August 5, 2022

NFT collections vs. smart contracts

If you’re serious about launching an NFT collection, you need your own smart contract.

There is a lot of confusion about creating NFT collections, and for good reason. The problem is, the term “collection” means different things depending on where you create one. And if you create your collection on OpenSea, you’re significantly limited in what you can do compared to if you create it from your own smart contract. So let’s dive a little deeper into the issue…

What is an NFT collection, actually?

This is really the root of most of the confusion. At the blockchain level, a collection consists of all of the NFTs minted from a given smart contract. A smart contract is a program on the blockchain that essentially serves as both the blueprint and factory for creating NFTs. It designates what kind of token you are creating, and then is used to mint the tokens themselves. 

When you create your collection from your own smart contract, you have more control over the features of the NFTs and the collection as a whole. We’ll get into some of the more popular features available to you if you create your own smart contract in a sec.

On OpenSea, you can also create NFT “collections.” However, these have very little in common with “real” NFT collections, as they’re all minted from OpenSea’s smart contract. Within the OpenSea platform, the NFTs you mint as part of your collection will appear as a single collection, but if they’re transferred or displayed anywhere else, they will just be shown as unrelated NFTs minted from the OpenSea smart contract.

So does this really matter? Yes. If you’re serious about creating and selling an NFT collection, it matters a lot.

The benefits of minting from your own smart contract

If you’re just creating one or two NFTs for fun, then maybe OpenSea’s minting features will be enough for you. But if you’re planning to create an NFT collection with a roadmap and a loyal community, you’re gonna need a lot more. So let’s talk about some of the big differences between minting a collection on OpenSea and from your own smart contract.

1. Your collection’s name

One of the most immediate differences is what we already touched on above. If you create your collection on OpenSea, the name of your collection only exists within the OpenSea platform, not on the blockchain. But all of the most legendary NFT collections are minted from their own smart contracts (BAYC, CryptoPunks, etc.) and if they are transferred or displayed anywhere else, they are still immediately identifiable as authentic NFTs from the given collection, and will be for as long as the blockchain exists. This stamp of verifiable authenticity is one of the fundamental benefits of NFTs in general, and if you create a whole collection on OpenSea, without your own smart contract, your users will be missing out.

2. The big launch

When you launch your collection, you’ll want to let everyone know what the purpose of it is, why it’s unique, and what’s planned for the future. But if you mint on OpenSea, none of this is possible. You have a little space to add a description, but as far as a landing page with all your project’s information and roadmap, you’re out of luck.

If you mint your collection from your own smart contract, you can create a full launch experience for your users right on your own website. All the relevant info and your collection roadmap can be placed right next to the actual mint button where users can connect their wallets and mint NFTs directly from your site. In terms of starting off with a bang, there’s really no comparison.

3. NFT utility

Beyond just minting NFTs of nice artwork, there are tons of emerging NFT use cases that leverage the utility of the technology. If you want to create NFT passes, membership tokens, tickets, or any other type of NFT that is actually used as a certificate of authenticity, you’ll need your own smart contract.

Why? Because when users hold an NFT from your collection, let’s say as a membership pass, when they connect their wallet to your platform, it will be scanned to see if it contains an NFT created from your smart contract. If yes, they can enter. If not, they cannot. But if you’ve created your NFTs on OpenSea, the contract address will just be OpenSea’s smart contract, essentially rendering any utility benefits of the NFTs in your collection impossible. If your NFTs contain your specific smart contract address, it opens up a world of possibilities for how you can use them.

4. Gamification & NFT reveals

Part of the fun of buying NFTs from collections comes from the suspense of potentially getting a super rare and valuable NFT. This gamification aspect turns NFT launches into thrilling experiences, and again, is completely impossible if you mint your collection on OpenSea.

If you mint from your own smart contract (especially using Artiffine, more on this below) you can allow users to mint a random NFT from your smart contract with a custom mint button embedded right into your website. If you want to take things a step further, you can even create an NFT reveal launch, whereby users mint the NFTs to their wallets, and later have the images they have minted revealed to them. With your own smart contract, you can take your collection’s launch to the next level in ways that would be completely impossible if you mint on OpenSea.

5. Address whitelisting

If you want to give specific users (existing members of your community, VIP collectors, etc.) early private access to minting from your collection, if you have your own smart contract, you can enable address whitelisting. This means that only specific, approved addresses can mint from your contract. You can limit how many they can mint to their wallet, how many they can mint at one time, and even designate start and end limits of the presale period. And again, you can’t do it if you create your collection on OpenSea.

6. Airdrops

If you want to reward loyal supporters of your NFT collections, you might want to “airdrop” NFTs to their wallets. The way this works is you send an NFT to the wallets of the users who already hold an NFT from your collection. The problem is, if the contract address of the NFTs you’ve minted is OpenSea’s, there’s no easy way to airdrop NFTs to their wallets, because you can’t quickly identify everyone who holds one of your NFTs. Doing it manually would be tedious, if not impossible, especially if you’ve minted 10,000 NFTs in a collection. But with your own smart contract, it’s a piece of cake.

How do I create a smart contract?

Now that you can see the benefits of creating your own smart contract, you’re probably wondering how to do it. If you’re a developer, you could learn Solidity, but it takes time, effort, and a good bit of trial and error. After you’ve successfully created your own smart contract, you’ve still got a long way to go till you can launch your collection. It’s not easy, we’re not gonna lie.

But don’t worry, that’s why Artiffine exists. We can help with every aspect of launching NFT projects, from custom smart contracts to UX/UI and stunning website design, to NFT licensing and legal compliance. If you want to get started on building the NFT project of your dreams, reach out to us, and we’d love to hear all about it.

August 5, 2022

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