CROWDFUND: Using NFTs to fund digital media

(That's me! Photo by Jake Gold)
(That's me! Photo by Jake Gold)

Hi there, my name is Ryan Broderick. I’m a freelance tech reporter who’s recently written for outlets such as The Nation, The Verge, Foreign Policy, Polygon, and Eater. I also currently host a weekend show for the audio news app Curio. Last year, I started publishing an independent newsletter called Garbage Day full-time. And, amazingly, since then, Garbage Day has grown in ways I could have never imagined.

The newsletter has been cited in outlets such as the Guardian, NY Mag’s The Cut, ABC News, the New York Times, and Poynter. I’ve also had the chance to interview some amazing people like Ryan North, the creator of Dinosaur Comics, Substack CEO Chris Best, Neeraj Agrawal, director of communications for Coin Center, and Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko.

Even more incredibly, Garbage Day has launched its own Discord server, which now has over 800 users. I’ve also helped build another Discord server for a network of independent writers called Sidechannel, which has over 5000 users. Garbage Day has its own merch store, supports a podcast called The Content Mines which has around 2000 downloads a week, and I’ve also begun experimenting with a YouTube channel. It’s been a big year!

But, most importantly, Garbage Day’s readership has grown by over 10,000 users since last August. It’s also just been a hell of a lot of fun.

(Garbage Day's readership growth)
(Garbage Day's readership growth)

So if everything’s good, you might be asking, what is this? Why am I crowdfunding on Mirror? Well, everything I’m doing right now, I’m doing myself. Garbage Day’s paid subscriptions have grown steadily, but, as I’ve entered my second year of doing this, I worry about the sustainability of subscriptions overall, but there are also bigger projects I’d like to sink my teeth into. Also, thanks to an extremely nasty case of food poisoning a few weeks ago which almost derailed my publishing schedule, I realized that working completely on your own has some downsides. I want to take some steps to make sure Garbage Day doesn’t completely and totally rely on me.

With the way the internet is currently constructed, you essentially have three options for building out creative projects: do them and fund them yourself and hope for the best, grind on a corporate-owned platform posting low-value content until you have enough scale that you can build a hype house of wage slaves to help you, or find a company and try and convince them to fund your project. I think all three of these options have issues.

I’ve also just been deeply inspired by other creators like John Palmer, Kyle Chayka, and Mario Gabriele who have used Mirror to take their online projects to the next level. I’m interested in exploring what Garbage Day can be beyond just a newsletter and I think the Mirror community can help me do that. I’m also just curious about NFTs! I’ve written a lot about cryptocurrency, NFTs, financial memetics, and the metaverse this year, and I’m interested in exploring what you can really do with them. I figure, if this whole campaign doesn’t work out, I can, at least, write about it.

Garbage Day is, first, a newsletter about the weird and oftentimes idiotic world of technology and web culture. It’s meant to be a fun thing that you can read during that 3 P.M. period of your workday where you’re contractually obligated to continue to look at a screen, but you don’t have any more actual work to do. But as it has grown into a larger project, with a podcast, a YouTube channel, and merchandising, it has, also, in my opinion, shown signs of being able to grow into something a bit bigger. I want to use it to promote an idea that I’m calling, for lack of a better word, “farm-to-table internet.” It’s the belief that the content we consume on the internet doesn’t have to be created by massive corporations and distributed by algorithms we have no control over, nor should it have to reach the most amount of users humanly possible to deserve to exist. The internet is best when it’s weird and owned by people. And it’s because of this belief that I’ve ended up here on Mirror.

The common comparison for NFTs is that they’re digital collectibles, but I think, more broadly, that they’re actually little pockets of the internet that we’ve given both ownership and value to, which, feels like a really good step in the right direction away from the digital sharecropping publishers are doing on Facebook and Instagram right now.

Here’s how I’m organizing the crowdfunding…