Where Theory Meets Practice

Diving into the World of NFTs — Both via Theoretical Discussion and Actually Minting / Selling NFTs

Jim Dee
Jim Dee
Jun 7 · 11 min read

Coupling an actual NFT art project with my tech / trend / marketing articles on non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

For anyone following this publication, you’ve probably seen a number of tech and/or marketing-related articles I’ve written about NFTs lately — these two in particular:

As this publication “Web Designer / Web Developer Magazine” is about web design, web developments, digital marketing and various other tangentially related topics, NFTs seem to fit in at least marginally well. The above two articles, in fact, could be summarized as a nice mix of informational tech pieces dovetailed with specific marketing ideas.

But that, for me, wasn’t enough. It was largely theoretical in nature. And so I wanted some more practical knowledge and experience with NFTs. That’s why, if you follow ME (as opposed to this publication), you may have noticed some strange headlines recently (and which will continue near daily for the next three months). Headlines like this one:

These headlines / articles / stories (call them what you will) are the practical side of NFTs (for me). In other words, I decided to launch my own NFT project and learn all I can about the marketplace, the tech side of minting and dealing with wallets, and related NFT trends.

So, I’d like to go over what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and what I’m learning about it:

Do You Need a Concept?

To be frank, I don’t think all NFT projects need a concept — at least not anything more than “here’s a digital thing I’m selling as an NFT.” For many, that’s as far as they get. And there are some spectacular ones out there, mostly from digital illustrators who make incredible graphics and/or animations and then simply pop them up on Mintable, OpenSea, Rarible, Foundation, etc.

The key word above (for me) would be “incredible.” And that’s because, if you’re going to sell one-off digital art pieces, it seems to me that you should probably be a fairly talented digital / visual artist.

On the other hand, there are certainly other types of art out there that might require less illustrative skill. I’m trying not to make a giant value judgment here, as this article isn’t a piece of art criticism. But, for example, looking around, you come across a lot of conceptual NFT initiatives that aren’t what you’d call vivid, artistically mind-boggling, high-def, high-res, blow-your-mind artworks. Instead, they’re things like computer-generated collections of 10,000 things — punks, or cats, or some other theme that’s usually highly pixelated (yet also somehow interesting).

Long story short: I wanted a concept — something I could do many of, as a related series as opposed to 100 unrelated illustrations.

While I do work as a professional designer, in a sense (that being the graphic design normally associated with web sites), I’m not much of an illustrator myself. So, I struggled a bit with finding some sort of concept that I thought maybe I could pull off.

In the end, I wrangled in some other skills I have — technical and creative. And thus my concept was born. I’m calling it “Bastard Aliens.” It’s meant to be a series of digital trading cards profiling not necessarily evil or otherwise notorious characters, but just run-of-the-mill jerks populating the multi-verse.

Marketing-wise, here’s why I liked the idea:

  1. The word “bastard” is funny to me, and somewhat edgy without being absolutely profane.
  2. Aliens are always popular and interesting.
  3. Profiling just normal jerks and idiots, as opposed to inventing super-villains, seemed fairly novel.

Skills involved:

  1. Illustration. Again, this is my weakest suit. I’m just not a very good artist at all. But then again, as I’m drawing aliens, I thought maybe I could wing it and get away with it. After all, aliens aren’t supposed to look like humans. I do all of my illustration freehand in Photoshop, and just mess around until I’m happy with it. I think they’re “okay” — maybe not great, but hey, at least as good as some other artworks (imho) that I’ve seen sell.
  2. Tech. Though I’m not experienced at all with digital art platforms or animation packages, I figured I could probably wing something using the tools I do know a thing or two about. So, I wrote some web-based scripts to help my efforts. One generates weird, random backgrounds. Another makes them glow. And another uses a MIT-licensed script to animate some stars over the piece. And from there, the rest is done via HTML, CSS, and Javascript. So, the piece itself all comes together on a web page. (Not that anyone but me ever sees it. But, that’s how I make the final NFT — by recording the screen to MP4, and also to an animated GIF. I use Screen2Gif for that, by the way!)
  3. Creative Writing. This one’s probably my strongest skill of the three. For my series, there’s the digital card NFT, and I also write up a solid paragraph on the character.

