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Ben Chino

Ben Chino

2 months ago

100-day SaaS buildout.

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Grace Huang

Grace Huang

3 months ago

I sold 100 copies of my book when I had anticipated selling none.

After a decade in large tech, I know how software engineers were interviewed. I've seen outstanding engineers fail interviews because their responses were too vague.

So I wrote Nail A Coding Interview: Six-Step Mental Framework. Give candidates a mental framework for coding questions; help organizations better prepare candidates so they can calibrate traits.

Recently, I sold more than 100 books, something I never expected.

In this essay, I'll describe my publication journey, which included self-doubt and little triumphs. I hope this helps if you want to publish.

It was originally a Medium post.

How did I know to develop a coding interview book? Years ago, I posted on Medium.

Six steps to ace a coding interview Inhale. blog.devgenius.io

This story got a lot of attention and still gets a lot of daily traffic. It indicates this domain's value.

Converted the Medium article into an ebook

The Medium post contains strong bullet points, but it is missing the “flesh”. How to use these strategies in coding interviews, for example. I filled in the blanks and made a book.

I made the book cover for free. It's tidy.

Shared the article with my close friends on my social network WeChat.

I shared the book on Wechat's Friend Circle (朋友圈) after publishing it on Gumroad. Many friends enjoyed my post. It definitely triggered endorphins.

In Friend Circle, I presented a 100% off voucher. No one downloaded the book. Endorphins made my heart sink.

Several days later, my Apple Watch received a Gumroad notification. A friend downloaded it. I majored in finance, he subsequently said. My brother-in-law can get it? He downloaded it to cheer me up.

I liked him, but was disappointed that he didn't read it.

The Tipping Point: Reddit's Free Giving

I trusted the book. It's based on years of interviewing. I felt it might help job-hunting college students. If nobody wants it, it can still have value.

I posted the book's link on /r/leetcode. I told them to DM me for a free promo code.

Momentum shifted everything. Gumroad notifications kept coming when I was out with family. Following orders.

As promised, I sent DMs a promo code. Some consumers ordered without asking for a promo code. Some readers finished the book and posted reviews.

My book was finally on track.

A 5-Star Review, plus More

A reader afterwards DMed me and inquired if I had another book on system design interviewing. I said that was a good idea, but I didn't have one. If you write one, I'll be your first reader.

Later, I asked for a book review. Yes, but how? That's when I learned readers' reviews weren't easy. I built up an email pipeline to solicit customer reviews. Since then, I've gained credibility through ratings.

Learnings

I wouldn't have gotten 100 if I gave up when none of my pals downloaded. Here are some lessons.

  • Your friends are your allies, but they are not your clients.

  • Be present where your clients are

  • Request ratings and testimonials

  • gain credibility gradually

I did it, so can you. Follow me on Twitter @imgracehuang for my publishing and entrepreneurship adventure.

Kaitlin Fritz

Kaitlin Fritz

3 months ago

The Entrepreneurial Chicken and Egg

University entrepreneurship is like a Willy Wonka Factory of ideas. Classes, roommates, discussions, and the cafeteria all inspire new ideas. I've seen people establish a business without knowing its roots.

Chicken or egg? On my mind: I've asked university founders around the world whether the problem or solution came first.

The Problem

One African team I met started with the “instant noodles” problem in their academic ecosystem. Many of us have had money issues in college, which may have led to poor nutritional choices.

Many university students in a war-torn country ate quick noodles or pasta for dinner.

Noodles required heat, water, and preparation in the boarding house. Unreliable power from one hot plate per blue moon. What's healthier, easier, and tastier than sodium-filled instant pots?

BOOM. They were fixing that. East African kids need affordable, nutritious food.

This is a real difficulty the founders faced every day with hundreds of comrades.

This sparked their serendipitous entrepreneurial journey and became their business's cornerstone.

The Solution

I asked a UK team about their company idea. They said the solution fascinated them.

The crew was fiddling with social media algorithms. Why are some people more popular? They were studying platforms and social networks, which offered a way for them.

Solving a problem? Yes. Long nights of university research lead them to it. Is this like world hunger? Social media influencers confront this difficulty regularly.

It made me ponder something. Is there a correct response?

In my heart, yes, but in my head…maybe?

