Nostr has been around since 2020 but really got mainstream attention after the donation from former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and being listed as a platform Twitter doesn’t want users to promote on their site. These two media highlights, along with the overall sentiment around traditional social media, have seen more users set up a presence on Nostr and begin to explore the possibilities of the protocol along with services built using it.
While their grant from Jack Dorsey might go a long way to bootstrapping the first phase of the ecosystem, eventually, clients using Nostr will need to find a way to monetise the content they host on their website or app and turn it into a formal business.
I know it often sounds like a bad word, but Nostr’s “monetisation” will have to be part of the conversation sooner or later if the intention is to bring this service to more people worldwide.
What is app monetisation?
App monetisation is the process of generating revenue to support your service, be that to cover overhead costs like data storage and server space or to compensate you and other employees for time spent working on the application.
There are several app monetisation models to choose from; some can be improved with the use of bitcoin, while other revenue options can only be effectively administered with bitcoin. Depending on the client application, they can choose to use one monetisation method or combine it to diversify their revenue streams.
The best fit for your app will depend on your app’s vertical and target audience, along with the investment you plan to make and hopefully recoup in the future.
Picking a monetisation stack will be an experiment for all clients, and this means avoiding monetising in ways that frustrate users, as your goal is not only about generating an income but maintaining and growing your user base. If you’re only focused on squeezing out satoshis from your users, you will see users look elsewhere for a better deal.
This will lead to a poor brand reputation and an increase in churned users, and considering the low switching cost for users, clients need to be even more sensitive about how they plan to monetise their user base.
Income for clients
Choosing an app monetisation model is critical to the success of your platform; while it may be fun and games in the beginning, if you’re not going to build toward something that can sustain itself over time, you’re building to fail, and as you come to that realisation, you will burn out.
Whether you’re still in the bootstrapping phase or developing a free app that you will look to monetise in the future, developing an appropriate monetisation strategy that satisfies your users while ensuring your company is profitable is key.
While we’ve all had our fair share of online advertising, we must accept that it is very much part of the digital ecosystem and will be a part of Nostr; it all depends on how clients wish to implement it. Clients could initially bootstrap inventory with traditional publisher services like Google’s GDN and other third-party publishers or create a native advertising system or a shared serving platform that works within their client or across several clients.
The issue with legacy networks is they use fiat rails which are costly and time-consuming for clients. In contrast, a native solution, especially one that all Nostr clients can opt into, could easily gain traction with a growing user base. Clients could charge a far lower CPC since they need not deal with the traditional banking system, which will attract advertisers looking to spend their ad budget better.
In addition, advertisers that have been marginalised by traditional social media, such as dating, gambling and cannabis businesses, could find a home for their advertising budget on Nostr clients.
As for the user side, advertising could be an opt-in service or a revenue-sharing service, with users having to click to view the ad and then claiming their payment for it. While clients could issue charges on a CPM basis, the CPC advertisers will depend on the success of the messaging.
Nostr clients, like many social media applications, work on a feed-based system, which means your posts’ visibility relies heavily on the time you post and the number of users following you at the time. Short of the user checking your profile to see if you’ve posted content, there isn’t a way for you to notify them.
Nostr clients could offer you, users, a paid service to:
- Push out a notification to your post
- Send your users a DM reminder of your latest post
- Send out an email to users who have connected their nostr account to an email account
Since Nostr is only meant to transfer text between users’ public keys and relays, it leaves the rest of the multimedia-rich internet is to be handled by third-party services. Data uploads, such as images, files and videos, could be provided by the client for a set fee to upload or to purchase a certain amount of uploads; the pricing is up to the client.
Another option would be to combine all your additional paid features into one premium account. Users who do not wish to make microtransactions whenever they wish to access a feature can access it through a one-time purchase or a monthly subscription service.
Clients could bundle additional features like:
- Creating lists
- Creating groups
- Creating posts with media embeds and uploads
- Access to data dashboards
- Stories and other disappearing content
- Polls with longer date ranges
They could test out features that gain traction as microtransactions and then combine them all into premium accounts in the future; that way, you’ve already battled tested the feature, and you know that users find it valuable.
