One of my favorite bloggers, Steve Pavlina, talks a lot about how easy it is to lose the forest for the trees when you’re trying to make money. In a great post called How to Earn $10,000 in One Hour, he urges creative people not to focus on their hourly earnings rate, but rather the big ideas that will change the world and/or change your life in a single hour.
I think Flattr is one of those concepts. Founded by one of the original creators of The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde, Flattr charges members €2 a month for an account. Those users can then click the “Flattr” button when they’re on a Web site, listening to a song or browsing art by an artist they like online. At the end of the month, Flattr will pool all the Flattr buttons you’ve clicked and divide your €2 (minus a 10 percent fee) among all those artists, writers and bloggers, and give it to them. It’s a brilliant way to make it easy to donate to the Web sites and creatives you respect and want to reward.
Flattr was officially launched in August, and I only heard about it after reading in the mainstream press that it was one of the few remaining ways to contribute to WikiLeaks now that the dossier-dishing site has been hog-tied by PayPal, Mastercard (NYSE:MA) and Visa (NYSE:V). The WikiLeaks tie-in has helped thrust Flattr into the public consciousness, but more importantly, it could fuel the concept’s growth for years to come.
I know it’s made me into a convert. I haven’t opened a Flattr account yet, but I plan to this weekend. I’ll also explore adding Flattr buttons to TradingStocks.me, and I’ll donate to other sites whenever I get a chance to reward someone’s good work. It could be a great new source of revenue for a lot of people. Or it could go completely ignored. The important thing is, it’s evidence that truly creative people like Flattr’s co-founder Peter Sunde make it a habit of looking at old problems in new ways and attempting to find solutions. If it works, generating the idea probably took less than an hour, but it has the potential to be worth a whole lot more than $10,000.