I believe you should lead with empathy and embrace the problem, not the solution. Big or small, businesses should solve problems. This should be your focus. This is especially true when building a social company with an audience in mind.

Philosophically, invention and innovation are occasionally accidental. Also not penalized. Think about bugs and the creation of Velcro, or the inception of Teflon. They tackle difficulties we overlook. The route to the problem may look different, but there is a path there.

There's no golden ticket to the Chicken-Egg debate, but I'll keep looking this summer.

Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird

23 days ago

Memes Help This YouTube Channel Earn Over $12k Per Month

Image credit: Jakob Owens via Unsplash

Take a look at a YouTube channel making anything up to over $12k a month from making very simple videos.

And the best part? Its replicable by anyone. Basic videos can be generated for free without design abilities.

Join me as I deconstruct the channel to estimate how much they make, how they do it, and how you can too.

What Do They Do Exactly?

Happy Land posts memes with a simple caption they wrote. So, it's new. The videos are a slideshow of meme photos with stock music.

The site posts 12 times a day.

8-10-minute videos show 10 second images. Thus, each video needs 48-60 memes.

Memes are video titles (e.g. times a boyfriend was hilarious, back to school fails, funny restaurant signs).

Some stats about the channel:

  • Founded on October 30, 2020

  • 873 videos were added.

  • 81.8k subscribers

  • 67,244,196 views of the video

What Value Are They Adding?

Everyone can find free memes online. This channel collects similar memes into a single video so you don't have to scroll or click for more. It’s right there, you just keep watching and more will come.

By theming it, the audience is prepared for the video's content.

If you want hilarious animal memes or restaurant signs, choose the video and you'll get up to 60 memes without having to look for them. Genius!

How much money do they make?

According to www.socialblade.com, the channel earns $800-12.8k (image shown in my home currency of GBP).

Screenshot from SocialBlade.com

That's a crazy estimate, but it highlights the unbelievable potential of a channel that presents memes.

This channel thrives on quantity, thus putting out videos is necessary to keep the flow continuing and capture its audience's attention.

How Are the Videos Made?

Straightforward. Memes are added to a presentation without editing (so you could make this in PowerPoint or Keynote).

Each slide should include a unique image and caption. Set 10 seconds per slide.

Add music and post the video.

Finding enough memes for the material and theming is difficult, but if you enjoy memes, this is a fun job.

This case study should have shown you that you don't need expensive software or design expertise to make entertaining videos. Why not try fresh, easy-to-do ideas and see where they lead?

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Tim Denning

Tim Denning

1 month ago

I Posted Six Times a Day for 210 Days on Twitter. Here's What Happened.

I'd spend hours composing articles only to find out they were useless. Twitter solved the problem.

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

Twitter is wrinkled, say critics.

Nope. Writing is different. It won't make sense until you write there.

Twitter is resurgent. People are reading again. 15-second TikToks overloaded our senses.

After nuking my 20,000-follower Twitter account and starting again, I wrote every day for 210 days.

I'll explain.

I came across the strange world of microblogging.

Traditional web writing is filler-heavy.

On Twitter, you must be brief. I played Wordle.

Twitter Threads are the most popular writing format. Like a blog post. It reminds me of the famous broetry posts on LinkedIn a few years ago.

Image Credit: Josh Fetcher via LinkedIn

Threads combine tweets into an article.

  • Sharp, concise sentences

  • No regard for grammar

  • As important as the information is how the text looks.

Twitter Threads are like Michael Angelo's David monument. He chipped away at an enormous piece of marble until a man with a big willy appeared.

That's Twitter Threads.

I tried to remove unnecessary layers from several of my Wordpress blog posts. Then I realized something.

Tweeting from scratch is easier and more entertaining. It's quicker and makes you think more concisely.

Superpower: saying much with little words. My long-form writing has improved. My article sentences resemble tweets.

You never know what will happen.

Twitter's subcultures are odd. Best-performing tweets are strange.

Unusual trend: working alone and without telling anyone. It's a rebellion against Instagram influencers who share their every moment.

Early on, random thoughts worked:

My friend’s wife is Ukrainian. Her family are trapped in the warzone. He is devastated. And here I was complaining about my broken garage door. War puts everything in perspective. Today is a day to be grateful for peace.

