Reader: This is a long-ass article I wrote about Mirror.
Mirror is a new decentralized publishing platform that utilizes the Ethereum blockchain. Writers on Mirror have their own domain and publication with built-in Web 3 tools.
Those of us who found Mirror early, including everyone reading this article in July or August 2021, but especially those like me who have already gotten over the hump and won a domain/publication, should be grateful. Mirror publishers have the instant ability, via a few clicks, to initiate crowdfunds, auctions, revenue splits, and a variety of other monetization techniques that are native to blockchains. It's possible to list the sale of a work or launch a crowdfund moments after putting the final polish on your essay or communication.
Crypto token monetization for artists is taking off, with lots of mainstream press and even a skit on Saturday Night Live. Yet the tools to implement those strategies for anyone who doesn't have direct access to the experts are complicated and byzantine. Mirror has organized and integrated all the tools, patches and protocols necessary, and stuck them under the hood where they belong. As a result, monetizing one's writing/art or raising funds for a project is as easy as posting vacation pictures on Facebook.
So, in sum, Mirror is positioned to service one of the hottest categories in crypto -- content creation. The only catch is, you currently have to win the $Write Race to earn a seat at the table.
Each Wednesday between Noon and 2PM PST, writers and representatives for a multitude of projects and initiatives compete for a spot on Mirror by connecting their crypto wallets to Mirror $Write Race.
Contestants submit a brief blurb describing what they want to write about and/or what they want to accomplish. Then voters, literally anyone who also connects their wallet to the site, cast their ballots. They get ten votes. Each week when they connect, they receive ten more votes. The top ten vote getters each week win. In addition to securing their own domain/publication and access to the full suite of Mirror tools, they receive 1000 votes, and an additional ten each week.
I won the race two weeks ago, so I have knowledge of the process and some recommendations I'll share below. I'm only explaining one corner of this world: my own experience and takeaways from my own research over the past couple of months. I could be missing a major point. Also, Mirror, like everything in crypto, is being iterated in real time. I'm certain that a year from now the platform and its onboarding process will be very different. In other words, like everything in crypto, this article may have a short shelf-life. I only propose to cover one angle with authority -- my own experience and observations.
For a very long time my daughter didn't like games "with winners and losers," which is something I still derive great joy teasing her about. The same could be said for those who have a tough time getting Mirror votes. That was me when I first heard of it and entered the race without knowing anything. I signed up, then put this tweet out as my main campaign activity.
The tweet got ten likes, which is pretty damn good for me. That week I received exactly ten votes, all from me. I was disappointed, but didn't yet have Mirror FOMO, so I put it aside and focused on household duties and monitoring the price of ETH six to seven hours a day.
Then in June I started noticing more buzz about Mirror. I did my research, and it clicked. I have a lot of experience writing on Medium. It was my obsession before I got into crypto. Two lessons from those days were glaring. The first is that the early writers on Medium had the most followers and tons of success. Same with Twitter, of course. The first movers to the networks get a big share of the early attention and rewards.
My second revelation was about the rewards mechanism. For Medium, the rewards were claps and follows. That's pretty cool, and I coveted them for sure. But for Mirror, we are talking crypto, baby. It's not about likes and recommends, it's about sweet value. That's what Web 3 moves around its network. While I don't know how it will all play out, I'm certain that successful Mirror pubs will earn real value as opposed to just street cred on a VC-backed centralized website.
I went down the Mirror rabbit hole to figure out how the selection process really worked. The process isn't "fair." To win, you need to get a bunch of social token/DAO big shots to vote for you. They have 100x the votes than anyone else. But what is fair? Giving publications to the people with the most beautiful souls? Choosing a bunch of celebrities with big douchey followings to seed the platform (i.e. BitClout?). Would first come/first served be the moral approach? If that were the approach, there would be no FOMO, no buzz, no clamoring to get in. Scarcity equals value and attention, especially in crypto.
The creators of Mirror have said that the onboarding process is an experiment. They didn't/don't know exactly how it will work out. It's crypto - we are all on the vanguard. So suck it up and go with it, even if it's hard.
In my opinion, the process is solid. To get in, you basically have to do your homework, learn all about social tokens, get involved with some of the leading projects in some way, earn some cred, and then make a strong pitch for what you'd do with your Mirror pub. If you do it right, you'll not only win the race, but you'll also get an education on the whole space. And it can be achieved with elbow grease. In other words, you'll need to dive down even deeper down whatever rabbit hole led you to this article in the first place.
Three types of people/projects win the $Write Race. The first two probably aren't you. The third probably is.
These are the big DAOs and DeFi protocols who woke up yesterday and said "Shit, we need a Mirror pub." They get all their friends to vote for them. And their friends are crypto OGs who have a lot of other friends. They all vote for the project or person, shooting it/them up the leaderboard.
It sounds daunting, but if you have an idea that's attracted some attention, it's amazing how quickly a brigade can form behind you. I was an early member of CityDAO. They decided to enter the race and won in their very first week. It goes to show there is a meritocracy to the process. Good ideas are recognized and rewarded.
