Crowdfund: $DIRT, the first NFT-driven newsletter

Kyle Chayka
Kyle Chayka
0x25cb
May 27th, 2021

Summary

With this crowdfund, we’re pioneering a way to fund media through NFTs, with a newsletter built on social tokens and NFT sales. It follows the guidelines I described in my previous sketch on Mirror. The plan is to turn Dirt, a daily newsletter on streaming and entertainment that I've been developing, into a major voice on digital culture.

To participate, you can buy Dirt’s new animated NFTs of the newsletter’s mascot, Dirty. You’ll get the NFT art as well as an airdropped commensurate number of $DIRT-S1 tokens as a reward. There are three versions of NFT: a Pea Green edition of 100, a Pearl Pink edition of 30, and a special Rainbow Wave, which is a single NFT. The 100 edition will get a reward of 50 $DIRT-S1 tokens, the 30 edition 200, and the unique NFT will be auctioned off and the winner will be rewarded 1000 tokens.

The goal is to crowdfund about 10-15ETH total with NFT edition sales. The funding will go toward paying for editors, writers, artists, and environmental offsets for the entire project. At the end of season 1 of Dirt, we’ll release another round of Dirty NFTs as prizes for $DIRT-S1 holders. Crowdfunders will also get transparent reports on the publication's growth and progress, as well as input on what to cover, writing opportunities, and early access to later NFT and token drops, with conversations held over a listserv. The NFT editions are below, with a detailed explanation of the plan.

By supporting this project, you’ll help create the first NFT-driven newsletter and demonstrate what is possible with NFT culture, with a front-row seat to the results.

Support the project

Dirty S1 Rainbow Wave

1/1 — Auction at 1ETH
Reward of 1000 $DIRT-S1 tokens per NFT

Dirty S1 Pearl Pink

30/30 — 0.2ETH
Reward of 200 $DIRT-S1 tokens per NFT
Pearl Pink buyers will also have their name listed and Twitter handle or website linked in the footer of all Dirt newsletters as Season 1 supporters.

Dirty S1 Pea Green

100/100 — 0.05ETH
Reward of 50 $DIRT-S1 tokens per NFT

All NFT art by Mark Costello

Pearl Pink buyers will also have their name listed and Twitter handle or website linked in the footer of all Dirt newsletters as Season 1 supporters.

What is Dirt?

Dirt is a free daily morning newsletter about entertainment broadly, covering streaming TV; YouTube and TikTok; and any kind of interesting digital culture, including NFTs and digital assets. Popular past editions include TikTok and suburban aesthetics and a review of a podcast about pasta. The newsletter is anchored by me (Kyle Chayka, author and writer for The New Yorker and many other publications as well as co-founder of Study Hall, a small media company) with contributions from writer Daisy Alioto (Vox, Paris Review, Longreads) and other freelance writers.

Since launching in December 2021, Dirt has gained 3,600+ organic newsletter subscribers and has been linked to by websites from the Financial Times to Axios and Slate. It is now an established publication in the media landscape, tweeted and shared by influential writers. It has a 40%+ open rate and gets 3,000+ views daily. Readers include executives from Netflix and HBO.

Dirt's subscriber growth

Dirt’s tone is accessible and educational, building a broader awareness of digital culture through smart criticism and analysis. It’s about creating engaged entertainment consumers and hosting good dialogue in a digestible format. It is developing an active community of both writers and readers — imagine The Paris Review of digital / streaming culture. Traditional subscription funding supports content that many people already agree on; NFT crowdfunding patronage systems will support more radical and innovative content like Dirt.

The archive of Dirt posts can be found here.

Dirt growth plan

With the funding from the new NFT sales, Dirt will commission new freelance contributions, grow the email list, and aggressively cover digital culture, including NFTs, video games, Metaverse topics, and the evolving nature of entertainment on the internet as we move toward Web3.0. This content will create dialogue and education around these topics, developing connoisseurship of digital assets and an aspirational culture.

At the same time, Dirt will produce a growing content range of NFTs, based on branding assets like our new mascot, Dirty, who was previously commissioned from the artist Jason Adam Katzenstein (cartoonist for The New Yorker, author, and illustrator). Here is one of our initial art pieces:

Dirty is like the avatar of Dirt: they’re a formless, muddy blob that floats around the internet. What will Dirty do next? Dress up like a TV show character? Become animated or CGI? Imagine a kind of Pokemon or Cryptopunks-esque culture around the publication’s mascot, which gets translated into NFTs and other assets, which fund the publication over time, accruing value. (It’s like if The New Yorker’s Eustace Tilley were an NFT.)

Our new animated NFTs, which come in several colorways, are created by the interactive designer Mark Costello, who will produce more animations in the future.