Documenting what's happening triggers writing. It's not about viral tweets. Helping others matters.

There are numerous anonymous users.

Twitter uses pseudonyms.

You don't matter. On sites like LinkedIn, you must use your real name. Welcome to the Cyberpunk metaverse of Twitter :)

One daily piece of writing is a powerful habit.

Habits build creator careers. Read that again.

Twitter is an easy habit to pick up. If you can't tweet in one sentence, something's wrong. Easy-peasy-japanese.

Not what I tweeted, but my constancy, made the difference.

Daily writing is challenging, especially if your supervisor is on your back. Twitter encourages writing.

Tweets evolved as the foundation of all other material.

During my experiment, I enjoyed Twitter's speed.

Tweets get immediate responses, comments, and feedback. My popular tweets become newspaper headlines. I've also written essays from tweet discussions.

Sometimes the tweet and article were clear. Twitter sometimes helped me overcome writer's block.

I used to spend hours composing big things that had little real-world use.

Twitter helped me. No guessing. Data guides my coverage and validates concepts.

Test ideas on Twitter.

It took some time for my email list to grow.

Subscribers are a writer's lifeblood.

Without them, you're broke and homeless when Mark Zuckerberg tweaks the algorithms for ad dollars. Twitter has three ways to obtain email subscribers:

1. Add a link to your bio.

Twitter allows bio links (LinkedIn now does too). My eBook's landing page is linked. I collect emails there.

2. Start an online newsletter.

Twitter bought newsletter app Revue. They promote what they own.

I just established up a Revue email newsletter. I imported them weekly into my ConvertKit email list.

3. Create Twitter threads and include a link to your email list in the final tweet.

Write Twitter Threads and link the last tweet to your email list (example below).

Initial email subscribers were modest.

Numbers are growing. Twitter provides 25% of my new email subscribers. Some days, 50 people join.

Without them, my writing career is over. I'd be back at a 9-5 job begging for time off to spend with my newborn daughter. Nope.

Collect email addresses or die trying.

As insurance against unsubscribes and Zucks, use a second email list or Discord community.

What I still need to do

Twitter's fun. I'm wiser. I need to enable auto-replies and auto-DMs (direct messages).

This adds another way to attract subscribers. I schedule tweets with Tweet Hunter.

It’s best to go slow. People assume you're an internet marketer if you spam them with click requests.

A human internet marketer is preferable to a robot. My opinion.

210 days on Twitter taught me that. I plan to use the platform until I'm a grandfather unless Elon ruins it.

Liam Vaughan

Liam Vaughan

6 months ago

Investors can bet big on almost anything on a new prediction market.

Kalshi allows five-figure bets on the Grammys, the next Covid wave, and future SEC commissioners. Worst-case scenario

On Election Day 2020, two young entrepreneurs received a call from the CFTC chairman. Luana Lopes Lara and Tarek Mansour spent 18 months trying to start a new type of financial exchange. Instead of betting on stock prices or commodity futures, people could trade instruments tied to real-world events, such as legislation, the weather, or the Oscar winner.

Heath Tarbert, a Trump appointee, shouted "Congratulations." "You're competing with 1840s-era markets. I'm sure you'll become a powerhouse too."

Companies had tried to introduce similar event markets in the US for years, but Tarbert's agency, the CFTC, said no, arguing they were gambling and prone to cheating. Now the agency has reversed course, approving two 24-year-olds who will have first-mover advantage in what could become a huge new asset class. Kalshi Inc. raised $30 million from venture capitalists within weeks of Tarbert's call, his representative says. Mansour, 26, believes this will be bigger than crypto.

Anyone who's read The Wisdom of Crowds knows prediction markets' potential. Well-designed markets can help draw out knowledge from disparate groups, and research shows that when money is at stake, people make better predictions. Lopes Lara calls it a "bullshit tax." That's why Google, Microsoft, and even the US Department of Defense use prediction markets internally to guide decisions, and why university-linked political betting sites like PredictIt sometimes outperform polls.

Regulators feared Wall Street-scale trading would encourage investors to manipulate reality. If the stakes are high enough, traders could pressure congressional staffers to stall a bill or bet on whether Kanye West's new album will drop this week. When Lopes Lara and Mansour pitched the CFTC, senior regulators raised these issues. Politically appointed commissioners overruled their concerns, and one later joined Kalshi's board.

