Creating a successful NFT project is no different than building a successful product. You’ll need a leadership team you can trust and need to identify your project’s main value propositions and define your marketing strategy in your NFT roadmap.
Despite the similarity, however, web3 projects come with some additional considerations. You’ll need absolute trust in your entire team, clear value props for a nontangible & decentralized product, an NFT community grown from the ground up, and so on.
Let’s get into the first step.
How to Build a Team for Your NFT Project
Building a team in the web3 space is equally exciting and intimidating. You’ll find an active community of artists, developers, community managers, and influencers that are all looking for the next project to sink their teeth into. Due to such low barriers of entry for NFT minting, many in this community will likely already have some experience in launching a project and therefore have high expectations if they are to join yours.
Trust and Competence
The main requirements when building your team from this pool should be trust and competence. This space is ripe with opportunity; but in such an early and unregulated industry, a break of trust internally can mean the quick downfall of your project. Hence the first step in your NFT roadmap should be building the right team.
Doing one quick search of “Discord hacked” or “NFT Scam” on Twitter will lead you to hundreds of posts describing NFT projects being infiltrated or hacked and their members drained of their crypto. It only takes one unruly team member to put all of your holders or prospective holders at risk, so make sure to vet your team properly. Between May and July of 2022, TRM Labs, a web3 security firm, reported that over $22 million had been lost as a result of NFT Discord server hacks. You should be very cautious of whom you allow into your project. We suggest looking into any prospective team member’s previous projects and doing basic background research on those that will have immediate access to funds, whitelists, and key data.
Next, competence. Your average NFT project is likely going to be like an even scrappier startup. This means having team members that can self-manage, coordinate and complete their deliverables on time. While this sounds like the basics, you have to keep in mind that many who flock to the gold rush of web3 are looking to achieve financial success immediately and easily – these are the team members you want to avoid, as they likely won’t be willing to put in the work!
Building a competent team you can trust should be your first step in your NFT roadmap. Next, let’s talk about what you’re actually creating: your NFT project.
How to Create Value for Your NFT Project
Why would someone want to own your NFT? This should be the first question you ask yourself after you’ve conceptualized your project. In other words, you can think of your NFT as a product – and for any product, you need a value proposition. Whether your goal is to sell out your NFT in hopes of fundraising or simply getting your art out there, this is where your NFT roadmap should start: defining NFT use cases for your specific project.
What makes an NFT valuable?
Some projects derive their value from their utility; for example, an NFT ticket that grants access to real-world events, a playable character in a web3 game, etc. NFTs that offer a more tangible value beyond their investment potential, whether in the digital or physical world, are known as Utility NFTs.
Other projects thrive entirely on their artistic value, and holding one is not too different from owning paintings, sculptures, or other collectibles. These Art NFTs can also often end up as status symbols in the community. Beeple, an American digital artist, has created a variety of projects and collaborations that would fall under this category.
In the early days of the NFT space, these two categories were mutually exclusive, but the space has since evolved. Now, many of the top NFT projects have components of both utility NFTs and art NFTs. Bored Ape Yacht Club for example has quickly gone from a pure art NFT project to a utility as well, one now granting holders access to airdrops, online communities, and even live events.
Tennis Champs is another prime example of an NFT project that serves as a set of collectibles as well as playable game characters usable in the mobile game.
With the evolution of the space, there are now many more options for providing value for your NFT, from pure artistic merit to straight utility and everything in between. It’s up to you to decide how to approach your value proposition(s) and once you have those locked down in your NFT roadmap, you can begin building your community.
How to Build a Thriving NFT Community
A project is only as successful as its crypto community is thriving. Whether your NFT project is focused on utility, art, or somewhere in between, you’ll need the support of your web3 community to keep it alive and growing. You’ll want people using your utility NFT, and you’ll want people creating buzz and demand around your art NFT. The more people know about and care about your project, the more valuable your assets will be.
