NFT Art 101: What are NFTs?

Written By Liz Achanta

On March 11, 2021, the British auction house Christie’s sold the first non-fungible token art for a whopping $69.3M. That auction event, hosted at Rockefeller Center in New York City, was sold out with over 1,000 attendees, and the event was dedicated entirely to NFT’s. From that point onward, artists have begun investing their time into developing NFT art, with the most expensive piece NFT art, The Merge, sold at $91M.

These high-profile digital art sales have stirred lots of attention amongst amateur and experienced artists alike. But what are NFTs and how can you start making your mark in the Metaverse? Keep reading to learn what NFTs are, how to start designing, and where to sell your artwork.

What are NFTs?

NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens have been around a lot longer than most people think. The very first NFT, called Quantum, was created in 2014 by Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash at a hackathon; since then artists began experimenting with digital assets being developed on top of Bitcoin blockchain.

Unlike most digital assets, an NFT is unique in that it is bought and sold with a digital certificate, showing how the artwork is the original – also meaning that there can only be one official owner. This digital asset is also protected by blockchain technology so it can’t be hacked or divided into smaller pieces – hence the term ‘Non-Fungible’ in NFT.

We can think of NFT art like the Mona Lisa or Starry Night of the digital world: they’re one of a kind, their value can’t be interchanged, and while other artists can make similar copies, they’re worth nothing compared to the original.

How NFT Art is used in the Metaverse

Strictly speaking, there’s no app called ‘The Metaverse,’ but rather a series of apps that exist in this virtual reality. The Metaverse is a ‘digital universe’: different online social spaces where you can interact with others across the globe. And while the Metaverse depicted in the movie Ready Player One might be impossible, the idea behind the metaverse is that you can – in real time – talk, play, or fight with other users on any given platform, such as World of Warcraft, Fortnight, or Horizon Worlds.

NFT Art can be used a variety of ways in the metaverse. The most popular form of usage is via Art Galleries. One example of this is Voxels. In Voxels, popular art museums are buying NFT art, then creating online ‘galleries’ to showcase them.

NFT Art can also be used (and sold) in the marketplace: rather than heading to art auctions, companies like OpenSea are creating online platforms for collectors and designers to buy and sell art.

How to make (and sell) NFT art

NFT art is considered any unique form of digital art. As designers, we know that art comes in all shapes and sizes, so don’t think your NFT has to fit into a specific mold. Take for example Nyan Cat, which was popular in the 2010s. The owner of this digital masterpiece turned the Nyan Cat into an NFT, and sold the GIF for $590,000. Similarly, The Bored Ape Yacht Club has a collection of 10,000 images, one of which sold for $481.6k.

Your NFT art can be anything: A stylized JPEG, GIF, or even a doodle you made on paint. What makes your NFT valuable is the uniqueness and rarity of your art – quite similar to tangible art.

To increase your NFT popularity – and it’s value – follow some of these quick tips:

    • Promote your work on Social Media: Just like any brand, sharing your work on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is a great way to increase awareness. Use hashtags to increase your reach, and potentially get your art noticed by other artists and collectors.

    • Collaborate with others: another great way to increase your value is by creating work with others. This can not only extend your reach by getting your work noticed by two pools of people (your followers and your collaborator’s followers), but as well collaborations are becoming increasingly “on trend” in the NFT world.

    • Post your work on different forums: Did you know that Discord offers features other than just chat? You can post your work in crypto galleries to help your work gain momentum, knowing that the people in that chat room are all there for a similar purpose.

    Another great forum to post your work on is Mark Cuban’s a website entirely devoted towards showcasing NFTs. The simple three-step process involves creating your account (which verifies your identity), linking your blockchain wallets, then posting your content online.

    How to sell your NFT Art

    Before you begin selling your NFT art, remember that there are some additional steps you need to take in order to prove your art’s uniqueness, and prep yourself for payment. While not required in order to sell your art, some artists choose copyright their artwork, especially if the work is part of a series that uses similar elements (think that Bored Ape Yacht Club mentioned earlier).

    Whether you choose to or not to copyright your artwork, you will need to mint the art – which means tokenizing your artwork by uploading it to a marketplace platform which will guarantee authenticity. There is a fee associated with this but remember that the rarity of your art is what makes your NFT valuable. These fees, called ‘gas fees,’ vary day to day, so using software like Etherscan which monitors the gas fees across multiple platforms so you can mint your art when prices are low.

    The next thing you’ll need to do when you’re trying to sell your NFT art is setting up and funding your crypto wallet. Fortunately, with the rise of cryptocurrency, there are lots of platforms that enable you to do this: Coinbase was rated as the best for beginners, and it’s free to set up your account.

    Once you’ve followed the above sets, you’re ready to list your art for sale. Since NFTs have become more popular, there are more platform options for artists to choose from. Some platforms, like OpenSea and Rarible, are open to everyone, while some platforms are by invitation-only. There’s a marketplace for every type of artists, so do some research to find which marketplace is best for you!

