State of the Noonion: A New Era For Brands and Writers

5 Jun 2022

This is a redactedversion of the HackerNoon shareholders' newsletter by CEO David Smooke and COO Linh Smooke sent to 1.3k shareholders.


We’ve reached historical milestones of serving 1k+ customers, publishing 30k+ contributing writers and welcoming 200M+ visitors to date. 2022 YTD Revenue is up 77% YoY. For the first time in 3 years, a “new” inventory, Writing Contests, surpassed “traditional” inventories (Top Nav Billboard, Ad-by-tag, Brand Publishing) as our #1 revenue source! Since Writing Contests launched in 2021, they have generated over $XXXk in revenue and resulted in publishing 2k+ stories. It’s a win for readers, a win for sponsors, and a win for contributing writers! We’ve also shipped a ton of software: notably, web3 login, NFTs for Noonies winners, a new store for brands, a native commenting system, a notification center for readers and writers alike, and lots of market-insight pages like the Trending Tech Company Brief. Our next big pushes are: Slogging in the Slack App, Coin Price Pages, a lot more traffic via emails (automated emails, editor-written emails, and newsletter distribution for the verified contributing writers), and even more web3 integrations.

Read the full Blog Post below for full context.

💰 Revenue & Business Development: Reporting, Forecasting, and Ruminating

Roles and Revenue

HackerNoon’s YTD revenue stands at redacted. It marks a 77% growth YoY. Revenue over the last 12 months is redacted. As we were in 2021, HackerNoon remains profitable in 2022.

The average deal size (excluding BAA) was redacteddepicting the trust HackerNoon developed with the companies. This year, with our great push towards Web3 adoption, writing competitions have overtaken billboard revenue and signal the decreasing reliance on search engines and the increasing resilience of HackerNoon revenue to AD Blockers.

Accountability and Automation

With the May launch of our Brand Dashboard, we’ll be enabling companies to self-checkout nearly any brand offering. While we’ve worked with over 1,000 brands, previously only brand-as-author publishing credits were available for self-purchase. Now brands can purchase billboard slots, newsletters, speciality packages and even writing contests without the explicit need of speaking to a human. A milestone for the sales team 🎉

Going beyond simply selling inventory, the brand dashboard is a ‘true’ dashboard where sponsors can track the performance of their campaigns (clicks, impressions, and geo-targeting) for granular oversight. This will save our team many hours spent each week generating and sending reports, so we can use that time to land even more clients.

Future iterations also include messaging functionalities that allow the sales team to communicate quick “wins” or causes for concern with sponsors during the course of the campaign.

Closing the Loop and Constant Communications

We’re now sending monthly newsletters to sponsors and leads to educate them on inventory and offer discounted packages. We’re calling these ‘Love Letter to Brands’. These newsletters are averaging 25+ meetings booked with every send.

This exercise keeps the sponsors updated and engaged. Future iterations: we can segment our lists to send more niche-relevant newsletters!

Advertising 2.0: Native, Contextual, and Crowd-Sourced

HackerNoon’s Writing Competitions have been a smashing success. This June, we’ll have onboarded 9 sponsors in 2022 and successfully concluded 3 in 2021. Compared to banner ads (that can be blocked by AD blockers), writing competitions get native placements, a ton of social marketing activities, and an incentivized model to crowdsource high-quality content. We’re now committed to rewarding $174k to contest winners.

With these__simultaneous writing contests__, we’re practically rewarding more money to more winners that simply beats the subscription model pursued by generic publications.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Growing Company Revenue

A couple more notable things about HackerNoon business development in 2022 YTD:

  • More Meetings == More Sales. We are consciously making it easier to meet with us. Here’s our meeting link btw:
  • More tools in our toolbox: We’ve updated our toolset to now include Sortd (GMail-based CRM), YAMM (GMail-based Mass Mailer), Calendly (scheduler), Zapier (automating tasks), and of course, more decks.
  • Shop Experimentations. Keeping what’s worked - original designs with dropshipping via Printful and we will be cutting what’s not, StackCommerce bundles.
  • We filed Trademark Applications for Noonies and Slogging with the help of Cognition IP. These trademarks will not only prevent unauthorized use of our emerging brands, but will also help Noonies and Slogging scale as digital entities.

