The Next Chapter: Onchain Patronage

Note: this post is a revisal of an article from 2022 called “The Next Chapter: Non-Fungible Patronage.” That article has been hidden from Mirror, and the two collectors received a free collectible from this article as a thank you for their patronage.

Hey friends đź‘‹

When I started blogging, I couldn’t help but ask myself one burning question: can I make any money at this? After all, writing, while often an enjoyable pastime is also a form of creative labour and thus, to be sustainable requires compensation.

Unfortunately when I read articles about blogging professionally and even spoke to bloggers I knew with decent readership, what I discovered was pretty disheartening: the proposed path to profitability was ads.

Trafficking in Traffic

I hate ads.

Ads are intrusive. They’re a user experience nightmare, and what’s worse, they are loaded with hidden tracking software, a fundamental part of an ecosystem of shady business that social psychologist Shoshana Zuboff coined as surveillance capitalism.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I use an adblocker (the built in one on Brave, and uBlock on Firefox) and an additional tracker blocker made by DuckDuckGo.

Isn’t that a little excessive?

Not really. A lot of people don’t know this but ads actually track you all over the internet, even in private windows, even with a VPN running, even if you don’t have a facebook or a google account. I personally find this to be unethical and I don’t believe in participating in the non-consensual sale of other people’s data or contributing to the literal danger presented by the business of data brokers.

Besides, this system of ad-traffic farming forces bloggers to structure content weirdly, filling it with repetitive and cliche words and phrases to gamify the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms and increase their website traffic; all to earn more from ads. And yet, sadly, the income from ads is not even that great. I've known bloggers who relied on ads and they never brought home any serious income. So most of them turn to something else…


Affiliate marketing and referrals (linking to products or services to earn a commission) are two ways to earn income outside of ads; though I guess one could argue they too are a form of advertisement. That said, I personally have no issue with referrals, ethically speaking.

That’s because offering someone a referral is offering them an opportunity to consent to being sold something. Sure they are likely to be tracked from the moment they click the link, but they can choose to click it or not.

One nice thing about referrals is that they can actually scale reasonably well in terms of the potential returns they can provide to content creators. But they’re not without their downsides.

Referrals require trust.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing—though it could certainly be abused—as it requires a content creator to earn the trust of their audience by sharing honest reviews. For many though, trust is simply a matter of how many followers one has, and thus referral income funnels towards the incumbent creators within a given niche. This phenomenon highlights the main flaw of relying on referrals for income:

Referrals are first come, first served.

What that means is that if two bloggers cover the same niche: let’s say personal finance, there’s a good chance they’re sharing the same referrals, and thus if there is any overlap in their audiences, the potential to make a conversion is reduced. This zero sum game leads to creators rushing out mediocre content in order to be the first to get the clicks.

This is why, even though I'm not opposed to sharing referral links, I don’t like to rely on referrals as part of my strategy

Where I’ve earned the majority of my money as a writer is…

Paid Promotion

Sponsored content, grants, and bounties have been good to me. In 2021, I made the majority of my income this way. Of course, I always clearly labeled my articles and videos when they had sponsors, because I think that’s the right thing to do, but I also made the conscious decision to only ever work with partners I respect.

Again this requires trust.

If content creators make untruthful content about dubious projects and, especially if they don’t label that content as paid promotion, then the person viewing that content could feel manipulated, or worse, defrauded.

And from the perspective of the creator, there’s yet another problem with sponsored content: instability. When the market is good, the offers are plentiful, but when the market is bad, they are fewer and farther between.

This is something I personally experienced. In 2021, my inbox was always full of people asking to work together and I was a recipient of numerous grants, sponsorships, and had my pick of the content bounties I opted to compete for. But when the bear market came to crypto in 2022, I was left on read.

That’s when I decided to return to my roots.

Opening the Tip Jar

I’ve funded my share of kickstarter and gofundme campaigns, and I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that a small but passionate group of fans can fund niche work by becoming patrons. So when I started blogging I decided to use BuyMeACoffee, a platform not unlike Patreon that allows fans to tip creators, and even unlock special bonus content.

