Launching & Promoting Your Own Cryptocurrency: An Instruction Manual
There are many tools out there for creating a cryptocurrency, including our own quick-start and management tool: Togen. After creating your cryptocurrency for a game, community cash, tradable loyalty points, equity, or practically whatever is one’s preference, the next question most crypto creators have is: What do I do now to get adoption?
This post will serve as a step-by-step guide based on our own experience raising funds in our token sale last year, as well as our experience providing platforms that have helped thousands launch their own coins. Let’s get started.
Step 1. Know Your Blockchain
Before launching or promoting an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency, most people do not feel they have a full-enough understanding of what Ethereum is and how it works. Honestly, many great Ethereum developers feel similarly. It is not necessary or realistic to “completely” understand the Ethereum blockchain. However, it is important to understand a few fundamentals, through practice of the below tasks. These are crucial for everyone on a token launch team.
You can skip this step (and proceed to Step 2) if you already know how to receive/send Ethereum using cold storage, as well as how to send ERC-20 tokens/check token balances with MyEtherWallet and/or Togen.
A) It is important to know how to generate an Ethereum wallet offline. One of the most popular ways to do this is with MyEtherWallet. Here’s a quick tutorial on that. Once you have generated your encrypted private key, make sure to write down your password in case you forget it, and to save your encrypted file. It is best practice to keep your encrypted file somewhere locally on your computer or on a USB drive. However, if you are going to keep the encrypted file on Dropbox or as an attachment in a self-addressed Gmail message, make sure your password is at least 15 characters long and contains letters, numbers and symbols. Otherwise, if others find your encrypted file, they will be able to crack your password with a password-cracking tool pretty quickly. However, if you’re storing the encrypted file offline, just set a memorable password. If you’re super paranoid that you will screw this up somehow, it will be best for you to learn how to use a hardware wallet (you will need to order this) like Ledger S Nano. These integrate with MyEtherWallet.
B) You will need to actually get some Ether. One of the easiest ways to get Ether sent to your newly generated Ethereum address is through Changelly (if you want to get it instantly with a credit card) or Coinbase. Here’s a list of other places to get Ether. How ever you get Ether, buy some Ether and send it to your newly generated Ethereum address. Once you have received Ether (and obtained a minimum of 1 network confirmation), you’re ready to actually use your Ether.
C) Send some Ether from your cold-storage wallet. Use MyEtherWallet to unlock your wallet offline. Here’s how. Transfer your Ether to any Ether address (a friends or another address you generated). When you add the amount, recipient, etc inside MyEtherWallet, it will generate a transaction. You’re not done. Then, you will need to connect to the internet to broadcast your generated transaction hash to the Ethereum blockchain. Once you transmit your transaction to the blockchain, you will need to check on that transaction. If you don’t already, you should familiarize yourself with Etherscan. Why can’t you just do all this from one place? Don’t worry, we are solving that problem soon. For now, this is how it’s done. Welcome to crypto.
Etherscan is a block explorer (or a website for analyzing what is happening on a blockchain). Each transaction is sent to the Ethereum blockchain instantly after you broadcast a valid transaction hash, but they take a few seconds to minutes to confirm (finalize/settle). The transaction time is dependent on the gas fee that you pay and the traffic on the Ethereum network. Here’s how Ethereum gas works. For ETH, it is important to have a basic understanding of the difference between gas and gas limits. Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of your Ethereum life in a state of confusion. Gas is the amount of Ether per computation-step that you’re using from your account to pay the Ethereum network to process your transaction. A gas limit is the maximum amount of gas units (defined previously) you’re willing to spend for the full computation, as it could be limitless. Gas limits protect you from the unknown. Luckily, MyEtherWallet does a pretty good job of calculating this now for you (usually). This guy lost $80,000 because he didn’t understand how gas worked. This is an edge case and is hard to replicate in normal circumstances, but can happen.
