How Do You Make Money on Hive? Part 3: The Second-Layer

in LeoFinance2 months ago

How Do You Make Money on Hive? Part 3- The Second-Layer.png

Second-layer tokens have been a fascinating development on the Hive blockchain. The origination of the second-layer rewards token concept started with a vision for SMTs - Smart Media Tokens.

Taking the idea of SMTs and creating second layer token solutions, Hive-Engine was born. The Hive-Engine team has provided a second-layer that operates on top of the Hive blockchain.

In part 1 of this series, we talked about earning money on Hive as a curator/author.

In part 2, we talked about earning through passive delegations of HIVE POWER to projects on the blockchain and trading HIVE + layer 2 tokens.

In this post (part 3), I’ll explain the second-layer that exists on top of Hive. There are various applications, communities and tokens that leverage the second-layer to create a wide array of opportunities that were never before possible on Hive.

I am surprised by the number of people on Hive who don’t actually know about the second-layer--or at least, don’t know how it works.

I like to think of this second-layer as a sort of watchtower. You’ve got the main Hive blockchain doing its thing down at the base-layer. It’s confirming blocks that contain your standard transactions:

  • HIVE/HBD transfers
  • Blog posts
  • Comments
  • Custom JSONs
  • etc.

JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation and in simple terms, it is a standardized file format that contains human readable text. On Hive, we can use Custom JSON operations to transmit data on-chain and store it immutably thanks to the mystical wonders of blockchain technology.

Picture this chain of blocks going by with unique transactions - similar to a train passing by with carts filled with cargo of all shapes and sizes. Each cart (cart being our analogy for a block in the chain) is a mixing pot of various “cargo types” — posts being published, comments being written, HIVE being transferred, etc. In some of these blocks, there are also these custom JSON transactions.

Using our train analogy, picture the contents of each cart. Within each cart, there is a mix of the various cargo types — posts, comments, transfers and custom “cargo”. The watchtower (hive-engine) is on the lookout for specific types of custom cargo — a.k.a. specific text strings that are contained within custom JSON transactions.

Here’s an example of a custom JSON transaction next to a “standard” operation known as a curation reward:


These transactions have essentially the same consequence, but the outcome is actually happening on two different levels. With the curation reward, the curator (my account @khaleelkazi) is receiving a payout of 0.116 HIVE (HP). With the custom JSON, my account is issuing token rewards to another user (@mariosfame) for the amount of 46.206 LEO.

Without the watchtower (Hive-Engine), this custom JSON operation would still go be posted to the blockchain, but it wouldn’t get spotted and therefore, wouldn’t have any value. It’s just a string of text saying:


Hive-Engine reads this text from the base layer blockchain and then acts accordingly on the second-layer based on the message it sees — issuing 46.206 LEO to user: @mariosfame, from token issuing account: @khaleelkazi.

The Hive blockchain has no idea what Hive-Engine has done with this data.. it just chugs along as usual and records text strings as they are — text on the screen.

The beautiful thing about being on the second-layer is agility — you don’t need to rewrite blockchain code, issue a proposal, wait for witness consensus.. instead you can work quickly and efficiently on top of an existing network that is robust and flexible enough to allow you to issue various strings of text quickly and cheaply. Hive is the epitome of quick, cheap and robust. Allowing us to store transactions with:

  • 0 transaction fees
  • 3 second confirmations
  • 100% decentralization

How the Second-Layer is an Opportunity for You to Earn Money With Hive

That’s what we’re here for.. right? It’s cool to understand how all this stuff works and grasp the watchtower analogy so that you know how second layer applications are making use of an incredibly fast, cheap and robust blockchain like Hive.. but how do we leverage blockchain technology and our unique skillsets to earn a living in the new economy that is Web 3.0.

I often like to say that “it goes down on the second-layer”. Which basically just means that there is a lot happening on the second-layer. If you looked at Hive 3 years ago, you would’ve seen a community of content creators, investors and content curators.

Today, you’ll find a much more diverse group of people that use Hive. Some don’t ever interact with the blogging/curation features of the blockchain and instead focus on second-layer applications to generate opportunities to earn and utilize Hive.

