If you’re reading this, you’ve most likely been on Twitter and seen my rants, or you’ve hopped in a Twitter space and heard my rants, or you’re an artist and have seen me slowly transition into a Web3 / NFT artist. I am by no means an expert, and THIS IS NOT FINANCIAL ADVICE. But if you’d like to know something about how I went about taking baby steps into NFTs…you’re in the right place.
Before we get too far involved, please note: I’m a rap nerd. I’m an artist who slangs art; I’ve traveled all over the United States and Europe so much you can best believe there’s somebody in another part of the world rocking Psalm One merch RIGHT NOW. I have been making and selling art for decades, so if you’re an independent hip hop artist or an independent touring artist who eats off merch, you’ll find many parallels in this text. However, be clear: you being successful in Web2 does not mean you’ll be eating in Web3. There’s a whole technological learning curve that unfortunately, many artists miss. Don’t miss the learning curve - use this very introductory guide to lead you into further exploration. There’s so much to learn and while I’ve gained some knowledge, I’m constantly absorbing new ideas. There’s so much to learn. Keep learning always.
Even if you’re not an artist, you’ll probably still find gems here. Collecting art is an art. Art is a representation. It’s an asset. Assets are valuable. If you collect or make valuable things, chances are with a tiny bit of imagination, you can be successful selling and/or collecting NFTs. You may even stumble upon something innovative. And with a good amount of discipline, you’ll be stacking your coins. Literally.
HOW TF I EVEN GOT STARTED//
Let’s dive right in to the money part. I am going to say this again: THIS IS NOT FINANCIAL ADVICE. I’m simply going to tell you how I got to the point of selling my own NFTs as an artist who’s spent a long time selling music IRL and in Web2.
And what’s Web2? Web2 is the version of the internet we use and are used to right now. It’s your social media platforms, your user-generated content, your user-friendly interfaces. That’s Web2. Web3 is the next layer of that. NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) are digital assets in Web3, like a rare piece of vinyl is a physical asset IRL that you’d probably purchase using Web2. When you buy or sell an NFT, it is documented on a digital ledger called a blockchain. Different crypto-currencies use their own blockchains. In essence, it’s a digital contract that can document provenance, cost, and terms. Crypto and its subsequent coins like Ethereum and Tezos are currencies used to purchase NFTs. Have I lost you?
I hope I haven’t lost you! One of the very real parts of studying new things is the actual studying part. Oftentimes, when I’m interested in something new, I’ll look at YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, or Medium and I’ll read articles on stuff I’m interested in. But I also have to dig deeper. And so do you. Maybe you’ll have to pause that video. Maybe you’ll have to stop reading this very sentence to look up a word or term you didn’t understand earlier. Why read words and not comprehend them? It’s futile. DIG DEEPER. Maybe you’ll have to read another article before you can even continue reading this one. I’m trying to break this NFT shit all the way down, but I have to start somewhere.
So, back to money. I was introduced to crypto, mainly Bitcoin (BTC), before I was introduced to NFTs. For some people, it’s the opposite. Since you need crypto to buy NFTs, I knew buying some was a natural place to begin. If Bitcoin is the Michael Jordan of crypto, Ethereum (ETH) is Scottie Pippen. Ethereum, on the other hand, has many more uses that I’m interested in. NFTs (primarily) live on the Ethereum blockchain, with the most popular projects released on marketplaces that accept ETH. There are lots of great marketplaces on other interesting blockchains that sell NFTs, and I use a few, but let’s focus on ETH for the time being.
I took $500 USD I earned from recording a rap feature and invested half into crypto, half into traditional stocks. In good faith, I can only suggest you use money you can stand to lose. To me, that $500 was an initial investment, and thankfully I didn’t need the money for anything pressing. Frens, this isn’t gambling — even though some people treat it as such. Investment money isn’t money you should need back right away. Because the crypto market and the traditional stock market are similar in their volatility and relative unpredictability, you shouldn’t use money you really need when venturing into NFTs. This ain’t play money, even though it can feel like it a lot of the time.
An IRL friend of mine was really big into NFTs and had been schooling me on articles to read and Youtube links to watch. However, it was even more educational looking at his timeline and how the conversation changed in real time. He’s a hustler just like me, so we already knew each other from the Chicago indie hip hop scene and had a mutual respect for one another. I hopped in his Twitter DMs a lot and I still do from time to time as I do my own research. I suggest you use social media apps like Twitter and Discord to make NFT and crypto friends. All these factors contribute to your overall comfortability with making plays in the space.