D) Generate ERC-20 tokens and then move them around. One of the most important tools to understand when dealing with tokens on the Ethereum network when create, send and more is MetaMask. You will need to import your wallet you generated with MyEtherWallet or your Ledger hardware wallet to MetaMask. Here’s how to do that.
To generate an ERC-20 token, you will need at least .1 ETH in your generated account. Most people, when starting out, use an Ethereum testnet instead of the mainnet. This means you can use “fake” Ether on a test blockchain that emulates what happens on the real network. Here’s how to do that. Your .1 ETH fee is not paid (and should not) be paid to a service provider, but will be your built-in fee used as “gas” in for the Ethereum network to create your smart contract (in this case, cryptocurrency/token). Here’s a quick video on how to generate an ERC-20 token with Togen.
Once you generate Ethereum-based cryptocurrency with Togen or with another tool, you can use Togen’s Token Manager to send tokens, check balances, see all your token holders, etc. When you generate a token with Togen, a “web wallet” is generated for your token, which others can use to manage your tokens once they are received. You can also use this generated web wallet: Here’s how.
Once you are comfortable with sending your tokens back and forth the aforementioned, you have the basic understanding necessary for the remainder of the steps. If you plan on doing a token sale, find a random token on of the many token listing sites, and buy a small amount of tokens. This experience is priceless when it comes to you hosting your own token sale down the road. Everyone on your team should know how to create, manage and buy tokens, even if they are in the most non-technical field imaginable, like everyone who works at McDonalds should know how to eat a cheeseburger.
Step 2. Understand The Regulatory Frameworks of Your Jurisdiction
Jurisdictions around the world vary in securities and cryptocurrency laws. Many countries do not have clear regulatory guidance or laws regarding cryptocurrencies in general. Some of the jurisdictions with some of the most defined and friendly guidance on cryptocurrencies include: Estonia, Switzerland, Gibraltar, Malta, and Australia. Some of the least friendly jurisdictions are: China, the United States, and Indonesia (granted, some cryptocurrencies and security-backed cryptocurrencies in these less-friendly jurisdictions are allowed; however, the regulatory process is stricter).
If your token is a security (or resembles a security), it is advised to incorporate in a country with friendly cryptocurrency laws. If you are a resident of a less-friendly country, it is advised to certainly consult with a law firm specializing in cryptocurrency laws. These lawyers can be found online vis sites like LinkedIn by searching “[Your country] crypto lawyer”, or simply by finding a securities lawyer in your area if none are findable on LinkedIn for your jurisdiction.
When we did our token sale, we chose (with the guidance of our lawyers) to incorporate in Estonia, for both regulatory and tax purposes. We personally went to Estonia to do this; however, today, many advisories that handle incorporation do not require you to physically visit. Everything can be done online. Go internet.
Step 3. Small Group of Advocates
As you further develop the concept on your cryptocurrency, the most important question is: what problem are you solving and for who. For us, we wanted to solve the issue of censorship and regulatory bottlenecks when it came to people around the world tokenizing and trading real-world assets. We attracted people with real estate projects they wanted to tokenize and blockchain developers who were interested in solving real-world problems with blockchain technology. You’ll want to reach out to your immediate and extended networks to find individuals who will need your project or believe in the overall cause. It is advised to find at least three of these individuals. It is also advised that once your tokens are launched to give a minimum of 1% of the token distribution to this group to create aligned interest towards creating adoption for your coin. This initial small group of advocates cannot be understated for the future larger community around your coin.
Furthermore, this group is important to get feedback on your concept, introductions to others, and/or initial criticisms that will be valuable for the success of your project at the early stage, as well as in the long-run. If you use Togen to generate your token, it is important to send this small group of advocates their web wallet links, and if they don’t know already, teach them how to use MetaMask with Togen to manage their tokens, so they can potentially perform “token drops” to other advocates as your token network expands. This is especially critical for people outside of the cryptocurrency industry.
