Article 1 - Inside the mind of a NFT collector
Article 1 - Inside the mind of a NFT collector

Article 1 - Inside the mind of a NFT collector

10 min read
September 23rd, 2021

Hi all,

Welcome to the first article in the series! If you haven't already, read "Article 0 - Inside the mind of a NFT collector" before reading any further.

Inside the mind of a NFT collector


I first won "Peonies #1" in an auction from Gabriel Dean Roberts on 3/14/2021 for 0.5 ETH. This NFT is a 20 second multiframe animation of shots from a Leica X2-- the color and lighting transitions in this piece are so smooth and subtle. The still image doesn't do it justice, so I would highly recommend viewing it on OpenSea to see how beautiful it is for yourself.

Despite being an astounding photographer with a great background, Gabriel comes across as humble, authentic, and constantly seeks constructive advice to hone his craft. When I first discovered him in early March, he had around 800 followers. Since then, I've interacted with Gabriel through Twitter on several occasions. I've also referenced his work on the Nifty Whale YouTube channel and during talks on Clubhouse, which is currently one of the hottest social media apps for discussing NFTs.

Inside the mind of a NFT collector

This is one of the Tweets that Gabriel had pinned for over a week. The advice I give for many trying to make a name for themselves in the NFT space: your pinned Tweet should serve as an introduction to yourself and your work.

Currently in the NFT world, discoverability is a huge issue. On the marketplaces and platforms where creators are putting their NFTs up for sale, the search and filtering functionality is horribly executed. Given this, most of your potential collectors will NOT discover you directly through these platforms. They will discover you through social media channels, or through word of mouth.

Currently, Twitter and Clubhouse are two crucial social media platforms for the NFT space. These two platforms will be critical for NFT creators to gain attention and develop a following for their work. Adding on to that, TikTok is another highly under-leveraged platform for NFT creators. Every NFT creator should aim to be on these three platforms as a starting point.

Inside the mind of a NFT collecto

On Twitter, you should focus on optimizing your feed to present your work and personality at all times. One thing I like about Gabriel's Twitter Feed is that he's constantly showing off his work and sharing his story in video form. Video communication suits him well as it leans into his strengths: he is able to produce videos with a professional (yet casual) feel to them, and he is very natural on camera without being awkward. Gabriel sometimes records videos while he's in his studio, or takes the viewer on a walk with him to Central Park as he chats about his NFTs. Not every NFT creator needs to produce videos, but they should seek to find a preferred communication medium that works for them.

Unfortunately, many NFT creators do not put in the work when it comes to personal branding. They lazily post links to their work on their feed or repeatedly shill links on Twitter. They fail to answer the most important question on collector's minds: "why should I buy this, and why should I care about you?"

The power of personal branding is at the core of the value of NFTs. Some creators hold a flawed viewpoint, thinking "if my work is great, they will sell." Sorry, but that's not true. If collectors are not invested in your personality and your journey as a creator, it will be almost impossible to stand out in the NFT space. When starting out, the actual quality of the work will not be the critical factor of your success. If you want proof of this, take a look at the various low-effort collectibles or sloppily done meme NFTs. Along these lines, I've spoken with many creators that have felt discouraged while observing celebrities or other social media influencers jumping into the NFT space. They are disappointed by these perceived "cash grabs," as these influencers are able to sell their own NFTs with huge price tags without having put much thought or effort into them. But there's a lesson to be learned here: personal branding is important. Learn this lesson early, and always have this in the forefront of your mind. (Note: I want to make learning personal branding easy for NFT creators, and I will be writing about it more in the future as a part of the "How to build a personal brand as a NFT creator" series.)

The Collector's Perspective

There are many different types of collectors, so let's define the profile of the standard "Nifty Whale Collector." The Nifty Whale Collector seeks to support hardworking creators in the NFT Community by purchasing or directly bidding on NFTs. They choose to buy an NFT so they can hold it in their collection and admire it for a while, but they may sell it later at a higher price so that they can use the funds to purchase more NFTs and support other artists as well. The Nifty Whale Collector does their due diligence and research on the background of artists, and seeks to get a complete picture of the creator. They understand that many pieces in the NFT space are overvalued, and they do not buy into "hype" unless they have a strong reason to do so.

Since the Nifty Whale Collector may want to sell pieces in their collection at a higher price at some point in the future, they carefully evaluate the skillset and potential of the artist. One of the most difficult questions they have to ask is, "I care about this artist, how likely is it that other collectors will care about this artist as well?"

Inside the mind of a NFT collector

In the investing world, we look for "signals" that indicate whether an investment will be successful or not. Similarly, a skilled collector that goes through Gabriel's work will be able to pick up many signals. I will share some of these observations with you:

