Membership websites are difficult. Accepting tips is easy.

If you’re an artist you might be playing with the idea of starting a membership website that delivers exclusive content to your super-fans for a yearly fee. While this is a great idea and can definitely be a viable way to make money from your art, it also adds an enormous amount of complexity to your life – complexity that you might be able to avoid and replace with a simple tipping form instead.

There’s one main thing that serious artists need to remember here: You’re an artist, not a code-developer or a fan-manager. You want to spend your time making art. You don’t want to spend your time troubleshooting website issues and managing customers. Being an artist in the internet era is time consuming already. When you’re not actually creating your art, you’re spending time doing things like editing videos, making thumbnails, posting content to social media, and tons of other time-consuming tasks required to stay relevant to your online audience. Adding more things to your to-do list prevents you from actually creating your art.

No matter how you slice it, running a membership website takes time. Even if all of the complex code under-the-surface works the way it should, you have to create exclusive content that is walled-off from the general public, which includes new potential fans. That means you aren’t sharing all of your art with the world, and only a select few might actually experience it. While that system may work great for artists who are already popular and in-demand, what about artists just getting started? Do you really have the time and resources to create double-content: exclusive and non-exclusive?

This is where tipping, as a business model, has a major advantage over membership websites. Instead of worrying about the technical aspects of walling-off your art from the world, accepting payments, issuing refunds, and general maintenance, you could accept tips, which are given without anything expected in return. When people tip you, it’s simple. There’s no log-ins for them to remember, and you don’t have to deliver anything to them. This makes you more like an online busker. Everyone can experience your art, as you share it with the world. The more people who appreciate your art, the more potential people will want to say “thanks” by tipping you.

To sum it up, whether you make music, comedy, podcasts, paint-on-canvas videos, photos, or share your art in any digital format online, there’s a loyal fanbase out there who are willing to say “thanks” by leaving you tips. And accepting tips from them is far simpler than configuring a membership system and creating exclusive content.

But the big question is, will people actually tip you? The answer: if it’s simple enough, and it’s an option, there’s lots of evidence to say that they will. From street performers and buskers to Twitch streamers, YouTube’s Superchat, and Patreon, people have proven that they will tip.

This is where the Tip Jar WP plugin comes in. It makes tipping you on your website as simple as dropping a dollar in a guitar case.