Problem: Forever, the content business model has been to control access and force payment in advance. Then digital transfer (and the internet) arrived. Anything that could be digitized could be shared for free, blowing away the access controls and the pre-payments. Blowing away the business model.
The problem in the 21st century is not how to get people to pay BEFORE they experience your content, but rather how can you get them to pay AFTER they experience it.
Key User Experience: The experience to give the author money has to be as simple as possible.
You need a username/password to throw money into a jar, so you clearly need a Tip Jar account. If Amazon did this then you would need an Amazon account. If Google, then a Google Checkout account. If Paypal, then a Paypal account. Let’s assume no one does this, so you need a Tip Jar account. You can imagine the account the same way PayPal does it. You fill it with credits. $20 would buy $20 worth of Tip Jar credits. This first hurdle has to be pretty simple, however the second time you tipped it would be much easier. Just username and password and you throw in the amount you want.
The service would take a small slice of the tips at the end of the month. Let’s say 2% of the tips you generated. Additionally, the service would need to provide lots of statistics to content producers and to regular users to show them what content they liked. In fact, this data could be used to suggest new kinds of content. Example: People who tipped this journalist, also tipped that other journalist. There are many avenues of expansion here.
I imagine that sites that aggregate content like the NY Times would want their cut too. Therefore, the JS tag would need to include special modifiers like splits, rendering options, etc. Obviously, it needs to be fast and mobile friendly. A flash version could be made to go on YouTube videos. Potentially an audio version (with author ID) could be made to imprint at the end of MP3 files.
The whole idea here is to make tipping easy. Eliminate the risk of not knowing whether something is enjoyable or not. Encourage sharing because the Tip Jar travels with you. If you have ever clicked “Share this” on a site then you probably would have thrown the author a dime.
Example: Take a popular blog that has 5-10k visitors per day. They use AdSense from Google. The author might make only a dollar per post. With that amount of people they would make much more.
I think this idea could save journalism. If you like this idea, send me a dime. I need 100,000 dimes to get the idea off the ground.