Categories
Blogs and blogging Business and work Creative expression

Build a membership site with recurring payments

We launched a new Recurring Payments feature for self-hosted WordPress.org sites (powered by Jetpack) or WordPress.com sites today. It’s an awesome new way for anyone with a paid WordPress.com plan to earn money through their sites.

Our new Recurring Payments feature for WordPress.com and Jetpack-powered sites lets you do just that: it’s a monetization tool for content creators who want to collect repeat contributions from their supporters, and it’s available with any paid plan on WordPress.com.

Let your followers support you with periodic, scheduled payments. Charge for your weekly newsletter, accept monthly donations, sell yearly access to exclusive content — and do it all with an automated payment system.

A New Way to Earn Money on WordPress.com — The WordPress.com Blog

The model is similar to Patreon in that you can give your fans a way to support you with recurring payments. This is a great way to build an income through your site.

Here are a few things you can do with this new feature (borrowing from our announcement post):

  • Accept ongoing payments from visitors directly on your site.
  • Bill supporters automatically, on a set schedule. Subscribers can cancel anytime from their WordPress.com account.
  • Offer ongoing subscriptions, site memberships, monthly donations, and more, growing your fan base with exclusive content.
  • Integrate your site with Stripe to process payments and collect funds.

One reason I really like the Recurring Payments feature is that it gives anyone with a paid plan (whether it’s a WordPress.com Personal plan, or a higher plan) a way to create a membership site that can help them grow a following, and a new income stream.

Ad revenue is a popular way of earning money through your site (we offer a WordAds ad platform, for example), but ad revenue really depends on substantial numbers of visitors to turn into meaningful income.

On the other hand, receiving recurring payments from a smaller group of passionate supporters just seems to be more sustainable, and meaningful.

It’s hard to be creative when you’re worried about money. Running ads on your site helps, but for many creators, ad revenue isn’t enough. Top publishers and creators sustain their businesses by building reliable income streams through ongoing contributions.

This new feature empowers creators, bloggers, knowledge workers, <insert your title here> to share something of value with your audience, and build a sustainable business in the process.

Find out more here: Recurring Payments — Support — WordPress.com.

Featured image by Nicholas Green
Categories
People Photography Travel and places

Capturing your bucket shot

I enjoyed Peter McKinnon’s short film about his journey to achieving one of his goals, titled “Bucket Shot” –

His aim was to capture the popular Lake Moraine, with snow-covered mountains, while the lake was still liquid. It’s a beautiful scene, and well worth watching the film.

Featured image: Laurent Gass PHOTOGRAPHIE, licensed CC BY NC ND 2.0.

Categories
Music

My favourite songs this week

I’ve heard some terrific new music lately, and I thought I’d share some of my favourite songs this week.

I don’t recall hearing this artist’s music before. This track is a great intro, though.

Nick Mulvey

I’ve been listening to more Nick Mulvey’s music, and enjoying many more of his songs. Here are my current favourites:

I have a growing “Liked Songs” playlist on Spotify that includes all of these tracks. It’s probably a bit too big to share directly, but these songs are some great highlights from songs I added recently to that playlist.

Featured image by Luana De Marco
Categories
Blogs and blogging Design

My new Twenty Twenty look

I decided to switch my site over to the new Twenty Twenty theme that will be released with WordPress 5.3 next week. I downloaded a pre-release version from the GitHub repo, and uploaded it directly.

A fresh coat of Twenty Twenty

I like the default themes that ship with WordPress, and the themes that our team is building. Even though the new generation of themes aren’t perfect*, they’re built for the block editor. I keep forgetting how much flexibility that brings to WordPress.

Preview of the Twenty Twenty theme.

So far, I like this new theme. I think the content container is a bit narrow on a larger screen, so I may tweak that a bit. The mobile view is pretty great, though.

Main image by Anna Kolosyuk

For example, I’d love to see custom fonts return to the Customizer, although with Full Site Editing on the way, we won’t be using the Customizer for much longer.

Categories
Design Events and Life People

… you can create blocks like it’s 1999

I’m watching Matt Mullenweg’s “State of the Word 2019” from the recent WordCamp US, and almost snorted my tea when he had this to say about the new colour gradients feature for blocks in Gutenberg v6.8:

You can create blocks like it’s 1999 …

Matt Mullenweg, speaking at WCUS 2019

😂

You can find Matt’s keynote here:

Luke Chesser
Categories
People Photography Science and nature Travel and places

The mountains won’t remember you

I really enjoyed Peter McKinnon‘s video titled “The Mountains Won’t Remember Me” for a few reasons. To begin with, his photography is awe inspiring. The video was created from a shoot in Banff, Canada. It’s probably one of the most beautiful regions I’ve every seen, albeit through McKinnon’s video.

The mountains, the hills, and the rivers in this video are idyllic. If I could live anywhere in the world, I’m pretty sure I’d want to spend most of my time there.