Ergo… Here are the individual parts, as an example:

Okay, let’s go through an actual example of what I’m talking about, above:

  1. Illustration: This guy is called “Yarick Khudla.” He’s a jerk because he’s a perpetual liar. So, I had to draw the guy, and he came out like this:

Fun side-note: Sometimes I actually draw these aliens by looking at miscellaneous photos of people online. And, since I’m such an awful artist, I can be assured that there will be no resemblance to the original. Yet, they do seem nicely alien. (I can promise you that you’d never guess whose pic I was looking at when drawing that — even if you think you might know. That’s how bad I am!)

2. Tech: I wanted something alien-ish and dashboard-like, over which I’d put my data. So, I scripted a little background generator that outputs what I imagined could be some sort of alien circuit board kind of thing. So, my script generates a random background each time the page loads. Here’s one such background. (It’s a really weird / fun script that just uses HTML, PHP, and CSS for the shapes, and then JS for the color animation.)

3. Creative Writing: For this, I wrote up the text you see on the profile, as well as a background paragraph. In this case, that was this:

This is Yarick Khudla, host of a second-rate holographic political entertainment program popular among fools and fascists. Yarick could look anyone straight in the eyes (or visual membranes or spectral sensors as the case may be) and swear that Lazov’s third moon presents at a perfectly yellow 575nm. Only, it clearly presents at perfectly red 665nm, and everyone knows that. But if Yarick says it’s 575nm, his unquestioning, idiot followers will soon repeat the claim as truth. The worst part is that this purposefully deceitful trait is definitely not representative of the Joothan people, even though the species is now distrusted for light years around, arguably thanks to Yarick’s asinine behavior on the holoverse. He’s a real bastard.

Put it all together, and you get a GIF like this:

… and then the text goes on the NFT marketplace description as well as on a standalone Medium article. (Will get to that in a minute.)

How I Mint and Launch These NFTs.

When I’m ready to launch one, here’s what I do.

  1. First, I put it on Medium.com, under my new “Bastard Aliens” publication. The page for the above character is here:

As you can see, I spiffed up the title with some emojis — the alien one for obvious reasons, and the fire one for pure hype. (I’m not usually one for emojis, but I notice a lot of the more successful NFT sellers are using them in their various promos. So, why not?)

Anyway, when I list it on Medium, I grab the “friend link” so that anyone on Opensea who wants to see the Medium page can indeed go there.

2. Then I list it on Opensea.io. That listing can be seen here:

I include the description, as you can see, on Opensea, and also link Opensea’s listing back to the Medium page.

Note that there’s a little more to it. You have to first have an account on Opensea, and you have to have a little bit of Ethereum there to do one small transaction to get started. Also, you have to generally, as I did here, start a “collection” that you’ll populate with your NFTs. But, all of that is pretty straightforward, and I think the cost was maybe $10 or so for that one Ethereum transaction.

3. Then I go back to the Medium page and link it back to the Opensea listing.

Marketing the NFTs

Here’s where I’m clearly either not doing well and have much more to learn, or the above concept is just so horrible that it won’t ever sell a single NFT. (Who’s to say?) But, there are definitely options.

  • Reddit: I don’t recommend ever spamming Reddit subs with self-promo links. But, some communities welcome them from time to time (and especially if you’re also a participant there). I think the most natural place is r/NFT → https://www.reddit.com/r/NFT/.
  • Discord: There are NFT servers and channels a-plenty there. A natural for me would be Opensea’s server, in its “self-promotion” channel. There, you can post your NFTs (though I recommend reading any server’s rules / guidelines before dumping too many links).
  • Twitter: I decided to start a whole new Twitter account for this project. I like Twitter as a marketing tool, though I could be more active there. But, I usually drop the GIF, some of those fire emojis, the title, a link to the Opensea collection, and a bunch of relevant hashtags.
  • Pricing: Just as a quick additional detail, I priced all of my NFTs at 0.01 ETH (which is about as low as I’ve seen). So … yeah, starting at the bottom for sure! (The idea was that, at 0.01 * 100, I could earn 1 ETH, which I would use for things like giveaways, mentioned below, buying others’ NFTs, and funding whatever’s next!)

