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5 tips to spot the next big NFT

Everything you need to know to catch the next up-and-coming NFT project in crypto.
William M. Peaster William M. Peaster May 3, 20228 min read
5 tips to spot the next big NFT

Dear Bankless Nation,

There’s a “hot” new NFT project every day.

But only a select few stick around to become something meaningful.

A year ago, you could’ve minted a Bored Ape for 0.08 ETH.

Today, they’re going for 114 ETH and have received multiple airdrops like Mutant Apes and ApeCoin—all of these compounding your potential return.

But don’t live with regret! More of these projects will come, you just have to learn how to find them.

How do you do it though?

William gives us some tips and tools for your NFT journey, so you can spot the next big NFT before the herd.


P.S. The hottest crypto conference is around the corner! Bankless Premium members get a 30% discount on tickets. Join us at Permissionless in Palm Beach in two weeks!

Tactic Tuesday

Bankless Writer: William M. Peaster, Bankless contributor and Metaversal writer

How to spot up-and-coming NFTs

The NFT ecosystem is one of the hottest sectors in the cryptoeconomy.

The problem is that it can take a lot of effort to find promising NFT projects. As such, this Bankless tactic will highlight some tips and tools you can use to streamline your NFT hunting activities.

  • Goal: Learn how to find hot upstart NFTs
  • Skill: Beginner
  • Effort: 30 minutes
  • ROI: Multiples on your ETH if you bet on the right projects!

Hunting for NFT projects before they hit the limelight

What’s the next big NFT project? Nobody knows, but almost everybody wants to know.

That’s because NFTs are fun and more community-driven than most other things right now, and a shrewd mint or secondary market purchase can generate more value than many opportunities. This powerful combo makes the hunt for cool new NFT projects very enticing.

Plus, you don’t have to find the next NFT behemoth like Bored Ape Yacht Club or Moonbirds to score NFT wins. A lot of times you may just be on the hunt for interesting projects without having strong opinions about whether you want to hold or flip at first. Then maybe one of those projects quickly goes 5x from its mint price, and you decide to cash out at that point. Nothing wrong with that.

Where to start though?

Whatever your NFT goals are, here are a handful of tips and tools I’d recommend to anyone who wants to find up-and-coming NFT projects before they get big.

5 tips for finding NFT projects

1. Track your favorite collections closely

Some NFT projects are one-offs, but many others build off their first NFT collections with later collections or spinoffs. Yet there’s so much happening around the NFT ecosystem lately that it’s impossible to keep up with every project’s latest extension efforts unless you’re closely tracking a given project.

My recommendation? Closely track communities you’re a big fan of because oftentimes you’ll be among the first to learn the alpha that’s generated within these communities. Then you can plan accordingly!

For example, I’m a huge fan of the Blitmap universe that’s being developed by dom’s Sup creative studio, so I routinely check into the Blitmap Discord. In doing so, I’ve learned ahead of most casual NFTers that later this year a new Blitmap universe faction is being released, the Logos.

While most of the Logos details are still up in the air, I’ve learned a lot already by observing the Blitmap Discord early on. And I expect this Logos release will be highly-anticipated upon launch though people are mostly sleeping on it for now, so I’ve begun preparing months ahead of time.

That’s the sort of edge you can get by following your favorite projects closely.

2. Follow the talent, figuratively and literally

There’s a whole wave of new apps that make it easy to follow the activity of interesting wallets, like Flip and Context.

The play with these sorts of apps is to find people who you think have great NFT taste and, then when you can, follow what they do. But beyond these apps you can go to the “water coolers” of the NFT space, like Discord and Twitter, to listen out for interesting happenings.

For instance, I contribute to NFT curation platform JPG and one of its co-founders is Sam Spike, who in my opinion is one of the smartest people in the NFT ecosystem today. By following Sam’s Twitter postings I came across one of the projects he participates in called Finiliar, which are adorable oracle-based avatars tied to crypto prices.

I’m excited for the future of Finiliar (which is undergoing a public mint this month), but chances are I wouldn’t have been paying close attention to the project if I wasn’t following Sam closely.

My advice is to follow your favorite talents in NFTs and try to participate in what they’re participating in where you can.

3. Observe trend surges

Earlier this year, LayerZero Labs introduced its LayerZero “omnichain” protocol. The system offered a new way to manage interoperability among many disparate blockchains, and not long after its launch the first wave of omnichain NFTs arrived.

Within a matter of days, more than a few of the first “free-to-mint” omnichain NFT collections saw their floor prices skyrocket as interested newcomers flooded into the collections.

What I’m getting at is that there was a window of time earlier this year when a ton of people started talking about, and launching, omnichain NFT collections due to a surge of interest.

And if you hopped onto the narrative and minted a free-to-mint project early on, you probably did well. Thus wherever you see a narrative beginning to trend, there are opportunities.

