Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have been among the most popular Web3 applications in the past several years. But the space has also been littered with unsuccessful projects and outright failures, owing in many cases to insufficient commitment to quality. In this article, we’ll be giving advice on how to start an NFT project and highlighting some good practices that can help your project find success. But first, let’s start at the beginning.
What is an NFT project?
First, let’s define what we mean by an NFT project. Well, NFT projects come in various forms, but they are all built around some unique virtual assets represented virtually by non-fungible tokens. NFTs are perfectly suited for that job because they have unique identifiers.
NFTs can represent all manner of virtual assets. You can have digital art pieces, collectibles, in-game items such as weapons and character skins. You can even have videos tied to NFTs, as showcased by NBA Top Shot, a popular Web3 marketplace for NBA highlights.
Your NFT project may revolve around a single art piece, just as well as an entire digital collection. Or, you can utilize NFTs to create virtual goods for a shared game world like in Decentraland. Or perhaps your aim is utility rather than entertainment. Well, you can use NFTs to digitize certificates, diplomas and all manner of documentation. Non-fungible tokens open up numerous opportunities for innovation.
But let’s circle back to our initial question. How do you start an NFT project? And what makes an NFT project good? Well, let’s find out.
Choosing the right platform
First and foremost, you need to choose a Web3 platform for your project. There are a number of Web3 protocols that can support NFTs or some sort of NFT equivalents. This article will focus on Ethereum because it is by far the biggest platform for NFTs and has the most developed ecosystem to support virtual assets. That said, there are a number of alternatives vying for that throne and all bring something worthwhile to the table. Solana has a fairly robust ecosystem built around NFTs and minting tokens on the platform is generally cost-effective compared to Ethereum. The Flow protocol was built from the ground up to support Web3 gaming and minting virtual assets at scale. Recently, Bitcoin Ordinals gave us a way to create NFT-like assets on the OG blockchain, Bitcoin.
All things considered, Ethereum is still the preferred platform for the majority of NFT projects. And a big reason for that is the fact that the process of creating NFTs on Ethereum is very well fleshed out and standardized, thanks to the existence of very robust token standards. So getting to know the token standard and choosing the right standard for your project should be among your biggest priorities.
A token standard is essentially a set of guidelines on how to write a token smart contract. All tokens on Ethereum are created, or ‘minted’ through smart contracts. The role of a token standard is to ensure that the token is compatible with the broader Ethereum ecosystem and has certain features and functionalities that define it as a token of a certain type. For example, all fungible tokens on Ethereum are created according to the ERC-20 standard.
For non-fungible tokens, we have the ERC-721 standard which informs most NFT minting contracts. An ERC-721 token can serve all popular NFT use cases.
More recently, we got the ERC-1155 standard, which is often referred to as a multi-token standard, because it supports both FT and NFT minting. This means that you are able to mint multiple fungible and non-fungible tokens through a single contract, which can be very advantageous for some projects. That said, ERC-1155 is a relatively new standard and is not as widely used as ERC-721.
Building a compelling product
To have a successful NFT project, you need to have a clear vision of the product you want to create and how you can make it appalling to users. Maybe you focus on creating high quality art or developing unique visual style and presentation. Or make NFTs that give their holders benefits within a larger ecosystem. Or build a fun game around them like Dapper Labs did with CryptoKitties in 2017. Whatever you do, it’s best to make sure that your NFTs offer something more than just their monetary value.
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Do not cut corners
There are plenty of examples of projects that just want to rake in big sales with minimal effort. However, that mindset does not translate into long-term success. To create the next big NFT success you need to put in the effort and stand out from the crowd.
Fostering a community
A good NFT project is about more than just creating a product. It’s also about building a community of engaged users. Make sure that people are interested in your project and want to engage with your NFTs. You can leverage gamification to encourage user engagement. NFT airdrops can also be used to drum up interest in the project. Exclusive perks and special events for holders are a great way to foster a strong and vibrant community.
Possibly the worst thing you can do for your NFT project is to put a steep initial price tag on your tokens. You don’t want to price out your user base. Make an affordable product and you are much more likely to see a larger turnout.
So what is a good NFT project?
So as you see, a good NFT project is much more than an assortment of funny images living on the blockchain. Launching such a project is a serious endeavor that could easily fail if you don’t have the right mindset. Using the right tools to create a product that people want and enjoy is a requisite for success in any industry and the NFT space is not an exception.
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