How I made $160,000 from non-fiction books
I've sold over 40,000 non-fiction books on Amazon and made over $160,000 in six years while writing on the side.
I have a full-time job and three young sons; I can't spend 40 hours a week writing. This article describes my journey.
I write mainly tech books:
Thanks to my readers, many wrote positive evaluations. Several are bestsellers.
A few have been adopted by universities as textbooks:
My books' passive income allows me more time with my family.
Knowing I could quit my job and write full time gave me more confidence. And I find purpose in my work (i am in christian ministry).
I'm always eager to write. When work is a dread or something bad happens, writing gives me energy. Writing isn't scary. In fact, I can’t stop myself from writing!
Writing has also established my tech authority. Universities use my books, as I've said. Traditional publishers have asked me to write books.
These mindsets helped me become a successful nonfiction author:
1. You don’t have to be an Authority
Yes, I have computer science experience. But I'm no expert on my topics. Before authoring "Beginning Node.js, Express & MongoDB," my most profitable book, I had no experience with those topics. Node was a new server-side technology for me. Would that stop me from writing a book? It can. I liked learning a new technology. So I read the top three Node books, took the top online courses, and put them into my own book (which makes me know more than 90 percent of people already).
I didn't have to worry about using too much jargon because I was learning as I wrote. An expert forgets a beginner's hardship.
"The fellow learner can aid more than the master since he knows less," says C.S. Lewis. The problem he must explain is recent. The expert has forgotten.”
2. Solve a micro-problem (Niching down)
I didn't set out to write a definitive handbook. I found a market with several challenges and wrote one book. Ex:
- Instead of web development, what about web development using Angular?
- Instead of Blockchain, what about Blockchain using Solidity and React?
- Instead of cooking recipes, how about a recipe for a specific kind of diet?
- Instead of Learning math, what about Learning Singapore Math?
3. Piggy Backing Trends
The above topics may still be a competitive market. E.g. Angular, React. To stand out, include the latest technologies or trends in your book. Learn iOS 15 instead of iOS programming. Instead of personal finance, what about personal finance with NFTs.
Even though you're a newbie author, your topic is well-known.
4. Publish short books
My books are known for being direct. Many people like this:
Your reader will appreciate you cutting out the fluff and getting to the good stuff. A reader can finish and review your book.
Second, short books are easier to write. Instead of creating a 500-page book for $50 (which few will buy), write a 100-page book that answers a subset of the problem and sell it for less. (You make less, but that's another subject). At least it got published instead of languishing. Less time spent creating a book means less time wasted if it fails. Write a small-bets book portfolio like Daniel Vassallo!
Third, it's $2.99-$9.99 on Amazon (gets 70 percent royalties for ebooks). Anything less receives 35% royalties. $9.99 books have 20,000–30,000 words. If you write more and charge more over $9.99, you get 35% royalties. Why not make it a $9.99 book?
(This is the ebook version.) Paperbacks cost more. Higher royalties allow for higher prices.
5. Validate book idea
Amazon will tell you if your book concept, title, and related phrases are popular. See? Check its best-sellers list.
150,000 is preferable. It sells 2–3 copies daily. Consider your rivals. Profitable niches have high demand and low competition.
Don't be afraid of competitive niches. First, it shows high demand. Secondly, what are the ways you can undercut the completion? Better book? Or cheaper option? There was lots of competition in my NodeJS book's area. None received 4.5 stars or more. I wrote a NodeJS book. Today, it's a best-selling Node book.
So long. Part II follows. Meanwhile, I will continue to write more books!
Follow my journey on Twitter.
This post is a summary. Read full article here
More on Entrepreneurship
4 months ago
How We Just Raised $6M At An $80M Valuation From 100+ Investors Using A Link (Without Pitching)
Lawtrades nearly failed three years ago.
We couldn't raise Series A or enthusiasm from VCs.
We raised $6M (at a $80M valuation) from 100 customers and investors using a link and no pitching.
We refocused our business first.
Lawtrades raised $3.7M while Atrium raised $75M. By comparison, we seemed unimportant.
We had to close the company or try something new.
As I've written previously, a pivot saved us. Our initial focus on SMBs attracted many unprofitable customers. SMBs needed one-off legal services, meaning low fees and high turnover.
Tech startups were different. Their General Councels (GCs) needed near-daily support, resulting in higher fees and lower churn than SMBs.