🚀 Software Development: The Top Features shipped YTD

Words of the year (thus far): web3 and iteration. Our talented dev team has been hard at work making the experience of writers, readers, editors and sponsors better(in some cases, radically improved).

For Our Beloved Readers

This year to date, we really doubled down on making it easier and more useful than ever to own a reader account on HackerNoon.

  • Signup or Login to HackerNoon With Your Crypto Wallet: Now when creating a HackerNoon account, all users can choose whether they want to use a Web 1.0 identity (email), a Web 2.0 identity (social media), or Web 3.0 identity (Ethereum wallet)
  • A New and Improved Search Feature (Algolia integration): Type any term in the search box and get a relevant list of People, Stories & Tag instantly 🔎
  • SITEWIDE COMMENTS!: Comments are finally back on HackerNoon! (lack of it was a bug, not a feature 😆 ) Second human rule where the second human is either the writer or the editor. Also - you can thread the comments!
  • Expanding the Profile Page for Readers: History of any story you've ever reacted to, or bookmarked, is now available on your profile, together with About Page CTAs, and all your Comments 💚
  • #StandwithUkraine added to Choose Your Color feature: A simple gesture from a tech pub to show support for our fellow humans
  • Signup or Login with Magic Link: No shame in the forgetting game! Hit that magic button to log in without a password ✨
  • Action Based Notifications on Site (for both Readers & Writers): You've got mail…NOT. It's the little red dot on the bell icon that will deliver all that you need to navigate HackerNoon 🔔
  • Tech Company Brief: When visiting this dynamic page of 100 trending companies (that get updated weekly via our API, a la Bloomberg), readers can also subscribe to the Tech Company Brief that has a weekly insight written by a human editor. Check out the first 3 insights here.
  • Email Comprehensive: now, all your email subscriptions are on one front-facing page at Readers can also unsubscribe with 1 click, and set email preferences all in 1 hub via our new secure tokenized method.
  • Top Nav just got a facelift: Visited lately? Our dropdown menu just got a lot smoother with a little color change and animation. Kudos UX!
  • Training Algolia: besides instant search, we’ve been training Algolia’s AI to improve the accuracy of related stories’ algorithms. Learn more here.
  • Live Reactions on Homepage: scroll down a little on homepage, below the top 5 stories, and you can see who just reacted to a recent story.

For Our Brainy Writers

This quarter, we’ve spent a lot of time iterating on the writers’ experience on HackerNoon. These are the features that have been launched in the past, made better 💪

  • Noonies Badges delivered to Winners of Noonies 2021 as NFTs! Speaking of Noonies winners, now all Noonies winners’ profiles should reflect the award title they win, as well as when they win them!
  • Rewards for Writers just got bigger: On top of web monetization, writers can now see and enter any running Writing Contests for cash prizes by visiting the Rewards Section under their profile page.
  • New Design of the Dashboard for When You Create a New Draft: Choosing Editor 3.0 (with Markdown support, Notion-like UX, and, finally, the ability to embed Youtube video!) is now easier than ever 📝
  • Import Stories: Copy, paste, enter, (lightly) reformat or edit, & submit. It's that simple 📥
  • Tags can now be reordered: this feature helps editors a lot in sorting/categorizing stories, but also helps writers with determining what curation pages to prioritize in their stories first.
  • Cloudflare now powers your stories’ stats: in many cases, this means 3x traffic for you, the writers! This is because GA (which we used in the past) discounted a lot of traffic from people who block Google!
  • See Your Notes History: Write "note to self" a lot? Or want to find useful tips from 1 of our editors about your writing? Now you can get access to them via your writer dashboard 💌
  • Full Page Feature on Story Settings: annoyed easily by how small and cluttered those fields in story settings can feel? Now you can extend Story Settings to a Full Page and type in notes, meta descriptions, TL;DR, or search tags at ease. This feature is subtle so be sure to look for the little expansion icon in the top left corner of the Story Settings.
  • View Those Who Reacted to Your Stories: Your secret admirers are secret no longer 😎
  • Improved Site Map: a SEO best practice, our site map is now auto-generated to ensure all stories and pages are updated automatically and get noticed by web crawlers instantaneously.
  • Updated Writer Stats: visit <]( and you can now see the total impressions generated by your profile and about page. While there, you can also download the AI-powered audio of each of your stories

For Our Iconic Brands

These are the features deployed to make the life of our 1000+ sponsors (that make HackerNoon possible for users) easier.