Will Kanye’s new album come out next week? Yes or no?

Kalshi's victory was due more to lobbying and legal wrangling than to Silicon Valley-style innovation. Lopes Lara and Mansour didn't invent anything; they changed a well-established concept's governance. The result could usher in a new era of market-based enlightenment or push Wall Street's destructive tendencies into the real world.

If Kalshi's founders lacked experience to bolster their CFTC application, they had comical youth success. Lopes Lara studied ballet at the Brazilian Bolshoi before coming to the US. Mansour won France's math Olympiad. They bonded over their work ethic in an MIT computer science class.

Lopes Lara had the idea for Kalshi while interning at a New York hedge fund. When the traders around her weren't working, she noticed they were betting on the news: Would Apple hit a trillion dollars? Kylie Jenner? "It was anything," she says.

Are mortgage rates going up? Yes or no?

Mansour saw the business potential when Lopes Lara suggested it. He interned at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., helping investors prepare for the UK leaving the EU. Goldman sold clients complex stock-and-derivative combinations. As he discussed it with Lopes Lara, they agreed that investors should hedge their risk by betting on Brexit itself rather than an imperfect proxy.

Lopes Lara and Mansour hypothesized how a marketplace might work. They settled on a "event contract," a binary-outcome instrument like "Will inflation hit 5% by the end of the month?" The contract would settle at $1 (if the event happened) or zero (if it didn't), but its price would fluctuate based on market sentiment. After a good debate, a politician's election odds may rise from 50 to 55. Kalshi would charge a commission on every trade and sell data to traders, political campaigns, businesses, and others.

In October 2018, five months after graduation, the pair flew to California to compete in a hackathon for wannabe tech founders organized by the Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator. They built a website in a day and a night and presented it to entrepreneurs the next day. Their prototype barely worked, but they won a three-month mentorship program and $150,000. Michael Seibel, managing director of Y Combinator, said of their idea, "I had to take a chance!"

Will there be another moon landing by 2025?

Seibel's skepticism was rooted in America's historical wariness of gambling. Roulette, poker, and other online casino games are largely illegal, and sports betting was only legal in a few states until May 2018. Kalshi as a risk-hedging platform rather than a bookmaker seemed like a good idea, but convincing the CFTC wouldn't be easy. In 2012, the CFTC said trading on politics had no "economic purpose" and was "contrary to the public interest."

Lopes Lara and Mansour cold-called 60 Googled lawyers during their time at Y Combinator. Everyone advised quitting. Mansour recalls the pain. Jeff Bandman, a former CFTC official, helped them navigate the agency and its characters.

When they weren’t busy trying to recruit lawyers, Lopes Lara and Mansour were meeting early-stage investors. Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital Operations LLC backed Airbnb, DoorDash, and Uber Technologies. Lin told the founders their idea could capitalize on retail trading and challenge how the financial world manages risk. "Come back with regulatory approval," he said.

In the US, even small bets on most events were once illegal. Under the Commodity Exchange Act, the CFTC can stop exchanges from listing contracts relating to "terrorism, assassination, war" and "gaming" if they are "contrary to the public interest," which was often the case.

Will subway ridership return to normal? Yes or no?

In 1988, as academic interest in the field grew, the agency allowed the University of Iowa to set up a prediction market for research purposes, as long as it didn't make a profit or advertise and limited bets to $500. PredictIt, the biggest and best-known political betting platform in the US, also got an exemption thanks to an association with Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Today, it's a sprawling marketplace with its own subculture and lingo. PredictIt users call it "Rules Cuck Panther" when they lose on a technicality. Major news outlets cite PredictIt's odds on Discord and the Star Spangled Gamblers podcast.

CFTC limits PredictIt bets to $850. To keep traders happy, PredictIt will often run multiple variations of the same question, listing separate contracts for two dozen Democratic primary candidates, for example. A trader could have more than $10,000 riding on a single outcome. Some of the site's traders are current or former campaign staffers who can answer questions like "How many tweets will Donald Trump post from Nov. 20 to 27?" and "When will Anthony Scaramucci's role as White House communications director end?"

According to PredictIt co-founder John Phillips, politicians help explain the site's accuracy. "Prediction markets work well and are accurate because they attract people with superior information," he said in a 2016 podcast. “In the financial stock market, it’s called inside information.”

