What if your writing could be sold as an NFT? What if you owned a stake in the platform where you published your writing, and it was stored permanently in a decentralized database? What if you could use your publication to start a DAO, share value with the writers that influence you, or even crowdfund a magazine or documentary?
Look no further than Mirror.xyz, a new publishing platform on Ethereum. Mirror describes itself as a “decentralized, user-owned, crypto-based network,” or in sexier terms, “Writing as usual, publishing like never before.”
The platform was created by Denis Nazarov in 2020, part of what is becoming an increasingly vague “creator economy” — internet spaces meant to help creators monetize in new ways. While the ability for writers to earn income directly from their audience has been amplified over the past year with platforms like Substack, Ghost, and Lede, few promise to enable creators to forge a direct relationship with their fans through direct ownership.
Sounds alluring...how do I join?
To join Mirror.xyz, you need to earn 1 $WRITE token, which can be redeemed for a unique ENS domain used for your publication. $WRITE tokens serve as an Ethereum-based alternative to the typical invite system used by platforms like Clubhouse or Superhuman, and also function as a collective ownership in the platform itself as holders of $WRITE tokens use them to vote in new publications.
How do you get a $WRITE token? The only way is to participate in a weekly “$WRITE RACE,” which happens every Wednesday from 3-5pm ET. Every account that connects their Ethereum address with a Twitter profile gets 0.01 $WRITE, or ten votes. The top 10 writers voted by their peers each week are awarded 1 $WRITE token and can start a publication.
Next week is Round 23, which means ~220 writers are already on the platform, ranging from Ethereum OGs and investors to New Yorker staff writers and novelists. There are even a few DAOs and Ethereum companies. Oh, and Miquela, a 19-year old robot in Los Angeles.
Mirror aims to revolutionize the tools for writers to monetize and create shared value with their writing — not just be a fun set of tools for the crypto community to publish their writing. The purpose of this post is to walk through the steps necessary to join the $WRITE race for those unfamiliar with Ethereum and Web3-based platforms.
The portal to the Web3 world begins with MetaMask, which you can download by clicking the link below. For now, joining Mirror works best when you use the MetaMask extension on Chrome or Brave.
After you’ve downloaded MetaMask, make sure to save your Secret Recovery Phrase in multiple safe places. Next, log in with your password and click “connect wallet” to connect Mirror.xyz with your MetaMask address.
To avoid invitation spammers and let the community curate the initial group of Mirror publications, Mirror asks you to post proof of your address on Twitter. If you don’t want your Ethereum address in MetaMask to be associated with the address you use for other activity on Ethereum, you can create a new account in MetaMask.
In this example, I’m setting up a Mirror account with the @Consensys handle on Twitter.
After you click “Link Identity,” MetaMask will prompt you to sign a message.
This message signature will auto populate as a post from your Twitter account. After you press “tweet,” copy the URL into Mirror, and voilà, your identity on Mirror has been verified.
Now comes the tough part: convincing people to vote for you. Each week you earn 0.01 $WRITE tokens, which are equivalent to 10 votes. You can split them among candidates you like, or even vote for yourself. Since the race started in the beginning of 2021, 1.41 million votes have been split among 7,151 candidates. Andrew Hong, a data scientist with Consensys Codefi, created a social graph showing who has voted for whom.
Mirror has added new prompts like, “What will you write about,” and “What idea would you crowdfund with Mirror” to help you distribute votes to people you may not be familiar with and want to see publishing on Mirror.
Once you’ve been awarded a publication, your voting power goes further, with 1000 votes equal to 1 $WRITE token.
Each time you vote, MetaMask will prompt you to sign the transaction, which confirms the vote is tallied.
Building Blocks for a New Type of Publication
When opening the editor, you wouldn’t mistake Mirror’s simplicity with other web publishers like Medium or Wordpress. However the power of Mirror is in the tools that the development team has been rolling out at a quick clip in the first half of this year.
Mirror was built using the Zora Protocol, which means you can mint an essay as an NFT. Not only can it be minted as an NFT, but you can add features like Timed Auctions or Editions to create a limited supply and collection period for digital collectibles.
One of the most interesting features is “Crowdfund,” which lets backers deposit ETH to fund an idea, in exchange for a token. The token you receive as a backer represents your proof of patronage, and can be further used for establishing a DAO or accessing future rewards from the publication.
One writer, Kyle Chayka, combined these features by selling a limited, timed edition of three NFTs to fund contributions to his daily internet culture and entertainment newsletter, Dirt. Collectors of the limited edition NFTs were airdropped a commensurate number of $DIRT-S1 tokens, and in the future may provide access to a Discord server or the Dirt publication itself. As Kyle explains, “NFTs can become a form of currency of their own, as a kind of in-game currency or membership ticket for particular projects“ which can “deepen the customers’ relationship and engagement with the brand.”
In my own exploration of the publishing platform, I minted my EthCC talk as an NFT, in which proceeds split between one of the projects that influenced the writing, myself, and an Ethereum address associated with a street tree in Brooklyn. At this point, the possibilities seem endless.