Unlocking the Power of Nostr: A Beginner’s Guide to the Decentralized Social Network

Unlocking the Power of Nostr: A Beginner’s Guide to the Decentralized Social Network

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Are you intrigued by the idea of a social media network that’s decentralized, censorship-resistant, and open to all?

Nostr is the future of social media and I’m going to show you why.

In this post, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get started with Nostr in no time.

Here are the questions I will provide answers to for you.

  • What is Nostr?
  • Why do we need Nostr?
  • What is the Nostr Protocol?
  • What are Nostr Relays?
  • Where to find a list of relays?
  • How to setup and run a Nostr relay?
  • Choosing a Nostr Client?
  • Nostr Public and Private Keys
  • What are Zapps?
  • How ro setup your First Nostr App
  • What is Alby?
  • How to become A Nostr Pro
  • What are NIPS?
  • The Future of Nostr
  • What are Nostr Markets & market stalls?

Let’s jump right in!

What is Nostr?

Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays

Nostr is a relatively new open-source protocol where decentralized, censorship resistant applications can be built.

Apps can range from decentralized identity and authentication system to microblogging sites like X and decentralized marketplaces that all operate under Nostr’s decentralized, censorship-resistant framework.

Why do we need Nostr?

Social media is a key way information flows around the world but unfortunately, our current social media systems are broken.

  • Social Media companies use your attention to sell ads and use devious techniques to keep you addicted
  • They decide what content to show you based on a secret algorithm that you can’t inspect or change
  • They have complete control over who can participate and who is censored.
  • Current social platforms are overrun with spam and bots.

It’s not working and we need a new model.

This is probably the best video to describe why we need a decentralized protocol like Nostr.

What is Nostr?

Nostr isn’t just another app; it’s a groundbreaking technology that revolutionizes how digital text is transmitted and received.

Nostr is a simple, open protocol that enables a truly censorship-resistant and global social network built on the principles of openness and decentralization.

Nostr allows anyone to join and build apps freely using its protocol. Unlike traditional social media platforms, Nostr isn’t controlled by a central authority, making it a favorite among Bitcoiners and freedom advocates.

The Nostr protocol at a high level

  • There are two main components: clients & relays. Each user runs a client. Anyone can run a relay.
  • Every user is identified by a public key. Every post is signed. Every client validates these signatures.
  • Clients fetch data from relays of their choice and publish data to relays of their choice. Relays don’t talk to one another, only directly to users.
  • For example, to “follow” someone a user just instructs their client to query the relays it knows for posts from that public key.

The Innovation of Nostr Relays

At the heart of Nostr’s technology are relays, which are software responsible for sending, receiving, and storing text messages.

These relays are simple to set up, requiring only a laptop and an internet connection, and can be run by anyone. This decentralization ensures that no single entity has control over the network, making it resistant to censorship.

Where to find a list of relays?

You can find a list of active Nostr relays here: nostr.watch site

Here are some example relays

How can I run my own relay?

You can either run one of the open-source implementations on your own Lunanode VM server or you can rent one from relay hosting services like relay.tools and relaying.io. Here is a guide from Andre Neves on how to setup a Nostr Relay server in under 5 minutes

Nostr Clients

Nostr clients come in a varielty or forms from web to mobile options. The client is just the app that you use to access and interact with the Nostr protocol.

Most clients are still very new and borrow a Twitter/X-like app design that you use to interact with a feed of posts.

Here is whet tha Primal Nostr Client looks like. It’s both a Lightning network wallet and social media app.

Primal Nostr Client
Amethyst Nostr Client

The Nostr protocol is very simple and flexible, different clients have approached the protocol in different ways: some try to make the experience look exactly like Twitter, others try to highlight the importance of relays to the protocol and expose that to users, and others try to use heuristics and algorithms to ensure the maximum degree of censorship-resistance without burdening users too much.

Nostr Public and Private Keys

Each Nostr account has a public/private key pair. Think of your public key as your username and your private key is your password, with one big difference. Unlike a password, your private key cannot be reset if lost. It’s gone forever so don’t lose it.

The public key starts with a prefix npub1 and the private key with the prefix nsec1. Make sure you store you private key somewhere safe, like a password manager.

Switching Nostr Clients

One of the great things about Nostr is that you can swicth clients or use multiple ones.

Because a client is just a way to access the underlying data held by relays, you can sign into as many clients as you’d like. As long as each client is looking at the same set of relays for their data, you’ll see the same messages in each client. Just use the same private and public keys to login and you are good.

What are Zapps?

Zaps are the killer app feature. Nostr has a built-in reward feature called zapping.

Not only can you like or share posts on Nostr but also send anyone real Satoshis if you like the content they publish.

This to me is the real innovation of Nostr.

The ability to have a direct content economy without 3rd parties in the middle taking a cut of the creators profits is reveolutionary.

Zaps are an expression of honest appreciation and as you can see above in just a few days I earned 1748 sats. It’s a small amount but it add up over time as the value of these Sats increases in the long run.

So now that we covered the why, here is how you get started.

Choosing a Nostr Client?

Here is a list of the most popular Nostr clients. Check them out and play around once you set up your public and private keys.



  • Damus, the first Nostr client to be banned in China.
  • Nos, a nice and safe client for non-bitcoiners.
  • Nostur, a feature-complete client.

iOS and Android

  • Plebstr, a closed-source client that is fast.
  • Primal, a very fast client that relies on server-side caching.
  • Current, a client that comes with a built-in Bitcoin wallet.
  • ZBD, a custodial, hosted client for ZBD users.


