Step by Step Guide to a Successful NFT Launch
Launching a successful NFT collection is much more than just crafting a bunch of fancy looking artworks in hopes that someone might pay a good price for them. Yes, there were days when all that mattered was the artwork, but those days are quickly fading away as more emphasis and demand are placed on branded NFT collections.
Launching an NFT collection in this meta involves writing a compelling story about the NFTs, choosing a legal structure, hiring the right team, choosing the right blockchain, building the community and determining the best mode of initial sale among others.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the steps discussed in this guide can guarantee you success in your NFT launch.
WHAT IS AN NFT?
This part should be obvious but you can’t imagine the different things people interpret NFTs to be, hence, let’s take a quick look at what NFT truly stands for.
Non Fungible Token (NFT) refers to a unique and immutable cryptographic asset. Meaning, a digital item or digital copy of a physical asset that cannot be imitated or plagiarized because they carry a distinct code that can identify if it’s fake or real.
This simply means that NFTs can represent a car document, property deeds or even a school certificate (in the case of soulbound tokens) and not just an art. Hence, when launching a branded NFT collection, a lot of emphasis is placed on the utility (use case) and less on the art itself.
Now that we all understand what NFTs are, let’s consider the most effective steps to launching an NFT collection successfully.
STEPS TO SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHING AN NFT COLLECTION
- Write a compelling story
- Choose a legal structure
- Define the utilities and benefits of the NFTs
- Hire the core team
- Choose a minting strategy
- Choose a blockchain
- Choose an NFT standard
- Start marketing
- Launch your NFT
1. Write a Compelling Story
NFT projects that can conjure a strong visual and emotional connection through their lore description (back story or intro) will attract the most engaged audience.
An NFT collection can either have a single story that defines a single movement or a series of stories embodied by different characters in the collection.
For example, most gaming NFT collections are characterized by NFTs that have different stories tied to their unique traits. With the help of an NFT story writer, your collection can be well off to a great start.
2. Choose a legal structure
Most NFT projects are launched without giving any thought to what legal structure they want to adopt. Choosing a legal structure for an NFT collection is as simple as either registering the collection as a legal company or launching it as a decentralized project, which may not require any incorporation.
Choosing the first option means you’ll be bound by the regulatory laws of the territory you incorporate the company in, thus, most projects choose the latter option as they do not want to be bound by any laws. However, both options have their disadvantages and advantages which should be carefully considered based on the long term goal of the project.
3. Define Utilities and Benefits
At this stage I believe you already know what you want to create the NFT collection for, but if you don’t, here are a few questions to ask yourself: Will the NFT be used for some sort of gaming? DAO? Digital wearable? Or just artwork?
Whatever your answer may be, you’ll also need to consider what actual benefit it would bring to investors or holders of your NFTs.
For example, if your NFTs will be used for gaming, what will players gain for buying the NFT or playing the game? If it’s for DAO, what exclusive perks will they receive as members of the DAO? If it’s digital wearable, will holders receive part of the royalties from secondary market sales or other benefits that go beyond just buying a digital art?
A quick way to determine what is best, is through community suggestions if you have an existing community. Another effective method is to put yourself in the users position as they generally favour projects that offer them the most benefit when other requirements are met.
So, if you’re a user, would you choose to invest in your NFT collection when compared with your competitors?
4. Hire the core team
Except you’re a developer with digital art and marketing skills, you’ll definitely need some expert help at this stage. It is alright if you do not have enough money to pay salaries, if your project is promising enough, you can easily find NFT specialists that can work with you on arranged terms.