I bought $125 worth of BTC and $125 worth of ETH to start*. I put the other half of the money into 2 meme stocks, GME and AMC (I know, I know lol). This was the way I wanted to learn. By doing. I was taking the ride on some blue chip and cult- like investments. I also have a friend who day trades. He gives me valuable tips on meme stocks, which are defined as shared investment ideas that are imitated by other investors. Basically, you can learn about meme stocks on social media. I learn about meme stocks from my friend, Youtube and Reddit.
That’s why I was comfortable making those plays. But as far as traditional stocks, I’ll stop right here - I’m not gonna talk about those now. I’m writing this for folks who have absolutely no idea how or why I started making NFTs, and they are curious. This is also for fans of the world I am co-building with my genesis NFT collection: The Mintarea Project, who want more backstory. So, back to it.
After investing my first $250 in crypto, I wanted to learn as much as I could. Cuz now, I had money in the game. Now, it was real. I watched a good amount of Youtube videos** and started getting into informed Twitter threads. One of my mutuals who I admire as an NFT artist suggested a book that helped him, so I ordered it. Since then, I’ve bought about 7 physical books regarding crypto, analysis and wealth management and have been reading every day. I don’t plan on stopping either. If you’re really trying to get an education, read. You can find plenty of information on the Internet, but if someone on the Internet suggests a book, or references a book that helped them learn, BUY THE BOOK. That’s a rule of thumb.
*Wanna know step-by-step how I grabbed my first crypto and wallet? Keep reading.
**Wanna know what Youtube videos I found most value in? Just keep reading.
KIZZIE. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY ANALYSIS?//
I’m not gonna get too technical here, because I just don’t wanna lose you. However, analyzing coins/crypto and even potential NFT buys/sells will aid you in developing a perspective of the current market conditions. Basically, you’ll be able to better understand what is happening in the space, and you’ll be able to make more informed decisions on how to spend your crypto. This is also how people who make long term money in the space operate. You can’t just have FOMO (fear of missing out) and APE in (throw all your money into) a project without doing some research first. That’s why you see people saying DYOR (Do Your Own Research) and NFA (Not Financial Advice) in the space all the time. You just have to make informed decisions.
My personal research went into the blockchains I wanted to sell my work on, what coins to spend there, and what projects were leading the space. After realizing I wanted to buy certain coins and hold onto them as they appreciated in value, as well as wanting to sell my own NFTs, I was able to find my focus. The way I approach the space is similar to some, and different from others. My way is not the only way. Which brings me to my next point:
EVERYONE AIN’T HERE FOR THE SAME REASON//
There are plenty of ways to approach NFTs/Web3/Crypto. People approach the space as collectors, creators, sellers, explorers, hodlers, short term buyers and flippers. Some people just want to buy coins, hold them and take the ride. Some people want to use their coins to help other applications operate on the blockchain, earning crypto in return. Some people want to buy NFT projects for their “flippability” or their ability to buy at a lower price and sell them for a profit, either quickly or after a long time of appreciation. Not all projects are going to necessarily increase in value. A lot of hyped-up projects are rugs, or scams. Honestly, some projects have more value in their utility, the artist making them, and/or bonus items. With so many projects and coins out there, you have to know what you’re getting into.
Even if you’re not an artist, you can make money selling NFTs. You still with me? Some collectors don’t even care about the art - they just care about the potential upsell. Some people hate that. I just think the game is the game, and you have to understand the game you’re playing. As for my own goals, as I mentioned before, I buy blue chip (best performing) coins and make my own NFTs for sale. My goals may change down the line. For instance, I want to start flipping promising NFTs myself. I also want to be able to analyze a coin and see the potential, not just coins that have already popped. There is an opportunity to make good money by getting in on the ground floor of WELL RESEARCHED AND PROMISING projects. Again, I have to do my own research before ape-ing in. I’m not fully into flipping now. Currently, I’m into learning the technology, making art and selling it on the blockchain. Remember: I like baby steps.
