How Artists Can Make Money With NFTs

If you’re an artist wondering how to make money with NFTs, this is the perfect article for you.

NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are basically digital assets with unique ID codes and metadata that allow you to distinguish one from another. In this article, we will be focusing on community-driven generative art NFT projects like the Bored Ape Yacht Club.

Before we dive in, a little about myself: I am a freelance artist with experience in character design and generative art NFT. In December 2021, I was able to make 12.85 ETH from the initial sale which was equivalent to $53,412.08 at that time which does not include any upfront payments. I was the main artist of the project and received 5% of the proceeds. Now, I am working on other NFT and freelance art projects while teaching art on HowToArtist.com.

Let’s dive into the details!

Main Roles in a Typical NFT Project

Before you decide to hop into or launch an NFT project, it is important to get a big-picture understanding of the team roles behind a project. Keep in mind that some of these roles can overlap and that you can take on more than one role. Here are the roles:

Project Lead

The project lead is the one with the vision behind the NFT project. They figure out key things like what the mission is, what the competitive advantages are, and what they are trying to accomplish. They are often the ones managing other roles within the project and dividing the profits from the launch. To fit into this role, you should have a deep understanding of the NFT market while knowing enough to manage other roles.

Artist

This role is probably yours, but you may also work with other artists to produce various items for the NFT project. You will be responsible for creating the art itself and promotional materials like the website background or the Twitter banner. Art allows us to communicate our values and messages more effectively simultaneously attracting attention from potential buyers.

Marketing

The role of the marketer is to communicate your values, attract attention, and convert that attention into buyers. Twitter is the go-to platform for most NFT artists and projects where most people tweets their art and ideas. Try to reverse engineer successful NFT launches and figure out why those projects were successful.

Community Manager

While the marketing is all about Twitter, communities are built and managed using Discord. For most projects, you will need someone who can establish secure Discord servers and manage them effectively. In this process, you will also need to employ moderators to help manage the servers.

Coder

One of the main components of generative NFT art is actually generating the art itself. Oftentimes, it helps to have a programmer who knows how to make generative art to help generate the art for you. Alternatively, you can also use this NFT art generator following the guide in this video

The Easiest Way to Get Started – Join a Team

The easiest way to get your feet wet is probably joining a team or getting hired to work on a project. That is how I got started making NFTs. I was approached by the project lead to work on a spin-off of the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT. The main tip I can give you with this is to do a lot of networking within NFT communities on Twitter and Discord. 

Networking is quite powerful as you will encounter other creators who are interested in creating NFTs. This is the main source of jobs related to NFT for me personally. A good place to start networking may be to join Zeneca’s ZenAcademy which is a place where you can learn more about NFTs and connect with other creators. While you need to buy their NFT to get access to the server, there are also other free communities you can join. You can also join NFT communities like the Sappy Seals that have been around for a relatively long time. Getting to know more people will allow you more opportunities to hop on NFT projects. 

Alternatively, you can also find NFT-related job posting on Roo Troop’s Bounty Hub. There is quite a wide range of jobs available including 3D and 2D artists.

How to Negotiate Your Way Through Your First NFT Project

The pay range for the project can depend on a few factors: the timeline of the project, the amount of assets needed, and the amount of details involved. Here’s a recommended pay guide from Roo Troop. If you are risk averse, try to negotiate for your payment upfront. A good compromise is 50% upfront and 50% upon the completion of the project. You can also negotiate a fee for the base upfront and payment each time you complete a batch of traits (i.e. the different eyes, hats, and clothes). 

If you want to take more risk, you can negotiate a percentage of the mint proceeds (i.e. the revenue from the initial sale) and a percentage of the royalty fees. I personally prefer at least a combination of upfront payment and a percentage fee. This way you don’t lose a lot of your time for no payment in return if the project fails or gets canceled. 

Alternative Ways to Make Money With NFTs

One alternative way of joining a team is to offer your services on freelancing platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. For example, on Fiverr, you can find various artists and studios that offer NFT design services in styles like pixel art, anime, or 3D art. While I recommend trying to get your own client because Fiverr takes a big 20% cut, this is a good way to get started if you don’t know how to get clients.

Lastly, you can also list your art on sites like SuperRare and Foundation. Both of them are popular for artists that make 1-of-1 (unique, non-generative) artworks. If you already have an art style and a passionate audience, this can be a great option to sell your art.

Important Caveats

While I was able to generate a generous sum of money from my first NFT project, it is not common and could be discouraging if you expect the same results. I was fortunate to have talented team members along with great market conditions that allowed us to launch successfully back in December of 2021. At the same time, don’t be discouraged because I still see successful NFT launches quite often even when the NFT market is down.

If you do decide to become the project lead and launch a generative NFT project by yourself, do realize that it is a high-risk endeavor. You might end up losing money, but you will learn a ton along the way! Again, if you are risk averse, try to hop on a project and negotiate upfront payment.

What to do next

I hope that this article proved to be helpful in helping you get into making money from NFTs. If you’d like to learn more about art and read my other articles, come check out my recent article on motivation for art.

Guest Poster Bio:

Richard Hsu is a self-taught freelance artist that specializes in character art. He has worked on concept design projects and NFTs. Richard now teaches art on his art tutorial website, HowToArtist.com, while freelancing on the side. When he’s not doing art, he’s practicing martial arts, lifting weights, and making healthy meals in the kitchen.

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