Other Hype: Giveaways

One thing I haven’t yet explored, but which seems most intriguing to me, is the concept of giveaways to fuel sales. (Actually, anything intrigues me on these lines now, as I’ve done 9 of these and haven’t sold any. Which seems awful, but I’m going in with zero expectations.)

Anyway, I came across a few giveaways on Reddit. For a few I’ve seen, they announced a free NFT giveaway for anyone who already had an NFT in their account (these were on OpenSea). I didn’t qualify for one because the only NFTs I had were ones I’d created myself. But then one came along from a group called Monas (doing digital Mona Lisa take-offs), and I was able to snag my first non-created NFT. It’s not a unique 1-of-1, but it’s a “one of 1,000” edition. Here it is:

Anyway, I really liked their model and approach. They made a commemorative one of what they were doing, called it a “1 of 1000” edition, and gave away a copy as a souvenir, essentially. (And they paid for the “gas” — which is a cost of the Ethereum transaction. So yes, they actually spent some $$$ here to give these away.) Pretty neat — and generally in the spirit of what the techno-crypto-art world seems to respect.

As far as marketing goes, I think this group is doing many things right. You can check out their Opensea collection here, which will give you a glimpse into their marketing. (And, as you can see, they’re all over Twitter and Discord, as well.) I say “they” but, these days, it could be a single person, for all I know. But it seems like a small group. (And again, this is just one particular example out there out of many thousands!)

One advantage of the mass computer-generated approach like these is that you can generate the product (the images) in a shorter span of time, which means you can focus on getting the items uploaded and minted on your NFT platform, and then hit the marketing hard.

For me, it’s one day at a time. It’ll be a while before I get to 100 — three more months, in fact. And it’s only ever going to get tougher and tougher to compete in the NFT space, as there are literally many thousands of people doing just that at the moment. But, I’m keeping the giveaway model in mind and will likely do something similar to what the Monas people did — make a commemorative one, perhaps an Earth-bound jerk. But, I’ll have to wait until my artistic skills improve enough for me to draw someone any normal person might recognize.

What Else?

If you’re reading this and are wondering why I’ve not mentioned [insert NFT marketing idea here], it’s probably because I don’t know about it. Please drop me a line anytime, or comment here, with thoughts and ideas.

✍🏻 Jim Dee runs Array Web Dev. in STL & PDX. 👽Bastard Aliens👽 is his first NFT project. Jim blogs more than he should and is obsessed with NFTs. His 2019 novel 🐕 CHROO 🐕(a guaranteed good read about the world’s richest dog — seriously, please buy a copy!) may well have been the first novel to incorporate an actual crypto address within the text! Comment or email anytime: Jim [at] ArrayWebDevelopment.com.

Web Designer / Web Developer Magazine

WDWD Magazine features articles on web site design /…

Jim Dee

Written by

Jim Dee

Web guy at ArrayWebDevelopment.com; author of books & blogs. See: JPDbooks.com.

Web Designer / Web Developer Magazine

WDWD Magazine features articles on web site design / development, internet marketing, social media, SEO, and topics like marketing, communications, business development, etc. Editor: Jim Dee of Array Web Development — jim@arraywebdevelopment.com.

Jim Dee

Written by

Jim Dee

Web guy at ArrayWebDevelopment.com; author of books & blogs. See: JPDbooks.com.

Web Designer / Web Developer Magazine

WDWD Magazine features articles on web site design / development, internet marketing, social media, SEO, and topics like marketing, communications, business development, etc. Editor: Jim Dee of Array Web Development — jim@arraywebdevelopment.com.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store