We stopped unprofitable customers and focused on power users. To avoid dilution, we borrowed against receivables. We scaled our revenue 10x, from $70k/mo to $700k/mo.
Then, we reconsidered fundraising (and do it differently)
This time was different. Lawtrades was cash flow positive for most of last year, so we could dictate our own terms. VCs were still wary of legaltech after Atrium's shutdown (though they were thinking about the space).
We neither wanted to rely on VCs nor dilute more than 10% equity. So we didn't compete for in-person pitch meetings.
AngelList Roll-Up Vehicle (RUV). Up to 250 accredited investors can invest in a single RUV. First, we emailed customers the RUV. Why? Because I wanted to help the platform's users.
Imagine if Uber or Airbnb let all drivers or Superhosts invest in an RUV. Humans make the platform, theirs and ours. Giving people a chance to invest increases their loyalty.
We expanded after initial interest.
We created a Journey link, containing everything that would normally go in an investor pitch:
- Trailer (from me)
- Product demo
We could also link to our AngelList RUV and send the pitch to an unlimited number of people. Instead of 1:1, we had 1:10,000 pitches-to-investors.
We posted Journey's link in RUV Alliance Discord. 600 accredited investors noticed it immediately. Within days, we raised $250,000 from customers-turned-investors.
Stonks, which live-streamed our pitch to thousands of viewers, was interested in our grassroots enthusiasm. We got $1.4M from people I've never met.
These updates on Pump generated more interest. Facebook, Uber, Netflix, and Robinhood executives all wanted to invest. Sahil Lavingia, who had rejected us, gave us $100k.
We closed the round with public support.
Without a single pitch meeting, we'd raised $2.3M. It was a result of natural enthusiasm: taking care of the people who made us who we are, letting them move first, and leveraging their enthusiasm with VCs, who were interested.
We used network effects to raise $3.7M from a founder-turned-VC, bringing the total to $6M at a $80M valuation (which, by the way, I set myself).
What flipping the fundraising script allowed us to do:
We started with private investors instead of 2–3 VCs to show VCs what we were worth. This gave Lawtrades the ability to:
- Without meetings, share our vision. Many people saw our Journey link. I ended up taking meetings with people who planned to contribute $50k+, but still, the ratio of views-to-meetings was outrageously good for us.
- Leverage ourselves. Instead of us selling ourselves to VCs, they did. Some people with large checks or late arrivals were turned away.
- Maintain voting power. No board seats were lost.
- Utilize viral network effects. People-powered.
- Preemptively halt churn by turning our users into owners. People are more loyal and respectful to things they own. Our users make us who we are — no matter how good our tech is, we need human beings to use it. They deserve to be owners.
I don't blame founders for being hesitant about this approach. Pump and RUVs are new and scary. But it won’t be that way for long. Our approach redistributed some of the power that normally lies entirely with VCs, putting it into our hands and our network’s hands.
This is the future — another way power is shifting from centralized to decentralized.
1 month ago
Updates From Google For Content Producers What You Should Know Is This
Every Google upgrade causes website owners to panic.
Some have just recovered from previous algorithm tweaks and resumed content development.
If you follow Google's Webmaster rules, you shouldn't fear its adjustments.
Everyone has a view of them. Miscommunication and confusion result.
Now, for some (hopefully) exciting news.
Google tweeted on August 18, 2022 about a fresh content update.
This change is another Google effort to remove low-quality, repetitive, and AI-generated content.
The algorithm generates and analyzes search results, not humans.
Google spends a lot to teach its algorithm what searchers want. Intent isn't always clear.
Google's content update aims to:
“… ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”
Isn't it a noble goal?
However, what does it mean for content creators and website owners?
How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful after the updates roll out?
Let's first define people-first content.
What does "people-first-content" mean?
If asked, I'd say information written to answer queries and solve problems.
Like others, I read it from the term.
Content creators and marketers disagree. They need more information to follow recommendations.
Google gives explicit instructions for creating people-first content.
According to Google, if you answer yes to the following questions, you have a people-first attitude.
Do you have customers who might find your content useful if they contacted you directly?
Does your content show the breadth of your knowledge?
Do you have a niche or a focus for your website?
After reading your content, will readers learn something new to aid them in achieving their goals?
Are readers happy after reading your content?
Have you been adhering to Google's fundamental updates and product reviews?