I was lucky to have a number of supporters early on and I always went out of my way to make them feel appreciated with special email newsletters, unlockable content, and messaging groups on twitter etc.

As I pivoted to web3 and crypto writing, the cost of researching for my articles went up. I needed to invest my own money—not to mention spend a lot on gas fees—just to understand the protocols and the ecosystems I was writing about. And even when I didn’t need to spend much money, I often had to spend incredible amounts of my time reading whitepapers and documentation about protocols to get to the point where I could explain complex subjects effortlessly.

So, I thought to myself, if I’m going to be making content about how much better blockchains are for all kinds of tasks, then it’s time for me to make the switch to a fully web3 stack.

No more PayPal. No more BuyMeACoffee. No making accounts, signing in, sharing personal information. I’d made the claim many times before but now I intended to show the world that: patronage is better onchain.

NFTs 🤝 Patronage

What is an NFT anyway?

In simplest terms, it’s a receipt. It’s proof that someone paid (or didn’t pay) for something all the way back to the moment it was first created ("minted").

With that definition in mind, I see no better use case for an NFT then as a way to show support, be it support for a creator (patronage) or for a cause (charity).

In web2, both patronage and charity are gate-kept. To use Patreon for example you need to make an account, share your name, address, credit card, and give up a portion of every payment to Patreon for providing the service—and then again to Stripe or whomever the payments provider is.

The middlemen are unnecessary and the fees are unreasonable. What's worse, no matter how much you spend, your so-called account is revokable and the perks you receive for your patronage are borrowed, not owned.

Contrast that with the idea of buying or minting NFTs where you give patronage directly to the creator and you get an onchain receipt that is irrevokable.

In this system, you can consider your NFT as a badge which shows the world that you support your favourite creator. It’s a digital collectible. But that’s not all. You see, that receipt is on an open blockchain and it’s unique—that’s what non-fungible means in case you didn’t know.

So if a creator like me wanted to offer bonus content just for verified patrons, they could. If they wanted to airdrop an NFT holiday card, grant access to a store of physical or digital merchandise just for holders, or run token-gated giveaways, all of that would be possible. Better still, none of this would require making accounts or sharing personal information.

Trustless patronage.

Ok so clearly I’m a fan of this idea, so why don’t I do something like this?

Well, believe it or not, I did. Part of the reason I moved my blog to Mirror is their fantastic web3 integrations. Here, all of my articles can be collected as NFTs on a low-cost Ethereum Layer 2 like Optimism or Base, where gas fees are usually in the tens of cents.

When you collect an article you get a limited edition NFT, and I get the payment directly to my wallet in an instant. Once again a huge improvement over the old systems like PayPal and Stripe who take massive cuts and require multiple steps to cash out.

Collecting articles is a fun way to support writers like me and can even be a bullish investment that one day another collector will want to buy it off you; think of it like collecting physical copies of a magazine or literary journal where a writer got their start.

I am grateful to each and every one of you who collects my articles and the majority of that money finds its way back into making more content.

But for those of you who truly believe in the idea of non-fungible patronage…

I Made an NFT!

Experimenting with web3 patronage like collectible articles on Mirror got me thinking about how else I could offer creative ways to support my content. So, back in 2022, I began reaching out to some of my favourite NFT artists to see if they would want to work together on a unique piece of art that would serve as the visual for my own official patronage NFT.

I wanted something fun and unique so I reached out to one of the most whimsical creators I know, Jeremy Fisher, who created the fantastic claymation NFT project Lucky Ducky. Jeremy is a talented artist who worked on the hilarious show Robot Chicken, as well as doing work for Hallmark, and more recently animating for the wonderful film Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

Jeremy has always been very approachable, so he responded to my messages, but he was just too busy to take on a project like this, so he put me in contact with another talented animator with whom he’d worked on Robot Chicken as well as Lucky Ducky: Joshua Franco.

I am so grateful for this connection because Joshua was super professional and totally blew my expectations out of the water. He created a clay version of my profile pic, as well as the logo for my newsletter, and then we came up with an animation to serve as the visual for my patronage NFT all made of real clay and painstakingly stop-animated.

