This is How Our NFTs Sold Out in Less Than 1 Minute
Last December, Powder teamed up with web3 studios and gaming creators to produce the first blockchain game clip NFT collection on Solana — Powder Heroes. It sold out in 41 sec. Here’s how we did it.
Powder’s core business has not traditionally been linked to NFTs. For the last two years, we’ve been focused on building a game clip tech infrastructure for mobile and PC, combining sourcing, editing and sharing features, as well as a proprietary AI highlights detection tech.
In light of our mission to democratize gaming content creation, NFTs were hard to pass by. Hence, the idea behind Powder Heroes — the first step towards linking our infrastructure to the turnkey NFT minting capabilities to share ownership across gamers, creators, and studios.
Aimed at both traditional gamers and NFT enthusiasts, Powder Heroes was produced by gaming studios The Sandbox, DNAxCAT, and Life Beyond, in collaboration with 13 gaming creators from around the world, featuring streaming highlights generated by the AI technology.
The final collection, amassing 1111 game clip collectibles of varying levels of rarity, was set to drop on Dec 20, 2021 — right in time for Christmas. By 5 PM CET, our Discord was on fire. At 6 PM CET we opened the public mint.
It sold out in 41 seconds. Gathered in a conference room, sleep-deprived and ecstatic, we screamed, unable to believe what just happened.
Fast forward three months, we’ve had some time to digest and are ready to share our insights. No drop is the same, of course, and there was certainly room for improvement in our approach — but there are valuable lessons in it, especially for those venturing into the universe of NFTs for the first time.
In this article, these lessons are split into three parts: 1. STRATEGY & OPS — 2. ASSETS CREATION & TECH — 3. MARKETING & COMMUNITY
PART 1: STRATEGY & OPS
Benchmarking to learn about the space
When it comes to NFTs, you may not be as “early” as you think you are.
Web3 is a world apart. While you may be perceived as a pioneer by some, you’re likely to come off as a newbie in web3 without due preparation. Yes, the NFT market is young and there’s plenty of room to innovate within — but it’s moving super fast. There are already rules in place, often unspoken, that you have to respect to overcome the ‘opportunism’ stigma and be accepted as an insider.
Benchmarking other NFT projects can do wonders to help you integrate. We looked into 40+ successful drops, reading news articles and white papers, browsing through old Discord announcements and Twitter posts.
We gathered all the data in a comparative doc and had a collective brainstorm to distill the most (and least!) successful go-to-market practices. We also shared screenshots of exemplary Tweets and Discord messages to get our brand tone right, and put together an NFT glossary while at it — you really can’t do without the jargon in the space!
Researching the market in-depth
Know everything there is to know about your blockchain.
Each native currency ecosystem is unique, with its own blue-chip collections, OGs, and ethos. We chose SOL for its lower carbon footprint, democratic gas fees, and grassroots community spirit.
We recommend thoroughly researching each coin to make sure it matches your company culture, as well as the purchasing power and profile of your target audience.
Irrespective of the blockchain, the crypto market is notoriously volatile. Taking the pulse of the market daily is therefore essential — as you may have to respond quickly to its changes. For instance, we reduced our initially intended supply from 3333 to 1111 collectibles to adapt to the state of the Solana market at the time.
Understanding (and educating) your audience
Don’t take your target audience for granted.
Buyers in the space have become accustomed to generative pfp collections, so if you’re doing something radically different from that — as we did with our gaming clips NFTs — there’s always a risk it will not be as well-received as the more ‘familiar’ derivative drops. You’ll need a strong storyline around the project to justify a new format and ultimately stand out in this ‘noisy’ market.
If your audience is not crypto-savvy already, make sure to provide them with tutorials on setting up a wallet and minting, as well as a comprehensive FAQ page and educational events on Discord if needed. For most of our partner creators too, Powder Heroes was the first time dealing with NFTs, so 1–1 onboarding proved useful.
Another challenge for us was bridging the gap between our traditional community, consisting of web2 gamers using our app to make clips, and Powder Heroes NFT holders whose main motivation was to ‘flip’ our NFTs on the secondary market for profits.
Not all NFT holders are there for quick gains, however. A lot of them will HODL, i.e. hold on to the asset, as they expect meaningful utility in exchange for their investment in the future. More on that later on.
Roadmap and white paper
Preparing an NFT drop is a journey that gets a lot easier with a map.
A roadmap, broken into early quarters, is needed to set a clear long-term direction for the team. It also reassures future buyers that your project is not a scam. White papers detailing the roadmap, vision, and ‘business plan’ are present in practically all NFT-native projects today.
On your website, make sure to showcase your roadmap, white paper, team, investors — everything that will highlight the project’s legitimacy.
Meticulous planning for before / during / after the mint day
You should anticipate everything to the last detail.
Things like taking into account commission in your pricing strategy, for how long the whitelist should be open, which tutorials to share and where. We recommend (over)thinking everything through to minimize bad surprises.
To help with that, we had a weekly agenda, detailing a timeline for all of our key activities. We tracked the progress of each action item via a Notion spreadsheet, overseen by our project manager.
We then switched to hourly planning during the whitelist and mint days. We also laid out a post-mint strategy for three possible scenarios: 1. we sell out, 2. we sell out partially, 3. almost nobody buys. Luckily, we hit the jackpot there :)
Team spirit and knowledge sharing
It really helps if the team executing the drop is truly passionate about NFTs.
The NFT space is a peculiar place, with unique social dynamics and culture, so dedicating yourself full-time to it requires a genuine interest and knowledge.
