From the outside, NFT projects might seem like a mysterious blackbox. While successful projects make it look easy, understanding how they managed to create and execute their concept is very difficult. If you’re launching your first NFT collection, there’s a lot to consider, and it can be overwhelming to figure out where to get started.
But don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you into a series of small steps. Sure, there’s a lot to keep in mind, but it’s entirely manageable if you approach it methodically.
So we’ve made a step-by-step guide for what you should consider to successfully launch an NFT project. Here is a quick checklist for all of the topics we’ll be covering in more detail:
- NFT roadmap
- Why should anyone buy your NFT?
- What will the initial drop consist of?
- What happens after?
- Business plan
- How will you fund this project?
- How and when will you generate revenues?
- What will you do with them?
- What happens if it sells out instantly? What if it doesn’t sell?
- NFT metadata structure
- What content will be attached to your NFTs (image, audio, video files)?
- How will you upload/map it?
- Do you own the intellectual property rights?
- What can users do with their NFTs?
- Smart contract
- What blockchain will you be building on?
- What functions do you need in your smart contract?
- How many NFTs will you be selling for how much?
- Primary sale
- How will you build hype for your drop?
- Are your website and team prepared for the drop?
- How will you deal with any potential technical issues that arise?
- Secondary sales
- Are there any imposter collections on OpenSea?
- Are your royalties set correctly at the marketplace level?
- Is your metadata displaying correctly on each secondary marketplace?
Now, let’s go through each of these areas in a bit more detail. Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of how to think about each aspect of launching your NFT project.
1. NFT roadmap
First, the big question: - WHY should anyone buy your NFT?
There are thousands of NFT projects out there, and long gone are the times when people bought NFTs simply as a novelty. Only the best of the best appreciate in value, and predicting which NFTs will be solid investments is a full-time job in and of itself.
So you have to convince people that you really have something to offer. Nobody can say for sure whether any given project will be the next big thing, but if you take the time to create a strong concept and value proposition, you might be able to turn some heads.
Ask yourself “Would I spend money on this NFT?” And be honest. If there’s any doubt in your mind as to whether you’d spend money on it, then you’ve got to do better. Consider the utility your project offers:
- What can people do with it?
- How will they interact and engage with the project as a community?
- What will keep them there?
- What would entice them to tell their friends about it?
Once you’ve nailed down a solid concept, decide on a timeline:
- What will be included in the initial drop?
- What subsequent steps will happen when?
- What are the eventual goals?
Put it in writing, and you’ve got a roadmap!
2. Business plan
Next, you’ve got to think about the business side of things. This brings up a whole new set of questions.
- How are you going to fund this project?
- How and when will you generate revenues?
- How many do you have to sell at what price to see any profit?
- What will you do with the revenues? (Invest back into the project? Donate to charity? Launch another project? Buy lambos?)
- If the NFTs don’t sell, what is your follow up course of action?
- If they all sell out in 1 minute, what are the next steps?
Take the time to figure out the project’s financials well before you start investing time and money into development. Really consider whether launching is too much of an investment or risk, and if so, figure out if there are anyways to reduce costs or mitigate the risk. Plan for multiple outcomes with regards to the mint, and be prepared for the best-case and worst-case scenarios. A little bit of foresight will save you a lot of headache later on down the line.
3. NFT metadata structure
Artwork & Metadata
As part of your concept, you’ve already considered what it is you’re going to be selling. Now it’s time to think about the technical and legal side of your content.
First, where is the artwork, music, animation, video content coming from? Are you going to make it? If not, start searching for a company that can make the type of content that will make your project pop. Also, make sure to use the most widely accepted file formats for whatever content you are going to be using. More info on this in our article on NFT metadata formats.
Once you’ve gotten all the content, you’ll need a way to upload it to the Interplanetary File System (IPFS), or some other form of distributed storage. We use and recommend Filebase for their user-friendly interface and overall amazing service (and price point!). Check out our guide on how we use Filebase to upload gigabytes of metadata for our clients.
Next, you’ll need to prepare your json metadata schema and accurately map each uploaded file on IPFS to the correct token ID. For more on how to properly map metadata, check out this article.
