How Mirror Became the Home for Web3 Publishing

Nitesh Padghan
8 min readAug 26, 2023

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Mirror, a fledgling platform, has grown into a powerhouse in the Web3 industry.

With a user base surging to over 10,000 in just six months and a transaction volume exceeding $1 million, the platform has carved out a niche in decentralized publishing.

But how did a platform built on the Ethereum blockchain create such a wave in the industry?

The Platform, Team, and Funding

Mirror’s growth makes sense when you look at the team. Denis Nazarov, a former entrepreneur, and a16z Crypto partner, assembled a crypto-native team with experience in growth, community, and scaling blockchain products.

This innovative approach and rapid growth make Mirror an intriguing subject for a growth case study.

Based in San Francisco, the team of 11–50 employees has managed to secure significant growth and a large user base.

With a total funding of $10M, Mirror is a private company in the Series A funding stage.

The Intriguing Question

How can a publishing platform create such an impact in the Web3 industry? What unique factors propelled Mirror’s exponential growth?

The Growth Timeline

Source: https://dev.mirror.xyz/tpnfq3A2rU32jVLXcHhuHc02WQ8sNm3saWvqaooerTI

Mirror’s journey began as a vision by its founder, Dennis Reimann, who aimed to revolutionize the traditional publishing industry.

From a mere handful of writers at launch, Mirror saw a massive growth spurt, expanding its user base to over 10,000 within six months.

The turning point was the introduction of ‘content tokens,’ a unique monetization strategy based on Ethereum smart contracts.

  • December 2020: Mirror was founded by Dennis Reimann with a vision to revolutionize the traditional publishing industry by enabling “web3 creators to publish their ideas in a manner that felt native, on-chain.”
  • January 2021: Mirror launched its crowdfunding feature. This allowed creators to fund passion projects and offer incentives to backers, who in return received project tokens, granting them decision-making power for the future of the project.
  • February 2021: A month later, Mirror introduced $WRITE RACE. This competition allowed the community to vote on who should be accepted onto the platform. The 10 people who received the most votes each week were granted access. This created a sense of scarcity and drew in prominent crypto thought leaders. The $WRITE RACE went on for 38 rounds, accepting 380 writers.
  • April 2021: Not resting on their laurels, the team released the Splits feature. This allowed creators to route funds to multiple wallets, fostering collaboration and cross-pollination of their audiences.
  • June 2021: The Editions feature was released, enabling creators to raise funds from thousands of backers, each receiving an individual NFT. A notable early project that utilized this feature was ‘Ethereum: The Infinite Garden’, raising 1,000 ETH and becoming the first film funded with NFTs.

Recent Development

Mirror’s latest feature, Media DAOs, enables collaboration and multiplay.

Building on from $WRITE RACE and Splits, it allowed members to share in the economic upside of their work.

This feature is described as “somewhere between a Google Doc and a company”.

On Dune Dashboard the platform shows steady growth in New Collectors.

A Backstory with Problem and How “Mirror” Solved It

The backstory of Mirror is rooted in the traditional publishing industry, a space known for its barriers and gatekeepers.

The power dynamic has historically been skewed in favor of publishers, leaving writers with little control over their work.

The challenge was to give power back to the creators, and Mirror aimed to do just that.

Consider these problems:

  • Monetization: Traditional publishing often leaves writers with a small percentage of the profits from their work. According to the Authors Guild, the median income for full-time writers in 2018 was only $20,300.
  • Ownership: In traditional publishing, the publisher usually owns the rights to the work, leaving the creator with little control over their content.
  • Accessibility: The process of getting published traditionally can be long and arduous, creating barriers for many writers.

Mirror’s solution? Disrupt the status quo by leveraging the power of the Ethereum blockchain. Here’s how they addressed the issues:

  • Monetization: By creating ‘content tokens’ through Ethereum-based smart contracts, Mirror enabled writers to monetize their work directly, allowing them to reap a larger share of the profits.
  • Ownership: With content tokens, writers could retain ownership of their work, giving them greater control over their content and its monetization.
  • Accessibility: Mirror’s platform is open and accessible, allowing any writer to publish their work and reach an audience without going through traditional publishing gateways.

In effect, Mirror flipped the script, empowering writers in a way that was previously unimaginable in the traditional publishing industry.

The Growth Levers of “Mirror”

Mirror’s growth can be attributed to a combination of technological innovation, strategic timing, and a deep understanding of its target audience. Here are five growth levers that propelled Mirror’s growth:

  1. Smart Contract-Based Monetization: By leveraging Ethereum’s smart contract technology, Mirror created a unique monetization model, attracting writers looking for more control over their work.
  2. Riding the Web3 Wave: Mirror’s launch coincided with surging interest in Web3 and decentralized technologies, positioning it to capitalize on this trend.
  3. Targeting the Right Audience: By focusing on tech-savvy writers frustrated with traditional publishing, Mirror captured a niche audience ready for a new solution.
  4. Community Engagement: Mirror fostered a strong sense of community among its users, driving user retention and organic growth.
  5. Adaptability: Despite challenges, Mirror demonstrated resilience and adaptability, tweaking its strategy in response to market conditions and user feedback.