Every social media platform will have power users; they usually come from journalists, content creators, influencers or brands. These users create regular content and share it on social platforms to help foster engagement and discussion on social media. Social media apps like Facebook have embraced these power users, giving them a suite of tools to monetise their content, and Nostr clients better could offer power user accounts that give these creators more control.
This could be done through RSS feeds where a publisher connects their blog RSS feed to their client and then chooses the monetisation method; this could be pay-to-unlock, pay-per-scroll depth or ad embeds in content, be they static or dynamic ad placements.
These are similar to the publishing accounts provided by Facebook through their Instant Articles Program, Google’s AMP publisher program or Yandex’s Turbo pages program.
Badges and awards
Social media users love a good vanity metric or a way to differentiate themselves from others based on their interests. Clients could offer individuals or communities the option to own a certain hashtag on their platform or associate certain hashtags with their brand/community page, along with adding profile badges that redirect towards these community or brand pages.
These additional elements can all be set behind a paywall, and community members need to pay to unlock these badges or create these groups.
Income for users
Social media and content distribution platforms on Nostr don’t have the same incentive to horde data and capital to drive scale. Instead, they can create a healthier ecosystem that has revenue shares built-in on a micro-level.
Depending on how much you contribute to a client, you might be able to find income-generating opportunities that support the client, relay or other users.
Probably the most obvious one, which already exists natively on many clients, is the ability to tip users in bitcoin. While Lightning has been prioritised as a method for tipping since its ideal for micropayments, it might not be the only natively supported method. Clients could offer the ability to tip using different layers, such as L-BTC, Liquid assets, Taro assets, RGB assets or eCash Mints.
The ability to paywall content has become a popular use case for users who aim to monetise their content; platforms like Patreon have gone on to offer it for rich media like video and images, while Substack and Medium have been the go-to for those who prefer to write or create long-form content.
Nostr clients could offer users the option to paywall certain posts and lock them behind paywalls based on the content length or a fee set by the user.
When you build up a following on a social media platform, brands will inevitably come knocking to try and pay you to sell your audience on their products. While you might have the best intentions, you may vet the service, but you are still putting your audience at risk while getting paid for it. We’ve seen this repeatedly happen, where brands that come out of nowhere offer influencers a large sum of money to pretend to be interested in a service and sell it to their audience.
The incentives for branded content are simply not aligned; when users follow a personality they aren’t necessarily keen on being sold to or interested in your product recommendations, they follow you for your content.
To help align this relationship, clients could offer a branded post service which should be funded by the influencer and the brand they are promoting. That way, we have ties to all parties involved.
Branded posts could be highlighted differently in clients and contain
- Heading that this is branded content
- Tagged with the brand
- Terms and conditions of relationship on the post
- Post is minimised, and users would need to accept to view it.
Of course, influencers could bypass the branded content option, but they then only showcase their willingness to sell out their audience and can risk serious reputation damage in the future.
P2P markets have been around for many years, but they’re only frequented by a niche audience in the bitcoin community, the privacy-focused bitcoiner, but it need not be that way. Nostr users could signal on their profile that they accept P2P orders and set their ranges; there could be an open market page where these user profiles can also be found should people be looking for offers.
Users could promote their willingness to buy or sell bitcoin and promote it in their feeds. Nostr clients and users could turn P2P trades into a far smoother experience, which would be as simple as relaying a few text messages between users.
As more Lightning apps and lightning users come online and use the network in a non-custodial manner, channel rebalancing will become an issue from time to time. To help keep channels rebalanced, Nostr users could advertise available capacity or the need for liquidity on their profile and find channel owners willing to help them.
Nostr clients could make it very easy to gamify and monetise aspects of social media that we already practice today. Microtasks could have bounties set on them in Nostr clients, and users could earn a fee if they meet the requirements of the bounty.
These bounty posts could involve simple actions like:
- Liking a post
- Resharing a post
- Commenting on a post
- Following a user
- Completing a survey
- Answering a poll question
- Signing up for a newsletter
To more complex actions like:
- Opening a lightning channel
- Doing user testing and providing feedback
- Freelance work
Monetise in moderation
Now that you have an idea of how monetisation could work in the Nostr ecosystem, what do you think are the most attractive options? Are there other monetisation options that have not been listed that you think are a good fit? Which of these monetisation strategies will work best for your app?
Let us know in the comments down below.
Do your own research.
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