NFTs. DAOs. Web3.
These are all terms tossed around every group chat in the past year.
While it’s exciting to talk about, many creators today lack a reliable guide to offer a smooth onboarding journey to web3.
Whether it’s a lack of confidence on where to spend time, who to partner with or simply how to get started - this article looks to serve as a resource for creators new to web3.
Unlike the vast majority of the population, creators tend to enter new technology with an existing following.
Whether it’s followers on Instagram, TikTok, Spotify or Youtube - there have never been more ways to build an audience online.
This leverage point makes onboarding much different from someone fresh out of college with virtually no social capital at risk, and only the world to gain (me in 2017).
The more followers a creator has, the bigger target they have on their back.
Naysayers are eagerly waiting for you to slip up, and there’s far more ways for things to go wrong than there is for them to go right.
Despite this, web3 companies are eagerly looking to partner with creators - oftentimes providing early access, spotlights and in rare cases, ownership, to their partners.
So - where does this leave us?
Reputation is Everything
Before you accept an offer from an NFT project to post on their behalf - think through the trickle down effects.
Whereas brand sponsorships have historically led followers to purchase a small product or service, the stakes are much higher in web3.
Every social post you make is a financial endorsement of the affiliated project.
As a rule of thumb - operate as if your post will directly influence someone to invest their life savings into the project you are speaking about.
While this is a clear exaggeration, there are millions of people completely new to web3 - and their reference point on what to buy and where to spend their time is a direct reflection of where they believe their favorite creators are spending theirs.
The next time you’re offered money to make a post about a project - stop right there.
No web3 project worth endorsing will ever spend money asking you to post on their behalf.
In fact, projects that approach you with a financial incentive to post, speak or represent them are often a great representation of what to avoid.
That project is betting that your endorsement will net in more sales than what they're paying you to post.
Think through that - someone you barely know is banking on the fact that your followers will convert to direct sales with no preexisting knowledge of who they are, what they like, or what their financial standing is.
Treat every co-sign as if it’s a part of your permanent record.
Your track record for endorsement directly correlates to your reputation in web3, and the more you are seen affiliated with projects that are unable to execute, the less weight your reputation carries.
Your reputation is more valuable than any amount of money. Protect it at all costs.
Invest with Time
The biggest leverage creators have is brand power.
What you say directly impacts what people consume.
Before you start gambling on NFTs, spend time understanding base primitives and what makes one project more desirable than another.
Operating from a place of confidence with an educated view on web3 is an extremely valuable skill. The more you learn, the more you can sift through the bullshit and focus on projects with genuine, long-term impact.
While there is no concrete grading rubric to say one project is better than another, some general rules of thumb:
- Do the founders look reliable?
- Have they executed on their promises?
- Is there a clear communication channel between the community and the team?
Over time - you’ll start to notice there is a clear pattern among the projects performing best.
You’ll notice that successful teams fully focus on delivering what they committed to building - with zero talk about the price of their token.
If you notice that a project is focused on growth campaigns to get followers, retweets about price performance or vague statements about pie in the sky ideas - it’s best to avoid it all together.
There are a number of media brands worth keeping up with, as they’ll often serve as a litmus test for whether or not a project is worth paying attention to:
- NFT Now
- The First Mint
- The Defiant
- The Block
- Water & Music
- Seed Club
Ownership Over Dollars
If you’re offered an opportunity to partner with an NFT project, ask to be paid in ownership.
This can take the form of NFTs, equity in the parent company or governance tokens.
Reliable teams will generally implement the same vesting schedules with partners as they have themselves. Vesting schedules are pre-defined lock-up periods which ensure that core contributors are aligned over a longer time horizon.
The most common vesting period is 4 years, though it's common to see vesting periods as short as one year.
Projects that don’t utilize vesting for the core team or their partners are the most likely to act maliciously if things go wrong.
If you are approached by a team looking to pay you in dollars, ask them to be paid in ownership and see where the conversation lands.
This way, your success is directly affiliated with the success of the project - allowing you to operate with a clear mind and shared vested interest in it’s ambitions.
Protect Your Key
There are countless examples of highly intelligent people losing their entire web3 holdings by exposing their private key.
Your private key is that 12 letter set of words that acts as your master password.
This is the digital key to your house and checking account, and if you give it to someone else, they will break in and steal everything.
Here are some best practices when it comes to wallet security:
Circle of Trust
You are the result of the five people you spend the most time with.
The more successful creators become, the smaller their inner circle grows in tandem.
Unfortunately, this means once someone pierces that veil, creators are more likely to blindly trust those opinions.
It’s extremely extremely important that you conduct a thorough vibe check on the next person coming to you as the “web3 guru”.
Most people are full of shit, and very few have had a reliable track record in web3 outside of a few lucky mints here and there.
More broadly, those coming to you with “quick flips” are actually counterproductive.
The winning recipe for web3 is longevity, not degeneracy.
Ignore the noise and focus on building long-term trust. It will take you 100x further.
For creators ready to dive into web3, here are some places to start.
Conduct small, isolated experiments with low financial stakes. Learn how to use the technology without putting your whole brand on the line. Give out free POAPs and let your fans claim them without paying a dime.
Establish a web3 footprint by setting up a .eth address using ENS or by filling out your OpenSea profile. Make a Telegram and a Discord account. Start using Twitter.
Listen to the conversation. Join Twitter spaces like the OhhShiny Show. Start operating from an educated foundation so you can translate the same to your community.
Most importantly - recognize that you will almost definitely fail a few times before you win.
Losing all your investment in a project is a rite of passage - don’t be afraid to try because of what might go wrong. Expect everything to go wrong and prepare to learn from those mistakes to better inform your next shot on goal.
Everyone starts from square one in web3.
No one knows what they’re doing during their first few months.
Embrace the fact that the best way to learn is through trial and error, and that early on there will likely be a lot more errors than there will wins.
To this - be wise about how you step into the space.
Try and focus on everything aside from making money. Give NFTs away for free. Build a superfan community. Make relationships with industry leaders.
Soon enough, you’ll find yourself in a high leverage position to influence the direction of the Creator Economy at large.
But - it all comes back to one core principle:
No amount of money is worth a shattered reputation.