@splinterlands players, for example, use the Splinterlands application to buy, sell and battle with NFTs (non-fungible tokens) which exist on Splinterland’s second-layer solution. Just as Hive-Engine acts as a watch-tower for Custom JSONs, so too does Splinterlands act as its own watchtower: keeping an eye on the blockchain and looking for JSONs that look like this:

To the blockchain, this transaction means nothing more than a string of text published by Hive user @shoemanchu: "edition":4,"app":"steemmonsters/0.7.41”.

To Splinterlands, this text is interpreted as the opening of a pack of Non-Fungible Tokens which are cards in the game. A particular set of cards are now owned by this player thanks to the discovery of them through the pack opening operation.

Whether you want to play Splinterlands to both have fun and earn crypto rewards for gaming or blog on Hive, but utilize a second-layer community token like LEO, there are dozens of options and more that are yet to be created. Again, the beauty of the second layer is agility.

These are just a few of the different second-layer apps that I’m personally familiar with. There are many more out there that you can (and should) discover on your own. Follow your talents and passions to find something on Hive that suits your skillset for having fun and earning a little something along the way:

  • Splinterlands - Collect, Battle and Trade NFT Trading Cards
  • Hive-Engine - Launch, Trade and Utilize Second-Layer Tokens
  • dCity - Build, Collect and Manage Your Own NFT Simulation City
  • - Blog & Earn HIVE + LEO Token Rewards

Outside of running LeoFinance, two of the main ways I utilize the second-layer is as a token trading platform and as a blogging/curation layer. I enjoy speculating on various tokens built on Hive-Engine and trade them similar to any cryptocurrency.

DEC is one of the tokens that I’ve traded actively since it was introduced. I usually wait for a major dip in the price and then quietly accumulate. One of the many reasons to trade DEC is the volume — typically above $4,000 USD on an average day and some days (as you can see from that big candle on 8/6/2020) getting as high as $20,000 USD.

As for blogging and curating with second-layer tokens: this is another great way to leverage tokenization on Hive to boost your earnings while talking about stuff you love. The majority of my earnings come from posting about a handful of topics that I enjoy. A highly requested feature of was to add in a way to see historical author/curator/mining rewards from second-layer tokens:

Here you can see that my second-layer token rewards from authoring and curating posts was $202.57 for the past 30 days. If you compare that to my HIVE author rewards, you’ll see that I make an additional 50% in author/curation rewards on the second layer (I earned $417.21 in HIVE base-layer rewards in the past 30 days):

Remember that the base-layer (Hive itself) and the second-layer solutions (i.e. Hive-Engine) work synergistically. One thing that I love about second-layer tokenization is that you can earn on both layers simultaneously. My posts typically bring in a mix of HIVE, LEO, NEOXAG, CTP and PAL tokens and the results speak for themselves. Tokenized communities have been a great addition to the blockchain.

LeoFinance is an online community for crypto & finance. We run several projects that are powered by Hive and the LEO token economy:

Track Hive DataBlog & Earn LEOLEO FAQ
HivestatsLeoFinanceLearn More
Trade Hive TokensLearn & ContributeHive Witness

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Tokenized communities has definitely been a great addition to the blockchain. I've seen a lot of authors on Leo who's not so big on hive itself but doing bringing amazing value and earning quite well using Leo i mean, this wouldn't have been possible in the earlier days, I believe going forward we'd be presented with even more choices

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Yeah the tokenized communities have revitalized the Hive author/curator game for a lot of people here on the chain. I know that it has radically changed the way that I use Hive on a day to day basis.

I also was surprised - and I think we surprised everyone else - with how some users are earning more with LEO than they are with HIVE.

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I saw the content in the URL and I was really surprised at the stats and it shows the option that Leo gives people when you have great contents, stake your leo and interact

What are your thoughts on removing HIVE as social rewards layer and only as a base trading pair for second layer tokens with a smaller production of its inflation or even putting it into a liquidity pool to be used to various trade pairs? Wouldn't that increase the chase for second layer tokens and see a more dynamic community instead of everyone trying to feed off of HIVE tokens

I think there's some merit in that idea. I've talked about it in the past and will probably do a video on it soon as well. It truly depends on how it's implemented, but I can see the reasoning behind both sides:

On one hand, reducing the inflation so that users no longer earn HIVE rewards will turn the token into more of a utility and less of a rewards token.. possibly leading to a higher price.