SELLING MY OWN ART ON THE BLOCKCHAIN//
Now I had some crypto and my first wallet. I was ready to go! But when I started looking at some of the most popular NFTs I quickly realized they were expensive as hell. One person who has a wealth of information on Twitter, a music NFT artist named Black Dave, wrote a thread to discourage people from just jumping into the NFT space expecting a quick money grab, even though we’ve all seen stories of that happening. Black Dave offered the advice of interacting with artists and collectors online, IRL and on Twitter and Discord. In doing that I started following more digital artists and informative pages on Twitter. I was able to get on a podcast called 4 Thangs with an artist and collector named GM. I also knew Spottie Wifi from an event I used to throw in Chicago. He is a very successful rapper in the NFT space,. I reached out, knowing that everyone you DM might not DM back. The game is the game. However, I was fortunate. All these folks were willing to interact with me online and offline. They all shared their thoughts with me on NFTs and gave me tips on how to continue my journey. Some tips that stood out to me right away were:
1. Don’t be afraid to enter contests on Twitter/Discord. Alot of them are fake or scams, but a lot of them aren’t. Being gifted NFTs is a big part of the space, too. I was gifted my first NFT by 4 Thangs and it has already slightly increased in value. That was so nice of him and a great introduction to the space. Since then I’ve won 3 more NFTs through giveaways, giving me the opportunity to interact even more with the artists. In short: winning NFTs is a real thing, and a great way for artists to show their appreciation for collectors.
2. If you’re thinking of buying/selling on the Ethereum blockchain, get your ENS domain. ENS stands for the Ethereum Naming Service. This is the equivalent of a website, but on the blockchain. Highly recommended if you’re thinking of selling and buying NFTs on ETH with any frequency. It makes your wallet a name/identity of your choice, so it’s not just a bunch of letters and numbers. I had to purchase more Ethereum to purchase my first ENS - and that was ok with me. I purchased hologramkizzie.eth and themintareaproject.eth, my Web3 name and project name, respectively.
3. Figure out a plan for selling art on the blockchain. Don’t be lazy. Be curious and creative.
After I had a few NFTs in my wallet, I was ready to make my own. As with most things in life: ain’t nothin to it but to do it. I started brainstorming ideas for my first NFT drop.
I’m a rapper. For most of my career, I’ve rapped on beats, performed on stages and sold those raps. And I’ve been very prolific on Twitter. So one day, after researching NFTs exhaustively and exploring NFT Twitter, I bit the bullet. I asked if anyone in my network wanted to work on an NFT. About thirty minutes later, one of my frequent collaborators, Bionik, said to DM him.
Oftentimes, huge ideas start with a direct message. Bionik and I sent a few thoughts via our inboxes, and since him and I live in the same city, we swiftly scheduled a meeting to discuss the possibilities. However, even If I’d reached out that day and no one responded, I’d still be making NFTs. I’d have found a way and developed a different strategy.
I say that to remind anyone reading that I’ve made a lot of friends IRL and Web2, so I have a network. That’s not gonna be the same for everyone. Make sure you have solid ideas that you are confident about before starting any project, and if you feel comfortable enough sharing with a peer, do that. I am fortunate Bionik was open to making NFTs and we already knew each other. We’d already sold music together.
Another cool thing about Bionik is that he wears many hats. He is a composer/producer, a performer, a visual artist and an educator. He’s a very smart person who takes his craft seriously. He’s also been an artist for decades. I was all too eager to see what we could possibly make together.
I implore artists to ask themselves the question: why does this need to be an NFT? What’s the difference between your NFT and the many albums and merch products you’ve already released? This is an important question to ask. Because in my world, NFTs have utility, or extra items, attached to them. While an NFT represents a digital asset, there are other benefits that accompany the best NFTs, imo. While some NFTs are simply a piece of art and nothing more, plenty of NFT projects build whole communities based around the collector’s needs, and the utility. That’s very cool and quite useful.
I wanted to build something that could live in Web3, Web2 and IRL. I didn’t wanna just throw spaghetti at the wall — no shade to any artist who does that. I wanted to create something with Bionik that could grow as we got collectors, and something that was different from anything we’d done previously. My idea was to offer something as an NFT that would create new fans, but also get older fans interested.
Enter “The Mintarea Project,” an ongoing music and adventure series centered around me and Bionik’s friendship. We created an NFT collection with multiple songs that serve as a soundtrack. The many visuals serve as the landscape. It’s not an album. It’s not a “regular” profile-picture-project that so many NFT projects embody. We wanted to do something as unique as possible. The Mintarea Project has many layers and high growth potential.
YES. THE MINT AREA//
Now it was time to shit or get off the pot. I started writing to beats and Bionik started making lots of sketches. Once we decided on our favorite sketches to represent us as characters, I started writing the story of Mintarea. It took weeks to come up with a story we liked that was easy to understand as well as able to expand.
The story: Two brilliant artists who are old pals attempt escaping a greed-and-war-torn land that is no longer safe for them. The two join forces on a quest to find a place to live peacefully, make art intentionally, and experience greater heights with the connections they make.