Will Build Back Better pass? Yes or no?

Trading on nonpublic information is illegal outside of academia, which presented a dilemma for Lopes Lara and Mansour. Kalshi's forecasts needed to be accurate. Kalshi must eliminate insider trading as a regulated entity. Lopes Lara and Mansour wanted to build a high-stakes PredictIt without the anarchy or blurred legal lines—a "New York Stock Exchange for Events." First, they had to convince regulators event trading was safe.

When Lopes Lara and Mansour approached the CFTC in the spring of 2019, some officials in the Division of Market Oversight were skeptical, according to interviews with people involved in the process. For all Kalshi's talk of revolutionizing finance, this was just a turbocharged version of something that had been rejected before.

The DMO couldn't see the big picture. The staff review was supposed to ensure Kalshi could complete a checklist, "23 Core Principles of a Designated Contract Market," which included keeping good records and having enough money. The five commissioners decide. With Trump as president, three of them were ideologically pro-market.

Lopes Lara, Mansour, and their lawyer Bandman, an ex-CFTC official, answered the DMO's questions while lobbying the commissioners on Zoom about the potential of event markets to mitigate risks and make better decisions. Before each meeting, they would write a script and memorize it word for word.

Will student debt be forgiven? Yes or no?

Several prediction markets that hadn't sought regulatory approval bolstered Kalshi's case. Polymarket let customers bet hundreds of thousands of dollars anonymously using cryptocurrencies, making it hard to track. Augur, which facilitates private wagers between parties using blockchain, couldn't regulate bets and hadn't stopped users from betting on assassinations. Kalshi, by comparison, argued it was doing everything right. (The CFTC fined Polymarket $1.4 million for operating an unlicensed exchange in January 2022. Polymarket says it's now compliant and excited to pioneer smart contract-based financial solutions with regulators.

Kalshi was approved unanimously despite some DMO members' concerns about event contracts' riskiness. "Once they check all the boxes, they're in," says a CFTC insider.

Three months after CFTC approval, Kalshi announced funding from Sequoia, Charles Schwab, and Henry Kravis. Sequoia's Lin, who joined the board, said Tarek, Luana, and team created a new way to invest and engage with the world.

The CFTC hadn't asked what markets the exchange planned to run since. After approval, Lopes Lara and Mansour had the momentum. Kalshi's March list of 30 proposed contracts caused chaos at the DMO. The division handles exchanges that create two or three new markets a year. Kalshi’s business model called for new ones practically every day.

Uncontroversial proposals included weather and GDP questions. Others, on the initial list and later, were concerning. DMO officials feared Covid-19 contracts amounted to gambling on human suffering, which is why war and terrorism markets are banned. (Similar logic doomed ex-admiral John Poindexter's Policy Analysis Market, a Bush-era plan to uncover intelligence by having security analysts bet on Middle East events.) Regulators didn't see how predicting the Grammy winners was different from betting on the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Who, other than John Legend, would need to hedge the best R&B album winner?

Event contracts raised new questions for the DMO's product review team. Regulators could block gaming contracts that weren't in the public interest under the Commodity Exchange Act, but no one had defined gaming. It was unclear whether the CFTC had a right or an obligation to consider whether a contract was in the public interest. How was it to determine public interest? Another person familiar with the CFTC review says, "It was a mess." The agency didn't comment.

CFTC staff feared some event contracts could be cheated. Kalshi wanted to run a bee-endangerment market. The DMO pushed back, saying it saw two problems symptomatic of the asset class: traders could press government officials for information, and officials could delay adding the insects to the list to cash in.

The idea that traders might manipulate prediction markets wasn't paranoid. In 2013, academics David Rothschild and Rajiv Sethi found that an unidentified party lost $7 million buying Mitt Romney contracts on Intrade, a now-defunct, unlicensed Irish platform, in the runup to the 2012 election. The authors speculated that the trader, whom they dubbed the “Romney Whale,” may have been looking to boost morale and keep donations coming in.

Kalshi said manipulation and insider trading are risks for any market. It built a surveillance system and said it would hire a team to monitor it. "People trade on events all the time—they just use options and other instruments. This brings everything into the open, Mansour says. Kalshi didn't include election contracts, a red line for CFTC Democrats.

