I put my first collection of NFT poetry up for sale at the start of the month. At that point I had no idea what to expect and not much of an idea about the NFT world. It was an experiment, but I felt like I was taking my first steps into the future. My first collection sold out quickly and my second, larger set of poems is nearly sold out too. Perhaps those final few poems will never be sold and this post will stand as a testament to premature hubris, but I’m sure my experience can help fellow newcomers get established in the NFT space.
Getting set up
A popular sentiment amongst NFT artists and collectors is “we’re early.” In reality, this translates into an environment that can be boggling to newcomers. There are lots of different NFT marketplaces to sell your work, and even more cryptocurrency wallets to receive/send money. Since you’ll be dealing exclusively in cryptocurrency (and probably Ethereum) finding the right wallet is your first port of call. I went for the Coinbase wallet because it’s a big name, secure and easy to use. You’ll need to sign up for a Coinbase account but it’s the most straightforward part of the process. Nothing more to say here.
Choosing the right marketplace is more difficult. Some (like SuperRare and NiftyGateway) are selective, which means you’ll need to apply and be accepted. If this is your first NFT collection you almost certainly won’t make it onto those platforms. Most other marketplaces are open to all. These include OpenSea, Rarible and Mintable to name but three. I chose OpenSea because it’s the biggest marketplace in the world, has the most potential buyers and is the easiest to use for beginners. It also only charges you gas fees once, which is a big deal and leads me to my next point…
What the hell is gas?
To sell an NFT on any marketplace you’ll need to “mint” it. Think of this as publishing the piece: bringing it into the world. Minting puts your NFT on the blockchain, which gives it its unique identity and value. If you’re minting with Ethereum you’ll need to pay gas fees. Consider these as a small service charge, paid for the privilege of getting onto the blockchain. How much gas you pay depends on how busy the network is at the time. If lots of people are using the Ethereum network to make transactions, gas will be high (sometimes very high). If activity levels are low, gas won’t cost as much. You can also forgo gas fees by using Polygon, although I would suggest sticking with straight-up Ether if this is your first mint.
Gas fees can add up fast, but that’s why OpenSea is my favoured marketplace. It only charges you gas once, and from there you can mint as many items as you want — thousands if you have a large collection. Other platforms will charge every time you mint an item, which isn’t ideal if this is your first time selling NFTs and you have no idea how well they’ll be received/whether you’ll make any of the money back. It’s worth noting that gas fees don’t go to OpenSea.
Minting your collection
After signing up to OpenSea I minted my poems one by one, adding them to a collection that I creatively named “storydj poetry.” Collections group pieces together and make them easier to find. From there it’s a simple case of setting a price per item. Pricing NFTs is somewhat of a dark art and there are no hard and fast rules. I researched other NFT poets in my area and settled upon a price of 0.05 ether per poem. You might want to charge more or less for your work, but if you’re releasing a collection I would advise charging the same price for each item. DO NOT DROP YOUR PRICES after one item has sold. That undercuts value for the collector, hurting them and making other people less likely to buy your work.
You’ll be able to set descriptions for each item here, too, and add any special characteristics such as edition numbers. NFTs gain value predominately through their rarity, so single edition pieces are overwhelmingly preferable. Putting your collection up for sale is the easiest part of the process. What follows requires considerably more effort…
Marketing your NFTs
Finding an audience for your first NFTs isn’t easy. There are already huge communities around popular NFT collections like Bored Apes, Punks and Lazy Lions. These have tens of thousands and in some cases even hundreds of thousands of followers across social media. These audiences weren’t built overnight, though, so you need to start small and build steadily, rather than expecting overnight success.
Twitter and Discord are where most NFTs are sold. The NFT community on Twitter is thriving and that’s where most of the collectors “live.” If you have a social media following elsewhere (as I do on Instagram) by all means showcase your collections there, but remember that this is a new area. How many of your existing followers know about cryptocurrency, least of all hold it? Probably not many. The audience for NFTs is even more niche than that. If you’re marketing NFTs to an existing following on Instagram, use all the relevant hashtags you can find and tag NFT sharing accounts. I’ve made several sales after being featured on an NFT Instagram page, all because I tagged them in one of my posts.
That, really, is the crux. You need to network. Traditional marketing doesn’t work as NFTs are all about community. Start by following similar artists on Twitter and connecting with them. This will get you onto the fringes of the NFT space. From there look at who they follow, who collects their work, who retweets their posts etc, and follow them too. As your network grows you’ll gradually be exposed to more and more collectors. At this stage, most sales will come via retweets. If an account with more followers (read: the right kind of followers — collectors) retweets your work then you will find buyers. It’s that simple.
I now spend a lot more time on Twitter than before my foray into NFTs. I scroll through my newsfeed looking for new creatives to connect with, new collectors to follow and new content to retweet. If you want to be an NFT creator networking is your full-time job. Many accounts will offer to feature your NFTs for a fee. I’m yet to experiment with this but maybe I will in the future. The point is, you don’t need to pay for adverts. You just need to retweet, share, talk, follow and immerse yourself in the community. Genuine retweets and shares are worth more than adverts and will put your work in front of collectors.
Discord is the other big area of interest. Creators and artists hang out in Discord chats. While these aren’t overt advertising platforms, many do have a dedicated “shilling” thread where you can advertise your recent releases. Much, much more importantly though, these channels help you to build relationships within the NFT community. Creators with far more experience will offer you help and tips, you’ll connect with collectors (and be able to talk about your work in-depth, rather than just plugging it on social media) and generally integrate more fully with the community. If you’re releasing your first NFTs that’s absolutely vital.
So try to join and be an active participant in as many Discord chats as possible, all the while expanding your network of connections on Twitter. A large social media following elsewhere on Insta or even Tumblr is useful as it gives your work credibility and gets more eyes on it, but Twitter remains (for now) the ultimate NFT platform. It’s the home of the community.
Remember that this is very much a marathon, not a sprint. Connections lead to connections and sales lead to sales. Those two rules are exactly how I managed to sell my first collections.