If you think your time is valuable, then it’s time to start charging for the biggest time suck of the day: managing your email. With Wrte.io, you can put up a paywall for anyone who wants to get into your inbox.
Wrte.io—which launched a beta on Wednesday that anyone can join via Product Hunt—makes the process very easy: Sign up for a wrte.io account and give out the address. When someone sends an email to that account, they will be prompted to pay the fee you set up before that email gets pushed to your inbox.
Once the sender ponies up the fee, wrte.io forwards the message to your primary email address. Depending on what you choose, it then either deposits the fee payment into a Stripe account or donates it to Watsi, a nonprofit crowdsourced healthcare platform that helps pay the medical expenses of individuals in developing countries.
Wrte.io creator Ivan Pashchenko acknowledged to the Daily Dot that the email paywall was “not a new idea. Probably many people thought about it.” But Pashchenko said that for him and his team, “it was interesting how good-old experience would change if people have to pay for sending emails.”
The website offers an open-ended prompt about how to use the service.
“Fix cold emails, charge for your attention or build a service with it,” it reads, suggesting it can be used however the user sees fit.
Pashchenko said that the “cold emails” he had in mind included unprompted pitches and unwanted contact attempts.
“We thought it might be a great public email for popular people,” he said. “But it doesn’t work much, probably because they don’t want to look arrogant. Then we asked our subscribers how they want to use wrte.io. People came up with a bunch of ideas.”
Pashchenko said some of his favorite concepts so far included charging for advice and consultancy, charging for attention, and building services atop the platform. He pointed to Tinytask.io, a service in which people can pay $10 through wrte.io to get a design or programming task completed in 10 to 20 minutes.
Paschenko dismissed the concerns of those who say that adding a price of admission to inboxes will in some way hinder communication or create a “pay-to-play” problem. He compared wrte.io to paying for a postage stamp on a letter and said a $1 fee didn’t create an unfair playing field.
“I think the situation when you have to know ‘the right people’ to deliver your message is much more unequal than the situation when you need to pay $1 for it,” he said.
For now, users have to set a minimum fee of $0.99 (there is no maximum, though, so go crazy). Wrte.io takes five percent from each transaction, while Stripe adds its own fee of 2.9 percent of the total charge plus 30 cents. That’s a big chunk of a $1 charge, with 38 cents going to pay for the transaction.
“In the future if we have sufficient amount of transactions, probably we could lower the fee,” Paschenko said.
Wrte.io does wave its share of the fees when the money is given to charity.
Photo via Ian Lamont/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)