As an SEO writer, I'm not scared.
I’ve been following these rules consciously while creating content for my website. That’s why it’s been steadily growing despite me publishing just one or two stories a month.
If you avoid AI-generated text and redundant, shallow material, your website won't suffer.
If you use unscrupulous methods to boost your website's traffic, including link buying or keyword stuffing, stop. Google is getting smarter and will find and punish your site eventually.
For those who say, “SEO is no longer working,” I dedicated the whole paragraph below.
This does not imply that SEO is obsolete.
“People-first content creators focus on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value.”
The official helpful content update page lists two people-first content components:
meeting user needs
best practices for SEO
Always read official guidelines, not unsolicited suggestions.
SEO will work till search engines die.
How to use the update
Google said the changes will arrive in August 2022.
They pledged to post updates on Google's search ranking updates page.
Google also tweets this info. If you haven't followed it already, I recommend it.
Ranking adjustments could take two weeks and will affect English searches internationally initially.
Google affirmed plans to extend to other languages.
If you own a website, monitor your rankings and traffic to see if it's affected.
1 month ago
Your entrepreneurial experience can either be a beautiful adventure or a living hell with just one decision.
DNA makes us distinct.
We act alike. Most people follow the same road, ignoring differences. We remain quiet about our uniqueness for fear of exclusion (family, social background, religion). We live a more or less imposed life.
Off the beaten path, we stand out from the others. We obey without realizing we're sewing a shroud. We're told to do as everyone else and spend 40 years dreaming of a golden retirement and regretting not living.
“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.” - Shannon L. Alder
Others dare. Again, few are creative; most follow the example of those who establish a business for the sake of entrepreneurship. To live.
They pick a potential market and model their MVP on an existing solution. Most mimic others, alter a few things, appear to be original, and end up with bland products, adding to an already crowded market.
SaaS, PaaS, etc. followed suit. It's reduced pricing, profitability, and product lifespan.
As competitors become more aggressive, their profitability diminishes, making life horrible for them and their employees. They fail to innovate, cut costs, and close their company.
Few of them look happy and fulfilled.
How did they do it?
The answer is unsettlingly simple.
They are themselves.
They start their company, propelled at first by a passion or maybe a calling.
Then, at their own pace, they create it with the intention of resolving a dilemma.
They assess what others are doing and consider how they might improve it.
In contrast to them, they respond to it in their own way by adding a unique personal touch. Therefore, it is obvious.
Originals, like their DNA, can't be copied. Or if they are, they're poorly printed. Originals are unmatched. Artist-like. True collectors only buy Picasso paintings by the master, not forgeries, no matter how good.
Imaginative people are constantly ahead. Copycats fall behind unless they innovate. They watch their competition continuously. Their solution or product isn't sexy. They hope to cash in on their copied product by flooding the market.
They're mostly pirates. They're short-sighted, unlike creators.
Creators see further ahead and have no rivals. They use copiers to confirm a necessity. To maintain their individuality, creators avoid copying others. They find copying boring. It's boring. They oppose plagiarism.
It's thrilling and inspiring.
It will also make them more able to withstand their opponents' tension. Not to mention roadblocks. For creators, impediments are games.
Others fear it. They race against the clock and fear threats that could interrupt their momentum since they lack inventiveness and their product has a short life cycle.
Creators have time on their side. They're dedicated. Clearly. Passionate booksellers will have their own bookstore. Their passion shows in their book choices. Only the ones they love.
The copier wants to display as many as possible, including mediocre authors, and will cut costs. All this to dominate the market. They're digging their own grave.
The bookseller is just one example. I could give you tons of them.
Entrepreneurs might follow others or be themselves. They risk exhaustion trying to predict what their followers will do.
Life offers choices.
Being oneself or doing as others do, with the possibility of regretting not expressing our uniqueness and not having lived.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”. Oscar Wilde
The choice is yours.
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2 months ago
How to gain Twitter followers: A 101 Guide
No wonder brands use Twitter to reach their audience. 53% of Twitter users buy new products first.
Twitter growth does more than make your brand look popular. It helps clients trust your business. It boosts your industry standing. It shows clients, prospects, and even competitors you mean business.
How can you naturally gain Twitter followers?
Share useful information
Post visual content
Spread your @name everywhere.