Dirt’s content will roll out in seasons: periods of a month or a few months in which the content is fully funded and is branded as such. This first Mirror NFT sale and token creation won’t fund Dirt in perpetuity, but it’s an experiment to see how NFTs can be used to create a specific batch of content and create community in a publication for anyone who wants to participate — a sense of digital belonging for supporters, as I wrote about previously on Mirror, and a chance to pioneer a publication from NFT culture.

— For previous examples of how crowdfunding editorial projects works, see Emily Segal’s $NOVEL and $GENERALIST. An explanation of token holder options post-NFT sale is here. A clear overall description of the model is here.

Funders will be able to contribute to the success of the project and will be encouraged to participate, give feedback, grow the email list, write for the publication, etc.

NFT sales and $DIRT-S1 token

Dirt NFTs are available now in two editions, one of 100 for .05 ETH and one of 30 for .2 ETH. The auction for the singular NFT starts at 1 ETH. Each NFT is in a different colorway: Pea Green, Pearl Pink, and Rainbow Wave. These colors and this animation will never be reused.

Separately, the $DIRT-S1 token will be created and rewarded to backers based on their NFT purchases. Tokens will be minted at a rate of 1000 $DIRT-S1 to 1 ETH of crowdfunding and airdropped to the NFT buyers after the crowdfund ends. (The winner of the auction will receive 1000 $DIRT-S1 no matter what the final price is.) On top of that, 25% extra $DIRT-S1 will be minted to stay with Dirt to reward contributors.

The total 10 ETH goal will provide funding for Dirt’s first season of content, including writing, editing, freelancers, marketing, and NFT art. If the net funding is higher, season 1 will last for a longer time and grow the publication further.

At the end of the season of content, another wave of NFT editions will be released to wrap up season 1. Token holders will have access to rewards from those NFTs if they desire to exchange the tokens, and more NFT sales will fund the development of the next round of Dirt NFT expansion: editorial planning, commissioning more art, and environmental offsets.

Future rounds of crowdfunding will be based on season-themed tokens, like $DIRT-S2, etc (similar to magazine volumes, which are numbered by year and edition). When the publication is on solid footing, I will create a final $DIRT token and airdrop it proportionally to all holders of all previous tokens as a reward. Early token holders will be given preference in all Dirt token and NFT releases.

Art by Jason Adam Katzenstein

The purpose of Dirt is to create both an editorial and a visual universe. The publication will coexist with the body of Dirty-focused artwork, which will expand as we keep publishing, collaborating with new artists and designers. This is what will drive the Dirt NFT market and continue funding the publication, plus creating a fun new form of content.

10-15ETH Budget

  • 40% commissioning freelance content
  • 25% founders editing and writing
  • 25% art & NFT development
  • 10% marketing & partnerships

Season 1 runtime: 1-3 months

About the founders

I am well-equipped to run Dirt as a small publication having already executed it for several months, using my own media-industry background. I have written for many major magazines and websites (New Yorker, New York Times, Vox, etc) and also co-founded and run Study Hall, a subscription media newsletter company and community with 6,000+ paid subscribers and a staff of 5. It will be simple for me to take this initial funding and execute the season of content, as well as lead the publication as a business going forward.

Some of my popular past essays:

I’m excited to use my experience in traditional media spaces to pioneer something new and different in the NFT ecosystem.

Platform Approach

Dirt has already grown on Substack, which is useful for its email functionality and fully developed CMS, as well as its familiarity for readers — Dirt now has organic growth there. Future Dirt content will be cross-posted on Substack and Mirror, where it will also come with updates about the publication and NFT business models.

On Mirror, I’ll develop approaches for integrating NFTs into editorial and creating a connection between NFTs and storytelling, with the goal of eventually moving the entire project onto Mirror. Traditional paywalls will be avoided in favor of patronage and crowdfunding. The content will also create more context for NFT adoption, exposing Substack readers to the mechanics and culture of NFTs and social tokens.

Business Model Going Forward

  1. Crowdfund ETH via NFT editions.
  2. Create editorial and NFT content.
  3. Grow subscriber base.
  4. Drive more demand for Dirt digital assets.
  5. Sell new NFTs and tokens in future crowdfunds.
  6. Repeat until market for Dirt assets is self-sustaining.

If this initial NFT model doesn’t work I am committed to developing other options and continuing the relationship with token holders.

Contact

Email me at chaykak@gmail.com if you have any questions or feedback about the project!

Disclaimer: $DIRT NFTs and tokens do not represent any form of legal equity in any financial entity; they are crowdfunding rewards for contributing the funds to pay for future Dirt newsletter content and development. No financial gain is implied or guaranteed, only ownership of the NFTs and tokens for supporters.

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