NFTs and Patience: A Short Guide for Creators Entering the World of NFTs

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To Exist Is To Survive Unfair Choices by @maalavidaa

Note: the header artwork for this article can be found on SuperRare.

So you just learnt about NFTs... Welcome!

Maybe you landed here after hearing about Beeple’s $6.6 million NFT sale at Christie’s. Or perhaps you're just tuning in after learning about electronic musician 3LAU’s whopping $11.6 million NFT auction this weekend.

It’s no surprise you’re here. These headlines are sure to turn heads. And there is good reason to get excited. Artists who just months ago were reliant on intermediaries and/or freelance gigs to make a living off their art, now suddenly have real power in their hands. 

These numbers — along with the ones we’re hearing out of NBA Top Shot, Cryptopunks, etc — are going to get people’s hearts pumping. There’s no doubt. 

However, it’s important to recognize that underneath these eye-catching headlines lies a completely fresh landscape of opportunity for creatives and fans alike — not to necessarily make a million dollars overnight — but to collectively build a sustainable online ecosystem for creatives of any level to thrive. 

For some of us, this newborn excitement in the NFT space can come with a package of anxieties that we might categorize as FOMO. Perhaps questions pop into your head like, “ok how do I get a piece of this action?” or “I don’t want to miss the boat!” or “what do I dooo?!?”

As this energy bubbles up in you, I think it’s important we tease apart a few nuances in all the excitement and come to some sensible plan of entry into this brand new world. 

Emphasis on brand new

The first being just that: understanding that this space is brand friggin’ new. It’s like we’re in 1994 and the World Wide Web has just been born. What excitement! 

The difference though was, that back then, practically nobody had email yet. Let alone anything resembling Instagram, Twitter, and every other mode of instant connection we have today. So unlike in 1994, the excitement over these new technologies is catching like wildfire. As soon as any single experiment gets underway, everyone else knows about it instantly.

But the storm of hurried anxiety that this causes only stirs up more unnecessary dust and blinds us from seeing things as they really are. A much more effective way to approach this space is from a place of patient excitement — knowing full well that the NFT game is going to be a long one.

Step 1: Learn

First things first: get a good understanding of what NFTs really are. If you haven’t already, we put together a beginner’s guide on NFTs for just that purpose. 

It’s important to understand how non-fungible tokens work, and how they carve out a potential value for digital stuff in a way that wasn’t possible before. It will take this story of NFTs from one that’s about multi-million dollar transactions to one that’s about the future of the Internet. It just might get your wheels turning on how you can use this technology in a way that hasn't been explored yet. (reminder: most haven’t)

After that, the best way to learn about NFTs is to jump into the scene and make some online friends. It just so happens that the NFT community (which exists primarily on Twitter) is actually a group of extremely friendly people. So get involved, ask your questions, and there is likely someone out there happy to answer. 

Here are just a few of the people I am learning a lot from (extremely non-exhaustive list):

@thesarahshow — NFT artist + writer

@AxieKing — excellent teacher in all things NFT

@jessewldn —  Investor at Variant Fund

@FEhrsam — Cofounder of Paradigm and Coinbase

@whatdotcd — Creator of the Friends With Benefits community

@coin_artist — NFT artist 

@coopahtroopa — crypto strategy at Audius

@dg_goens + @js_horne — building Zora

@literature — building Mirror

@cheriehu42 — writing about NFTs and music at Water and Music

@matdryhurst — Co-host of the Interdependence podcast (which I highly recommend!)

Step 2: Taste

It’s one thing to learn about this stuff. It’s a whole other thing to actually experience it.

I can tell you everything there is to know about strawberries. The only way you’re really going to know what a strawberry tastes like is to put one in your mouth.

At the end of the day, you’re going to have to taste this stuff for yourself. 

One way to do that is to buy an NFT. 

This isn’t the only way to take your first steps, but in my experience, it is the game-changer. To feel what it is like to purchase and own an NFT will be one of the best ways to learn. One of the things it will teach you, for instance, is that it feels really good to own something you actually truly like. Suddenly all that talk of money and millions gets drowned out by the simple pleasure of feeling provenance over this thing you think is cool. 

The very first NFT I purchased was The Lava Popsicle by Roger Kilimanjaro. It cost me 0.6 ETH, which was a good chunk of the amount I had. But I just thought it was so dope, and I jumped on it. 

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The Lava Popsicle by Roger Killimanjaro

I learnt that buying an NFT feels like forging an intimate bond with the artist. I love watching Roger do his thing, and every new work he puts out gets me super pumped. His success feels like my own. I also learnt that, as an edition of 5, it felt as though this tiny family of 5 owners of The Lava Popsicle was formed.

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Step 3: Experiment

Once you taste what it's like to step foot in the world of NFTs, there’s a good chance that ideas will start wafting through your head about what kind of NFT projects you might want to launch. 

Something to remember here: the goal isn’t to make millions or thousands or hundreds of dollars off a sale. It is to build something for the long term. The true power that NFTs give you is to carve out value around the content and community you create. 

The same principles relevant to building a connection with people through your art before NFTs are also relevant now. The only difference is that instead of only receiving Instagram likes and YouTube subscribers, you are now able to find actual buyers for your work and give them something of value in exchange. So build your narrative around NFTs with the same care and intention you’d put into any of your other work. 

That said, it is extremely early here. That means we don’t really have any idea as to how this ecosystem will mature. There is a very good chance that the most popular ways we create, distribute, interact with, and buy and sell NFTs has not been created yet. So while intention and long-term thinking matters, so too does experimentation.

A healthy balance between long-term strategy and experimentation, and you’re well ahead of most on your way to finding success in this new weird world of NFTs. 

Even more exciting, you are part of a historic wave of new tech that is sure to eat its way into every industry you can possibly think of. So be patient, be present, and enjoy the sheer fun of it all. 
Any questions you’ve got, my DMs are open. :)

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