Use existing customers
Share useful information
Twitter users join conversations and consume material. To build your followers, make sure your material appeals to them and gives value, whether it's sales, product lessons, or current events.
Use Twitter Analytics to learn what your audience likes.
Explore popular topics by utilizing relevant keywords and hashtags. Check out this post on how to use Twitter trends.
Post visual content
97% of Twitter users focus on images, so incorporating media can help your Tweets stand out. Visuals and videos make content more engaging and memorable.
Your audience should expect regular content updates. Plan your ideas and tweet during crucial seasons and events with a content calendar.
Twitter connects people. Do more than tweet. Follow industry leaders. Retweet influencers, engage with thought leaders, and reply to mentions and customers to boost engagement.
Micro-influencers can promote your brand or items. They can help you gain new audiences' trust.
Spread your @name everywhere.
Maximize brand exposure. Add a follow button on your website, link to it in your email signature and newsletters, and promote it on business cards or menus.
Use existing customers
Emails can be used to find existing Twitter clients. Upload your email contacts and follow your customers on Twitter to start a dialogue.
Run a followers campaign to boost your organic growth. Followers campaigns promote your account to a particular demographic, and you only pay when someone follows you.
Consider short campaigns to enhance momentum or an always-on campaign to gain new followers.
Increasing your brand's Twitter followers takes effort and experimentation, but the payback is huge.
👋 Follow me on twitter
1 month ago
How monkeypox spreads (and doesn't spread)
Monkeypox was rare until recently. In 2005, a research called a cluster of six monkeypox cases in the Republic of Congo "the longest reported chain to date."
That's changed. This year, over 25,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in 83 countries, indicating widespread human-to-human transmission.
What spreads monkeypox? Monkeypox transmission research is ongoing; findings may change. But science says...
Most cases were formerly animal-related.
According to the WHO, monkeypox was first diagnosed in an infant in the DRC in 1970. After that, instances were infrequent and often tied to animals. In 2003, 47 Americans contracted rabies from pet prairie dogs.
In 2017, Nigeria saw a significant outbreak. NPR reported that doctors diagnosed young guys without animal exposure who had genital sores. Nigerian researchers highlighted the idea of sexual transmission in a 2019 study, but the theory didn't catch on. “People tend to cling on to tradition, and the idea is that monkeypox is transmitted from animals to humans,” explains research co-author Dr. Dimie Ogoina.
Most monkeypox cases are sex-related.
Human-to-human transmission of monkeypox occurs, and sexual activity plays a role.
Joseph Osmundson, a clinical assistant professor of biology at NYU, says most transmission occurs in queer and gay sexual networks through sexual or personal contact.
Monkeypox spreads by skin-to-skin contact, especially with its blister-like rash, explains Ogoina. Researchers are exploring whether people can be asymptomatically contagious, but they are infectious until their rash heals and fresh skin forms, according to the CDC.
A July research in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that of more than 500 monkeypox cases in 16 countries as of June, 95% were linked to sexual activity and 98% were among males who have sex with men. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus encouraged males to temporarily restrict their number of male partners in July.
Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
Skin-to-skin contact can spread monkeypox, not simply sexual activities. Dr. Roy Gulick, infectious disease chief at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, said monkeypox is not a "typical" STI. Monkeypox isn't a STI, claims the CDC.
Most cases in the current outbreak are tied to male sexual behavior, but Osmundson thinks the virus might also spread on sports teams, in spas, or in college dorms.
Can you get monkeypox from surfaces?
Monkeypox can be spread by touching infected clothing or bedding. According to a study, a U.K. health care worker caught monkeypox in 2018 after handling ill patient's bedding.
Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, believes "incidental" contact seldom distributes the virus. “You need enough virus exposure to get infected,” she says. It's conceivable after sharing a bed or towel with an infectious person, but less likely after touching a doorknob, she says.
Dr. Müge evik, a clinical lecturer in infectious diseases at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, says there is a "spectrum" of risk connected with monkeypox. "Every exposure isn't equal," she explains. "People must know where to be cautious. Reducing [sexual] partners may be more useful than cleaning coffee shop seats.
Is monkeypox airborne?
Exposure to an infectious person's respiratory fluids can cause monkeypox, but the WHO says it needs close, continuous face-to-face contact. CDC researchers are still examining how often this happens.
