The Cost of Launching an NFT Collection, My Breakdown!
NFTs are the current rage. I have realized that most NFT projects are not about selling “art”. The image is just a representation of a token. But most projects come with a promise of some reward in the form of a cryptocurrency. Most buyers buy them with the hope of selling them for a higher price. This is not to say that they don’t have a practical role in metaverse or as store of wealth. I am still learning more about NFTs and working on this project certainly helped me a lot with that.
Making Illustrations, 100 USD:
Probably the most popular form of NFT is images, though they can be audio or video, so the first part is to make those images. This step could be free for you if you are good at illustrations. Since you will need thousands of images, the most convenient way is to make them in layers. So each layer represents a certain part/component of the image. Then you combine these layers in various combinations to generate images. I had an idea for what my images would be, characters representing healthcare workers, so my layers had to have items like scrubs, the character, hair, eyes, mask, cap and so on. I am not good at drawing so I went on to fiverr to hire someone to draw those layers for me. I have to say it was tricky picking the right person for the right price. One tip is to look for sellers who specifically mention NFT images by layers. Because all the layers have to be same sized images with transparent background and the content has to be in line to fit in the right location in the entire image, a lot of the sellers, specially the cheaper ones, were not able to understand that. However, with a little searching, I was able to find one with my budget. She took a week but delivered perfect illustrations.
Generating 1000s of Images and Metadata, 0 USD:
Now that you have your layers, you can stake them in different combinations to generate unique images. You can find many ways of doing that, even some paid services that would do it. Luckily, I know some python so I wrote my own code. Thoroughly enjoyed the process! Now each image has to be associated with a .json file that contains the metadata of the image. Here is how I did it:
I enjoyed this part so much that I turned the code into a django webapp that you can check out here.
Uploading Image to The Cloud, 0 USD:
All your files have to be in the cloud. You can choose to upload it anywhere you want, but best to upload to one where there is little to no risk of it being offline. Say hello to the very cool sounding InterPlanetary File System. It is free, distributed and always on. You need a gateway for uploading your files. Pretty much all of the popular ones will give you some amount of data for free. I chose infura.io because they let you use up to 2 GB for free. If your files are more than what your gateway is offering for free, you can upload them through different gateways but you will need the link to them and have a system of keeping track of them. But as far as I understand, the metadata files HAVE to be all at the same location because the minting app uses a system of incrementing numbers to locate the metadata file, the metadata file then contains the location of the image linked to that specific NFT. So as long as you have a system where the metadata files are in one location, and the files contain the correct location of the associated image, it’s ok if the images are not at the same location.
Writing Your Smart Contract, 60 USD:
Honestly this could have been free if you have some coding knowledge. The smart contract is written in solidity. The popular IDE for that is Remix which is browser based and a breeze. There are many contracts available online that you can use by making some changes. I wanted to have one with comments and details and to be able to ask questions and get answers so that I can learn. So I went back to fiverr to find someone to do it. With that budget, you will likely not get a solidity expert. Turns out, most sellers are just using those templates available online and making changes per your request. My seller wasn’t able to answer some of my questions, however, did send me a video that they used, which really helped. In the end, the contract I came up with looked significantly different than what I had gotten from fiverr. So do some research, you really don’t have to pay for it, specially if you have some coding knowledge.
Deploying Your Smart Contract, 367 USD:
This felt like the most expensive part that I wasn’t thinking of initially. Most of the online influencers that are teaching you about how to make your collection won’t mention it, or maybe I missed it. But it makes sense, since every thing in blockchain will have gas fees. Ethereum is notorious for it’s ridiculous gas fees. There are things you can do to help minimize the cost. I found this article very useful:
Before this article, using one of the contracts from online templates, the deployment using Metamask and Remix IDE, cost was around 700 USD but at the same time, after following this article, the modified contract had a deployment cost of 367 USD! Remember the price will greatly vary in one day depending on the gas fees so do take the timing of the deployment into account.
Website Graphics 0 USD:
You will need banners and posters for your website and marketplace pages. I used Canva for that, which is very easy to use and a personal account is free.
Setting Up Social Media, 0 USD:
As you probably know, the NFT community is very active on discord as well as twitter, so those accounts are free. Opensea is also free and you will need to set that up as well.
Minting DApp, 0 USD:
Now that the contract is deployed, you will need a frontend to connect with it so that users can mint an NFT directly from your page. One way of doing it is to go back to a marketplace like fiverr and find someone who can do both the contract and webapp at the same time. Again, the pros will charge you thousands, but the budget ones will take an online template and modify it for you I saw sellers charging anywhere from 100 to 300 USD for both the contract and frontend. However, if you don’t want to hire a pro, and have some understanding of how the web works, you can easily find a template and modify it yourself. I used “The Stripes NFT” repository from github to make the frontend.
Deployment, 114 USD:
I used Netlify to deploy my app. Netlify connects to your github account and deploys the site directly from the repository. It also tracks the repository and every time you update it, Netlify will automatically update your site. The template I used in React which I have never worked with before. I did need a separate page to display all the other information about my project therefore I ended up making a separate website through Wix and bought their premium on year plan which included a domain name. However, you can probably get away with doing just Netlify which is free, and then buy a domain from them for 11 USD for a year.
Total Launch Cost:
For me, that’s a total of 641 USD! Is it over? NO! I realized that there is a lot more I have to spend. You can easily cut down on the launch cost by:
Making illustrations on you own.
Cutting down on gas fees by optimizing the contract and timing the deployment.
Only paying for the domain and setting up the website on your own, cutting down the cost of premium package from Wix and only pay for the domain from Netlify.
An NFT project is worth nothing if it doesn’t sell. It is all about marketing and promotion. It is common for projects to giveaway free NFTs. I posted on reddit about a free giveaway, that got me about 20 members on discord and a few followers on twitter. Giving away an NFT is free for the user but not for you, still have to pay that gas fee! For me, minting an NFT to a wallet cost me from 8 to 15 USD depending on the gas fee.
A popular way to get the word out is through NFT Calender. You can submit a project for free but they make it obvious to you that it is not the best idea by saying only 1 out of 10 is approved. However if you want to make sure your project is published there, you have to pay 0.05 ETH! For promotion of your twitter, I was approached by an account with 100K followers asking for 100 USD for one post about my project! Similarly, a fiverr seller asking for 100 USD for running your tiktok account for a week for growth. So you can say, a solid 500 to 1000 USD for marketing.
Emphasis on the word “potential”! You may be able to get all your money back with the sale of the first few NFTs and then a lot more. If you set up royalty on the marketplace, you can continue to receive royalties. The following from the first project will enable you to launch a second one. However, this is all true only if it sells. Which is why you may be tempted to spend more on promotion but that does not guarantee returns. However, what does made it worth for me is the amount of learning that I did. I finally understood how NFTs work, a bit more about web3, React, IPFS and all the other services that are out there.
If you have made it this far, please do check out my project, any feedback is welcome. It was the idea of a good friend who approached me to see if it’s something I can work on, and then we added a philanthropic touch to it.
Main website :
The minting app, currently paused for some promotion and will link to main site once minting opens: