So far, in this project I made a first stab at evangelizing Web Monetization among web developers, and I got a feeling for how WM is being perceived right now. As a secondary goal I tried to define how future devrel efforts should be structured and what they should focus on.
I made modest progress with both; details follow below in this report. The effort is far from over - in fact, it's only after the experience we gained in the first four months of this project that we can design future outreach efforts for maximum success and impact.
Also, we need a simple sign-up process for Web Monetization. Without that, any future outreach is pointless.
The target audience of this project consists of web developers. They are uniquely placed to evangelize Web Monetization to site owners, since web developers interact with site owners on a daily basis. Before they'll start evangelizing WM, though, they themselves have to be convinced of WM's usefulness.
Thus we should get them to adopt Web Monetization - initially for their own projects, but at a later stage in their client projects as well. After the first four months of this project we're starting to get a feel for how to do that.
Evangelizing Web Monetization among web developers is definitely possible. But we have to get it right the first time.
The main outreach method so far was personal conversations with web standards and web development thought leaders at conferences. I discussed my experiences at these conferences in an earlier post. We also experimented with a conference sponsorship, where I conducted a 10-minute breakout session and made myself available for questions.
While among web standards creators and web development thought leaders WM is already known and generally regarded as positive, those less clued-in have not heard of it, but are willing to listen and agree it's be worth taking another look at. In other words, there is potential fertile ground: web developers are interested in what we have to offer, and the only reason Web Monetization isn't already seeing a modest uptake is the lack of a simple sign-up process.
A few Chromium engineers agreed to insert the Web Monetization module currently being created by Igalia into Chrome, though behind a flag. Quite apart from the obvious advantage of having native browser support, this will also make web developers take us more seriously. I already noticed at the conferences I visited in 2023. In 2024 we have to play this trump card for all that it's worth.
Although hallway conversations and conference sponsorships can definitely work to spread the WM word, we have to address two significant problems in 2024.
The most important problem is that it's not yet possibly to easily subscribe to Web Monetization. The sign-up process is still a mess that requires subscribers to understand the difference between a wallet and a monetization provider, and understand that, even though some browsers may support WM natively, you also need the ILF extension in the short run. All this makes evangelization complicated. The process should be simplified.
A secondary problem is WM's perceived alignment with crypto and the caution this instills in the target audience. Dispelling this myth will be an important part of future devrel efforts. Still, the situation is already improving. In 2022 many of my outreach efforts were greeted with "That's the crypto thing, right?" This reaction was mostly absent in 2023; I'd at most get a question about crypto much later during my WM intro.
So far Web Monetization has not yet been discussed in public, such as on blogs or in web development magazines. The main reason is the lack of an easy sign-up process. Web Monetization will only get one opportunity to make a first impression, and without an easy sign-up that impression will be mostly negative. Thus, large-scale marketing will have to wait.
Ideally, any outreach attempt should include handing over a flyer of at most A5 format with a simple, three-step process for signing up presented in a large, soothing font. For online marketing we need a web page with the same content. At present the process does not yet exist, let alone a flyer or web page.
There are a few smaller marketing issues we should solve:
I need to create what's essentially an elevator pitch for WM aimed at web developers. My earlier attempts were too long and meandering, and I need to focus my story more.
The banners we use at sponsored conferences should be more focused and more in-your-face. Personally I believe they should spell out "Web Monetization" in a huge font, with a much smaller "by ILF" tagline. We want to become recognizable at a glance, and the one banner I used at the one sponsored conference didn't do that sufficiently. This is something to be discussed with marketing.
At first I didn't like the "Send a payment as easily as email" tagline because I was afraid it'd be discounted by web developers as marketing fluff - and the entire ILF with it.
Meanwhile I partly changed my mind. Web developers didn't react as negatively as I thought, and there is some truth in the statement: we do want to make payments as easy as email. However, it needs quite a bit of explanation about how email secretly isn't all that easy, and that, like sysadims, the ILF will take care of the tricky parts for us etc etc. A tagline that you have to explain is not a tagline, so I'm not sure if it'll work on its own.
The comparison could work as part of a longer presentation, where I can take five minutes to explain what we mean. I'm going to try this approach in 2024.
In 2024 I will continue to hold informal conversations, though the main marketing thrust will have to wait until an easy sign-up process is available. Once it is we can expand to a series of blog posts, magazine articles, and other forms of outreach.
We'll continue conference sponsorships as well. They are excellently suited for bringing the ILF and Web Monetization to the attention of web developers, provided we create a long-term string of sponsorships where we return to the same conferences for at least three years in a row. The ILF has to become part of the furniture, as it were.