Under precise laboratory conditions, scientists have shown that monkeypox can spread via aerosols, or tiny airborne particles. But there's no clear evidence that this is happening in the real world, Rasmussen adds. “This is expanding predominantly in communities of males who have sex with men, which suggests skin-to-skin contact,” she explains. If airborne transmission were frequent, she argues, we'd find more occurrences in other demographics.
In the shadow of COVID-19, people are worried about aerosolized monkeypox. Rasmussen believes the epidemiology is different. Different viruses.
Can kids get monkeypox?
More than 80 youngsters have contracted the virus thus far, mainly through household transmission. CDC says pregnant women can spread the illness to their fetus.
Among the 1970s, monkeypox predominantly affected children, but by the 2010s, it was more common in adults, according to a February study. The study's authors say routine smallpox immunization (which protects against monkeypox) halted when smallpox was eradicated. Only toddlers were born after smallpox vaccination halted decades ago. More people are vulnerable now.
Schools and daycares could become monkeypox hotspots, according to pediatric instances. Ogoina adds this hasn't happened in Nigeria's outbreaks, which is encouraging. He says, "I'm not sure if we should worry." We must be careful and seek evidence.
Scott Duke Kominers
2 months ago
NFT Creators Go Creative Commons Zero (cc0)
On January 1, "Public Domain Day," thousands of creative works immediately join the public domain. The original creator or copyright holder loses exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, or publish the work, and anybody can use it. It happens with movies, poems, music, artworks, books (where creative rights endure 70 years beyond the author's death), and sometimes source code.
Public domain creative works open the door to new uses. 400,000 sound recordings from before 1923, including Winnie-the-Pooh, were released this year. With most of A.A. Milne's 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh characters now available, we're seeing innovative interpretations Milne likely never planned. The ancient hyphenated version of the honey-loving bear is being adapted for a horror movie: "Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey"... with Pooh and Piglet as the baddies.
Counterintuitively, experimenting and recombination can occasionally increase IP value. Open source movements allow the public to build on (or fork and duplicate) existing technologies. Permissionless innovation helps Android, Linux, and other open source software projects compete. Crypto's success at attracting public development is also due to its support of open source and "remix culture," notably in NFT forums.
NFT projects use several IP strategies to establish brands, communities, and content. Some preserve regular IP protections; others offer NFT owners the opportunity to innovate on connected IP; yet others have removed copyright and other IP safeguards.
By using the "Creative Commons Zero" (cc0) license, artists can intentionally select for "no rights reserved." This option permits anyone to benefit from derivative works without legal repercussions. There's still a lot of confusion between copyrights and NFTs, so nothing here should be considered legal, financial, tax, or investment advice. Check out this post for an overview of copyright vulnerabilities with NFTs and how authors can protect owners' rights. This article focuses on cc0.
Nouns, a 2021 project, popularized cc0 for NFTs. Others followed, including: A Common Place, Anonymice, Blitmap, Chain Runners, Cryptoadz, CryptoTeddies, Goblintown, Gradis, Loot, mfers, Mirakai, Shields, and Terrarium Club are cc0 projects.
Popular crypto artist XCOPY licensed their 1-of-1 NFT artwork "Right-click and Save As Guy" under cc0 in January, exactly one month after selling it. cc0 has spawned many derivatives.
"Right-click Save As Guy" by XCOPY (1)/derivative works (2)
XCOPY said Monday he would apply cc0 to "all his existing art." "We haven't seen a cc0 summer yet, but I think it's approaching," said the artist. - predicting a "DeFi summer" in 2020, when decentralized finance gained popularity.
Why do so many NFT authors choose "no rights"?
Promoting expansions of the original project to create a more lively and active community is one rationale. This makes sense in crypto, where many value open sharing and establishing community.
Creativity depends on cultural significance. NFTs may allow verifiable ownership of any digital asset, regardless of license, but cc0 jumpstarts "meme-ability" by actively, not passively, inviting derivative works. As new derivatives are made and shared, attention might flow back to the original, boosting its reputation. This may inspire new interpretations, leading in a flywheel effect where each derivative adds to the original's worth - similar to platform network effects, where platforms become more valuable as more users join them.
cc0 licence allows creators "seize production memes."
Physical items are also using cc0 NFT assets, thus it's not just a digital phenomenon. The Nouns Vision initiative turned the square-framed spectacles shown on each new NounsDAO NFT ("one per day, forever") into luxury sunglasses. Blitmap's pixel-art has been used on shoes, apparel, and caps. In traditional IP regimes, a single owner controls creation, licensing, and production.