I wanted a visual that was representative of the brand so of course I had to have the thumb! But I also wanted to convey the jovial spirit I’ve really tried to capture here on the blog and on social media. What better way to show this off than with a wave hello?

After all, for years, I’ve started almost every post the same way…

Hey Friends đź‘‹

That's what I called my patronage NFT which initially launched on Ethereum mainnet (L1) back in 2022. After all, at that time, almost nothing was being done on layer 2 (L2) with respect to NFTs.

Launching on L1 back then was extremely impractical. I spent hundreds of dollars in network fees deploying the contract, making tweaks to the Zora page, airdropping previous supporters, etc. At this point I had already decided, I would never make my money back.

Fortunately in 2023, NFTs on L2s like Optimism began to gain some traction. And later, with the launch of Zora Network and Base, they would become the norm. As each new network was added to Zora, I would redeploy Hey Friends! on that chain. But much of this was happening during the bear market, and so only around 10 people ever minted a Hey Friends! NFT on any chain.

I appreciate every one of those supporters, but, as I said, I still have never broken even on the expense of that project. So, recently, after finding a new platform for onchain patronage—more on that in a moment—I decided to relaunch Hey Friends!

This time, it would not be an open-edition patronage token, but a capped-supply collectible, exclusive to L2.


Hey Friends! v2 is a capped-supply ERC-1155 on Base, the Ethereum L2 incubated by Coinbase. There are only 1000 editions, each priced at 0.0042 ETH. Everyone who minted the original Hey Friends! received an airdrop of this new version. They also get to keep the original token, whose artwork was updated to a custom clay-inspired AI assisted artwork, shown below. This way they have two unique tokens rather than a weird duplicate which in a way devalues the new token.

Hey Friends! v1 is closed
Hey Friends! v1 is closed

Unlike the original version of Hey Friends!, v2 is not intended to convey unique patronage benefits. For that sort of thing, I've created something much better!

Subs Up

In 2023, I experimented with crypto crowdfunding on a new platform called CrowdFi by a team called Fabric. I was trying to raise funds for a laptop as I was without my own personal computer and looking at potentially being out of work soon.

CrowdFi really opened my eyes to how far we've come with onchain solutions inspired by web2 mainstays like gofundme and kickstarter. Even though I didn't meet my goal, meaning all the funds were returned to the folks who pledged and I would have to fund my laptop another way, I was completely sold on Fabric, and so I was pleasantly surprised to learn about another product they had just launched: Hypersub.

Hypersub is like Patreon but onchain. Users can choose how many months they want to support a creator and then mint an NFT with a corresponding time value. The benefit of this approach is that I don't need to issue a new NFT every year to entice patrons to continue their support.

This approach, allows patrons to grow alongside creators as real ongoing supporters. They can subscribe and either be active or inactive and they'll be entitled to the corresponding perks.

For my patronage subscription called "Subs Up" there are some special perks as well, such as:

  • Q&A: For as long as a patron is active, they will have direct line of communication with me, allowing them to send in questions and comments which I will try to incorporate into future newsletters.

  • Recognition: Each newsletter will include a credits section with a list of all patrons active at the time of publishing. For patrons with higher value commitments there may be additional flair to indicate their support.

  • NFTs: During each month of active subscription, holders will receive new and recent free mints from my various art projects as airdrops. Paid mints (should they occur) will either be discounted, whitelisted, airdropped at my discretion.

  • Subscriber rewards are enabled at 2.5% with bonus multipliers for early supporters. This means that just by being a subscriber, patrons actually share in the income generated by the Hypersub.

  • Referral rewards are set at 5% so it pays to bring in more patrons.

And that's just the beginning. I prefer to underpromise and over-deliver. So far it's clear to me that Subs Up is a massive improvement over my previous attempts at onchain patronage. And when combined with fans collecting my articles and artworks, it feels like there genuinely is a path to making a sustainable career as a niche creator entirely within web3.

So then, perhaps the next chapter is still being written.

Until next time,

Thumbs Up

If you want to become monthly supporting patron and unlock special perks, check out my Hypersub

And for the cypherpunks, I accept anonymous tips with Zcash to my shielded address:

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