Heya peeps! I am cooking up a website after chatting about how to accept payments online.
After I grabbed a domain and started planning it, Patreon went and made changes that folks feel weird about, so in some ways the central premise of my idea is validated.
Okay, it is really easy for me to accept payments online. I have all the payment processor accounts created, I have hosting available, and I have a bunch of software that works together to basically make an online form or button that tells your financial network to give my credit union the monies.
I’ve done it so many times, and in so many contexts, it takes me about five minutes from wanting money to sending someone a link to get it, starting from scratch.
That means I don’t pay a middle-company a fee on top of the payment processors, and there are less rules to follow. Also, based on how these sites work, your money hangs with them for a while (not a bad idea, just a fact of doing business), and who knows what they are doing with your data. What data? All the information about your friends/supporters, being fed to advertisers and data silos, where it is used to exploit folks… it isn’t good. And by using those systems you are complicit in their “terms of service”.
All this bothers me. I wish more folks self-hosted. I wish they would sell digital goods from their own site, instead of loading up some market that actively seeks to destroy the others. I wish people could make money on their own terms, and not have to consult their non-existent accountant when a corporation is done with its honeymoon phase and now has to pay back all the VC they borrowed.
In that spirit, here is my thinking: I am going to host a network of sites (WordPress multisite), so folks can build their own payment pages.
Ya see, I can spin up a WordPress site and accept payments for you, but that isn’t good enough. Creators, citizens, everyone: you should be learning how these systems work, because you are affected by them.
So what happens is, each person will get a subsite, and I will provide all the plugins and docs to get you up and running. And because it is a “slow web” service, I will be helping each and every person signing up (for now, maybe I can write really killer docs that does the heavy lifting…).
What does it come with? A very simple theme, with some forms and a way to connect it to your payment processors.
That means the database I host will have API keys or whatever, but no financial credentials. And while by default the site will have records of form submissions (“transactions”), that behavior can be modified, and also automatically exported on a schedule.
What I am saying is, I am hosting websites for free. Free, because I think that helping people is legacy as well as currency (and also because I will also have a way for folks to send me money!), but also free as in I won’t be doing anything with data; I am just hosting, not getting involved in your finances.
There’s a bunch of other stuff for the future, like running campaigns and recurring donations, but we are gonna keep it simple to launch. The most important parts are that it is secure, doesn’t load any crap, and gets my peeps paid (and if they do get paid, I have so many questions!).
Let’s see, a few other features:
- Secured with Let’s Encrypt
- Individuals have their own sites, and will eventually have more customizations options
- Payment forms are completely customizable
- Will accept Stripe and PayPal (ugh!)
Right now I am working on a minimal WordPress theme that can do a single page site layout, so looking for design patterns that are useful. Thinking something like a place for a headshot and then some intro text, and then the payment form. Prior art or ideas are welcome!
Let me know if you have any questions, concerns or wishes!