Upcoming Features we’re excited about:

  • Coin Price Pages that track prices with stories and histories of all cryptocurrencies with a $1B+ market cap: More data via API. Bloomberg-esque push. Bring the data into the story. First sponsors are already committed!
  • Improved Backup System to empower writers and editors with better control, visibility, and historical versioning of all HackerNoon stories.
  • Revamp of Writer Dashboard. This provides writers with better manage their content and more easily gain access to our growing writer programs, initiatives, and opportunities.
  • Contributor Newsletters by Mailgun. Very much inspired by LinkedIn Publishers Newsletter functionality, this sends full blog posts as emails for verified writers and empowers writers to grow their own email lists.
  • Editor Themed Newsletters by SendGrid.
  • Story Audio Distribution Feeds. We’re exploring app creation and podcast player integrations to better distribute our audio stories.
  • New “Subscribe” Experience 🙂
  • Stock price and business wikis to be added to Tech Company News Pages.
  • Startup Location Hubs. Evolving last year’s startup of the year location vote to be more like BuiltIn, including native and curated content about the local startup scene, startup job listings, and of course, this year’s startup of the year votes.
  • HackerNoon Lite. A super slimmed-down version of the app so that our technology content is more accessible on slower internet regions of the world.

📈 On Readership and Editorial Growth

More writers = more stories = the need for a bigger editorial team

Great stories are the lifeblood of HackerNoon, and thus the writers on our platform are our heroes. Historically, we have published over 30k+ writers. In addition to our core offering of timely professional editing and story distribution, we run a number of initiatives to attract talented writers and the best stories, which include Writing Contests, The HackerNoon Blogging Fellowship, story/interview templates, HackerNoon Books, and more!

Writing Contests

This year, we already have 5 active writing contests running, and 4 more in the pipeline. Writing contests encourage organic, user-generated stories about what’s happening in the tech world today, be it the Future of Gaming, Cybersecurity, or what’s happening in Web3. At the same time, these contests reward our writers with $174k cash prizes for their valuable content. In total, our contests have created 2k+ stories and over 2M+ reads to date!

New Keywords Won

HackerNoon ranks for hundreds of thousands of important tech keywords on Google, Bing, and other search engines. Some of the popular top three wins for tech terms with thousands of monthly searches are: proxy servers, what is a full-stack engineer, one hot encoding, manacher’s algorithm and curl request.

Story Templates

To help our community choose the best trending topics to write about and format their stories structure in an engaging way, we’ve published a couple dozen story templates/writing prompts. Stories published via these templates have gone on to garner tens of thousands of reads. We’ll be expanding our default template library, and adding incentives to create more templates, and answer more templates to make original stories.

Blogging Fellowships

We’ve created an online blogging fellowship program to teach the basics of writing for an online audience, SEO, keyword research, and modern internet writing. The blogging fellows have contributed over 600 stories to the platform which has garnered over 2.2 million readers in the first year of this program. Most of our graduates have gone on to get part-time or even full-time writing jobs during or directly after the fellowship. A few have even joined the HackerNoon staff.

Growing the Team

More writers equals more story submissions and in order to keep publishing times at a minimum, we’ve had to grow our tools and our team. We’ve hired 3 more editors with expertise in business/finance, software development, and the video game industry to help bolster our editorial team. We will continue to expand the part-time HackerNoon editorial staff to cover more technological expertises.

How can you help

  • To celebrate the opening of our brand dashboard, we have three large discounted packages when purchased in-app:  Brand Booster, Brand Elite and Writing Contest. To access them, please sign up/ log in to HackerNoon as a brand (option: Brand as author, when prompted) and visit
  • Open Jobs of note (any referral is appreciated!): Product Designer, Technical Community Manager, Customer Success Rep, QA Engineer, and Editors (always).
  • (Check note- We also wrote “words of wisdom” here as a line item)….so perhaps you can check out our best attempt at being wisdomic at the Parents in Tech Podcast here. Work-life balance right?

Until next time Slogging along, and treat your internet friends with respect.

HackerNoon COO Linh Dao Smooke & CEO David Smooke

P.S. On a personal note, our son (our second child) was born early! Healthy baby, healthy mama, happy people here. Take care of your loved ones.