First, the basics: start your community channels. These are the primary platforms where your community will engage with each other, and your project:
- Custom member portals
Twitter and Discord are by far the most popular and useful platforms for NFT projects in particular. Twitter is where you’ll find most projects sharing their updates and engaging with their community members. If you want to establish yourself as a credible project and want to have an outlet to reach the NFT community, establishing a Twitter presence should be your first priority when it comes to marketing in your NFT roadmap.
While Twitter serves as a great way to generate conversations and engage with your brand, Discord is just as important for different reasons. Discord allows your community to interact with other community members more effectively. Having this more engaging channel to discuss the project with other individuals that are equally as interested as they keep people coming back. You’ll also find that community members active on Discord can support your project in other indirect ways, like helping prospective community members, providing valuable ideas to integrate, and pointing out potential collaborations.
Other platforms can be useful, but Twitter and Discord are the most established in the NFT space and will give you the greatest return on your investment. Once you have your platforms set up, it’ll be important to establish an early, dedicated crypto community to build on as a foundation later on. These will be your core and most helpful community members that can assist new members and help you network. Usually, building these through your team’s personal connections will be the easiest way to begin, since there will already be a sense of trust and interest in real-world friendships.
When to Hire a Community Manager
Once you feel you have a strong initial core of community members, it is a good idea to establish a community manager. In the case that your project does see growth, you’ll likely get to the point where you’ll need to ensure your community channels are managed properly to prevent scamming, phishing, self-promoting, and other sketchy activity.
Once you have these basic building blocks of a community, you can start to focus on expanding your reach and pursuing further growth.
Generating Excitement for your NFT Drop
You may have the notion that projects are all about hype in the web3 space. While it is true that excitement is what will generally bring someone on to your project, you can generate and boost that excitement in a few impactful ways.
You should start by generating organic content on your website and most importantly on your socials (especially Twitter). This will serve you twofold: good content drives good community, and it will also help increase your reach.
Your activity on socials should include engaging with other projects, releasing updates on your development, sneak peeks, and the like. You’ll most likely not see too much initial engagement, but you’ll want a footprint on your website and social media outlets when starting out. That way, when you get to the point of marketing your project, people will have more visibility into your actual product and its legitimacy when they take a deeper dive past the initial click. You want to give prospective NFT community members as much information as possible to invest in your project as a potential winner.
Your next step should be beginning your paid marketing efforts. The most effective levers in this space would be influencer marketing, collaborations, and paid social performance marketing. You’ll want to start marketing your launch well ahead of time. Typically, projects announce their NFT mint date 1-2 months ahead of time at least, and you’ll want to ensure these dates are clearly established with marketing activity leading up to it.
Influencer Marketing for NFT Projects
You’ll find that a lot of traditional influencer marketing strategies won’t apply in the web3 space; fake follower numbers, inflated pricing, and inferior accounts abound, so you’ll need to ensure that the accounts you contact are real and that promotions themselves are exciting and unique.
How to Select Influencers
In terms of picking whom you work with, the influencer selection process will also be different compared to more traditional industries. For example, with so much money on the line, you’ll find that many crypto influencers grow inauthentic audiences, bloated by bots and fake users. By boosting their engagement this way, influencers can fool some projects into promoting to an audience that frankly doesn’t exist as it appears to. You’ll want to make sure you look at metrics like engagement, comment-to-like ratios, and the usual suspects to avoid influencers like these. That said, without going into the influencer’s comment section and looking at engagement quality, recurring bot-like messaging, and suspicious accounts, you won’t be able to have an entire picture of how legitimate the influencer’s audience actually is.
In general, you’ll want to host promotions that both grasp users’ attention and inform them about your project. Keeping in mind that many web3 community members are almost entirely financially motivated, we’ve found that a combination of giveaways + informative content works best.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that costs for NFT creators are much higher than in other spaces, but there are also other opportunities for savvy projects that are willing to entertain non-traditional partnerships, like giving influencers a stake in your project.
Here’s a really useful guide to influencer marketing for NFTs that goes into further detail than the above.