    While it seems like a daunting task, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of it all NFTs really are just another avenue for designers to showcase (and potentially sell) their work; so as a designer, you really should think of this as another resource to experiment with. As the saying goes, if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong! 

    How Much Should You Charge for Your Design Services?

    Written By Liz Achanta

    Setting a price on your work can be an incredibly hard thing to do as a designer. Price your services too low, and you’ll make less than what you’re worth – and may even start to resent the work you’re taking on because of how little you’re receiving. Price your work too high, and you might have difficulty finding customers. So how do you find that sweet middle ground to charge your clients?

    There are two primary ways most designers charge their customers: by the hour, or by the project. Keep reading to determine which way you should charge – and how much!

    By the Hour

    Having an hourly rate for your design services is great for large projects or projects where you’re unfamiliar with your client’s needs and feedback process (we’ve all experienced the client who is never satisfied!). The benefits to this pay style is that the pay directly corresponds to how much work you do, and is easier for potential clients to shop around for the best rate.

    One drawback to charging by the hour is that you might not work as efficiently as you would if you charged on a per-project basis (think: the proverbial lawyer is billing me per phone call). And since there’s only 24 hours in a day, by charging per hour you might be capping your maximum earning potential. For example: if you charge $50/hour and it takes you only 5 hours to build a website, you’ve made only $250 – a project that usually costs between $1,500 to $10,000, depending on the complexity. Of course, you can always increase your hourly rate, but that might scare off potential customers.

    How to set your hourly rate:

    • Determine what you want your yearly salary to be

    • Divide that number by 2080 (number of working hours in a year: 40 x 52 = 2080)

    Example: $75,000/2080 = $36/hr

    Want to know the average market rate for a designer with your experience? Check out Payscale’s Salary by Occupation calculator – which takes in consideration your job title, location, and years of experience!

    By the Project

    Charging per project is a more contemporary approach and can ensure you’re reaching your maximum earnings potential. By charging per project, you are incentivized to work more efficiently than you would if you were hourly, so you can wrap up your project and move on to the next one. However, if you’re not great at multi-tasking, or the client continually sends your work back with revisions, this can limit how much you’re actually earning.

    How to set your per-project rate:

    There are two approaches to developing your per-project rate:

    • Find out what the going market rate is for that project, and base your rate based on where you feel you fall on the experience level.

      For example: while there’s plenty of ‘free’ logo design sites online, the average cost for a logo design project is between $150 to $1500 – which is a pretty big range. Are you a new designer looking to build a client base? Then maybe you want to charge in the $150 – $300 mark. Have more years of experience under your belt? Charge more for your expertise. Remember: Nike paid only $35 for their logo, while others have spent up to $100M; how much you charge is entirely up to you.

    • Determine how long the project will take you to complete, multiply that by your hourly rate, then double it. Since per project approaches tend to be more daunting for businesses who are hiring your services, you can expect some negotiation. By starting high, you are ensuring that you’re making at least your hourly rate on the project and setting the expectations for future projects.

    The Happy Medium

    Your designs aren’t one-size-fits-all – so why should the way you bill your clients be any different? Mixing and matching your prices to fit the customer and the project is always the best approach to make sure you’re making what you’re worth. Follow these final tips to start setting your design prices:

    • Stay competitive: research your rates by comparing them to other freelance designers to make sure you’re not an outlier (sites like Upwork and Fiverr are great places to start – but remember that you have global competitors on sites like these).

    • Evaluate your rates yearly: If you were working full-time at a company, you’d get an annual standard of living wage increase, bonuses, and promotions for your great work. Why should your own business be any different? Remember that you are gaining lots of invaluable experience the same as any other employee is, and you deserve to earn a pay raise – especially in an inflating economic market.

    • Be flexible, but know your worth: assuming your clients will be small business owners, it’s important to remember that they’re probably in a similar position as you are, and want the most bang for your buck. Make sure you understand the scope and the expectations of the project before you set your rate (if you’re charging per project), and always make sure you’re looking out for yourself – and know your competition is doing the same thing!

    Turn your eye for design into a lucrative side hustle

    The pandemic forced everyone to reassess their values, and how they spend every hour: including every working hour on earth. This movement helped fuel the Great Resignation, as millions opted to quit their jobs to refocus on wellness or their true passions.

    For many, this means making a living by doing what they love, and finally turning their hobbies into money-making businesses. But you don’t have to be a modern-day DaVinci to turn a love for art and design into a livelihood. The examples below prove that the possibilities are endless:

    • Design an online course. Let’s say you work in marketing, advertising and public relations and are known for your stellar presentation slides. This skill alone can empower you to design your own online course on any subject in which you are an expert. The course can focus on serious topics like world history or business management, or more creative endeavors like floral arrangements. Think about what you have to offer. Think outside the box by creating your own case studies and teaching methods.

      If PowerPoint slides were never your thing, consider how a course can fit into a downloadable e-book. There are also platforms like Coassemble and Articulate that offer templates for creating course content. You have the power to design your own curriculum.