Lopes Lara and Mansour were ready to launch kalshi.com that summer, but the DMO blocked them. Product reviewers were frustrated by spending half their time on an exchange that represented a tiny portion of the derivatives market. Lopes Lara and Mansour pressed politically appointed commissioners during the impasse.

Tarbert, the chairman, had moved on, but Kalshi found a new supporter in Republican Brian Quintenz, a crypto-loving former hedge fund manager. He was unmoved by the DMO's concerns, arguing that speculation on Kalshi's proposed events was desirable and the agency had no legal standing to prevent it. He supported a failed bid to allow NFL futures earlier this year. Others on the commission were cautious but supportive. Given the law's ambiguity, they worried they'd be on shaky ground if Kalshi sued if they blocked a contract. Without a permanent chairman, the agency lacked leadership.

To block a contract, DMO staff needed a majority of commissioners' support, which they didn't have in all but a few cases. "We didn't have the votes," a reviewer says, paraphrasing Hamilton. By the second half of 2021, new contract requests were arriving almost daily at the DMO, and the demoralized and overrun division eventually accepted defeat and stopped fighting back. By the end of the year, three senior DMO officials had left the agency, making it easier for Kalshi to list its contracts unimpeded.

Today, Kalshi is growing. 32 employees work in a SoHo office with big windows and exposed brick. Quintenz, who left the CFTC 10 months after Kalshi was approved, is on its board. He joined because he was interested in the market's hedging and risk management opportunities.

Mid-May, the company's website had 75 markets, such as "Will Q4 GDP be negative?" Will NASA land on the moon by 2025? The exchange recently reached 2 million weekly contracts, a jump from where it started but still a small number compared to other futures exchanges. Early adopters are PredictIt and Polymarket fans. Bets on the site are currently capped at $25,000, but Kalshi hopes to increase that to $100,000 and beyond.

With the regulatory drawbridge down, Lopes Lara and Mansour must move quickly. Chicago's CME Group Inc. plans to offer index-linked event contracts. Kalshi will release a smartphone app to attract customers. After that, it hopes to partner with a big brokerage. Sequoia is a major investor in Robinhood Markets Inc. Robinhood users could have access to Kalshi so that after buying GameStop Corp. shares, they'd be prompted to bet on the Oscars or the next Fed commissioner.

Some, like Illinois Democrat Sean Casten, accuse Robinhood and its competitors of gamifying trading to encourage addiction, but Kalshi doesn't seem worried. Mansour says Kalshi's customers can't bet more than they've deposited, making debt difficult. Eventually, he may introduce leveraged bets.

Tension over event contracts recalls another CFTC episode. Brooksley Born proposed regulating the financial derivatives market in 1994. Alan Greenspan and others in the government opposed her, saying it would stifle innovation and push capital overseas. Unrestrained, derivatives grew into a trillion-dollar industry until 2008, when they sparked the financial crisis.

Today, with a midterm election looming, it seems reasonable to ask whether Kalshi plans to get involved. Elections have historically been the biggest draw in prediction markets, with 125 million shares traded on PredictIt for 2020. “We can’t discuss specifics,” Mansour says. “All I can say is, you know, we’re always working on expanding the universe of things that people can trade on.”

Any election contracts would need CFTC approval, which may be difficult with three Democratic commissioners. A Republican president would change the equation.

Koji Mochizuki

Koji Mochizuki

10 months ago

How to Launch an NFT Project by Yourself

Creating 10,000 auto-generated artworks, deploying a smart contract to the Ethereum / Polygon blockchain, setting up some tools, etc.

There is so much to do from launching to running an NFT project. Creating parts for artworks, generating 10,000 unique artworks and metadata, creating a smart contract and deploying it to a blockchain network, creating a website, creating a Twitter account, setting up a Discord server, setting up an OpenSea collection. In addition, you need to have MetaMask installed in your browser and have some ETH / MATIC. Did you get tired of doing all this? Don’t worry, once you know what you need to do, all you have to do is do it one by one.

To be honest, it’s best to run an NFT project in a team of three or more, including artists, developers, and marketers. However, depending on your motivation, you can do it by yourself. Some people might come later to offer help with your project. The most important thing is to take a step as soon as possible.