Step 4. Website
Before you reach out to people outside your small group of selected, core advocates, it is crucial to develop a simple, informative, modern website. Since you understand the principles of using Ethereum (covered in Step 1), you are now ready to work through your tokenomics. It can also be useful to share how to manage Ethereum wallets and tokens on your site to attract more non-crypto enthusiasts to the space, and thus your token. If you are a front-end programmer, you probably already know what to do here. If you are not a programmer, many projects use Wix or SquareSpace to build their sites because of their easy-to-use interfaces. You can register your .com, .org, .io etc with these tools as well. It is also easy to optimize your site for mobile devices with these tools (very important!).
However you decide to create your website, here is information you will need to be sure to include:
A) You’ll need to design a logo. Here’s a simple, free tool if you’re not blessed with graphic design skills.
B). Create a simple tagline. This is one sentence that explains what your token is for and what you want people to remember about your project. This should be on the top of your page as well. It should be an oversimplified explanation of your value proposition.
Example: Sodacoin — Revolutionizing the beverage industry by allowing people to get rewarded for drinking from recycled soda cans.
C) 1-2 paragraphs that explain what problem you are solving with your coin and its utility. This is usually “section 2” of a site.
D). Tokenomics. Explain how many tokens will ever be in existence, the inflation rate, how many tokens the creator (you) is keeping (and under what conditions), your soft cap and hard cap. Here’s a bit more about hard and soft caps. You need to have all of this explained clearly. Bullet-points are advised in the tokenomics section. Obviously, your tokenomics take a bit of thought. We suggest spending a minimum of three (full-time) days with your small group of advocates working and debating the details of your tokenomics, if you haven’t already clearly hashed these details out previously. It can be useful to look at how similar projects (in both type and size) might have structured their tokenomics.
E) Include a list of your team members on the site (at least the founding team). If there is just you as a full-time team remember, ask your advocates if (and in what capacity) they would be willing to be featured on your site. Make sure to include social links such as LinkedIn and Github links(if available) for each of the members of your team in their profile. Later, you will add social media links for your project to the bottom of your site. That leads us to the next step.
Step 5. Social Media
It almost goes without saying that you will need a company Facebook page and company Twitter account (at a minimum). It is good to have a Linkedin company profile, Github, Instagram, and any social network platform that may be specific to your industry. For example, if you’re in the music industry, a SoundCloud would be appropriate. However, it is important not to over-social-media your campaign. When you are launching a token, you should be at least committed to putting three updates a week to every social outlet you have. You should obtain a minimum of 100 followers and/or likes on each social account. There are several ways to achieve this. Here are a few. Remember that no one wants to follow a social media account that no one else follows. Social Proof 101. Also, make sure to list these accounts with links in the footer on your website.
Step 6. Events
Social is a global strategy, while events are local strategies that can be executed around the world. We traveled quite a bit to attend/speak/sponsor/set-up booths at conferences. These were not limited to cryptocurrency/blockchain conferences. We also attended legal conferences where tokenization was a mere topic among many others. Obviously, this strategy is determined to a degree by your budget. However, before we had any funding, my co-founders and I found the cheapest airlines and piled three guys into the smallest motel-rooms at distances ridiculously far from conferences to save. Honestly, we even snuck into conferences, and hosted non-official pre-events to major blockchain events on Meetup.com.
Basically, when it comes to events, be as creative as possible, and you will more than likely be rewarded for that creativity. The easy way to mark-off the checklist item of “events” is simply to host and promote your own meetup. In Seoul, it’s pretty popular to invite other projects doing token sales to these events to present, as well. Furthermore, there are sometimes opportunities to sponsor local blockchain meetups by simply paying for food and beverages at the smaller of these events. In exchange, you can get your site and logo added to event materials and even shout-outs during the events.
