Welcome to Issue #8!
Did you miss me last week? I sure hope so. If not, then I’m doing something wrong.
I went on vacation with my family. It was our first in several years.
I packed my tablet and a very rough draft of this issue. I had every intention of finishing it up and sending it out.
But our vacations have a tendency to be… well… exhausting.
There were mountains to climb, waterfalls to discover, and rivers to paddle. Between all the adventures and the crazy heat, I didn’t have much energy left at the end of each day.
So this issue is a week late. But it covers a topic that many of you have asked about. I hope it was worth the wait.
We picked up two subscribers in the last two weeks. Slow growth is still growth. :)
Paragraph.xyz: Web3-Ready Newsletters and Blogs
When I first announced that I would be writing this newsletter, many of you asked about the platform I chose.
So, as promised, here’s a closer look at what I was seeking in a Web3 publishing platform and how Paragraph filled the bill.
Web3 functionality built in - This is a community focused on learning and using Web3. Whatever I chose should be actively working to incorporate this technology into it’s product.
When I signed up for Paragraph, the only real Web3 functionality was the ability to create an account with a wallet instead of a user name and password.
This might not sound like much, but this is how everything will work in the not-too-distant future.
You won’t store user id’s and passwords on dozens of sites. Instead, your wallet (and the ability to prove you own it) will act as a universal user id and password that travels with you throughout the web. It’ll be the contents of that wallet that determine what you can access from site to site.
And the platform isn’t standing still. In the 8 weeks since I’ve started sending out newsletters Paragraph has added several new Web3 features.
- Token gated content - You can use ERC-20 tokens or NFT’s.
- Newsletter and blog segmentation - This lets your readers self select into niche communities or topics.
- Free NFT Minting - This is a big deal. Minting your own tokens can be an intimidating step for creators who are new to Web3. I’m still experimenting with this feature. But it only makes sense that a platform offering token gating should help you create those tokens.
They’ve got some additional features planned in the near future that will be helpful too.
- Snapshot voting - If you want to build a community, they should be involved in your decisions. Snapshots are a transparent, token gated voting method that gives the members of your community a voice.
- Royalties and Airdrops - This will allow you to reward your community for reading and sharing your work. There are plenty of providers for these services, but having them built in to your primary distribution platform will be really helpful.
FYI: At the time I made my choice, Paragraph’s only solid competition in Web3 native publishing was Mirror.xyz. There may be some other players now. If you know of, or discover one, please let me know.
SEO - I would rather optimize my writing for humans than algorithms. And I have no interest in applying all the “tips, tricks, and hacks” to grow this community. So my content better be easy to find.
This is where Paragraph shows promise over Mirror. Unless I’m sent there by someone else, I can’t find anything on Mirror. Posts on Paragraph are optimized for SEO, so I know people will find me when they search.
Blog + Newsletters in a single platform - I want to ship newsletters. But if I cover more than one topic in an issue, I want to break each subject into separate, searchable posts for a blog.
Paragraph gives me the option to send out a newsletter or post only to the blog.
Audience segmentation through tokens - If it has to do with the intersection of Web3 and The Creator Economy, it’s fair game for this newsletter. But you may only be interested in Web3 Music. There should be a way for community members to filter the content.
Paragraph allows me to create separate, niche communities under a single content umbrella. I can give away or sell NFT’s that allow access to specific topics within the larger scope of this community.
This would allow me to create and sell (or give away) “Creator-Driven Music” NFT’s. If you hold one, and I write about a new Music NFT project, you get that issue of the newsletter. If the next issue is all about a Web3 video sharing platform, I won’t be cluttering your inbox that week.
Community publishing - Right now Creator-Driven is just me. But the Web3 space is exploding with projects and ideas. As this community grows, there will be members who can offer insights into creative niches where I might not have any experience. I hope to offer a space for those members to share their thoughts.
Paragraph is built to easily allow a team of writers to contribute to a single publication.
Paid subscriptions - I’m not sure this is the route I want to go, but I want to make sure this is an option. I also wanted people to be able to pay with traditional payments or more Web3 friendly methods.
Paragraph offers subscriptions that can be paid with a credit card or crypto.
You can also manage access with token gating. Paragraph’s token gating works with any NFT or ERC-20 token on Ethereum or Polygon. So I can use their built in token minting capability or mint my own subscriber tokens and manage access through a platform like Unlock Protocol.
Committed to privacy - I don’t like being tracked and I don’t want to spy on my readers. This is counter to the current culture of content marketing, but it’s completely aligned with the people who I hope to reach.
The only piece of personal information required to subscribe to a newsletter on Paragraph is an email address. As wallet to wallet messaging comes on line, all you’ll really need is a wallet address.
If you plan to earn revenue from your newsletter through traditional advertising, this may be a deal breaker. Though your posts on Paragraph are Google Analytics friendly, there’s no way to track open rates.
But the future of ad sponsored media in Web3 will rely on much more than email open rates. Advertisers will be looking for value in direct interactions with your community through on-chain attestations or “Proof of Attention”.
If payouts are based on readers proving they saw or interacted with the ad, each click will be much more valuable to your sponsors. The challenge will be providing the right incentives to get your community to respond. This is where tokens can be used to create incentive systems that have previously been unavailable to smaller scale creators.
Minimally extractive - I’m willing to pay for a service, but it needs to be reasonable.
If your Newsletter is free, Paragraph is free too. No limited feature set. No subscriber caps. It’s just free.
If you use Paragraph’s subscription payment system, they charge 5% on all subscriptions. This is half the cost of Web2 competitors like Substack.
Minimal platform risk / Censorship resistant - As long as you have their permission, you should be able to reach your readers at any time. No one else should decide who accesses your content.
With Paragraph, you own your subscriber list. You can easily download it at any time.
Your content is protected too. Each time you post or send out a newsletter, you have the option to publish directly to Arweave, a decentralized data storage system. Arweave storage is permanent. Your posts can never be deleted.
What about the editor and advanced publishing features?
You may have noticed that none of my criteria had anything to do with the nuts and bolts of publishing.
I’ve never written and distributed a newsletter.
I had no idea what I needed there.
I knew that signing up and publishing content was the only way I would figure that out. I also knew that I would adapt to any system I chose. There was no right or wrong choice… I had to pick one and make it the right choice.
I’ve found Paragraph’s editor to be simple, but getting more robust with each release. This is fine with me. If I signed up for a more mature platform, I would be overwhelmed and unlikely to use all the features. It’s already hard enough to get the words out of my head and onto the screen. I don’t need to add more steps.
I also like the idea of growing alongside the platform. By participating in Paragraph’s Discord community, I have access and insight into a developing product that I’ve never had before.
Paragraph is a platform with a clean and simple editor that is working to bring Web3 functionality to the creators of newsletters and blogs.
Subscriber Count: 64
Total Alpha Claims: 17
No Alpha this week. I was able to do a little bit of reading and listening last week, but there’s still a lot to catch up on.
Thank you for reading!
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