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of Web3, but it’s something you’ll want to sort out in advance. Contrary to popular belief, intellectual property (IP) laws very much apply to the blockchain, and you’ll want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row. And if you’re considering releasing your collection under a Creative Commons license (CC0), then you should definitely take the time to understand what that entails. Check out our article on CC0 here.
In terms of IP, there are two main components:
- IP base clearing: Making sure you really own the rights to all of the IP you’ll be selling. For more on base clearing, check out this article.
- NFT license: A document that explicitly lays out what holders can and cannot do with the IP associated with their NFTs. For more on why you’d want an NFT license, check out our article on the topic.
In addition, depending on the scope of your project, the industry it's in, the country in which you’re based, and a variety of other factors, you could run into a wide range of compliance issues, especially with regards to KYC and GDPR.
Make sure you carefully consider the following:
- Do you own the IP rights to what you are selling?
- How can buyers use the IP they are purchasing?
- What kind of regulations do you need to comply with? Do KYC and/or GDPR apply to your country and/or industry?
As for the first question, if there is any question as to whether or not you completely own the rights to what you are selling, you should consult with an IP specialist for legal advice. Read more about rights clearing and what you can and can’t do in terms of IP and NFTs, in this article on the topic.
The second question also requires legal consultation. If you don’t specify what owners of your NFTs can and can’t do with the content they are purchasing, there is a lot of gray area that is open to misinterpretation and misuse. The best way to protect yourself and your work is to include an NFT license. Find out more about why you will want one here.
As far as KYC and GDPR compliance goes, they are both more administrative tasks, but having the input of a trained legal professional can smooth out the whole process.
If you need help with anything mentioned above, get in touch with our Legal Team.
- Smart contract
Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty blockchain stuff. If you’re a savvy programmer, then this shouldn’t be too much to take in. If you’re not, it might seem a bit confusing, but we’d highly recommend either having a programmer in your team or working with someone who knows what they’re doing. Security is crucial with NFT collections, and you’ll need yours to be rock solid. If you need any custom smart contract development, reach out, and we can help.
Right, so first things first, you’ll need to figure out what blockchain you’d like to mint your collection on. There are many contenders to consider for launching your collection, but these are three of the most popular and common blockchains for NFTs:
- Ethereum is the tried and true standard with the most active NFT community by far.
- Polygon is a close relative of Ethereum and functions similarly, except it’s faster and much cheaper to use.
- Solana functions completely differently than Ethereum and Polygon, but it is lightning-fast and extremely inexpensive.
If you do choose Ethereum, please bear in mind that it has the most traffic, lowest throughput, and thus highest gas fees of any blockchain. This means you’ll pay more money for deploying your smart contract, invoking “write” methods, and airdropping NFTs to users. Adapt your strategy and roadmap accordingly so that you don’t end up with massive overheads for transaction fees.
Next, you’ll need to decide on the requirements of your collection and smart contract:
- How many NFTs total will you be minting?
- Will this be a hard-capped supply, or will you want to add more in the future?
- Will you be the only one allowed to mint from the collection and/or interact with the smart contract, or do you want to allow for the possibility of other assignable roles?
- Are there any other non-standard functions/methods you’d like to include in your smart contract?
- Do you want to include a royalties percentage into your smart contract? How much?
After you’ve specified what your smart contract needs to be able to do and how it should work, you should then consider what kind of smart contract you’ll be using. Here are three of the most common types of NFT smart contracts:
- ERC721: The original NFT smart contract. Each NFT has its own token ID, making every NFT from the contract verifiably unique.
- ERC721a: A variation on ERC721, with the exception of having much lower gas fees for batch minting. If you or your users are going to be minting multiple NFTs at once for any reason, you should look into ERC721a. For a comparison of the two types of smart contracts, check out our article on the topic.
- ERC1155: This one works slightly differently than ERC721 and its variants. For each token ID, there can be multiple tokens. This means that if you wanted to sell a collection of NFTs to be fractionally owned at the blockchain level or sell multiple copies of a single token ID, ERC1155 would be the way to go. It’s a useful alternative for more specific use cases.
