9 Things You NEED TO KNOW before you make an NFT if you want to succeed

A helpful introduction to the many aspects of launching and maintaining a successful NFT project. Catered to Cardano, but applicable to any blockchain.

Frogs on a Cake - Making an NFT is no cakewalk!

Running an NFT is no cakewalk

Almost everyone in the NFT space has had visions of striking it rich with a successful NFT project. And of course, it does happen — we see it every day. What we don’t always see is the amount of work that truly goes into it, and the pitfalls that may have occurred along the way.

In this article I’d like to go over some of the biggest challenges of creating a successful NFT collection, and the toll they can take emotionally. And perhaps while we’re at it, we can dispel some of the rumors about how easy it is to strike it rich by making NFTs.

We aren’t trying to scare you off — after all, we are in the business of NFTs, and thoroughly believe in their future. However, we don’t want you to operate under any illusions. Most people don’t realize how hard it is to make an NFT that succeeds for any length of time. It is without a doubt a second full time job at a minimum. It is by no means an easy side hustle or a get rich quick scheme.

You’ll have a big advantage if you keep some things in mind before you make an NFT.

More to Making NFTs than art

The thing is, NFTs are a lot more than their art. That’s easy to shrug off if you haven’t been closely involved in the process of creating one, but it’s a reality that you will be faced with if you continue down the path of making your own NFT.

In fact, even for a project with very high quality art, the art is quite often not the most time consuming or challenging part of starting and running an NFT series. That’s why successful NFT teams often have five to ten members or even more, and generally only one or two of them are artists.

If you create all of the art for an NFT series and think you’re ready to cash out, you’ll quickly find out about many other pieces which are much easier said than done. Here are examples of things that a lot of people underestimate the commitment required for.

  • Creating rarity tables and other data that is needed to generate the collection
  • Compiling and proofing metadata
  • Planning and implementing a minting strategy
  • Navigating grey legal waters
  • Deciding on marketing messaging and branding
  • Creating an engaged community
  • Dealing with an engaged community emotionally
  • Not losing your engaged community almost instantly

And these are just the big ones. There are approximately several hundred other random unexpected things that will pop up between the start and finish line.

Frogs on a Chess board - there's more to making an NFT than just art!
Confused frog - metadata for NFTs can be really hard to get right

Metadata is mind-numbing

We’ve seen a lot of time wasted on inefficiencies when it comes to compiling NFT data. We’ve also seen releases delayed because the data was put off until the last minute, and took much longer than expected. It’s important to figure out early on how your metadata will look, and figure out the best way to compile it.

Generally speaking, you will want this to be handled as automatically as you can, because it’s nearly impossible for humans to hand input data for a decently sized collection without making mistakes… plus it takes a ton of time.

Additionally, not many people consider how time consuming the creation and balance of a decent rarity table is. Doing it right involves a lot of data input, followed by a lot of trial and error to adjust.

Important considerations like these are often overlooked because to the general public, the effect is “felt”, not seen.

You almost always need a blockchain developer

The minting part might be more or less applicable depending on what blockchain you are on. We mostly work with Cardano NFTs, where things are just getting started. Standards haven’t emerged in a lot of areas and there is far more demand for technical work than there are developers in the ecosystem.

Even if you want to make an NFT on a more established blockchain such as Ethereum or Solana, where minting is fairly standardized and less of a challenge, implementing utility is almost always something that requires some custom development work.

If you rely exclusively on public tools, you’re going to be very limited in what you can do, and unless you have a ton of creativity to overcome it, that’s going to show through to your potential audience.

This generally means that to make an NFT, you have to have a talented developer on your team, or work with a team like the one at FrogDesk that will work directly with you to meet your project’s technical needs. Unfortunately, securing these relationships can often be easier said than done due to the demand for developers in the space currently.

Frog at a desk - Developers are needed for making NFTs
Lawyer frog - your NFT might need a lawyer!

Lawyer up? NFTs & crypto are grey area

First of all, nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice, whatsoever. Neither I nor anyone at FrogDesk is a lawyer or any kind of expert on law.

Crypto is of course a very new phenomena as far as the law is concerned, and different experts have different opinions about what the current laws and regulations mean. In particular, the U.S. S.E.C. has been interpreted in a lot of ways with regard to the definition of a security, which is regulated differently than a digital collectible.

Many NFT projects have spent a large portion of their budget on legal consultation and developed very fancy systems trying to follow U.S. law, or simply avoid selling to the U.S. altogether.

Since no one here is an expert, we can’t go any deeper into this or provide you with any advice whatsoever. You’ll have to seek your own professional advice for your own circumstance. We are simply pointing out that this is a very important consideration for anyone who is starting a crypto project.