  • Yana, a fully-featured multi-platform client.
  • Spring, a client for safely using web clients on your Android.
  • Amethyst, a client that has all the features needed
  • FreeFrom, a X-like client.
  • Nozzle, a very lean client, but still a work-in-progress.


  • Gossip, a native client that tries to efficiently follow people in wherever relay they happen to be, made in Rust with egui.
  • more-speech, a client that gives you a powerful global view and way of interacting with custom filtering based on web-of-trust and relay selection, made in Clojure. Check out a guide here.
  • Lume, an client made with Tauri.

Joining Your First Nostr App

Follow these simple steps to join your first Nostr app. I will use primal as it is one of the simplest onboarding processes.

On your Computer:

  1. Visit https://primal.net and click ‘Get Started’ and ‘Create Account.’
  2. Choose a username, display name, and optionally upload a logo and banner.
  3. Enter your website (optional), Lightning Address, and NIP-05 verification.
  4. Follow suggested Nostr users and click ‘Finish.’
  5. Set a PIN for easier login (optional).
  6. Log in with your PIN and start posting.
  7. Access your Public and Private Key in Settings > Account and save them securely.
  1. On the Mobile Phone:
    1. Open https://primal.net/downloads on your mobile browser and download the app.
    2. Follow similar setup steps as on desktop, but you may need to manually enter your Private Key.
    3. (Optional) For Lightning Address on mobile:
      1. Download ‘BlueWallet’ on Android.
      2. Add a Lightning wallet and paste your Alby Lightning address LNDHub info.

Ensure to secure your Private Key and Lightning address for safe usage.

What is Alby? (Optional)

Alby is browser add-on that can handle the login to Nostr-based services for you and ensure that your key is never transferred to a server. 

Nos2x is a very simple example of a browser extention but my favorite is Alby.

Because we also want to have a Lightning address so that you can zap and be zapped on Nostr, Alby provides you with both Lightning address and Nostr login management capabilities.

Here’s how to setup Alby.

  1. Use Alby browser extension for login security.
  2. Create an Alby account and Lightning address at getalby.com.
  3. Copy your Lightning address from Alby.
  4. Go to Primal, click ‘Edit Profile,’ and paste your Lightning address.
  5. Install the Alby browser extension and set a passcode.
  6. Connect the extension to your Alby account and enter your Nostr Private Key.
  7. Test your login on another Nostr client website.

Five Steps to Becoming A Nostr Pro

Now that you’re part of the Nostr community, here are five steps to take your Nostr experience to the next level:

  1. Follow People: Start connecting with other Nostr users, including notable figures like Jack Dorsey, Lyn Alden, and Edward Snowden.
  2. Share Your Nostr Account: Tweet your Nostr public key to make it searchable in the Nostr directory.
  3. Replace Telegram with NostrChat: Explore NostrChat.io for secure messaging and group channels.
  4. Use Relays to Enhance Security: Experiment with adding relays to decentralize your communications further.
  5. Secure Your Keys with Alby: Safeguard your public/private keys using the Alby Bitcoin browser extension for added security.

Exploring the Future of Nostr

While Nostr is still in its early stages, its potential impact on social media is undeniable. Despite challenges with spam, privacy, and scaling, Nostr’s commitment to censorship resistance sets it apart from traditional platforms.

What are NIPs?

Nostr Implementation Possibilities (NIPs) – A NIP exists to promote interoperability. It is not a good idea for each developer to come up with their own solutions to common problems and implement it in their own app only. It is better for everybody to implement solutions that are compatible with each other. NIPs exist to coordinate this process.


You can see all current NIPs in the Nostr NIPs repository.

Nostr Marketplaces

One promissing area for Nostr is Marketplaces.

Nostr Markets is a marketplace solution built for the Nostr Protocol.

The marketplace software is entirely clientside, either as a stand-alone app, or as a purely frontend webpage.

Customers can subscribe to different merchant NOSTR public keys, and those merchants and their products become listed and searchable.

The marketplace client is like any other ecommerce site, with basket and checkout.

Marketplaces may also include a customer support area for direct message communication with merchants.

This is Implemented in NostrMarket and Plebeian Market to see it in action.

Here is an example of a marketplace stall selling products on a fully decentralized marketplace. No centralized servers. Uncensorabled and unconfiscatable.

As Ben Arc points out in his post below, Nostr marketplaces are very powerful when it comes to the bankless digital market. Still early days but this is likely going to be a game changer for ecommerce.

You can go deeper down the Rabbit hole on Nostr Market here:

Social Media and Marketplaces are just the start.

As more Nostr-based apps emerge, the future of decentralized social networking looks very good.

In conclusion, Nostr represents a small idea with the potential for a significant impact on the future of social media. By embracing openness and decentralization, Nostr empowers users to take control of their online interactions like never before.

Follow me and let me know you join Nostr.

Follow me on Nostr via Primal: primal.net/p/npub1tjjvjppc7efxtdgxyss6lrpfryglpe3nezszqj276txdfmm6gt9qms44cz

My public key is: npub1tjjvjppc7efxtdgxyss6lrpfryglpe3nezszqj276txdfmm6gt9qms44cz

My lightning address is: [email protected]

Are you ready to join the Nostr revolution? Subscribe to our newsletter and stay tuned for the latest updates on decentralized social networking.

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If you want to learn more about Nostr have a look at this directory of Nostr apps and guides:

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