Step 7. Online Discussion Forums
Setting up a discussion board for your community to engage with your project is extremely important in Token Land. Discord and Riot accounts are the preferred group chats by most crypto communities. You only need one. Slack is not recommended as it is not permissioned, meaning that scams can run rampant inside your group via faked accounts in phishing attacks. Slack, as well as Telegram, can be harder to manage as your community grows, and inherently attract trolls and scam artists. Whichever platform you choose, be sure to link to your invite links on your website. It is recommended to create at least six channels in your discussion board so that people aren’t having many different conversations and speaking over one another in a general chat. You will also want to find at least one moderator who can stay on the look out for spam, messages in the wrong channels, and scam artists. If you can’t find a moderator, it’s you.
Step 8. Advisors
At Proof, we love to share our experience-based advice to new projects; however, we have a policy to not be listed as advisors in projects to prevent conflict-of-interest. With that said, you’re welcome to setup time with us to chat about your project here.
With that said, you will need a public list of advisors on your website.These people can be old college professors, former bosses or employees, and/or anyone in your industry that is advising on your project. If you don’t have a personal network that includes potential advisors, you can solicit for help on LinkedIn. This is one of the harder routes for getting advisors, and you’ll probably deal with a lot of rejection and many people will probably ignore you. So, if you’re going to go this route, you’ll need to be pretty persistent and send out many, many messages. It is customary to compensate advisors in your tokens. If you’re using Togen (just like you did with your small group of advocates), show them how to use their Togen Web Wallet and send them some of your tokens. It is not advised to give more than .5-1% of tokens to advisors total.
Step 9. Upwork
Upwork is the best place (in our opinion) to find freelancers for small things that you might need help with. They have their shortcomings (like charging really high transaction fees to vendors), but overall they are preferable. You will be able to find very talented people at affordable prices here if you dedicate time to mastering the art of using this wonderful sourcing tool. Here is a great resource to get started if you’re not that familiar with Upwork. Also, if you are looking to add people to your team, such as marketing and technical talent, this can be a great place to look! You don’t necessarily need a developer when you are doing an asset-backed token, but as you’re kind of in a technical industry by association, it can be helpful for credibility. So, make sure to get a developer onboard, even if they are freelancing via Upwork. At a minimum, get a blockchain developer to audit your token smart contract.
Furthermore, there are many specialists in SEO, social media marketing, moderators, press release writers, and more on Upwork. Especially when operating on a tight budget, getting marketing help/advice from highly rated Upworkers is highly recommended.
Step 10. Non-blockchainers
In 2017, when the ICO craze was first beginning to boom, most of the people who were participating in ICOs/token sales were people who were specifically interested in blockchain (crypto traders, HODLers, crypto developers and their associates). The pool and diversity of token buyers has been explanding beyond just this initial group. For recreational investors who are heavy into blockchain, it helps to have some nice proof-of-adoption or other affirmation on your website stemming from people outside of the blockchain world/echo chamber. The attention this can draw from crypto die-hards, who also participate in token sales, can be phenomenal.
Step 11. Github
If you are a developer, you’ll already know the importance of having an active Github. If you are not a developer, use Github to at least publish your whitepaper. Most ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain that will be successful have a whitepaper associated with them, but it is not required. A whitepaper is where you drill into all of the nitty-gritty details of your project. Whitepapers should be at least 3 pages long, and not longer than 12. We recommend 7 pages. A lot of whitepapers these days can stretch out to 100 pages or more, but that is excessive.
Regarding your Github, here’s a post on how to create a simple repo with a README. Your README page will include the contents of your project. You’ll need as many stars and forks in your github project as possible: at minimum, 10 start and forks per repository. Make sure you link your Gihub profile or repository to your website and vice versa.