Collaborations in your NFT Roadmap
Project collaborations with other crypto projects also serve as a great way to get your name out there. Ideally, you’ll be able to find other early projects or even the occasional prominent project that will be willing to collaborate with you because they believe in your value and mission. These collaborations can take multiple forms, from integrating another project’s art into your own to giving away whitelist spots to another project’s NFT allow list. Both of these serve to grant you exposure to other communities and lend you that project’s credibility. Finding project collaborations will be a matter of outreach and networking through your prominent team, community members, and contacts.
That said, you’ll want to be careful about the projects you collaborate with. Once you start mingling with other projects, you’ll start to share some overlap in the community. If the project you collaborate with ends up being a sham, you’ll likely have some upset community members yourself. All in all, it comes down to vetting your project collaborations just as you’d vet your own team members!
Paid Social Performance Marketing
Organic exposure and paid influencer partnerships and promotions are effective ways to get the name of your NFT project out there, but more traditional performance marketing can give a significant boost to your exposure and premint hype.
All the major ad platforms allow you to run very customized campaigns that funnel potential users to a web page or app store page, targeting a variety of objectives. You can maximize landing page views with traffic campaigns, target the greatest number of users with reach campaigns, or optimize for a specific event (sign up, following a page, etc) with conversion-optimized campaigns. High-quality creative goes a long way here, so be sure to invest in a variety of static and video ads that speak to the value and uniqueness of your project and its community.
Conversion-optimized campaigns allow you to source users that are most likely to complete your desired action, which allows you to source users for your Discord community or even finds users who will join your project. Running any influencer posts as Branded Content posts on Instagram can also give your influencer efforts expanded reach and leverage the power of Meta ads machine learning to raise awareness.
Performance marketing agencies like Blitz can help you deploy high-quality ad creatives in correctly optimized campaigns so you can focus on your NFT roadmap.
Minting Your NFT
An NFT mint date is arguably a project’s most important inflection point, where the project either loses its credibility or establishes its competence. A successful launch will involve a mix of effective marketing, handling logistics properly, and choosing launch partners wisely. Let’s start by talking about marketing.
NFT Allow Lists
We recommend giving out whitelist spots to your community members and outsiders through tactics such as giveaways in the months leading up to your launch. This will give a sense of urgency and exclusivity to those looking to get involved with your project.
There are great tools for building NFT white lists, such as Hype.day, which let you build whitelists by requiring users to complete certain actions that can be immensely beneficial to your project. For example, you could set up a Hype project that grants users a spot on your NFT whitelist when they:
- Join your Discord server
- Reach a certain level in your Discord server
- Follow you on Twitter
- Engage with one of your Tweets
- Have an old enough Twitter account to eliminate fake accounts
- Have enough followers
- Have enough fungible tokens in their wallet
- Have an NFT from a collaborating NFT collection
Setting requirements that only include users that engage with your community for a longer period (Discord levels, follower ages, etc.) ensures your NFT allow list won’t be overfilled with users that aren’t actually engaged in your community.
Setting requirements related to engagement such as Twitter likes, the account follows, and similar engagement events can help bolster your future organic content. You’ll also build a list of users with both a social media presence and a demonstrated interest in your project. Here’s a more detailed guide on how to build an NFT allow list.
Lastly, and the most technical step in your NFT roadmap is that you’ll want to make sure your actual minting goes smoothly. This means ensuring your mint website can handle a high amount of traffic, that your whitelist members actually get the promised benefits, have the ability to mint, avoid gas wars, and so on.
If you’re launching with a partner like Opensea, that’ll mean coordinating with them properly to ensure they have everything they need.
With so much opportunity in the web3 universe and the low barrier to entry, launching a new NFT project will be the survival of the fittest. For every well-thought-out project, there are dozens of projects where the founders failed to build trust with their community, failed to establish their credibility, or failed to conceptualize an NFT project people actually want.
Projects that can avoid internal strife, build competent teams, grow lively communities, and create value for their NFTs while marketing effectively will be the ones that stand out. Failing to pay attention to any one aspect could mean the difference between creating the next blue chip project and creating the next unminted project with ten Twitter followers. Starting with a solid NFT roadmap will help you navigate the process from premint to launch to post-mint.