Once we got some art we liked and the preliminary story figured out, it was time to make the music. We made a few songs and started figuring out our project’s extra utility. NFTs don’t all have bonus items, but as I said before, I believe the best ones do. We decided to mint, or upload our NFTs as .mp4s, or video clips to the blockchain. So when a collector purchases it, they’ll get the combined music and art in their wallet. We offer the separated files and tracks as a general bonus utility. Among other things like separated stems and physical wearables, we also offer our collectors a 1-hour private zoom session with myself and Bionik.
We really are building something special with the people who collect with us. If our NFTs are supermerch, our NFT collectors are superfans, and we treat them as such. Taking this ride with us into Web3 isn’t something we take lightly.
After figuring out our utility, next was deciding on how we would release our NFTs. We wanted a strategy and an ongoing understanding of the technology that got us here. There are plenty of sites, or protocols, that host NFTS. There are plenty of marketplaces where you can sell. There are also ways to deploy your own smart contract (which is how the protocols and transactions operate on the blockchain) and your own protocol. This is something Bionik and I are very interested in, and in our minds the technology is just as important as the art. But it’s also something we will organically grow into as we take baby steps and make new connections. Ultimately, we decided to sell our first collection on a popular marketplace before creating our own contract/protocol.
After a good amount of research, we decided to mint our first collection on Zora, a permissionless protocol that many other well received protocols are built upon. I know respectable musicians who do a lot of successful minting on Zora, so we were in good company. Sometimes it’s good to see what works for others as you develop your strategy. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel, even in Web3. In doing our own research, Zora was coming up nice.
Bionik and I were splitting all up front costs down the middle, and for extra security, before minting we got the ENS domain for our project, a Web2 website that explains the whole project
(http://themintareaproject.com) and hardware Ledger wallets to protect our assets. Again, not everyone goes this route before minting, but we did. It gave us a lot more comfort before release. NFT scammers are everywhere and we wanted to cover as many bases as we could.
Next we had to decide how many NFTs to mint in our first collection, but after a quick look at gas (the up front fees required for any transaction on the blockchain), we decided to mint one at a time! The night we decided to mint, the gas fees were over $200. We weren’t trying to break the bank before we’d even sold anything! A good friend of Bionik gave us a donation of about 0.07 ETH to help with initial costs. This was a Godsend, and as common as scammers are in the space, cool people willing to help your cause are just as common.
Upfront fees are something every aspiring NFT artist must understand. Gas (essentially a transactional fee) is ubiquitous on the blockchain and is constantly changing. I won’t get too technical on why, but sometimes gas fees for minting an NFT on the Ethereum blockchain can be over $300 USD. I’m not kidding. So pricing and budget is definitely a lot to consider as you begin thinking of minting your own stuff, dear reader. It also costs gas to collect an NFT, so as a buyer this is again something to consider. We waited until the middle of the night, around 2:00 am CST, and minted our first NFT. What a rush that was!
The next day, we held a Twitter space with my homie Spottie Wifi as an invited co-host. Twitter spaces are useful for NFTs as they are great ways to promote your project and interact with other artists and collectors. Spottie is so successful and helpful in the NFT space; he gave me a lot of tips and let me know he was supportive of the project. And would you believe…well…shine my chakras…after we held a “mint party” Twitter space, Spottie ending up bidding on our genesis drop! I’ll never forget how I felt being on the Zora protocol and seeing the reserve bid met. We’d also decided, upon some good advice, to mint our NFTs as an auction. The reasoning behind this was to give potential collectors the opportunity to surprise you by outbidding each other on a piece they really want.
Spottie ended up winning our auction, to the tune of 0.5 ETH, which gave us enough ETH to mint more NFTs! Lol, see what we did there? We decided that slow and steady would win our race, which isn’t really a race at all. With low numbered mints we’re able to cater to our collectors easier. Plus we’re able to continue the project without being desperate for sales. As one gets sold, another gets minted, and we split everything down the middle.
But wow — GAS IS EXPENSIVE ON ETHEREUM.
ARE THERE LESS EXPENSIVE BLOCKCHAINS?//
I’m gonna make sure this is said right now: I’m not talking about real gas when I’m talking about the blockchain! Y’all know that, right? Transactions keep the blockchain moving, and gas fees are the rewards given to the miners who make these transactions go through. All across the world, 24 hours a day, miners are working to execute or initiate blockchain transactions. If you’ve come this far and you want a deeper explanation of what “the blockchain” or “gas” is, please stop here and DYOR.