A few of the experts to get onboard at this stage may include:
Most NFT projects miss this crucial talent until they get pestered by community members about FAQs, detailed articles or even a roadmap. Having an experienced copywriter in your team can help you get fully prepared with all marketing content, back stories or guides even before they are demanded.
b. Digital Artist
The art may not be as important as the benefits or utilities behind it, however, it will be the identity of the collection (brand) so, a digital artist that can align the art to the set out goals, back story and target users is key in your team.
c. Smart Contract Developer
Given that an NFT collection is not just pieces of art, but cryptographic assets that are backed by unique smart contracts, a smart contract developer is a must in your team.
d. Growth Hacker
If you do not already have an active social media following, a marketing specialist who can create effective strategies or plans to help build your community from the ground up will be needed.
e. Community Manager
Community managers are as important as the marketer, sometimes, the same person can fill both roles. This is the person that actively builds momentum and engagement across social platforms like Discord and Twitter.
5. Choose a minting strategy
It is very important to decide on what strategy you would use for minting your NFTs from the get go, as this decision will impact how the smart contract is written.
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to determine how many pieces will be available in the collection (collection of 1k, 3k, 5k or 10k) as your developer will need to integrate this in the technical development.
Three of the most popular minting strategies to consider are:
a. Whitelist Launch
This is the most popular minting strategy as it enables the team to build a strong and vibrant community along the way. The psychology behind it is ‘scarcity’. The more scarce an item is, the more exclusive or valuable it is perceived to be. For example, if your collection has only 5000 pieces of NFTs and you’re selling the idea that the mint is not open to everybody but only to 5000 handpicked users who fulfilled certain criterias, then, you’re most likely to get more activities and involvement from your audience who wish to get whitelisted and stay whitelisted. This method must be used with caution and in combination with the right marketing method.
b. Public Launch
If you’re a founder with a considerably large social media following, then you may not have the need for a whitelist launch. Instead, you can give everyone an equal chance to mint at the same time. The good side is that people won’t feel used, and you’re more likely to build a strong sense of co-ownership among your users. The disadvantage is that some people can easily bot the mint and get a lot more than they should and deny others the right to get any, also, if not well managed, public mints can cause a gas war on blockchains like ethereum, causing users to pay multiple times the gas fee.
c. Stealth Launch
This is similar to public mint, the only difference is that the contract address or the minting website is revealed seconds to the time. This is to prevent one of the disadvantages seen in public mints, where few people can use bots to get more than intended for each person.
6. Choose a smartchain
Your long term plan for the project and the kind of users you’re targeting will greatly determine what chain you should go with. I’ve seen NFT collections that choose to launch on a particular blockchain just to access funding, but fade away shortly after launch. Why? Because the chain does not have the kind of ecosystem that can sustain their project.
So, what should you look out for when choosing a chain to build your NFT collection on?
a. The Network Effect
This is the most important criteria based on data from successful NFT collections. If the success of your NFT collection depends on a large number of people using it, then building on a chain that has established the supporting ecosystem would work best. For example, Ethereum currently has the largest network effect in the NFT market (practically in the whole crypto market) and hosts the most successful NFT collections of all time.
b. Transaction Fees & Speed
While Ethereum has the largest network effect, it comes at a very hefty price for users. Transaction fees can quickly go from 10s of dollars to 1000s of dollars due to network congestion, meaning high gas fees for slow execution. Thus, if your goal is to enable users to interact with your platform or project at the fastest speed and lowest possible cost, then building on a chain that supports low gas fees and fast transactions would work best. For example, Solana and Binance Smart Chains have great NFT ecosystems, are fast and come at low transaction fees, generally, a few cents per transaction.
c. Security and Scalability
NFTs are not safe from hackers automatically, while it’s the duty of the developer to write a secure smart contract, the chain on which it is deployed also plays a huge role. Most popular network doesn’t always mean the safest, hence, determine your security needs and DYOR on which smartchain can suffice the most. When it comes to scalability, Ethereum still comes out top due to its large network effect, still, this is relative to your unique project goals.
7. Choose an NFT standard
Now that you’ve decided on which smartchain to build your NFT on, it’s also important for you to choose an NFT standard that best suits the purpose of your collection.