This is a related group. It's comprised of crypto-famous or real-world famous or noteworthy people and projects. These contestants may be widely recognized as elite pros or have huge followings. I put these folks in a separate category because they win votes due to different incentives.
If Kanye entered the $Write Race, I'd vote for him. Not because I'm a member of his posse (God knows, I've tried) but because it would be good for Mirror. I'm on Mirror. I want it to grow. Kanye would bring a lot of attention and maybe he'd even auction off his next album as an audio NFT. Then the value of my piece of real estate on Mirror would be worth more. So me voting for him is a rational investment decision. Here again the interesting, awesome and maybe infuriating incentives of crypto tokenization are at play. I love it because it aligns the incentives of all Mirror domain/pub owners and creates a strong network effect that I believe makes Mirror stronger.
So if you are a big name, have a large twitter following or have impeccible credentials as a writer or someone with credible things to say, you already have a leg up. I'd definitely consider voting for you.
I'm using a Kanye-level celebrity as an example to illustrate the point, obviously. A real world example is one of last week's winners, Leigh Cuen. She's a well-known former Coindesk writer. People probably voted for her because she's a real journalist who might lead to other established journalists joining the platform, benefitting Mirror.
You have 826 twitter followers and are associated with some projects that might be awesome -- but I've never heard of them.
I'd recommend Seed Club, CityDAO and Coinvise because none are token-gated at the moment, and all are active. But find a DAO on a mission that resonates with you. Jump in with helpful comments, participate in coffee hours, poke around, learn something and make friends. I did this on Seed Club and was recognized for it, which felt great and was helpful in getting votes.
I joined Friends with Benefits and Forefront. You say you don't have the funds to do so. My first reply is... really? If you got this far, I think you probably have some ETH or shitcoins that you just don't feel like parting with right now. This article has only made it to you at this point because you are pretty deep into crypto and despite recent price action, we are still in a bull market (right? right?).
That said, if you really don't have the money, this step is not required. I found FWB and FF were great to get a lay of the land and also secure votes, but it's getting complicated. More members from these groups are entering the $Write Race, which means votes are getting split. More contestants, fewer votes. Still helpful, but less so than a month ago. On their merits though, these DAOs are great and if you can afford it, you should join. The beautiful thing is, if you join a DAO and discover it isn't your cup of tea, you can always sell your tokens on Uniswap and go on your merry way. Maybe even make a profit.
I started by following two of the kings (I am an unrepentant fan-boy of all things/people I'm into, BTW): Jess Sloss and Cooper Turley. There are others at this level for sure, but two is enough. I just watched their feeds and started researching projects and people I found interesting. Within a week I'd added about 200 new twitter follows. I now have my finger on the pulse of all things social tokens and DAOs. I've interacted with many of these strategic new twitter follows and my engagement has been noticed. I'm no longer a stranger.
This is where shit gets real. Apparently you are always supposed to be closing. But my first twitter DMs (yes I went there) to people I didn't know, were tenuous and lame. Then once I got over my squeamishness, I was more confident, pithy and focused on the merits of my pitch. Some people never got back to me. Others were incredibly gracious and voted for me.
Who do you reach out to? That's easy. People who've won the race. Each week there are ten more of them. You can click on their profiles which are almost always connected to their twitter feeds. As I said, they have 100x more votes than anyone else, so focus on them.
Going forward, I'm planning to vote for candidates who have a demonstrated body of written work. I think they will write more. I don't want these early $Write Race winners to sit on their hands because they have writers block or, god forbid, because they are just collecting a Mirror domain like a shiny NFT they can flex with, but never use. So I'll be more open to writers who've written a lot. Other voters will have their own criteria.
What would you do with your Mirror pub? Make it short and sweet. Personally, I like humble and funny, if you can pull it off. Honestly, the blurb itself doesn't have a big impact on your votes until you get into the top 30 or so on the leaderboard. At that point, someone might casually scroll down to see who to vote for and come across your entry. But they aren't scrolling through 19 screens to get to number #3521. So write a nice blurb, but don't stress about it too much. Your going to have to line up/shill for votes before the actual competition anyway.
Your voters believe in you and/or did you a favor. Thanking them is the right thing to do. It also increases the chance they will vote for you the following week. There is a study that shows once someone helps you, they actually feel beholden to you, not the other way around. It's a sunk cost thing and also a strange human relationship dynamic I don't have the background to explain. Now I feel like I'm recommending psy-ops, but it is what it is. It worked for me. Thank each of your voters after each round. You aren't being phony, because like me you will probably feel legitimate gratitude for their support. It's also just good manners.
Contestants' votes roll over each week. This is huge. It's the law of compound interest, Mirror-style. So stick with it, and you will climb the leaderboard. Just keep entering. Because each week the top ten are removed from the competition, so you automatically move up ten spots. That's helpful for your ascent but also helpful psychologically since you can see progress. Stick with it. It might take three months. Who knows, just keep going.
In my next post I'll describe an experiment/contest I've concocted to win my $Write Race votes. Stay tuned. And thanks for getting this far.
Follow me on twitter @DanConway650.