In general, the company has done a terrific job coping with dramatic growth in users (bloggers and "blogees"--readers of blogs) and the constant rush to integrate new technologies and features into a constantly running global platform.
This post is to highlight a new feature introduced by the company, called the Tip Jar. The philosophy behind the feature is stated as follows by the company:
"Tips have long been a traditional way of saying thanks. The method of giving tips varies from country to country but the general nature of a tip is the same — a way to express gratitude to someone for a job well done. Now, Pro Level subscribers have a fast and easy way to receive tangible feedback from their readers by adding a Tip Jar to their weblog sidebar.
You put effort into your weblog – now you have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your effort. And to make it easy, the Tip Jar feature works via PayPal, so millions of weblog readers can simply drop cash in to your weblog from their PayPal accounts or directly from their credit card."
This complements Typepad's implementation of contextual ads in partnership with Kanoodle, which I posted on a while ago.
And they've done a good job of implementing the feature, making it relatively simple to implement. In particular, I like the fact that they allow the Tip Jar to be linked to a post, so that the blogger can explain how he/she plans to use this feature, on an on-going basis.
My only suggestion would be the ability to add a longer description under the Tip Jar feature. For example, in my implementation here, I'm limited to 14 characters, which limits me to just the three words you see under the Tip Jar. But that's a nitpick.
At the broadest sense, this is good for Typepad as a business, because it adds yet another component that enables its customers to make money.
Internet businesses that help its customers make money have historically done well, with eBay and Google being the archetypal examples.
The caveat is that most bloggers aren't making big bucks doing this blogging thing to date. For most, it is a labor of love, motivated in general by the need to communicate, share and commune with people at large around common interests.
My experience with the online ads bear this out, with the revenues to date over the past few months being enough for a couple of visits to Starbucks.
And yet, I'm implementing the Tip jar on this side along side the contextual ads.
The motivation is not the money but the experiment of what people do when these types of features are introduced.
Specifically, I'm curious if the tip jar can surpass the revenue generated by the paid search ads, at least on this site. All money from this blog will go to charity.
Specifically, as the Tip Jar on the right states, a sum equal to the proceeds from this feature, ALONG with the Typepad contextual ads will be donated in their entirety to the Red Cross at the end of the year, ALONG WITH a matching donation by yours truly. (*Also, see update below).
I will update you on what the totals look like at the end of the year.
This will continue annually into next year and beyond.
So it's for a good cause. Other bloggers like Fred Wilson have pioneered this approach and I think it's terrific. Given that my traffic is far lower than Fred's, I'll supplement your donation with mine.
So step up as you please, and let's do some good together. And thanks for reading this blog.
And as always, reader comments and suggestions are welcome. As Fred aptly puts it, they are all the tip this blogger needs as well.
*Update: Thanks to Fred's generous link to this post, I'll donate another matching sum to his favorite charity, the Grameen Foundation. It truly has an "out of the box" approach to poverty in developing countries, with a special focus on empowering women.
So your ad clicks and tips will result in triple contributions to two very worthy causes.