On the other hand, reducing the inflation so that users no longer earn HIVE rewards could make the HIVE token less desirable by the general user base. Will projects make up for that lack of desire for HIVE out of a demand for power on the network (RCs)/voting rights? I don't know if Hive is mature enough for that yet.

I'm firmly on the fence about it. I think there are other economic changes that could be made outside of changing the rewards pool itself. Changing the way voting/content discovery and curation works. We have a system that is far from perfect and the argument that we should just toss it all out the window doesn't hold enough weight in my opinion.

Second-layer tokens have had a huge impact on earning, but like I said - it's early stages. The fact is that all of the second-layer tokens like LEO are far less desirable than HIVE itself. We've changed that mentality a lot over the past year, but I don't know if we've changed it enough.

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I'm also pretty torn on it on one hand it really only affects people who are here and investors which isn't that many people on the grand scheme of things. It will however put a lot of pressure on tokens to perform but that could also mean people convert their exiting HIVE into layer 2 tokens to be active and earn in the different communities.

I do think we should take some baby steps to get there first like having SMT's and upgrading the internal market to make it more robust and allow for trading pairs with HIVE in the internal market and not just on the side chain.

It will also help with value flowing between the forked chains and create a more robust way to transfer value.

Id also like to see a market for RC's and even account creation tokens

The second-layer gives us a great opportunity to earn more tokens from the same posts. It is like you are doing the same thing, but getting more rewards from your posts. You can get involved and engaged more in specific tribes that you love what they stand for.

It is fascinating to see that without creating and curating content, you can have fun playing games and earn from there. Splinterslands, dCity, and who knows what comes next. :)

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It's amazing. One of my favorite things about it is being able to find and support content creators more easily. Hive is a big mosh pit of content creators/users who all like different things. With a community like LEO, we can support people with our token + the HIVE token as well but support people who are interested in the same thing as us - that way, we value content similarly.

This goes back to the argument about HIVE as a rewards token - with HIVE, some people value beautiful photography while others call it shitposting.

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I did not know the details of second layer tokenization. Thanks for explaining it in the post. This will help many others like me I guess. I need to use tribe platforms more often it seems :)

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For many users on Hive, the second-layer presents far more opportunity than the layer-one. The beuatiful thing about it is that you can participate in both at the same time but focus more heavily on one over the other. I believe that we're seeing a massive shift in the way people utilize Hive as the second-layer rewards become more valuable than layer one. You can also see the data we're collecting on LeoFinance authors and how they're starting to earn more $ in LEO than in HIVE -

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Great Information! Beforehand, I was really only familiar with earning money from Hive by providing and curating content, so this is definitely some great and helpful info💪.

Oh there is so much more out there my friend. If you're interested in finance and crypto, you should definitely give LeoFinance a look. You can earn LEO + HIVE rewards at the same time for authoring/curating on

You can learn more about the LEO token and how it works alongside HIVE at

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Thanks for this post! It is a great reminder of all the opportunities available to earn on Hive.

Ned got a few things right in his tenure on Steem - Hive is truly the blockchain of opportunity and if you follow on-chain activities, those opportunities continue to grow and evolve.

Posted Using LeoFinance

Splinterlands - Collect, Battle and Trade NFT Trading Cards
Hive-Engine - Launch, Trade and Utilize Second-Layer Tokens
dCity - Build, Collect and Manage Your Own NFT Simulation City - Blog & Earn HIVE + LEO Token Rewards

Thank you for sharing

Greetings friend, excellent article I did not know these alternatives, a question? as I do to publish so that it leaves in both platforms at the same time, that is to say I can publish in leofinance and appears in hive, that procedure I must follow. Thanks in advance !

Great explanation of the second layer! I believe that thanks to tribes the onboarding process can be much more strightforward. If instead of simply joining Hive, people would first join tribes they would "land" in a much smaller environment where it's easier to build relationships and where you can actually earn in a much easier way.
With second layer tokens, you don't need 100 HP to get curation rewards. If you have a couple of staked tokens, you can already see the advantages of staking because you will see curation rewards coming in. It's a great way to understand the dynamics that can later be aplied to Hive in general.