Creating Parts for Artworks

There are lots of free/paid software for drawing, but after all, I think Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop is the best. The images of Skulls In Love are a composite of 48x48 pixel parts created using Photoshop.

The most important thing in creating parts for generative art is to repeatedly test what your artworks will look like after each layer has been combined. The generated artworks should not be too unnatural.

How Many Parts Should You Create?

Are you wondering how many parts you should create to avoid duplication as much as possible when generating your artworks? My friend Stephane, a developer, has created a great tool to help with that.

Generating 10,000 Unique Artworks and Metadata

I highly recommend using the HashLips Art Engine to generate your artworks and metadata. Perhaps there is no better artworks generation tool at the moment.

GitHub: https://github.com/HashLips/hashlips_art_engine
YouTube:

Storing Artworks and Metadata

Ideally, the generated artworks and metadata should be stored on-chain, but if you want to store them off-chain, you should use IPFS. Do not store in centralized storage. This is because data will be lost if the server goes down or if the company goes down. On the other hand, IPFS is a more secure way to find data because it utilizes a distributed, decentralized system.

Storing to IPFS is easy with Pinata, NFT.Storage, and so on. The Skulls In Love uses Pinata. It’s very easy to use, just upload the folder containing your artworks.

Creating and Deploying a Smart Contract

You don’t have to create a smart contract from scratch. There are many great NFT projects, many of which publish their contract source code on Etherscan / PolygonScan. You can choose the contract you like and reuse it. Of course, that requires some knowledge of Solidity, but it depends on your efforts. If you don’t know which contract to choose, use the HashLips smart contract. It’s very simple, but it has almost all the functions you need.

GitHub: https://github.com/HashLips/hashlips_nft_contract

Note: Later on, you may want to change the cost value. You can change it on Remix or Etherscan / PolygonScan. But in this case, enter the Wei value instead of the Ether value. For example, if you want to sell for 1 MATIC, you have to enter “1000000000000000000”. If you set this value to “1”, you will have a nightmare. I recommend using Simple Unit Converter as a tool to calculate the Wei value.

Creating a Website

The website here is not just a static site to showcase your project, it’s a so-called dApp that allows you to access your smart contract and mint NFTs. In fact, this level of dApp is not too difficult for anyone who has ever created a website. Because the ethers.js / web3.js libraries make it easy to interact with your smart contract. There’s also no problem connecting wallets, as MetaMask has great documentation.

The Skulls In Love uses a simple, fast, and modern dApp that I built from scratch using Next.js. It is published on GitHub, so feel free to use it.

Why do people mint NFTs on a website?

Ethereum’s gas fees are high, so if you mint all your NFTs, there will be a huge initial cost. So it makes sense to get the buyers to help with the gas fees for minting.
What about Polygon? Polygon’s gas fees are super cheap, so even if you mint 10,000 NFTs, it’s not a big deal. But we don’t do that. Since NFT projects are a kind of game, it involves the fun of not knowing what will come out after minting.

Creating a Twitter Account

I highly recommend creating a Twitter account. Twitter is an indispensable tool for announcing giveaways and reaching more people. It’s better to announce your project and your artworks little by little, 1–2 weeks before launching your project.

Creating and Setting Up a Discord Server

I highly recommend creating a Discord server as well as a Twitter account. The Discord server is a community and its home. Fans of your NFT project will want to join your community and interact with many other members. So, carefully create each channel on your Discord server to make it a cozy place for your community members.

If you are unfamiliar with Discord, you may be particularly confused by the following:
What bots should I use?
How should I set roles and permissions?
But don’t worry. There are lots of great YouTube videos and blog posts about these.
It’s also a good idea to join the Discord servers of some NFT projects and see how they’re made. Our Discord server is so simple that even beginners will find it easy to understand. Please join us and see it!

Note: First, create a test account and a test server to make sure your bots and permissions work properly. It is better to verify the behavior on the test server before setting up your production server.

UPDATED: As your Discord server grows, you cannot manage it on your own. In this case, you will be hiring several moderators, but choose carefully before hiring. And don’t give them important role permissions right after hiring. Initially, the same permissions as other members are sufficient. After a while, you can add permissions as needed, such as kicking/banning, using the “@every” tag, and adding roles. Again, don’t immediately give significant permissions to your Mod role. Your server can be messed up by fake moderators.

