And when the big players in the writing world finally catch on, this not-problem will disappear entirely. When NaNoWriMo catches on, when Smashwords catches on, when Scribd catches on, when Litopia and Absolute Write and Authonomy and all the other spaces where writers congregate are Flattrable, those little green and orange buttons will appear to millions of readers and writers. Having one won’t be a mark of self-promoting-douchebaggery. It’ll just be a mark of what it is: one fucking awesome community of creators.
And if–only if–you really want company during the holiday season, come on over for eggnog and cookies at the Flattrmas party.