    • Design a creative consultancy. Do you have a knack for interior design, painting murals, or designing storefronts? Launch a freelance practice that showcases your specialty skills and be sure to have a website and social media page that showcases the best of your work. In addition to word-of-mouth, a portfolio on display is the best means for getting new customers.

    • Design a business with your flair for writing. Writing is also a creative art. If you are a proven editor, copy-editor, or creative writer, build a business around this skill. Writing jobs can mostly be done remotely, and unless the job is attached to pressing deadlines, can largely be done on one’s own time schedule. You can build a business around a specific writing niche, such as writing executive bios for companies, or writing creative ad copy for social media posts.

    • Design a travel business to inspire wanderlust. Influencers have discovered numerous ways to make money out of their love for travel. But you don’t have to have millions of followers to start your own travel gig. If you’re a photographer, offer a set of professional photos for a hotel, or call tourism boards for a collaboration. Consider blogging or reviewing a hotel or other destinations, or create an efficient itinerary or walking tour business.

    • Design your own events. Do you often find yourself hosting Instagram-worthy parties? Are you known for throwing elegant and intimate affairs? You can turn this into a business. In addition to planning weddings or baby showers, you can get creative by launching small business pop-ups, corporate dinners and other highly-lucrative events.

    • Design a business that makes music. If music is your creative mode, consider launching a course for musical instruction, or record your own music that can be sold to businesses in need of special tunes. You can partner with platforms like Ditto that can help you with distribution but be sure to have your own website where you can easily share short samples of your tunes. You never know if it can lead to a collaboration with a commercial, movie studio, or musician.

    • Design a business based on arts & crafts. Last but not least, if you are an artisan who designs and creates goods, consider launching a small business website and social media page to sell your precious works of art. Etsy is also a wonderful place to reach arts & crafts fans, but be sure to also operate your own e-commerce to share more about your story, and what makes your handmade products so special.

    Should You Start a Freelance Side Hustle?

    Written By Liz Achanta
    The terms ‘side hustle’, ‘gigs’, and ‘freelancing’ have gained a lot of popularity over the past few years – and for good reason. Ever since Covid-19 swept across the globe in early 2020, a multitude of companies and employees have realized the work that can typically be done in an office setting can just as easily be completed from the comforts of home. With more companies offering the flexibility of working remotely, many people have realized that this has opened a door of opportunity and innovation for those who want to pursue their dreams – and make some extra money while they’re at it.

    In a recent survey conducted by Bankrate, 45% of working Americans reported that they had a side hustle. Even more interestingly, 1 in 3 Americans have made their work as a freelancer their full-time job. There are many benefits when you pick up some freelance work, but the most compelling perks are:

    A sense of security – 56% of Americans have stated that they’d feel more secure working for themselves versus having a traditional job (according to the State of Independence Report by MBO Partners) which is a 32% increase since 2011.

    Extra income – A side hustle can be a great way to bring in extra cash, which can be used to pay off personal debts, put towards a much-needed vacation, placed into a savings account, or invested.

    Independence – Freelancers have control over what work they do, when they do it, and who they do it for. Bonus: if the gig can be completed 100% remotely, freelancers also have freedom to work wherever they want, whether it be from their own couch or on the other side of the world.

    What side hustle best suits you?

    The amount of potential side hustles available are nearly endless. According to Upwork, some of the most popular freelancing jobs in 2021 are:

    • Graphic Designer

    • Web/Mobile Developer

    • Digital Marketer

    • Copywriter

    However, side hustles can also range from starting a blog, building websites, bookkeeping, starting a dropshipping business, becoming a photographer, tutoring, or even transcribing legal proceedings. With freelancer platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, Win A Talent, Fiverr, and 99designs becoming more popular, you can try out different gigs to see if there’s anything that you feel is a good fit for you. Trying out these side hustles can offer a low-risk opportunity to test out your business ideas and help yourself grow as an entrepreneur.

    If you’re interested in starting a side hustle but aren’t sure how to get started, an excellent way to begin is to pinpoint your own talents and passions. What kind of marketable skills do you have? Do you see people paying for work you’ve done for free? What kind of things are you drawn to in your free time? These questions can lead in the right direction.

    Once you have a handle on what you can offer, consider who your ideal prospective client is: what kind of problems or needs do they have, and how can your knowledge and skills help solve their issues?

    While it’s not necessary to choose a side hustle in a field that you are renowned for, pursuing something you are passionate about can be a huge positive. You’ll be more motivated when your side gig feels more like a creative outlet and is something you’re good at, versus feeling like more work.

    How your .design domain can help your side hustle grow!

    Companies and start-ups need freelancers more than ever. Hiring a freelancer makes sense for most businesses, as it helps keep overhead costs down and they get the expertise when they need it. When it comes to designing a new logo, having professional photographs taken of their products, or needing help with making their website more attractive, companies often will turn to the internet to find talented individuals for assistance.

    In order to make your side hustle look professional, having a .design domain name will help businesses understand immediately who you are and what you do. Click the button below to see if your domain name is available and get started working on your new side hustle!