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The Making of a PFP

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Michael Caloca / ONE37pm

Among the terms NFT (non-fungible token) and Metaverse, you will undoubtedly come across the term PFP; what does it mean?

Photo for Profile. When a community rallies around a project and switches out their social media avatar for one of the photos of the NFTs they now proudly own in said project. It can convey the idea of your social status and being one of the community projects members. A way to signal others you now belong.

Along with a ready-made community, PFPs can come with some solid perks for the owners. The utility is promised in the roadmaps the project plans to execute. These can be as simple as commercial rights to each owner and complicated as a Dao and future staking capabilities.

As more and more PFP projects enter the space, it can be confusing to know which ones will be trending for the long run and which ones are a rug pull. We, therefore, strongly encourage you to DYOR (do your own research).

A good rule of thumb is to look for ones that are open about the team behind the project, have a strong discord community, and have good metrics -or a higher number of unique holders.

While finding PFPs is easy, the actual making of them is anything but. If you are an NFT creator and thinking about jumping into PFPs, here are some tips and suggestions I learned while creating my own: The Lost Avatars.

The number of mints can be as low as 100- 500 to as high as you want, with up to 10,000 being a typical number. There is no hard and fast rule; they all will require more work to create than a 1 of 1 NFT.

1. The Artwork

You do not need to be a fine artist to create a PFP project. It can be as simple as random colored pixels to as complicated a very detailed work of art. You will need a variety of traits, all ranging from standard to rare. And you will need to make sure everything all fits and works together for the random generator to function properly.

For the sake of simplicity, we will use an example of the Lost Avatars to demonstrate this.

First, I created a template of what I wanted the avatars to look like. Then I set about making backgrounds for them. Next, I hand drew each part of the avatars layer by layer, changing up the colors on each layer of work.

I then set about creating the extra details such as wigs, glasses, costumes, eye traits, etc. This all took a lot of time as all had to be drawn and made to fit just right on each item. Testing out every single item to make sure it was correct. Many things did not make the final cut. I had to create low light and highlight layers to add depth. The layers all had to be serrated into files and organized so that no matter how they changed up, it all laid down properly upon reassembly.

Depending on the type of PFP you want to create, you need to consider the time you are willing to spend doing this. Some projects have decided to hire artists rather than make it themselves. If you decide to hire out an artist, you will need to figure this into your budget.

2. The Contract

If you do not have the skills to code the contract yourself, you will need to find a reliable Dev. to write the code for you. You could look for one on GitHub and try to hire them. You could approach one from another project and see if they want more work or are available. Prices for hiring a dev will vary.

When I first began searching for a developer, I was quoted 100k to 400k to do the work on my project; I did not know the individuals. I asked to see proof of work and referrals. Be careful not to be taken advantage of in this space. Finding someone you can fully trust is one of the single most important parts of launching your own project.

In the end, I went to a friend I had already worked with on a project, someone I knew had the skill set needed. Thankfully he had the time and agreed to join the team. Don’t be afraid to say no if something feels off about the individual.

3. The Road Map

Today many collectors are looking for PFPs with utility. You need to sit down and plan a Road Map or what utility you want to offer with purchase. The utility can be a single offer, rolled out over time as milestones are reached, or ongoing.

Whatever you decide, this is an important step that you do not want to rush. Try to under promise and over deliver - not the other way round. Too many projects often offer more than they can actually deliver on. This will not sit well with your collectors and can ruin your reputation. 

4. Discord

These days almost all successful projects have a vibrant community on Discord. While you can set up a discord for free, it does come with certain limitations. As your community expands, you will want to upgrade to nitro which has an annual fee. A discord with moderators and an active community can be a sign of a healthy project.

You will want to set up your own projects and begin inviting others to them early on. Finding a moderator can be done in several ways:
You could ask someone in the community if they would like the role of moderator or search another server for one and ask if they would be willing to moderate yours as well.

Moderators typically wear many hats. Some serve more than one Discord. Some will be willing to do this for free if they really love the project. Others may want a reward, and still, others may want to be paid. Moderators are an invaluable asset to your discord server and are highly recommended.

5. Marketing

If you do not have a marketing team, you can try to do this yourself. Get your project on as many Youtube, Clubhouse, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter spaces as you can to sound out the project. Try to get influencers talking about you and be actively promoting your project on Twitter. All your hard work will come to nothing if no one knows it exists. If you are excited about it, chances are others will be too.

While this list is by far not a full list of everything that goes into creating a PFP project, it should give you a good idea of the type of work and expense involved in starting one of your own.

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