Once you’ve coded and compiled your smart contract, make sure to test it!
Deploy to the testnet of whatever blockchain you’re using. Ensure that it supports all of the necessary methods, test each one individually and repeatedly. Check for any potential vulnerabilities, double check, and then check again. And don’t forget to double check that you’ve set the price of your NFT correctly.
Finally, prepare a secure wallet to deploy and interact with the smart contract, and deploy to mainnet. Congratulations, you now have your very own NFT smart contract ready to go.
6. Primary Sale
Leading up to your primary sale, you need to get the word out about your project. Twitter is the most popular platform for NFT projects, and your strategy for utilizing it will depend heavily on your project’s concept.
To help you think about your presale promo, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is really going to grab people’s interest about this project?
- Do you have any memeable content that can go viral on its own?
- Who (if anyone) will be the “face” of the project?
- If the team will not be doxxed (have their identities revealed), how will you instill trust in potential buyers that we are not a scam?
- Where will you be directing potential investors? Discord is often a good bet, and from there you can keep them engaged until the actual mint.
- How much budget can you allocate for paid promotion?
- Do you have a list of influencers or promoters that you know and trust? If not, start trying to find some. There are many scammers out there, many NFT promoters who will deliver bots and giveaway hunters, but some good ones can be found. Just be careful with whom you send money, do some research, and don’t reply to every NFT promoter who offers their services. There will be a lot of offers once you start promoting your project.
- How soon before the mint do you want to start promotions?
- What timeframe is the goal for selling out?
- If you don’t sell out immediately, do you have a backup plan for how to sustain the community and keep expanding it?
Also, bear in mind that while it is the primary platform for promotion, Twitter happens to have a lot of useless followers, giveaway hunters, and bots that will swarm you as soon as you start promoting your project on there. As a result, developing an effective promo strategy can be a bit tricky.
We would recommend testing the waters first with a smaller project/number of NFTs just to see what works and what doesn’t with online promotions. Once you’ve gotten a feel for the landscape, then you can invest more into serious promo for your main project.
If you need any help or advice on how to promote your project, please reach out to us, and our community building specialists will be happy to assist.
As far as the technical side of things, you’re going to want to make sure your minting site is deployed on scalable infrastructure. If your promo goes well and you see a spike in traffic, you need to make sure that your website can handle it.
Next, be ready to call the methods you will require when the time comes. Don’t wait for the mint counter to reach 0 before you think about preparing. Typical methods you’ll need to call are interacting with the allowlist, opening and closing the mint process, and withdrawing funds from the contract. You might also want to airdrop some tokens to your early supporters.
Make sure you consider the following questions well before your launch:
- Will your website’s infrastructure be able to handle a huge spike in traffic?
- What methods in the smart contract do you need to call, in what order, and how quickly can you reasonably call each one (factoring in slower transaction times if you’re launching on Ethereum)?
- Is my team prepared to communicate effectively with potential buyers in case of any issues? Whose responsibility will that be?
6. Secondary sales
After your primary sale, people will (hopefully) start buying and selling NFTs from your collection on secondary NFT marketplaces like OpenSea or Rarible. There are a few things you’ll want to pay attention to here:
- Search your collection’s name on each marketplace. Are there any imposters? Get them taken down. If you need help doing so, our Legal Team can take care of it.
- Make sure you’ve also set the correct royalty percentage on each marketplace. This must be done at both the smart contract (EIP-2981) and marketplace levels.
- If you’ve done an NFT reveal, is the metadata refreshing and displaying properly on each platform? If not, you might need to manually refresh all token listings on each of the platforms, or let your buyers click on the refresh button on their own to preserve their experience of seeing the NFT artwork for the first time!
7. The future and beyond!
Now that everything has launched smoothly, it’s time to focus on the follow through. Start planning the next phases in your roadmap, figure out how you’ll keep the community you’ve built engaged and active, and, most importantly, deliver what you’ve promised.
If you’ve successfully built a sizable, active community, then this is an opportunity for perpetual growth through continuous interaction and improvement. Think about what additional value you can deliver to holders and how to sustain your thriving community. There are many ways to go, it’s all up to you, and the sky’s the limit!