I've been playing a lot with web3 blogging platforms if we can name them like that. Nowadays, things are not as easy as in the good old days: a blog is a blog. Today we have tools with two types of features: a blog post and a newsletter.
Within web2, the most popular solution is Substack. This platform has gained a lot of momentum, but within the web3 ecosystem, two platforms are getting a lot of traction and attention lately: paragraph.xyz and mirror.xyz.
Thus, here we are, a new and nice comparison between two tools.
Paragraph is a web3 newsletter. What does it mean? It means that you can publish content and decide if it is published as a blog post and/or a newsletter. This duality is nice, as it allows people to discover your content and subscribe to it if they like it.
Users can subscribe to your content using their emails and/or wallets.
Creating an account
The first thing you must do on this platform is register an account. You can do it in three different ways:
Email and password (web2)
Unstoppable Domains (web3)
Thus, you can connect your wallet and start using the platform out of the box.
Paragraph has the basic data that you expect from this type of platforms: name, social media links, avatar, etc., and two cool different features: Social and Subscriptions.
The subscriptions tab is where you can see to whom you have subscribed and manage your subscriptions from there.
On the other hand, the social tab uses the Farcaster protocol to suggest Paragraph users that you already know and follow in the protocol. This is really cool because you can connect and learn more from your social network thanks to decentralization. This is a really cool feature from web3 products.
One data entry that you might want to add is your email. Why? Well, because you will want to get notifications when someone leaves a comment on your posts or if they subscribe to your newsletter. Paragraph allows you to post your content as blog posts and/or a newsletter.
Paragraph allows you to create posts with a simple editor. You can add titles, bolds, italics, etc., and embed Youtube videos and images. The interface is simple and clean.
Within the editor and after the title, you can add several tags (it is called Categories) to classify your content. This helps Paragraph to filter content and allows other users to find similar content.
The editor saves everything automatically, so you don't have to click save on any place to keep your post saved.
Posts are heavily optimized for SEO. Pages are rendered statically, meaning ultra-blazing-past loads. All content is saved (and exposed in their sitemap) in its top-level domain, meaning that SEO ranking gets shared with your content.
Paragraph allows you to create different communities and send them your content via the newsletter feature. You can create as many as you want. By default, they create for you a Community, and that's the one that people subscribe to. If you create another community, subscribers can choose which one they want to subscribe to.
Token gating your content
As we are on web3, we can token-gate our content.
Paragraph allows you to use any ERC721 or ERC20 token from the following networks:
Binance Smart Chain
Moreover, if you don't have any token to use, you can mint one NFT for 0 gas fees and use it directly from the platform. Paragraph uses Polygon for this feature.
Another option for token-gating your content is using a Newsletter Subscription Gate.
With these two options, Paragraph then shows you a wizard that allows you to customize how you want to configure the token gate for your content.
The wizard is really nice because it allows you to create or conditions. For example, you can token gate your content by requiring a subscription to your newsletter and an NFT or an NFT pass that you sold some time ago.
As you can imagine, if you are sending the content as newsletters, only the users that have subscribed and have the tokens will receive the email with your content.
Paragraph allows you to have your custom domain paying a one-time 50 USD fee.
This feature enables you to have your domain for all your content.
You can add team members so they can write with you. You can do it by adding an email and/or wallet address.
Within Paragraph you can offer different types of collectibles:
Highlights: people can highlight some text and save it as an NFT. You control everything: which pieces can have this feature, the price, and the supply.
Posts: you can offer your writing as an NFT that people can save in their wallets. This feature is announced but is not available yet.
Embedded NFTs: people can mint directly from your post images, audio, and/or videos. To enable this feature, you must first mint your tokens in Highlight. Then, all you have to do is paste the URL of the minting page in your post, and Paragraph will turn it into a claim/mintable page.
Finally, they open the door to build on top of Paragraph by providing you with the Polygon contract and their Arweave address. Unfortunately, they don't have a public API address yet, but they open the door to contact them directly to discuss this option.
Mirror defines itself as a web3 publishing platform.
To know what Mirror does, you will need to connect your wallet. There's a link in the footer of their home site to their support page, where you can find all the features and tutorials about using the platform. It is interesting how this is really buried in the footer. I would love to know more about this decision.
Creating an account
To set up an account in Mirror, you only have to log in with your wallet. Once you are in, you can change your avatar, set up your nickname, bio, and include your Google Analytics Tag ID.
You can also verify your email to get notifications regarding the platform and subscriptions to your posts.
Mirror has two modes: edit and preview. Within the edit mode, you can write, while in preview mode, you can see how it will look from the reader's point of view.
Mirror allows you to compose entries using media blocks: images, videos, NFTs, etc. It supports Markdown with some extra features.
One interesting feature of the editor is that you can choose between 3 different layouts for your posts: default, medium and large. The difference is how the images or media blocks are sized according to the browser's viewport.
Another interesting media block is NFTs. This media block lets you share a specific NFT within your post by specifying the contract, blockchain, and token ID. People cannot mint it but view it.
One interesting feature of Mirror is that it generates an RSS feed for your site, so people can subscribe from other sites using it. The solution is pretty simple; you append to your site in Mirror /feed/atom.
Importing posts from your blogging platform
While Paragraph does not have this feature, Mirror allows you to import blog posts from another site that you have. I tried with my NuxtJS home site, and I got a message that it was not possible, so not sure what works.
You can add contributors to your posts, by sharing a link or by adding their wallet or ENS name. Contributors can collaborate with you in an entry but cannot add new contributors, which is nice.
Mirror allows you to create an Embed named Collect, allowing people to collect the post.
The Collectable entry includes the banner image, the entry title, description, author, subdomain name, link to the entry, Arweave content link, etc.
Collectible entries are deployed on Optimism (L2). You will pay only for gas, which is usually less than 2 USD. Collected entries will be shown in the Mirror Collections and Leaderboards sections.
If someone buys one of your entries, the money will go directly to the Ethereum address that set up the Mirror publication.
My own experience
First things first. I've not used Mirror, only Paragraph, so I'm a bit biased already. However, after checking the full documentation of both platforms, I think that Paragraph is the best option for anyone setting up a new web3 blog/newsletter platform.
Why? Well, you have more flexibility. Paragraph has the following features that are completely missing in Mirror:
Collectibles: highlights, posts (this feature is available in Mirror as well), and NFTs
Token gating entries
While some of these features might be too advance for some people, having the option feels amazing. Also, the documentation of Paragraph is AMAZING, seriously. Mirror has all the documentation in the footer, making it difficult to find.
I will play with Mirror, but I will stay with Paragraph for now. I think they are doing an amazing job with this tool. The team is amazing and really responsive in Farcaster. I hope Mirror gets a boost soon and starts adding interesting features to its solution so we have some nice competition.
If you have read until here, thanks! If you like it, subscribe!