It’s still early days, but it already feels like there are some distinctions developing between what web2 or digital writing looks like and what web3 or onchain writing could look like.

Web2 or digital writing

Making money by writing online today is largely about traffic. There are two main ways to get traffic — organically, by owning a search query (SEO), or leveraging a large audience for distribution.

Either way, the name of the game (usually) is getting as many eyeballs as possible on a piece of content.

One of the reasons why eyeballs or traffic is the baseline metric is that monetization happens via advertising or lead generation.

In both cases, traffic drives revenue.

Web3 or onchain writing

Writing onchain (so far) is largely about audience building.

What sets it apart from web2 writing is that it feels like tools and infrastructure are coming along that will enable writers and other content creators to build new ways to monetize an audience.

Sure, web2 has its ways of audience building, like paid newsletters, but web3 models feel more customizable.

So far three interesting trends are emerging for web3 writers to monetize:

  • Tips: Tipping good content on platforms like Farcaster is a trend. Right now, it’s still really meme-y, but it could become an interesting way for writers to get feedback about what they are creating. Tips feel more useful than current vanity metrics. Of course, living on tips is not a great way to build a sustainable writing-based business.
  • Minting work: This feels like the biggest unlock for writers. It’s almost like a pay-to-play situation. It would be great if writers could connect with collectors willing to pay small sums to mint and collect their work. The biggest downside to this model is that most web2 audiences do not pay for content.
  • Community-building. Building a paid community or a token-gated community feels a lot like web2 paid newsletters. The big difference is that web3 paid communities can offer more than just a newsletter. First-mover communities are building around the idea of sharing valuable info and insights, like the latest or best airdrops. In-person or exclusive access seems like big levers.

It’s still all about distribution

From the earliest days, writing has always been about distribution. Writers write to be read.

The distribution or publishing models have changed over time. Web2 created several new publishing or distribution channels. But most rely on mass media tactics (traffic) to work well.

Web3 is still about distribution, but what’s interesting is that the distribution model is changing and will likely be less mass media dependent.

This all makes sense of course. As the internet grows and becomes more fragmented, distribution and audience engagement will also change.

Web2 online writing versus Web3 onchain writing

Web3 offers writers new ways to build a business. But it's still all about distribution.