  • Gabriel is a skilled photographer that produces beautiful work. He has a strong background in this field, and he has the potential to develop a wider audience and mainstream appeal for his NFTs.
  • Gabriel is a strong communicator, which is essential for personal branding. He is able to articulate his thoughts clearly in a medium that suits him. This indicates that if he takes the right steps, he will be able to develop a huge following.
  • Gabriel has sold many of his NFTs already (however, noting here that he had not sold many when I first discovered him and bid on his work!) This indicates that there is existing demand for his work, and this demand will only increase as he establishes himself more in the space. This will ultimately drive up the price floor for his NFTs.
  • Gabriel recently shared on Twitter that he quit his job to create NFTs. This is an incredible signal, as it shows that they are very passionate about their work and are seriously determined to do whatever it takes to find success. The mere fact that more collectors are not making note of this and bidding on as many pieces as possible while they are still early is a testament to the lack of serious research and due diligence in the space.
  • Going through their Twitter feed and observing how they interact with others, it is clear that Gabriel is inquisitive and eager to learn. A growth mindset is a strong signal, as the NFT landscape is constantly changing at a breakneck pace. The ability to adapt and improvise will be the differentiating factor for many NFT creators.
  • Gabriel displays strong attention to the collector experience. He calls collectors his "VIPs", interacts with them regularly, and sends gifts to early bidders (or those who have helped him on his journey). This type of behavior is likely to develop strong connections and customer loyalty, which is a strong signal.

I could continue for several more bullet points, but for the sake of brevity I believe these are the strongest signals worth paying attention to. In summary, Gabriel has the skillset, mindset, and approach to find huge success in the NFT space.

Areas of Improvement

Gabriel can revisit his social media strategy to promote rapid growth. In general, "selling" is not as great a strategy as "personal branding" when it comes to long term growth. One of the things I observed about Gabriel in the past is that he tends to use his social media to “sell” quite often, which involves posting announcements about his newest or latest piece. This isn’t appealing to many, as proven by the lack of comments or likes on many of these types of posts. Engagement metrics are important, as they are indicators of an audience that is invested into your work and journey. An important question to ask would be: “what do my followers want to see?” People don’t follow artists because they want to constantly receive notifications on their phone which essentially double as ads for their latest piece. There's a lot of meaningful human interaction and sharing that can be done on social media platforms.

The way you communicate your ideas and thoughts are extremely important. A stunning example of this is how fitness influencers make their living on YouTube. Many fitness influencers sell their own workout and nutrition plans. People buy plans from these influencers because they enjoy consuming either (1) the free informational content that they provide (which brings a lot of value to them) or (2) the entertaining vlog-type content they provide (indicating that they are invested in their journey and personality.) Either way, establishing trust and a strong bond with a growing fanbase is essential to achieving massive success in the NFT space (or in any industry). If the main content you put out besides your NFTs are essentially announcement posts, it’ll be tough to gain a loyal following.

Inside the mind of a NFT collector

Gabriel recently started a YouTube channel, and I would suggest using that platform as a place to start sharing longer-form content. "About my work as an NFT artist" was a great first video. As an early NFT adopter and photographer, there are many opportunities for Gabriel to establish himself as an expert and take on a mentorship figure in the space. He can provide educational content not only on how he sets up his photographs, but also on how he mints and puts his NFTs up for auction.

This could grab a wide audience on many platforms. Think about it--today, a human being is able to take pictures of flowers and sell them for thousands of dollars as part of the "blockchain." As NFTs and the ownership of digital assets become increasingly mainstream, people will look back to this period in time as a pivotal moment in history. All creators should be taking advantage of this, and document the things they did in an informative and entertaining manner. If done properly, this content will have mass appeal to a wide audience. People will watch and listen. Some of these people will become future collectors. Otherwise, the social validation of a massive audience alone will cause other collectors to buy.

Inside the mind of a NFT collector

From a business and NFT perspective, I think it would be worth it for Gabriel to slow down on his drops and put more thought into each piece. From a product perspective, I would think more about what makes each "product line" unique, or what the value-add would be for collectors. As I shared earlier, I bought "Peonies #1" from Gabriel. In the screenshot I'm sharing now, you can also see that "Peonies Session 2 #1" exists, as does "Psychedelic Peonies #" (which doesn't even have a number?) I am sure that "Psychedelic Peonies #1" also exists somewhere, which this screenshot doesn't capture. From the collector's perspective, these works cause confusion. Confusion is bad, because it makes collectors less likely to buy. Since "Peonies #1" was the first NFT before this series, I feel comfortable that it was a good investment. However, as a collector looking at these other Peonies, I wouldn't be as eager.

Inside the mind of a NFT collector

An example of an artist who takes their time with their work is the young artist Fewocious. Each of their pieces are recognizable, distinct, and intentional. There is nothing wrong with collectibles. However, I would suggest to make each "line" of collectibles very clear. In Gabriel's case, there are too many different "Peonies" series which causes confusion.

Another great benefit of slowing down NFT drops is that it would allow him to focus more on the personal branding aspect of each piece, and think more carefully about the narrative created around each NFT.

Conclusion Gabriel has huge potential for growth in the NFT world and I am happy to be one of his earliest collectors. I would expect the price floor for many of his pieces to dramatically rise in the medium to long-term. This article covered many points that artists and collectors alike would hopefully be able to benefit from. For the sake of the overall NFT Community, I hope that people begin to carefully consider the value proposition for NFTs and the artists behind it, and not merely the "clout" or "hype" around each drop. If this line of thinking is done at a wider scale, we collectively reduce the odds of a violent "NFT bubble" pop. By valuing NFTs in a rational manner (relative to each other), we can smoothly maintain the value of a wider net of NFTs as we move forward. In doing so, we can build a stronger community and protect the livelihoods of those involved in the space. Thanks for reading, and look forward to Article 2 coming soon. Take care for now!

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