This website is now monetized

Today, CSS Tricks showed how to add a simple monetization system to any website. Read that article for details, but it’s actually really simple:

  1. Set up an account at Coil
  2. Create a Stronghold wallet for payment
  3. Include a meta tag in your website’s head

Coil users can install an extension for Chrome or Firefox that checks for the meta tag. When found, Coil is notified and transfers an amount to the website publisher’s Stronghold wallet. I found it easy to set up as a user and as a publisher (although having to set up accounts with both Coil and Stronghold was a bit annoying).

Illustration by Coil with their browser plugin
Illustration from Coil’s homepage

Privacy-wise it seems alright: websites can’t see much about the Coil user. Coil doesn’t track “what content you visit”. I presume because only the website’s ‘payment pointer’ is transferred. For most websites, that’s likely a unique identifier, but it doesn’t include specific pages and Coil doesn’t have to store it.

The only bit of information websites get from Coil is whether the browser has Coil enabled (with an active account). So sites can remove ads for paying users based on that. CSS Tricks is already doing that, nice!

Another cool things is that they want their approach to be an open web standard. Built right into browsers, where users can use other platforms than Coil too.

The crazy part

Coil users pay a fixed monthly subscription of $ 5. Nice and simple, until other plans are announced. Publishers are paid per second spend on a monetized page. Here’s where it gets crazy. Publishers get paid instantly with each visit to a monetized page. While setting up and testing Coil on this website, I already made $ 0.8173409. That’s from 10 visits. If that doesn’t seem like much: that’s roughly one sixth of one user’s monthly budget. And it’s way more than ad-supported websites make per visit. Now maybe Coil will cap payments from my visits after a certain amount. I don’t know. And what happens with the fees from users who don’t visit many Coil-monetized websites?

Update: see Coil’s reaction at the bottom.

Coil transactions table showing deposits totaling $ 0.81
My Coil transactions on Stronghold.

Should I even try to make money this way?

I feel honored by the roughly 5000 people (of which you are one!) visiting my site each month. But compared to bigger outlets, that’s nothing (sorry!)—so I never considered directly monetizing this at all.

With Coil I could be competing with the websites of people who need to make from their online content. I could be competing with charities. And with people to whom $ 0.8173409 is actually more than a trivial amount.

Let’s not get to excited

Let’s first see how many of you actually are Coil users and if there will be any payments apart from those caused by my own visit.

And yes, I considered that Coil could be a sort of scheme. It’s promoted by people with websites who hope to earn a bit of money by promoting it, but also signing up themselves for a monthly subscription (like me). But look at that well-made website and those cute illustrations!

I’ve approached Coil with my questions and will follow up on this as soon as I have an answer.

Update 1: Answers from Coil

We’re experimenting with some different payout strategies right now. The current Coil subscription normally pays out at a rate of 100 millionths of a dollar per second. When subscribers use Coil for a certain amount in a month the rate of our payout will decrease until their subscription renews at which point it will return to 100 millionths of a dollar per second. This helps prevent abuse of the platform by people who idle on their own sites.

Update 2: This website is no longer monetized

As mentioned in the foreword, Stronghold stopped supporting Coil payments, with no reason mentioned. With the little revenue it created, I don’t bother connecting another wallet.