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Tip Jars are Hard

February 17, 2015 - 2:00 pm

Tip Jars are hard in two senses.

The first difficulty is more existential; the notion of asking people to give me money to do what I want to do seems, well, awkward. And yet I fully believe what I’m doing is good and valuable, and I certainly need to make a living somehow, so it’s sensible and reasonable to ask folks who feel the same way to pitch in. I’ve never begrudged tossing money in the hats of buskers who brightened my days walking through cities. I know I feel good about it. Why should it be different online? 

So I’m trying to take advice from Amanda Palmer and Maria Popova and dozens of other internet phenoms I think are spiffy and ask. Donations are appreciated and will allow me to keep doing what I do without having to get a Real Job(tm). Today was the day I had resolved to add a tip jar to the blog.

I am planning to try something unusual in the knitting world, and instead of having Secret Knitting that I speak of vaguely and work on off stage, I’m going to blog everything about my newest pattern “Fire Thief.” I blogged a swatch last week and posted some charts yesterday on twitter and flickr. I’m hoping other folks will like watching the process and that it will make the pattern more popular (and remunerative!) instead of less. I know I enjoy getting insights into other artists’ processes, so why should anyone feel differently about me? 

So I set out this morning expecting I could hook up a paypal tip jar in fifteen minutes or so, blog about Fire Thief and mention it, and then go on about my day. I have a skirt I want to make. But, alas, that will all happen tomorrow. 

Instead, I found the other way in which tip jars are hard. I had sort of started to find this in researching business accounting practices with respect to gifts. The internet based “pay what you want” concept has not been embraced by the tax folks yet. I still don’t know how that will all work out, I’m just charging ahead on faith. Other people are doing it, so it must be possible. 

First I went looking for a free clip-art graphic for a tip jar that was licensed for commercial use. Should be dozens, wouldn’t you think? Turns out not so much. So I sat down withmy iPad mini, Paper, and Pencil from Fiftythree, and here for use by any and all is a free tip jar clipart with an attribution license:


Next I needed to plumb it up to Paypal, which should be straightforward, right? Turns out, again, not so much. Paypal has a donate button, but has this to say about using it: 

Note: This button is intended for fundraising. If you are not raising money for a cause, please choose another option. Nonprofits must verify their status to withdraw donations they receive. Users that are not verified nonprofits must demonstrate how their donations will be used, once they raise more than $10,000.

So I went casting about the Internet looking at who had done what. I asked several bloggers, but I’m not the patient sort, so I kept looking. Eventually I found this tutorial by AoxoA Creative that did a beautiful job of walking me through the process. 

So now there’s a tip jar over there on the left, if you’re inclined to express your appreciation thusly. If not that’s completely fine, but I need to at least break even this year. Every dollar gets me a little closer to “making it.” 

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about the Fire Thief. 🙂

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