From the start, we put an emphasis on educating everyone in the company on NFTs through presentations and crash courses on the topic, and sharing the most relevant news articles in a dedicated Slack channel to spread the knowledge.
PART 2: ASSETS CREATION & TECH
Crafting your NFTs
Beyond looking amazing, NFTs should come with utility.
There are design codes and graphic styles that distinguish NFT collections, be they pfps, cards, or real estate objects. For our ‘mood boards’ we drew inspiration from iconic NFTs but also tried thinking outside the box, borrowing influences from other creative industries.
Beyond nailing the visuals, you must anticipate the long-term utility of your NFTs — which is what the market expects today, particularly from new projects that don’t come from a big name. What are the perks your community can enjoy after the drop?
We offered perks like airdrops, privileged access to the Powder app, as well as voting rights for NFT holders — more info on these in our manifesto. Note that the buyers will expect you to deliver on your promises immediately after the drop — this is not the space for empty words and slow actions.
Legal issues and revenue split
Be mindful of potential IP issues.
There’s a tempting grey zone when it comes to NFTs in terms of what can be ‘borrowed’. We chose to play it safe, securing the IP rights directly with studios and creators directly. A powerhouse legal team in the US was instrumental in that process.
We then proposed an equitable revenue split reflecting our mission with this project, which is democratize gaming content creation and increase distribution on web3 games.
Tech infrastructure for minting
Web3 tech is not as mature (yet) as the hype would have us think.
When it comes to the mining infrastructure, a lot of the platforms out there are still in beta and/or have inherent design limitations. “Can devs do something?” has become an iconic phase in the space for a reason.
Some issues we experienced first-hand:
- Metaplex is programmed in a way that multiple creators cannot be listed as owners of the NFT collection on primary sale;
- A secondary marketplace not supporting video files preview on their interface — it had to be changed manually by their team to respect the specs of Powder Heroes.
We do not doubt that the tech will mature to perfection soon enough, but it’s not quite there yet. The good news is that it’s pretty accessible — a web2 developer without prior experience can implement it. Just take the time in advance to really understand and appropriate the tech.
PART 3: MARKETING & COMMUNITY
Network is everything
Web3 is a community-driven space.
Your Twitter game must be strong! Hosting and attending Twitter Spaces (TS) is especially important to get the word about the drop out there. It’s common to co-host these with other NFT projects to learn from each other (which we certainly did!) and mix communities. We DM-ed dozens of projects to connect!
There’s a strong culture of helping each other out and giving back to the community, so regular shoutouts and cross-promotions will help nurture long-term relationships. In the absence of traditional advertising channels, web3 projects rely on one another to increase everyone’s exposure.
There are also NFT influencers, specific to their respective blockchain ecosystems, paid and non-paid. The latter is of course preferable, for they will engage with your projects out of genuine interest and won’t be accused of “shilling” (i.e. promotion in exchange of money). You’re likely to come across each other in TS, so take the initiative to develop friendships when that happens.
Oh, and get ready to shift from email to Twitter & Telegram to discuss web3 collabs.
Twitter marketing, calendars, and media
You want to be everywhere in the days leading up to mint day.
Besides TS and influencers, another common crypto Twitter technique is airdrops! It’s customary to have some of the NFT supply reserved just for these giveaways— as well as for pre-sale, taking place a few days before the actual drop with a whitelist that people can sign up for.
Before dropping NFTs, some projects drop cash baits in crypto or $$. We’d generally advise against that, as you won’t attract and retain high-quality followers this way — it’s better to try and acquire them organically, to ultimately build a community that cares. That said, reputable web3 projects will only back you when you have a bedrock of followers already, so it’s a chicken-and-egg challenge to be aware of.
Besides being mega active on Twitter, have your drop listed in several popular calendars like NFT Calendar and NFT Evening. We also distributed our press release on NFT blogs and crypto news media, and got featured on secondary marketplaces Magic Eden and Solanart. The former arranged a special promotion for us on the mint day.
For all partner studios and creators featured in the collection, we made customized media kits with assets they could post directly on social media to further boost visibility around the pre-sale and mint days.
P.S. Having a recognizable and consistent visual brand identity is a must for all marketing activities.
Critical presence on Discord
Regular and transparent communication is paramount from day one.
Discord is where the most up-to-date and detailed project announcements are shared. Be it to present the next step in the roadmap or signal a technical issue, be honest and transparent about what’s happening behind the scenes — the community will appreciate that.
Do not underestimate the value of having an experienced community management team capable of putting out fires and creating fun and informative events. For instance, live AMAs with project leads/founders are great for connecting with the community and addressing doubts.
If your NFTs come with voting rights, make sure to anticipate the agenda for future Town Halls — an occasion for the team to update NFT holders on where the project is at and vote on community matters.
Starting from the day of the pre-sale, being present on Discord 24h around the clock is vital! The 2–3 days before and after the mint day are especially critical — our entire project team being split into groups to cover the night shifts during that period as well.
Take time for all of the above
Building solid projects that deliver true value to buyers takes time.
Something we wish someone told us back when it all started is that the drop is just the beginning. It shouldn’t be viewed as a sprint, not even as a marathon, but rather as a process of creation. A long-term game.
It will take time to learn about and understand the NFT market and get your web3 tech infrastructure up and running smoothly. Nurturing strong relationships within your network is not something you can rush. Gathering a community and providing it with meaningful utility can’t be achieved overnight either, however impressive the growth hacks arsenal.
In short, give your genesis drop the time, attention, and passion that it deserves! 🙏
What are your thoughts on all this? We’ll be happy to get your feedback!
To learn more about Powder, visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter.
Our web3 manifesto is available here.