The physical "blitcap" (3rd level) is a descendant of the trait in the cc0 Chain Runners collection (2nd), which uses the "logo" from cc0 Blitmap (1st)! The Logo is Blitmap token #84 and has been used as a trait in various collections. The "Dom Rose" is another popular token. These homages reference Blitmap's influence as a cc0 leader, as one of the earliest NFT projects to proclaim public domain intents. A new collection, Citizens of Tajigen, emerged last week with a Blitcap characteristic.
These derivatives can be a win-win for everyone, not just the original inventors, especially when using NFT assets to establish unique brands. As people learn about the derivative, they may become interested in the original. If you see someone wearing Nouns glasses on the street (or in a Super Bowl ad), you may desire a pair, but you may also be interested in buying an original NounsDAO NFT or related derivative.
Blitmap Logo Hat (1), Chain Runners #780 ft. Hat (2), and Blitmap Original "Logo #87" (3)
Co-creating open source
NFTs' power comes from smart contract technology's intrinsic composability. Many smart contracts can be integrated or stacked to generate richer applications.
"Money Legos" describes how decentralized finance ("DeFi") smart contracts interconnect to generate new financial use cases. Yearn communicates with MakerDAO's stablecoin $DAI and exchange liquidity provider Curve by calling public smart contract methods. NFTs and their underlying smart contracts can operate as the base-layer framework for recombining and interconnecting culture and creativity.
cc0 gives an NFT's enthusiast community authority to develop new value layers whenever, wherever, and however they wish.
Multiple cc0 projects are playable characters in HyperLoot, a Loot Project knockoff.
Open source and Linux's rise are parallels. When the internet was young, Microsoft dominated the OS market with Windows. Linux (and its developer Linus Torvalds) championed a community-first mentality, freely available the source code without restrictions. This led to developers worldwide producing new software for Linux, from web servers to databases. As people (and organizations) created world-class open source software, Linux's value proposition grew, leading to explosive development and industry innovation. According to Truelist, Linux powers 96.3% of the top 1 million web servers and 85% of smartphones.
With cc0 licensing empowering NFT community builders, one might hope for long-term innovation. Combining cc0 with NFTs "turns an antagonistic game into a co-operative one," says NounsDAO cofounder punk4156. It's important on several levels. First, decentralized systems from open source to crypto are about trust and coordination, therefore facilitating cooperation is crucial. Second, the dynamics of this cooperation work well in the context of NFTs because giving people ownership over their digital assets allows them to internalize the results of co-creation through the value that accrues to their assets and contributions, which incentivizes them to participate in co-creation in the first place.
Licensed to create
If cc0 projects are open source "applications" or "platforms," then NFT artwork, metadata, and smart contracts provide the "user interface" and the underlying blockchain (e.g., Ethereum) is the "operating system." For these apps to attain Linux-like potential, more infrastructure services must be established and made available so people may take advantage of cc0's remixing capabilities.
These services are developing. Zora protocol and OpenSea's open source Seaport protocol enable open, permissionless NFT marketplaces. A pixel-art-rendering engine was just published on-chain to the Ethereum blockchain and integrated into OKPC and ICE64. Each application improves blockchain's "out-of-the-box" capabilities, leading to new apps created from the improved building blocks.
Web3 developer growth is at an all-time high, yet it's still a small fraction of active software developers globally. As additional developers enter the field, prospective NFT projects may find more creative and infrastructure Legos for cc0 and beyond.
Electric Capital Developer Report (2021), p. 122
Growth requires composability. Users can easily integrate digital assets developed on public standards and compatible infrastructure into other platforms. The Loot Project is one of the first to illustrate decentralized co-creation, worldbuilding, and more in NFTs. This example was low-fi or "incomplete" aesthetically, providing room for imagination and community co-creation.
Loot began with a series of Loot bag NFTs, each listing eight "adventure things" in white writing on a black backdrop (such as Loot Bag #5726's "Katana, Divine Robe, Great Helm, Wool Sash, Divine Slippers, Chain Gloves, Amulet, Gold Ring"). Dom Hofmann's free Loot bags served as a foundation for the community.