“If you build it they will come”? Good luck with that!

Getting eyeballs on your project is hard. You can’t expect to just make an NFT, get a lucky retweet and suddenly have your project blow up. It does happen sometimes, but you can’t count on it. 99 times out of 100, you will have to work much harder than you anticipate just to get a fraction of the attention you might be expecting.

Before you even start to attract attention you should have great art and a solid plan ready.

If you get nothing else from this article, I hope you will take this away: An overnight success can only happen because work and preparation that took far more than one night was done in advance. The public doesn’t get to see the weeks, months, maybe even years that someone may have worked towards a goal until they suddenly explode.

As you work on marketing your NFT project you will almost certainly get discouraged. Just keep going. You have to keep putting your project out there, keep imagining new ways to draw interest, and keep an introspective look at your project while considering the perspective of your target audience.

It’s hard work. There’s no magic bullet. The space tends to reward effort, but it doesn’t often pay up right away.

Confused Travolta on an empty chess board -- people won't just show up to buy your NFT automatically!
Frogs ignoring a fireworks show -- It's hard to capture the attention of the NFT space and hold it for long!

The juggling act of staying relevant

Many go into the NFT business thinking that once they’ve reached a decent sized audience, they’ve achieved their primary goal, and that it will be easy to grow the audience from there. That is almost never the case, and expecting it is setting yourself up for disappointment.

The attention in this space is as finite as one could imagine. It’s not enough to just make an NFT and let your fans promote it. If you do not present a compelling case, and continuously stimulate your audience, your users will leave or stop paying attention as quickly as they showed up.

You have very little time to capitalize on any attention you may garner. For this reason we are huge proponents of working silently for a long time before you consider going public. Give yourself a buffer of several major announcements… get all the work that is needed for them done in advance, before you even talk about them. Always be sitting on tons of ideas for contests and giveaways and smaller forms of engagement.

Fill up your back pocket before you even start promoting. This is the best way we can think of to have any hope of keeping up with your members’ attention spans. As a bonus, it tends to pretty much eliminate delays — since you are finishing and testing things well in advance of public release.

To say people can be difficult is an understatement

If you’re doing great, you’ve got the public’s attention, you’re keeping it, and things are moving for you… There are still challenges to be faced. Being in charge of an active chat room feels like drowning. You can expect a consistant barrage of inquisition regarding your future plans.

  • When will the next big thing will happen?
  • What the floor will be?
  • Why isn’t the floor higher?
  • What’s taking so long?

Some people will even be outright belligerent. In fact, most of those people probably care more about your project than it might seem like. But their expectations are often out of line with reality, and when money is involved, people can start to feel burned. However, people wouldn’t be engaging with you at all if they simply didn’t care about your project.

Knowing this unfortunately doesn’t eliminate the psychological effects it can have. I’ve seen peoples’ personalities and values change completely in the face of these levels of attention and demands, even in communities that are relatively well mannered (and some can be quite vicious).

Consider for a moment WGMInterfaces, an NFT project which seemed to have everything going for it. The creators ultimately cancelled the project before its mint because of the psychological impact of drawing that much attention. This is a serious consideration, not to be taken lightly.

This is all a part of the business. There are things you can and should do to discourage negative attitudes within your community. However, it is important to remember that if you’re doing well, you’re going to experience some of it. The alternative is that no one cares, and that’s definitely not the recipe for a successful NFT project.

During times of hype it will be very difficult, but absolutely vital, to maintain a long term view of your project. It is very, very easy to get lost in discourse. Days and weeks can slip away without anything important getting done. People value engagement, and it’s very important — but if you don’t continue to work on the back end of your project, it’s going to be very short lived.

If you aren’t prepared for a high level of public scrutiny, it’s important to either avoid the NFT business entirely, or find a good community manager that you work well with to manage and shield you from the public side of things.

An angry frog -- When you make an NFT, you'll find some RUDE people!
Happy frog pond - despite the challenges, creating NFTs is fun and rewarding

To Make an NFT is Fun and Rewarding

Despite all of this, we absolutely love this space. NFTs are an amazing new technology that we believe will change the world for the better. If you want to make an NFT, don’t let us stop you — just be aware of these things.

Everything you take on in life has its own unique obstacles. We just wanted to highlight some of the big ones in this space. Hopefully we caught you before you dove in head first, and prepared you for what’s (probably) to come!

Maybe you already started a project and are experiencing some of these effects. In that case, we hope this article can at least help you understand you’re not alone, and maybe give you a few ideas for how to deal with the challenges you’re facing.

If you have any questions, concerns, or topics you’d like us to address in a future article, please feel free to leave a comment or mention us on Twitter: @Frog_Desk with your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and best of luck to you whatever you choose to do!