I also appreciated the central premise of the video – the enduring nature of these mountains, and their utter indifference to our day to day struggle to stand out, and be noticed.

Featured image by Will Tarpey
Categories
Applications

You don’t need Facebook News to keep up with news

Facebook News (or, rather, a Facebook News tab), is rolling out in the USA, and there are valid concerns about this already, for various reasons.

Whether you’re in the USA, or not, you don’t need (and may not want to rely on) Facebook News to keep up with the news. Instead, there is a tried, tested, and widely available alternative that you can configure to suit your preferences right now: feed readers.

Advantages to using a feed reader

Feed readers have been around for decades, and use RSS or XML feeds that most news sites (and virtually all blogs) publish to syndicate their content. They aren’t exactly the Hot New ThingTM these days, but they’re still going strong. They also have a few advantages over options like Facebook News:

  • You have a wealth of choice when it comes to selecting your feed reader;
  • You can choose which sources to follow, and you’ll receive all the updates from all of your sources, pretty much as they publish them without relying on an algorithm to share the updates in your feed;
  • If you don’t like using your current feed reader, you can usually export your feeds, and move to a new feed reader.

Feed reader vs feed aggregator

When it comes to choosing a feed reader, you’ll want to make two decisions: which feed aggregator you want to use, and which feed reader you wan to use to read your feeds. Some feed readers are standalone feed aggregators, and you can use them to subscribe to your feeds on your local device.

Most feed reader apps (like the ones I mention below) will do this.

The real magic is when you have a feed aggregator that syncs between your feed reader apps. They’ll all enable you to subscribe to your preferred feeds. All you’ll want to decide is which one to use. There are a couple services to consider:

  • Feedly – I consider Feedly to be the spiritual successor to Google Reader. It’s a web-based service that has both Feedly apps for iOS and Android, and you can also use a variety of 3rd party feed readers to subscribe to your Feedly feeds;
  • Feedbin – Feedbin is similar to Feedly in that it’s a feed aggregator, and integrates with a variety of 3rd party apps on multiple platforms; and
  • Inoreader – This is another popular service that has mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

Feed reader and service recommendations

Here are a few great feed reader options to consider:

  • NetNewsWire – This mainstay from a decade or so ago is back, and is being actively developed as an open source feed reader for macOS. It’s contributors are adding more and more integrations and functionality at a rapid pace;
  • Reeder – Reeder is a paid macOS app that I’ve been using for years. It’s packed with functionality, including a decent Pocket reader;
  • FeedReader – If you’re a Linux user, this nicely designed app is a good option to consider. It seems to have borrowed it’s design from a macOS app I like, Reeder, and integrates with services like Feedly to give you a desktop option for your Feedly feeds;
  • WordPress.com Reader – If you’re a WordPress.com user, you can also use the included Reader as a feed reader;
  • Nuzzel – If you prefer to receive your news updates on Twitter (Twitter is pretty well suited for this), then Nuzzel offers a great way to collate news updates, especially when you use it in conjunction with curated Twitter lists that you populate with your preferred news sources; and
  • Thunderbird – You may remember Thunderbird as Mozilla’s email app. It’s still being developed, and includes a feed reader too. Thunderbird is free, cross-platform, and open source, so it’s a great option too.

When it comes to keeping up to date with news, and the sites you’re interested in, feed readers remain a terrific way to do it. There are many options available when it comes to both aggregators, and feed readers. Make your own choices, and subscribe to the content that matters most to you.

Featured image by Roman Kraft
Categories
Policy issues Science and nature

Join #TeamTrees, and plant more trees

We watched Mark Rober’s video promoting the #TeamTrees initiative to plant 20 million trees by the end of 2019, this morning:

I was fascinated to learn how trees capture carbon to build mass. I knew that trees absorbed carbon from the atmosphere, but didn’t quite realise how. He explained this as part of his pitch to contribute to the #TeamTrees initiative that a YouTube personality, MrBeast, started with this video:

A growing number of YouTube personalities have joined the call to contribute to the cause that, in turn, donates the money to the Arbor Day Foundation. Each dollar donated will result in a tree being planted.

This initiative won’t fix climate change, but it’s a positive step in the right direction, and sends a signal that this is important. We made a contribution this morning through the site. You can donate either through the #TeamTrees site, or on YouTube where you see donation buttons like this:

Closer to home for us is the Jewish National Fund that receives donations to plant trees in Israel, like these trees in the Ben Shemen forest just outside our city:

Trees in the Ben Shemen forest in central Israel

So, if you’d like to donate to initiatives that plant more trees, here are two options to start with:

More about this

If you’re interested in reading more about the challenges facing initiatives like this, The Verge has a pretty good article that you may want to read: “Planting trees to take on climate change isn’t as easy as YouTubers might think“. While there are certainly important considerations to bear in mind, this is still a worthy project to back.

Tackling climate change is a multi-faceted, long-term process. This is one step, and a way to make a contribution to our shared future on this planet.

Cover image by Daiga Ellaby