The first NFTs I actually bought from another artist were on the TEZOS (XTZ) blockchain. 1 XTZ is worth roughly $4 USD at the time of writing this, so buying art on XTZ marketplaces made a lot more financial sense to me. While exploring NFTs, I could study and make my own stuff for another blockchain while supporting artists on one that was easier on my wallet. That’s not to say art on the TEZOS blockchain can’t get expensive, because they absolutely can. But the TEZOS blockchain has significantly less gas fees associated with transactions. TEZOS is also a lot greener than ETHEREUM as a blockchain, so the environmental implications here are easier to digest as well.
I want NFTs and crypto to be more accessible for everyone, especially folks who don’t come from wealth. In order to do that, I realized I couldn’t expect everyone to just have a spare $1K+ to support The Mintarea Project. I love the fact that we’ve sold 2 NFTs to 2 supercollectors on Zora (we netted over 1 ETH, or ~ $2,980 USD in sales on 2 NFTs). I absolutely love the support we get that way. But I also wanted to give people with less crypto an opportunity to support the project.
That’s when we decided to put a similar collection with much less utility on the TEZOS blockchain, via the OBJKT marketplace. Collectors on OBJKT will still get the .mp4 to their wallet, however with 1/8 art instead of the 1/1 pieces on Zora. At a much lower price point, people who are just starting out with NFTs, or don’t have the funds to afford more expensive pieces can still join our squad. We really love that!
So, to answer the question of this section, YES. There are plenty of blockchains to explore like HBAR and SOL, but as always DYOR. For now, The Mintarea Project lives on the ETH and XTZ blockchains, at two different cost and utility points, for tiered pricing.
IT’S EARLY BUT THERE ARE LOTS OF NFTS OUT THERE. HOW DO I STAND OUT?//
People gift NFTs all the time. People also put art on the blockchain for gas fees only, which nets no profit. That’s great — but given most artists are interested in Web3 for big sales opportunities, netting no profit isn’t the desired outcome. In order to sell anything, IRL or in the metaverse, you have to let people know it exists.
Marketing and sales isn’t something everyone is good at. A lot of artists will fail simply because their marketing is bad. If you’re not good at talking to people online, you have to get good at it to sell NFTs successfully. Even to get good at buying and flipping you have to understand the way markets work. You have to know what good buys are. You have to know how to communicate.
Because marketing is EVERYTHING, even shitty projects will grow legs because of it. I’ve seen plenty of projects with art that I didn’t find good, do well in the marketplace. The quality of the project has a lot to do with convincing a buyer. Fortunately, not all projects are the same, and with a good process and steady marketing, you can do well. You just have to acknowledge that the art won’t sell itself. That’s where the marketing comes in.
In order to find more marketing skills and tips, again DYOR. I also like to research NFT projects that have already done well and look at their processes. If something looks like you can execute it well, try it. Many artists get better at selling their stuff simply by doing it. One sell can boost your confidence immensely. So be patient and make sure you’re selling art you believe in. Make sure you market to the collectors you want. Many collectors refine their taste by collecting. Great ideas will always, eventually, stand out. You know what they say about cream rising to the top. Don’t be discouraged - be disciplined.
This is not financial advice. I’m not telling you to do any of this. But I am having fun and we love what we’re doing in Mintarea. Thank you if you’re supporting us in any way. Crypto, Web3, NFTs and the metaverse are the future. Gaming culture paved the way for this and as much as some people fear and misunderstand everything discussed here, it doesn’t change a thing. We here now.
Before I ventured into crypto, I made sure I had good credit. Before I ventured into stocks and NFTs, I made sure I had other money in savings. I also made sure I was using money I could stand to lose. Investments are not guaranteed. I cannot stress this enough: BE SMART WITH YOUR MONEY! DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH! READ!
I would also encourage you to read up on anti-NFT literature and videos to make sure your research is well rounded before making decisions. Don’t be one-sided. Be informed.
We wanna thank Bionik, Grace, Elaine, Regular Ruben, GM, Spottie Wifi, Eddie S., Visual, Angelenah, Mike Grill, Illuminati Congo, Ricky, Eric, Rio, MC Zulu and everyone who has supported my journey into NFTs thus far. Slow mint better than no mint. Thank you so much! Onward.
YOUTUBE, ARTICLE & BOOK LIST//
Good Youtube follows:
I See it All / I See Web3
EYL (Earn Your Leisure)
“Inside the Crypto Kingdom” via Youtube
The Altcoin Trader’s Handbook, Nik Patel
The Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker
Charting and Technical Analysis, Fred McAllen