Several projects have begun metaphorical (lore) and practical (game development) world-building in a short time, with artists contributing many variations to the collective "Lootverse." They've produced games (Realms & The Crypt), characters (Genesis Project, Hyperloot, Loot Explorers), storytelling initiatives (Banners, OpenQuill), and even infrastructure (The Rift).
Why cc0 and composability? Because consumers own and control Loot bags, they may use them wherever they choose by connecting their crypto wallets. This allows users to participate in multiple derivative projects, such as Genesis Adventurers, whose characters appear in many others — creating a decentralized franchise not owned by any one corporation.
Genesis Project's Genesis Adventurer (1) with HyperLoot (2) and Loot Explorer (3) versions
When to go cc0
There are several IP development strategies NFT projects can use. When it comes to cc0, it’s important to be realistic. The public domain won't make a project a runaway success just by implementing the license. cc0 works well for NFT initiatives that can develop a rich, enlarged ecosystem.
Many of the most successful cc0 projects have introduced flexible intellectual property. The Nouns brand is as obvious for a beer ad as for real glasses; Loot bags are simple primitives that make sense in all adventure settings; and the Goblintown visual style looks good on dwarfs, zombies, and cranky owls as it does on Val Kilmer.
The ideal cc0 NFT project gives builders the opportunity to add value:
vertically, by stacking new content and features directly on top of the original cc0 assets (for instance, as with games built on the Loot ecosystem, among others), and
horizontally, by introducing distinct but related intellectual property that helps propagate the original cc0 project’s brand (as with various Goblintown derivatives, among others).
These actions can assist cc0 NFT business models. Because cc0 NFT projects receive royalties from secondary sales, third-party extensions and derivatives can boost demand for the original assets.
Using cc0 license lowers friction that could hinder brand-reinforcing extensions or lead to them bypassing the original. Robbie Broome recently argued (in the context of his cc0 project A Common Place) that giving away his IP to cc0 avoids bad rehashes down the line. If UrbanOutfitters wanted to put my design on a tee, they could use the actual work instead of hiring a designer. CC0 can turn competition into cooperation.
Community agreement about core assets' value and contribution can help cc0 projects. Cohesion and engagement are key. Using the above examples: Developers can design adventure games around whatever themes and item concepts they desire, but many choose Loot bags because of the Lootverse's community togetherness. Flipmap shared half of its money with the original Blitmap artists in acknowledgment of that project's core role in the community. This can build a healthy culture within a cc0 project ecosystem. Commentator NiftyPins said it was smart to acknowledge the people that constructed their universe. Many OG Blitmap artists have popped into the Flipmap discord to share information.
cc0 isn't a one-size-fits-all answer; NFTs formed around well-established brands may prefer more restrictive licenses to preserve their intellectual property and reinforce exclusivity. cc0 has some superficial similarities to permitting NFT owners to market the IP connected with their NFTs (à la Bored Ape Yacht Club), but there is a significant difference: cc0 holders can't exclude others from utilizing the same IP. This can make it tougher for holders to develop commercial brands on cc0 assets or offer specific rights to partners. Holders can still introduce enlarged intellectual property (such as backstories or derivatives) that they control.
Blockchain technologies and the crypto ethos are decentralized and open-source. This makes it logical for crypto initiatives to build around cc0 content models, which build on the work of the Creative Commons foundation and numerous open source pioneers.
NFT creators that choose cc0 must select how involved they want to be in building the ecosystem. Some cc0 project leaders, like Chain Runners' developers, have kept building on top of the initial cc0 assets, creating an environment derivative projects can plug into. Dom Hofmann stood back from Loot, letting the community lead. (Dom is also working on additional cc0 NFT projects for the company he formed to build Blitmap.) Other authors have chosen out totally, like sartoshi, who announced his exit from the cc0 project he founded, mfers, and from the NFT area by publishing a final edition suitably named "end of sartoshi" and then deactivating his Twitter account. A multi-signature wallet of seven mfers controls the project's smart contract.
cc0 licensing allows a robust community to co-create in ways that benefit all members, regardless of original creators' continuous commitment. We foresee more organized infrastructure and design patterns as NFT matures. Like open source software, value capture frameworks may see innovation. (We could imagine a variant of the "Sleepycat license," which requires commercial software to pay licensing fees when embedding open source components.) As creators progress the space, we expect them to build unique rights and licensing strategies. cc0 allows NFT producers to bootstrap ideas that may take off.