Don’t take Free Things for Granted: 10 Years of Free Digital Publishing


Nobody from our team of iHeartBerlin ever planned to become a full-time blogger or to be working as an independent publisher in the beginning of the project. If we would have thought it through from the beginning we would have logically stepped away from doing anything like that. Essentially because it does not sound really promising.

First you put years of money, energy and time into a project that is freely available to everybody and has no financial outcome. Secondly, even if it turns out to become eventually a business like it happened for us, you never know if this business model will be outdated and irrelevant in a short period of time.

So why did we become an independent publisher in Berlin than? A city with no big brands or investors and no state-funding for digital publishers? The answers to this questions and also why we decided to collaborate with Flattr, a new digital startup supporting independent content creators all over the world is easy.

First of all, we really love to share our thoughts and feelings in form of articles, photos, and videos for free on the internet. We think it’s an amazing privilege that with no effort people from all over the world can read our thoughts and follow our tips for Berlin and ultimately even get in touch with us. Over the years we got numerous thank you emails and real hugs from artists, local shop owners, designers and everybody else we were working with and working for.

Of course, hugs and thank yous are appreciated, especially if your project is first of all your absolute passion. But over the years we realized that this passion took a lot of time and if we wanted to do it properly we had to either give up on our initially planned careers or downscale the project to a minimum. We decided to quit our job for iHeartBerlin and never regretted it so far. But still how free can you be as a publisher if your only sources of income are from advertisers? Publishing things for free makes us financially speaking less flexible regarding the choice of our partners and this is something we think about a lot actually.

So sometimes we wonder how this concept of free content on the Internet might develop in the future. What if Facebook shuts down all small publishers one day and will only share things from big media houses? What if brands and companies will work only with new commercial influencers instead of supporting the small digital press?

These concerns can only be confronted with smart actions. This is why we start today our collaboration with Flattr.  Flattr is a social-payment service from Sweden that basically helps you to fund your favorite publishers through microdonations. Through Flattr all of you, and by you I mean our readers, can support us. If you sign up with Flattr you will be able to give some microdonations to your favorite publishers on the internet like our team mates from Blogfabrik.

I know that paying for something that is for free seems counterintuitive. Still, I think it’s worth for all of us to try out this experiment. Because supporting your favorite blogs and magazines with a small microdonation is supporting something that you really like and that brings something positive to your life. Also with the support from our readers, we have the chance to gain some small independence from big advertising companies and also from the big player on the Internet (Google, Facebook you name them). I think it’s worth to contribute to an Internet with handmade content and creative storytelling.

photos: Yannic Pöpperling

If you want to know more about Flattr check out their website to learn about how they support independent publishers and content creators.

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<a href="" target="_self">Claudio</a>