Based on the Ethereum smart chain, there are over seven NFT standards, however, only 2 of them are predominantly used, which are the ERC721 and ERC1155 standards.
ERC721 is an NFT standard that is characterized by uniqueness. In simple terms, ERC721 NFTs are one of a kind type of assets and usually have either a single smart contract for each NFT or a unique value that identifies each NFT.
Crypto Punks is a great example of the ERC721 NFT standard (CryptoPunk #7736). Each NFT has a unique ID number that is immutable and brandable. So if your plan is to create 1 of 1 NFTs in your collection, then this standard might work for you.
This NFT standard was first developed by Enjin in order to reduce transaction cost for deploying multiple NFTs at once and is now widely adopted as an official NFT standard. ERC1155 helps to fractionalize or create multiple copies of the same asset (same properties or ID), thereby reducing the overall cost for minting and buying.
Due to this cost saving feature, most blockchain gaming NFTs or skins are deployed using this standard. Hence, if your project is tied to similar use cases, then this might be the best option for you.
For details about other types of NFT standards, you can take a look at this article by NFT Stars.
8. Marketing & Community Building
When it comes to NFTs, community is key to success. You could get everything else right but get this wrong and your project is as good as dead on arrival. The best way to build a vibrant community is of course through great marketing. Great NFT marketing isn’t necessarily elaborate, but it must be accurate and effective in getting the right attention and making the best use of that attention.
Over the years, I’ve discovered various methods by which NFT collections are marketed, however, few have proven to be most effective which are explained below:
a. Organic Social Media Marketing
Having a presence on social media for your NFT collection is the quickest and most sustainable way to garner attention and build a community around your project. However, not all social media platforms generate equal results for an NFT project, hence, you must start with and focus on only a few platforms that can get you the needed result. For example, Twitter and Discord are the primary social media platforms for growing and managing NFT communities. Great content, right hashtags and giveaways could go a long way in successfully utilizing this free method.
b. Blogs & Youtube
This is one of the most underrated yet highly effective organic marketing methods for NFT collections. It is 5x easier to build or grow a community that understands what you’re doing and how they can use or interact with what you’re building. Blogs (Medium, Revue) or Youtube happen to be the best platforms for publishing long form of contents or tutorials which you can utilize to educate your audience and increase your engagement and retention rate.
c. Influencer Marketing
While the previous methods are free, it does take some time to get the needed traction, but you can approach some NFT influencers (your marketer can handle this) and propose a collaboration with them. Usually, if your project has good potential, you can offer them whitelist (WL) spots, or custom NFT in exchange for a shoutout on their page, however, some may require high pay in addition to the WL spots. If you have the budget, this is the fastest and most effective way to build your own community.
This is similar to the previous method but a little more inclusive. AMA stands for ‘Ask Me Anything’ and it’s usually hosted by influencers or DAOs to enable their community members to ask founders anything they’d like to know about a project. Founders are given the chance to sell their project in the best way possible to these established communities and are able to attract a loyal audience.
9. Launch Your NFT
Now that you’re all set to launch your NFT collection, you may need to determine the price, date, time and the platform where the minting will take place. Some projects choose to mint on their own website while others prefer the services of a launchpad.
The price you choose for the mint could greatly affect how many people can mint it, how fast it can sell out or if at all, it can sell out.
Last but not least, your marketer or community manager should be able to recruit moderators (customer support) at this stage (depending on how much you’ve grown). The level of support that will be needed during and after launch may be much more than the preparation phase.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach in successfully launching an NFT collection. The application of the above steps may differ from project to project. Some of you already have the art designed, some already have an active community, some are marketers themselves, so, only utilize that which applies to you at the current stage of your development.
Needless to say, no successful NFT project that has stood the test of time got there by mere luck. Even when their success seems sudden, know that a lot of meticulous strings were pulled to make that success occur.
Guess what? I’m not a guru of any kind, but I hope that I can help you and others to make informed choices in Web3 and More.