Abstract image.
Totally not Mirror’s graphic logo.

Blogging Practices Series

Why Blog on a Web3 Publishing Platform like Mirror?

How the Concept of Blockchain-Based Collectable Articles Disrupts Web2 Platforms Like Medium, Substack, Patreon & Even Shopify and WordPress Blogs

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Apologies for the too-long subtitle! It’s not so much about stuffing it with keywords as it’s about suggesting how radical Web3 publishing might be compared to all the Web2 pains we’ve gotten used to. I’ll use Mirror as my Web3 blogging platform example because crypto logins can be so complicated, who wants to be on more than one of them anyway? : )

Though I’ve been blogging on Medium for several years, and plan to continue doing so for many more (for reasons I explain below), I’ve recently set up my Mirror space. Somewhat surprisingly, I was immediately inundated with emails and DMs from my crypto enthusiast circle making comments along the lines of, ‘I don’t see the point of blogs as NFTs. Who would collect a blog post? Seems really dumb.” And yet, you know, they love to collect cartoon animal faces.

If that’s how NFT collectors and the crypto bullish react to Mirror, one can only imagine what the 87% of Americans who have never engaged in a crypto transaction might think about the whole idea of minting — making a blockchain collectable out of — a blog post. Probably something along the lines of, ‘sounds like another crypto scam, Ponzi scheme, wash trading swamp, house of cards, pump and dump’ and so on.

While the blog-as-nft is a new idea, it’s not gimmicky, as its value proposition directly addresses much that’s gone wrong with Web2 blogging. It’s actually Web2 that has become gimmicky with its bot-fueled fake stats and other algorithmic excesses. However, when joining Mirror, this didn’t immediately sink in, and it took me a few days to realize how radical the potential of Web3 is for writing on the web.

Here are the problems with the current mainstay of all the Web2 publishing platforms I listed in my very long subtitle above:

Medium

When you go looking for stories on Medium, it front-loads to the top of the search mostly articles that have been placed behind its paywall. The relevancy of the search results aren’t really about the search query, but about Medium’s monetization model. Ok, fine, they need to monetize etc., everyone does blah blah.

So, say you pay your $5/mo. subscription fee to be able to read your favorite Medium authors, or any author that shows up in a content search. Those authors get fractions of a penny for your reads, just as musicians do on Spotify or YouTubers get for all the ads slathered over their videos. Web2 platforms generally offer total crappola pay for the vast majority of creators on them.

Substack & Patreon

On these platforms, you can sign up to a subscription fee that dings your credit card once per month a small amount to support folks whose work you value. The problem with this is that, the more stuff you come across on the web that you want to support, those credit card dings accumulate. If there’s 10 folks you want to support on either of these two platforms, that’s like $50/mo. your paying now to support the cool stuff you like, and it’s no longer a small commitment to make.

I am bundling Patreon with Substack here, even though the former is not a blogging platform per se, but patrons do get access to the creators and special content just for them, so it is a publishing platform in that sense. Mainly what they have in common is that all these small monthly credit card dings can easily add up to a large recurring bill if you end up being too enthusiastic about too much cool stuff on the web. It’s basically like subscribing to too many streaming services.

Mirror

Here’s why I think Web3 has a potentially amazing future for creators. What a platform like Mirror does is offer you the opportunity to support something you find interesting on the web with a one-time payment that costs as much as a latte with scone. It turns your appreciative support of the creator into something substantial for them and minor for you, by basically allowing you to make a one-time impulse supportive buy out of a limited edition series of their article mints.

Through the mechanism of collecting the minted article, you are providing much more monetary backing to the creator than a fraction of a penny (as per Medium), and you won’t be accumulating a massive monthly charge on your credit card for being a general supporter of culture (as per Substack/Patreon). On Mirror you can also just Subscribe, in the old-fashioned Web2 way, and unlike Web2, there’s no annoying pushy popup begging you to pay, subscribe, be spammed, etc.