Each growth lever warrants a closer look, shedding light on Mirror’s unique approach to growth.

Growth Lever 1: Smart Contract-Based Monetization

Mirror’s most significant innovation is its monetization model. By using Ethereum-based smart contracts to create content tokens, Mirror has provided writers with a novel way to monetize their work.

This approach is a departure from traditional publishing models, where writers often have little control over how their work is monetized.

Other platforms like Nifty Gateway have used similar tokenization strategies to disrupt their respective industries.

According to growth marketer Andrew Chen, “New monetization models are powerful growth levers, especially when they align with trends like decentralization and blockchain.” — Andrew Chen, Growth Marketer

Growth Lever 2: Riding the Web3 Wave

Mirror’s strategic timing also played a crucial role in its growth.

The platform launched just as interest in Web3 and decentralized technologies was skyrocketing.

By positioning itself as a Web3 application, Mirror was able to ride this wave, attracting users interested in exploring the possibilities of decentralized technologies.

Growth Lever 3: Targeting the Right Audience

Mirror’s decision to focus on tech-savvy writers frustrated with traditional publishing proved to be a smart move.

This audience was ready for a new solution and quickly adopted Mirror’s platform.

By understanding and addressing the needs of its target audience, Mirror was able to achieve rapid user acquisition and growth.

Growth Lever 4: Community Engagement

Building a strong sense of community among its users has been another key growth lever for Mirror.

The platform has fostered a sense of ownership and engagement among its users, driving user retention and organic growth.

This approach is reminiscent of Reddit’s growth strategy, which also relies heavily on community engagement.

Growth Lever 5: Adaptability

Despite its rapid growth, Mirror has faced significant challenges, including market volatility due to its reliance on Ethereum.

However, the platform has demonstrated resilience and adaptability, tweaking its strategy in response to these challenges.

This adaptability has been crucial in sustaining its growth trajectory.

How Other Web3 Platforms Can Replicate This Growth Strategy

Other platforms looking to replicate Mirror’s growth should consider similar strategies.

For instance, they could explore new monetization models using blockchain technology, target audiences frustrated with traditional solutions, and build strong communities among their users.

How to Earn with Mirror.xyz

The beauty of Mirror.xyz lies not only in its power to redefine the writing landscape but also in the unique monetization opportunities it provides to its users.

This is not your run-of-the-mill publishing platform; here, the norms of traditional publishing and revenue models are disrupted, paving the way for more freedom and earning potential for writers.

The Power of NFTs

Once you start writing and publishing on Mirror.xyz, your content takes on a new form — a unique Non-Fungible Token (NFT).

This transforms your literary pieces into valuable digital assets that can be auctioned and sold to the highest bidder for Ether (ETH).

Moreover, not only individuals but other publications can own your content’s NFT.

As your works are safely preserved on a blockchain, they can be effortlessly transferred, subdivided, and continuously yield earnings for all owners involved.

Crowdfunding a Concept

Got a compelling story idea but need some assistance bringing it to life? You can seek crowdfunding for your project right from your Mirror.xyz publication.

If your idea resonates with potential readers and they wish to see it materialize, they can pledge funds to back your project.

When you publish the funded piece, backers get the chance to earn a percentage of all profits.

For instance, publisher Emily Segal launched a crowdfunding initiative for her upcoming novel titled “Burn Alpha” on Mirror.xyz.

As of 28 July 2023, she had raised around 25 ETH, equating to roughly $44,670, through her $NOVEL token. All investors will have a stake in the first edition of the novel’s NFT, ensuring potential profits well into the future.

Reader’s Tips and Embedded NFTs

Reader’s generosity can also come into play. If your readers appreciate your content, they have the option to leave you a tip in the form of cryptocurrency.

The power of NFTs doesn’t end there. If you own other NFTs, you can embed them in your content.

As your content gets circulated by readers, the embedded NFTs’ value increases, thereby improving your chances of earning from them.

Co-authorship and Future Potential

Mirror.xyz is also supportive of collaborative writing projects.

Through its split revenue feature, co-authors can share ownership of content, which means splitting the profits derived from the published piece.

As Mirror.xyz evolves, it is anticipated that authors will eventually be able to place ads on popular content and charge a subscription fee.

Moreover, you can also utilize Mirror.xyz to drive traffic to other monetized content you may own.

If you offer an online course or own a subscription newsletter, you can link to these from your Mirror.xyz pieces.

Final Thoughts

Mirror’s growth case study is a testament to the power of innovation, market timing, and understanding your audience.

The platform’s unique approach to monetization, combined with its ability to capitalize on the Web3 trend, has fueled its rapid growth.

However, it also underscores the challenges associated with relying on volatile technologies like Ethereum.

As a growth marketer, it’s fascinating to see how Mirror navigates these challenges while continuing to innovate and grow.

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Nitesh Padghan

I work with brands that operate with a healthy dose of impatience to scale fast, connect with the culture, and steal back attention from their competitors.