4. Stay informed

I’m a 5 year veteran of the crypto space, but it still takes me a considerable amount of reading and research to keep up to date with the newest happenings around the NFT ecosystem.

If you’re wanting to find cool upstart NFT projects, your best bet is to plug into great news aggregation resources and stay current on everything as best you can. One awesome news aggregator I routinely use is The Daily Ape, which has proven to be a great resource for learning about promising up-and-coming NFT projects.

5. Right place, right time

Sometimes finding a great NFT project early is all about lucky timing.

For instance, last year I was waiting on friends to get ready for an event when I checked Twitter and saw dom tweet about his experimental launch of Loot. Out of curiosity I promptly minted a handful of Loot NFTs while I was waiting, and then the project exploded in popularity from there.

I’m not saying you should be glued to your phone or computer all the time, because that’s definitely unhealthy. But what I am saying is that it can be worthwhile to routinely “make the rounds” and check to see if there’s anything interesting afoot in NFT Land.

5 tools for finding NFT projects

1. Sweep with Smart Sweepers on Nansen

Sign up for Nansen

Nansen is one of the best crypto and NFT data analytics services around. The platform offers free “Nansen Lite” dashboards and a $9 trial, but some of the most incredible alpha I’ve seen yet is from the company’s “Smart Money” dashboard in its NFT Paradise hub.

This area tracks Smart NFT Sweepers, which are per the site:

Addresses that have profitably swept (bought a certain no. of tokens from a collection in a single day, or at least a threshold ETH value) at least 3 different NFT collections, for a minimum of 5 sweepings.”

In other words, Nansen’s Smart Sweeper tag can help give you a bird’s-eye view of the most profitable NFTers in the space and what they’re minting or selling at any given time.

2. Check Gem for volume momentum

Image via Gem

Gem is an NFT marketplace aggregator that was just acquired by OpenSea. The platform aggregates NFT listings and sales across OpenSea, LooksRare, NFTX, X2Y2, and more marketplaces to come.

Since Gem aggregates and tracks NFT activity across multiple platforms, I like to occasionally check out the dapp to see what sort of NFTs are trending in that given moment.

For example, if you head to the “Trending Collections” section of the Gem homepage, you’ll find a marketplace stats section that will show you which NFT projects have had the most cross-ecosystem trade volume over the last day, the last week, the last month, and all time.

If you’re on the hunt for new NFT projects, it’s worth periodically checking Gem’s volume stats to see if any new collections are exploding out of the gate on the 24-hr volume charts.

3. Search for early alerts

Want to get really serious about finding new NFT projects really early on? Consider getting robotic about the hunt.

For instance, security researcher Austin Williams has created the Alpha Leaks Bot, which tweets out when a new Ethereum smart contract reaches over $1M in total value locked (TVL) for the first time.

These days, many of the projects the bot tweets about are upstart NFT collections. Most of these projects are admittedly garbage that never amount to anything, but you can’t rule out this bot tipping you off to star NFTs early on in the future.

These sorts of automated services are worth keeping an eye on, at the very least.

4. Find NFT Drop Calendars

In my experience, I’ve yet to find a comprehensive NFT calendar service that covers everything I’d want it to.

Nevertheless, more than a few projects offer NFT drop calendars where you can review upcoming mint events.

The rarity.tool website’s Upcoming drops section is one example. I wouldn’t mint most projects that come through this section, but I check it every now and again just in case something sticks out!

5. Learn how to use PREMINT

Image via PREMINT

Many notable NFT mints use allowlists to manage their distributions these days. So now it’s often not enough to just find cool NFT projects early on, you also have to secure an allowlist spot if you want to mint from these amazing collections at launch.

That said, a growing number of projects have been using the PREMINT service to create allowlists for their NFT mints. Some teams will raffle off allowlist spots to other prominent NFT communities through this system, so you definitely want to keep an eye out for signing up for any PREMINT raffles or allowlist opps you can.

Zooming out

There’s no one “right way” for finding new NFT projects.

Mainly, it’s all about keeping your ears to the ground and trying to stay up to date with new developments as best you can as they appear.

It’ll be impossible to catch every new thing of note, of course, but you don’t have to catch everything to make out alright in the end. Even just a few hits on cool projects can prove to be game-changers at the end of the day.

Additionally, you best believe that plenty more interesting and innovative projects will be released from here. If you feel you’ve missed out on all big NFT happenings to date, don’t fret.

You haven’t seen anything yet, trust me. You’ll have many more chances to capitalize on cool collections going forward, but you’ll need to stay on your toes in the meantime to make the most of these opps.

Action steps

In this article

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William M. Peaster

Written by William M. Peaster

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William M. Peaster, Senior Writer, has been with Bankless since January 2021. Immersed in Ethereum since 2017, he writes the Metaversal newsletter on the onchain frontier, covering everything from AI projects to crypto games, as the team’s lead NFT analyst. With a background in creative writing, he writes fiction and publishes art on Ethereum in his free time. He lives in Washington.

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