There's a strong likelihood that, as you read this article's title, you immediately thought: "Duh, sales!". After all, why does anyone get into any sort of business, if not to profit from their efforts? Of course, you're absolutely correct: trading your work for money is the very definition of a successful artist. So the question really should be: how do you create NFTs that will generate sales? How do you market your work? What are potential pitfalls and hazards to watch for? Stating that successful NFT projects are those that generate sales and make money oversimplifies the work that goes into that success. We're not just talking about creating unique pieces of art that will entice buyers, either.

Successful NFT projects entail:
- Embracing the NFT community; your fellow creators as well as potential buyers.
- Knowing your audience: who is your work marketed to?
- Staying busy and visible: investors prefer NFT creators who maintain a consistent presence
- Producing a large trove of quality work.
- Reflecting your intended audiences' ethos.
- Being wary of bulk purchases, no matter how lucrative they might be.
Let's talk about each aspect that can make your NFT project a success.

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Embracing the NFT Community

Not too long ago, people would go to a marketplace filled with vendors hawking wares to see the greatest variety of goods to be had. These bazaars were lively affairs; lots of colours and enticing aromas; shouting and haggling. In some parts of the world, those markets are still very much a lively component of modern trade.

NFT marketplaces are a lot like bazaar where collectors peruse the wares
The NFT marketplaces are not unlike bazaars where collectors go to find unique pieces to add to their collections. Photo credit: chooyutshing on Visualhunt

The thing about those bazaars is that, although the vendors were fierce competitors for buyers' coins, few were outright rivals. Indeed, many would partner up, directing buyers to each others' stalls, effectively helping each other grow a reliable client base. That's the spirit we encourage you to embrace as you debut your NFT project, counterintuitive as it sounds. Don't go into this project with the idea that the NFT market is competitive and you're entering it to generate profits, not support other, more renowned artists who may already have a corner of the market to themselves. Everyone, including you, will be better served by working as a community than assuming you must compete for your slice of the profits. The trouble with that approach is the same as when that idea is applied anywhere else: if you're only in it for the money, you won't get much out of your venture - money or success, and certainly no satisfaction. So, becoming a part of the NFT producers' community is vital to your project's success. Your potential buyers are a part of the NFT community, too. Learning all you can about who you intend to market your work to is the next essential component of launching a successful NFT project.

Knowing Your Audience

So far, the most high-profile NFT sales have been works that sold for thousands of dollars. Sir Tim Berners-Lee selling a representation of the original source code for the World Wide Web, for instance, or Jack Dorsey selling the first tweet. However, looking at a Top-Ten list of the most money individual NFT sales have ever generated, we find CryptoPunk's pixelated artwork occupying fully half of the list. Another megastar in the NFT community, Beeple, finds three of his pieces in the Top 10, one of which, Everydays, First 5000 Days, netted the largest NFT payday ever. It was also the very first wholly digital work of art to be auctioned through the venerable Christie's auction house. These are examples of splashy, remarkable sales; the kind that generates headlines. They may even be considered flukes; after all, Jack Dorsey did not create the first tweet intending to sell it. You might argue that Beeple meant for his work to sell; he is a digital artist and NFT creator by trade. Beeple is an interesting case in point.  The piece that netted him that enormous payday is a collage of his first 5000 pieces of NFT art. He never aimed to create a piece that would set him up for life; he was - and still is, quite content to pursue his passion for art creation on a daily basis. Who does he create for? Who would you create for? The majority of NFT sales are small-scale. People looking for a new social media avatar might buy an NFT if it reflects their personal values, or if they just think it's cool. Some people collect NFTs, much as other collectors might amass a stash of stamps, coins or Pokemon cards. That's the secret of CryptoPunk's popularity. As simplistic as their work might appear - a bit like escapees from a Minecraft game, they started their reputation by giving away their art for free. Once they had a substantial following - and blockchain technology became better-known, they started selling digital art as NFTs. Their masked alien NFT recently sold for over 11 million dollars, in part because the alien series is limited to only nine pieces and that was the only alien bearing a mask to reflect the COVID era.

Your art should be appealing to the people you want to sell it to
Your artwork should appeal to your target audience. Photo credit: Alins Strappy Life with Autism on Visualhunt

A Reflection of the Times

As you create your NFTs, remember that the bestsellers reflect today's ethos: edgy, maybe, or political. Environmentally aware people and 'in your face' depictions of the most serious issues facing the planet. Also, consider the people who buy NFTs. They are generally tech-savvy and likely on the younger side. They tend to be digital natives, wholly familiar with digital marketing strategies and in tune with their tastes. Cramming random assortments of NFTs into every corner of the internet and hoping that volume will generate sales is not an effective marketing strategy. You have to figure out who you're marketing your work to and what matters to them these days. Beyond creating art for your target audience, you have to engage with potential clients. Is your client base on Twitter or Tik-Tok? That's where you have to be. Are you aiming for Instagram or Discord audiences? Unless you also have an account, you'll not find the success you're aiming for. Besides, being active on the platforms your intended audience is on gives you a chance to stay ahead of social trends; the better to create memes by.

Having a Respectable Body of Work

Do you need to learn more about NFT development before getting started? Immersing yourself in the NFT community can help you pick up more than a few tips on how to launch yourself as an NFT artist. One of the first things you'll learn is that you need a large body of work to make a splash. Rather than focus on The Big One potentially worth a handsome sum, remember that the lion's share of NFTs goes to crypto-savvy digital natives who collect NFTs. Thus, the more you have to offer, the more you're likely to sell. That doesn't mean that you have to hand-create each piece. You might choose to create such an exclusive collection, maybe a limited piece-number series like CryptoPunk's Aliens but it should be only a small part of your catalogue. Today's most successful NFT projects are programme-generated using a small library of elements. The challenge with this method is to arrange those few elements to create a unique effect for each piece. Many novice NFT creators believe that each piece must be unique, above all else. That's why so many attempts the impossible: building a collection of hand-drawn images. Even if you create 30 of them, that won't be enough to make your work go viral. Indeed, that limited output restricts the number of possible owners, meaning that few in the community would talk you up. Boasting a large selection of NFTs gives your work authenticity. The more people who own your pieces, the more of a testament it is that you are an artist of merit. If you wanted to know what NFT truly means, you could say that it means being accepted and renowned in the NFT community. Without that acceptance, you're just another digital artefact creator.

Collectors enjoy finding novel pieces from different artists
Many NFT enthusiasts collect NFTs from different artists for the joy of it. Photo credit: pinguino on VisualHunt

What to Watch Out For

An expansive catalogue of NFTs and a large, stable customer base represents the likelihood of more sales. What if a buyer wants to sweep your whole body of work off the market? On the surface, that sounds like a great payday but, beware: it might just be a whale, trying to undercut your profit. If a lot of buyers each own one or two pieces from your collection, they'll likely all hold on to them for a long time, thereby boosting your profile as a valuable artist. Conversely, if one buyer scoops up 300 pieces, they'll likely let go of them over time, perhaps profiting in the trade. And lowering your artistic value, as well as your art's value, in the process. Besides, a mass purchase means your available stock is quickly depleted, leaving less of your work for others to look over and buy. Bots are another menace to watch out for. Many marketplaces have anti-whale rules in place so mass buyers will instead deploy an army of bots to buy up your pieces. Each bot poses as a different buyer, making it hard to distinguish legitimate buyers from the fleet that whales send out. Fortunately, NFT marketplaces are developing tools to defeat bots. It would be a good idea to make sure you have all the tools you need to stave off whales and bots at whichever marketplace you upload your collection to. Now, discover all you need to know about cryptocurrency and NFTs.

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