Setting Up Your OpenSea Collection

Before you start selling your NFTs, you need to reserve some for airdrops, giveaways, staff, and more. It’s up to you whether it’s 100, 500, or how many.

After minting some of your NFTs, your account and collection should have been created in OpenSea. Go to OpenSea, connect to your wallet, and set up your collection. Just set your logo, banner image, description, links, royalties, and more. It’s not that difficult.

Promoting Your Project

After all, promotion is the most important thing. In fact, almost every successful NFT project spends a lot of time and effort on it.

In addition to Twitter and Discord, it’s even better to use Instagram, Reddit, and Medium. Also, register your project in NFTCalendar and DISBOARD

DISBOARD is the public Discord server listing community.

About Promoters

You’ll probably get lots of contacts from promoters on your Discord, Twitter, Instagram, and more. But most of them are scams, so don’t pay right away. If you have a promoter that looks attractive to you, be sure to check the promoter’s social media accounts or website to see who he/she is. They basically charge in dollars. The amount they charge isn’t cheap, but promoters with lots of followers may have some temporary effect on your project. Some promoters accept 50% prepaid and 50% postpaid. If you can afford it, it might be worth a try. I never ask them, though.

When Should the Promotion Activities Start?

You may be worried that if you promote your project before it starts, someone will copy your project (artworks). It is true that some projects have actually suffered such damage. I don’t have a clear answer to this question right now, but:

  • Do not publish all the information about your project too early
  • The information should be released little by little
  • Creating artworks that no one can easily copy
    I think these are important.
    If anyone has a good idea, please share it!

About Giveaways

When hosting giveaways, you’ll probably use multiple social media platforms. You may want to grow your Discord server faster. But if joining the Discord server is included in the giveaway requirements, some people hate it. I recommend holding giveaways for each platform. On Twitter and Reddit, you should just add the words “Discord members-only giveaway is being held now! Please join us if you like!”.

If you want to easily pick a giveaway winner in your browser, I recommend Twitter Picker.

Precautions for Distributing Free NFTs

If you want to increase your Twitter followers and Discord members, you can actually get a lot of people by holding events such as giveaways and invite contests. However, distributing many free NFTs at once can be dangerous. Some people who want free NFTs, as soon as they get a free one, sell it at a very low price on marketplaces such as OpenSea. They don’t care about your project and are only thinking about replacing their own “free” NFTs with Ethereum. The lower the floor price of your NFTs, the lower the value of your NFTs (project). Try to think of ways to get people to “buy” your NFTs as much as possible.

Ethereum vs. Polygon

Even though Ethereum has high gas fees, NFT projects on the Ethereum network are still mainstream and popular. On the other hand, Polygon has very low gas fees and fast transaction processing, but NFT projects on the Polygon network are not very popular.

Why? There are several reasons, but the biggest one is that it’s a lot of work to get MATIC (on Polygon blockchain, use MATIC instead of ETH) ready to use. Simply put, you need to bridge your tokens to the Polygon chain. So people need to do this first before minting your NFTs on your website. It may not be a big deal for those who are familiar with crypto and blockchain, but it may be complicated for those who are not. I hope that the tedious work will be simplified in the near future.

If you are confident that your NFTs will be purchased even if they are expensive, or if the total supply of your NFTs is low, you may choose Ethereum. If you just want to save money, you should choose Polygon. Keep in mind that gas fees are incurred not only when minting, but also when performing some of your smart contract functions and when transferring your NFTs.
If I were to launch a new NFT project, I would probably choose Ethereum or Solana.

Conclusion

Some people may want to start an NFT project to make money, but don’t forget to enjoy your own project. Several months ago, I was playing with creating generative art by imitating the CryptoPunks. I found out that auto-generated artworks would be more interesting than I had imagined, and since then I’ve been completely absorbed in generative art.

This is one of the Skulls In Love artworks:

This character wears a cowboy hat, black slim sunglasses, and a kimono. If anyone looks like this, I can’t help laughing!

The Skulls In Love NFTs can be minted for a small amount of MATIC on the official website. Please give it a try to see what kind of unique characters will appear 💀💖

Thank you for reading to the end. I hope this article will be helpful to those who want to launch an NFT project in the future ✨