While researching for this article, I stumbled across this quote by Albert Einstein: “Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else ever thought.”

This quote stuck, as it fits perfectly with the topic of today’s article. Creators are unique and able to turn the most mundane ideas into something beautiful or able to break down complicated issues so everyone understands them.

The modern gig economy isn’t set up with a reward structure for these creators. The internet, a place I’ve called home ever since I could type, started as a decentralized idea with unlimited access for everyone across the globe.

However, centralized entities and the hunt for data have turned this wonderful place into a hell hole where creators must offer all their content for free. All in the hopes that sponsors might reward them if they’re big enough one day.

This is largely down to the fact that we never had a native currency for the Internet. Money was always tied to the traditional finance system, which is slow and clunky at best. Until now…

Magic Internet Money

This is where Bitcoin and the Lightning Network come into play. Although both of these innovations are still relatively young, they managed to attract a solid user base who’s not too afraid to challenge the status quo.

Since the Internet became available to the public, people have tried to come up with Internet money. Whether in the form of game tokens, think of World of Warcraft, or account credits, users could redeem for specific websites.

Geeks like myself used to buy these tokens in the hopes that one day the coffee shop around the corner would accept them or that I could turn them into spendable money for the real world.  Spoiler; I’m still waiting, and it will probably never happen.

This is where Bitcoin is different. Yes, most coffee shops don’t accept it yet, but the real difference is in its creation. These credits or tokens are issued by a company, aka a centralized entity, and redeemed for money. Bitcoin is mined and offers the unique opportunity to reward the finder of that Bitcoin block, as well as the buyer. There is a financial incentive or reward depending on which angle you’re coming from, involved, and everyone who wants to participate has the same opportunities.

For the first time ever, we had a currency that rewards both the buyer and seller at the same time. Granted, these days, most of us buy Bitcoin from a broker and not a miner anymore, but the same principle still applies. Everyone involved in Bitcoin is being rewarded.

This means users online are now able to mine, buy and spend a currency without the need to ask for permission. No one in the Bitcoin landscape is interested in where you live or what kind of fucked up things your government has done in the past to censor you. As long as you play along and put them to work, you can participate in the network and test the many possibilities.

Just like the internet, Bitcoin allows users to create applications on top of it. Only this time, we don’t have to trust a payment provider or big tech company with our content, ideas, or digital estate. We can fully own all of that by owning our private keys and access to our Bitcoin.

Lightning Enables Monetization

As we’ve established, Bitcoin is the perfect money for the internet because it incentives miners, spenders, and holders to participate in the ecosystem. Whether you’re a developer, creator, or just a guy with a Bitcoin wallet, it doesn’t matter. If you interact with Bitcoin, you’re enabling the ecosystem to grow.

It was back in 2015 when the idea of a second layer for Bitcoin emerged. For the next four years, developers and enthusiasts would play around with it. The Lightning Network had a slow start but eventually found its groove. Mainly because there are so many implementations, it took a few years for the most versatile to emerge.

Although there are some trade-offs in decentralization, mainly because of the ability to scale and get many users on fast with service providers or custodial wallets, the use cases for Lightning are astonishing. It was possible to have donation addresses before, but with Lightning, you can now specify what this address or donation should be used for.

Because the settlement is instant, off-chain, and within channels, users are able to build their network of trusted partners. Whether that be a peer, you regularly open up channels with or with the service providers you use. In my opinion, those providers are the real strength of the Lightning Network.

Ever since 2020, we saw an emergence in Lightning companies that aim to solve the most basic needs online. Do you want to sell your goods in an online store and not use Stripe or PayPal? There is a solution to that.

Do you want to get rid of paywalls with a subscription and open up your content to readers? There are many solutions to that. Instead of offering a flat monthly rate, you can charge readers per article or even create a small donation button at the end of each post.

Or do you want to reward that meme you just saw online? Guess what? You can do this with a simple tap on your phone. Whatever the goal is, the Lightning Network enables it and, for the first time in a while, puts creators at the center of attention.

They don’t have to feel pressured anymore to sell a product or, even worse, turn their passion into an ads drive business. Instead, they can offer their content openly and build on the back of the Bitcoin ethos, where hard work gets rewarded.

Granted, it will take a few years, and many tries to change users’ mindset from free-to-consume to value-for-value, but if creators stay consistent, make people aware, and show how much more fun it is with the Lightning Network, things will change quickly!

Test, Spend, And Use Lightning

Creators and users online have the unique opportunity to participate in the early versions of a new economy. One that rewards work and puts content first.

The best thing for you is to get started as well. There are many different Lightning wallets out there. I leave the choice to you with which one you feel most comfortable. I would encourage you to use a non-custodial one, as we still want to keep Satoshi’s vision of owning your keys and peer-to-peer alive.

Once you get the wallet set up and filled with some Sats, make sure to watch out for Lightning-enabled links or services. For example, below this post, you’ll find a button to boost. If you like what you’ve read, you could send some Sats BitByte’s way. Or other services like Stacker News and nostr allow you to earn Sats while publishing content or engaging with fellow creators online.

Whatever route you end up going down doesn’t matter. Lightning has many possibilities. What’s important is to embrace this opportunity and get familiar with this new rewarding structure.

BitByte is 100% community funded. If you are a fan of the content on BitByte and want to support us, you can share this post, follow us on Twitter, or donate Sats below or by clicking the boost button.

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