As consistent advertising revenue becomes harder to come by, micropayments are growing as a way for meme-makers and other independent creators to get paid.

Meme-hosting site Imgur secured its second big funding round, a $20 million investment from micropayments startup Coil. Imgur will integrate Coil’s technology, which permits meme creators to earn money for every second that a visitor views their content.

  • Coil, founded by a former official of electronic currency company Ripple Labs, charges members $5 a month. As a visitor consumes content, the creators are paid in Ripple’s XRP currency at a rate of 36 cents per hour. Both Coil and Imgur take cuts of payments, opening a revenue stream for Imgur outside of on-site advertising. 
  • Coil’s agnostic payments differentiate it from other micropayment startups like Brave Rewards, which allows people to tip creators with money earned from watching ads, or Flattr, subscribers of which can choose specific creators to pay. 
  • Given the squeeze on ad revenue in recent years, independent creators have also turned to subscription membership platforms like Patreon and customized merchandise sales sites such as Represent to open up additional revenue streams.
  • Meme-makers are so frustrated about not being paid that group of popular Instagram account owners decided to unionize to fight for better treatment.
  • Karma Take: As the online content landscape continually becomes more corporate, startups and investors are presented with a unique opportunity to create lucrative revenue avenues for independent creators.