Step 12. Videos
At minimum, you will need at least one introductory Youtube video about your project. This video should be edited and produced by a professional or an amazing hobbyist, if you are not one yourself. If you can’t find a professional to do this, you will need to fall back on good ol’ authenticity and creativity. However, it is never recommended to use a flimsy webcam. In your project’s introductory video, it can be good opportunity to talk about your story and build trust. Speaking about how your project possesses the answers to questions like what issue you are facing today is mandatory. You also probably should hit on: your vision of the future and who are you. As you probably guessed, this Youtube video link/embed should make its way onto your official website. If you have decent funding, it would be nice to make a small Youtube commercial, 30 seconds to 3 minutes-long, whereby an animation and/or professional voice actor is leveraged. With Youtube videos, you can use Google Adwords to preroll your video or add it as a “discovery” ad for the demographics you want to target. Youtube can be a very powerful advertising tool, and should certainly be utilized once you have created an earnest, professional video about your project.
In addition to your initial introductory video, it can be productive to your community engagement campaign to create at least one video per week to share updates on the project (this can be done with a simple webcam and smart editing). This can come from your community members or from the founding team. Furthermore, finding other Youtubers to do thinkg like AMAs (Ask Me Anythings) and interviews can be useful to spreading information about your token to new audiences.
Step 13. Source-code Verification
By now, you will have generated your smart contract for your cryptocurrency using Togen or by a professional blockchain development agency that offers outside auditing services. Once you have created your smart contract, you should verify it. Here’s a Youtube video tutorial how to verify a smart contract. This is to make sure when people click on the token via Etherscan, they can see the source code that is associated with your contract address. If your token smart contract is not verified, most of the “smart” ethereum money will never end up buying your token. Once you’ve verified your smart contract, you can then contact Etherscan to get your token, logo and website listed with them. This adds much needed legitimacy to your project. This process requires you to have a strong website and social media presence. Good thing you followed the previous steps. With those steps achieved, you should not have any problem with advanced listing on Etherscan.
Step 14. Advertising
A lot of platforms these days have decided to disallow blockchain-related products to advertise on their platforms due to, well, scams (and investment advertising regulations). This is highly understandable. So, reaching audiences on Facebook, Google Search, Instagram and Bing can be a bit of a hurdle (yet not impossible). Platforms that still treat crypto ads like pretty much anything else include:Twitter, Linkedin, and Youtube. These are very important platforms if you are trying to reach a broader audience than just your immediate or local audience. However, even if you are just focusing on local/immediate audiences, you can use these platforms to specifically target your city and interest group to drive more repeated awareness of your project to create conversions. Here are some links to see how to advertise on these platforms, if you’re not already a pro: Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube. There are also other platforms like Reddit that you can potentially leverage to drive awareness. Usually you should not spend more than one dollar per website visit, and in a lot of cases, you can spend as little as 10 cents per visit to your site (CPC over CPM all day!). If you’re well funded, consider advertising on Etherscan, CoinMarketCap and CoinSchedule (in that order).
Step 15. Avoiding ICO Marketing Specialists and Experts
Through this token promotion journey, you might stumble across (on Linkedin, BitcoinTalk and other social platforms), people soliciting services to market your token or token sale. In our experience, people who solicit these kinds of services are not, let’s say, the most useful of encounters. If these solicitors were really good at marketing, they would be on a marketing team for a token project already or running their own token sale. But you can use your own discernment, because maybe 1-2% can be effective. We advise to be highly selective if you decide to go this route. Checking references is a must. Token specialist services are typically grossly overpriced, or simply scam-ish. It is really hard to determine conversion references when it come to token sales, so we advise not paying in your own token based on how much is raised, but based on clear media metrics that you would like them to handle (like everything is typically done outside of Token Land): like how many/quality of third-party sites these services can get you mentioned or featured on.
Step 16. Private Sale (optional)
So far, you have your token setup, a website, your tokenomics, whitepaper, advocates, advisors, social media, community forum, and a simple advertising strategy. Now, it’s time to write out a full token business plan. This will be critical if you plan to raise funds from family, friends and close associates in a private sale. This can be something to enlist the help of a Upwork business plan writer to help with structure and editing. As much as your fiends and family love you, having a solid business plan will usually make them feel a little more secure in early participation of your token sale. If you used Togen, it can be helpful to walk through, with each one of them personally, how to manage their tokens with the Togen Web Wallet, how to use MetaMask, and how Ethereum works in general, if they are not already familiar with Ethereum blockchain technology.