I love this image below because I admit I don’t fully understand it. Somehow my Mirror article has been permanently etched onto the very being of the blockchain, and yet like any blog, I can continuously edit it as I come across typos or have new thoughts. It’s like you get this message saying, “Your writing has been etched in virtual stone permanently for all time, but you can still modify it whenever you want to.” I love it, I don’t get it, some coders are making it all work I guess.

A mirror message.
The message when you mint an article.

But this is a beautiful idea. If all 500 of my limited edition article mints get collected, I get ~$6000 not accounting for the wild price swings in crypto values. That’s a rather consequential difference compared to the pennies offered by Medium, or the way your monthly commitment can add up to a huge bill on Patreon or Substack, if you find too much stuff on the web you like. And it just costs what a latte and scone combo would, but without the calories so you can support creators and your diet at the same time.

True, you need to know how to make crypto transactions in the first place. You need to set up your wallet, get real fiat money over into the virtual money zone, backup your private key, save the 12 seed words, memorize how the quadruple factor authentication works, figure out what poorly designed icon in the app UI signifies ‘this is where the camera is to scan the QR code’ etc. But, you know, after a few days of googling on the internet anyone can eventually figure it out!

Mirror, in essence, has resegmented the market for general public support of the cool things that creators make and communicate about on the web. That’s a revolution, not a gimmick.

Shopify, WordPress & Web2 Blogging in General

Today, the word ‘blogging’ is practically synonymous with ‘clickbait.’ The clickification of the reading public is one of the grossest things to have happened to writing since it used to be etched on moist dew dampened Babylonian cow dung with sharpened human tongue tips. Ok, I admit, I made that up.

O M G, the endless stream of crappy articles in our news feeds. Looking right now at my Flipboard, all the Top 10 lists, the This vs Thats, the Everyone’s Thinking the Same Thing articles, Putin is Unhappy, Some actress is wearing a see-through gown, Explosions reported in a war zone, you’ll never make potatoes the same way again, the things all couples do to stay together, or the things they do to not stay together, house prices going down forever no end in sight, Trump says something, Republicans and Democrats argue about something, Elon Musk is polling again, Harry and Meghan are constantly Netflixing, 3 scientific benefits from the same things that last week were scientifically harmful, turn off this feature on your cellphone immediately or turn it on, no one sleeps well it seems so there are so many articles about how to sleep right and making you afraid that your spine will permanently deform if you’re a side sleeper, and O M G there are sooooo many goddamn ‘I’m a dermatologist so listen to me for what you should be coating your face with.’

Fuck.

That’s Web2, a big fuck to quality writing on the web. For sure, in a Web3 publishing world, no one would collect any of this crap. The whole concept of an article as a collectable acts as a filter on all this verbiage sewage flow. If you want your writing to be collectable in a Web3 era, my god, you might actually have to learn how to write well or something. Today, what ‘writing well’ means is that someone clicked on your headline, and maybe even got into your conversion funnel by clicking within your annoying popup.

No one is going to financially support a minted version of today’s ‘blogging best practices’ by collecting it, that’s for damn sure!

Web2 as Top of the Funnel

Think of Web2 at the top, and Web3 at the bottom as your NFT mint zone etc. (image source)

What seems to me to be a good way to negotiate this current moment where Web2 dominates and Web3 is emerging. My suggested strategy (free consulting advice for you : ) is to use Web2 as the top of your conversion funnel. From your Web2 space — for me, it’s this blog, Sound & Design on Medium — gently guide or lightly hint-suggest to your visitors that maybe they should check out your Web3 space.

Mirror is a more personal space, where communications aren’t really aimed randomly at anyone who happens to come across my content in a search query — though those folks are certainly welcome, as there’s no crypto paywall blocking general access to Mirror content.

So, that’s this one artist’s take on how you might think about Web3 blogging as part of your content creation mix, in a Web2 dominated world but where some better things are definitely in sight on the horizon.

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