The most powerful aspect here are your early advocates and advisors. Build the strategy you will use to attract people to the private sale with their input. They may even help with introductions if your plan is solid. If you’re doing a public sale after the private sale, make sure to be very transparent about what has transpired in your private sale.
Step 17. Public sale (optional)
Just because you issued a token doesn’t mean that you need to do a crowd/public sale. This is especially true if your token is an asset-backed cryptocurrency. There really isn’t much reason to do a token sale if you already own 100% of the underlying asset. You can just put them on a decentralized exchange and let people buy them there or via your Togen Web Wallet. But if you want to do a token sale before focusing on listing them, the public sale route is for you. The minimum amount that you should leverage for the public sale marketing budget is $50,000 dollars. Most public token sales spend north of $300,000. If you don’t have this funding from private investors or personally, it is probably best not to do a public sale, less it is being focused ultra-locally. If you’re doing a public token sale, you’ll need to setup a bounty program, BitcoinTalk campaign, and campaigns with top-tier tech PR and marketing firms.
Step 18. Decentralized Exchanges
Now, you are ready to list on decentralized exchanges. If you’re willing to part with $50,000 or more per centralized exchange, listing there, too, is recommended. However, if you have a lot of demand in decentralized exchanges, centralized exchanges will be happy to list your token free-of-charge. The most popular decentralized exchanges are IDEX, ForkDelta and Token Store. Our own open-sourced decentralized exchange, AMP, launches soon and it is another great place to list your tokens. Using Togen’s Token Manager, you can list on decentralized exchanges with a click of a button. Once on a decentralized exchange, you will want to register your token symbol to make it searchable. Most decentralized exchange will require that your code be verified by Etherscan and that your website contains enough useful information about your team/tokenomics. Great thing you took care of this already! Send the decentralized exchange listing curation team these details, and your token should be searchable in no time!
Step 19. Market Making (optional)
On Day 1, when you launch your token onto a decentralized exchange, there probably will not be that many people actively trading it. Therefore, you’ll need to add exchange liquidity to your token. Most centralized exchanges require these services or provide market marking to newly listed coins. This requires quite a bit of liquidity; however, luckily for you, Togen has a service for this that can scale to the size of your liquidity pool to create trade activity and liquidity that can attract investors and bots to your asset. The alternative option is, of course, to build your own market making bots and/or to manually trade your coins in the markets at almost unhuman like speeds. If you go the unhuman trading route, Upwork can be your friend.
Step 20. Post, post, post.
Before and after your token launch, make sure you post as much content as possible to your social media accounts, especially your blog. Especially during the period of your token prelaunch, launch and token sale, create as much transparency and information around your project, mission and vision as possible. Plain and simple. Post a lot of good quality content.
Step 21. Continued Forum Engagement
Inside your forums (your Discord, BitcoinTalk pages, etc), post links to all that blog posting you’re doing from Step 20 so that your community can stay up-to-date. However, try not to focus on your project exclusively. Talk about what your competitors are doing, provide user support, discuss ideas that users have around your strategies, acknowledge weaknesses, post information about potential opportunities, and give your community bounties to achieve in areas that are not at the core of your near-term strategy. It can be surprising what an engaged community aside from (and empowered by) the core founders can accomplish.
Step 22. Mailing List and other mechanisms for updates
On your website, you’ll want to have a section where people can sign up/subscribe to get updates. Make sure to send out updates regularly informing your subscribers regarding new developments, media exposures, giveaways, events, and accomplishments at least weekly/bi-weekly. By constantly sharing content with your community, especially in the inbox, your project develops a sense of consistency among readers. People tend to respond positively to that (especially when it your messages aren’t spammy).
This is the basic guide to different areas that we think are very important to plan for when developing your cryptocurrency launch and promotion strategy. May the Proof be with you.