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Published on June 30, 2022

How To Find NFT Projects Early

A guide to finding and evaluating upcoming NFT projects. Look for a strong team, ambitious roadmap, and clear utility.

10 min read

With the growing popularity of blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a new era of digital collectibles and digital art is emerging. NFT projects are revolutionizing how we interact with digital content, and there is no shortage of exciting projects in development. But with so many new collections minting and dropping on NFT marketplaces every day, how can you spot the most promising projects early? To help you get ahead of the curve, this guide will break down the best methods for discovering and evaluating new NFT projects.

What makes an NFT project successful?

Many factors contribute to a project being successful—not least of all, the right timing and a bit of luck. Besides getting lucky and buying into an NFT collection that catches fire, there are a few more standard attributes that many successful NFT projects have in common:
  • a strong team with a proven track record
  • a notable artist
  • a clear roadmap
  • an organic and engaged community
  • effective marketing
  • some form of utility—even if that utility is just as a profile picture(PFP)
  • However, it's important to note that having all these ingredients doesn't guarantee the success of a project. The best team with the best artist and an ambitious roadmap can still flop gloriously. And inversely, a project with absolutely no roadmap, no website, no utility, and lackluster art, can go completely parabolic. A lot of it comes down to tapping into the right circles early, having a compelling "vibe," and being meme-able. Welcome to the beautiful world of trading and collecting NFTs! Here are a few tips to help you on your magical journey.

    How To Evaluate If an NFT Project Is Worth Your Hard Earned Crypto

    Start With Twitter

    As an NFT beginner, the best place to begin your journey is with Twitter. Twitter is the #1 platform for keeping up with news, projects, and trends in the NFT space (often, this arena of Twitter is called NFT Twitter). Typically, a new project will announce its roadmap, art, and ethos on Twitter. If the mission resonates with NFT enthusiasts, it can spread like wildfire and quickly amass an online following. By staying engaged with NFT Twitter, you can catch wind of innovative projects before they build up some steam.
    When taking to NFT Twitter, keep in mind that it's helpful to engage with others in the space, build rapport, add useful comments, and DM, when appropriate, to form genuine relationships. Some of the best NFT opportunities simply come via word of mouth from a friend you met in the space!

    Fire Up Discord

    Discord is an invite-only communication platform that had its roots in the online gaming space before being embraced by the NFT industry. Now it seems like having a Discord channel is a must for NFT projects. They choose to grow their community within Discord due to its seamless ability to text chat, voice chat, relay updates, and receive feedback to and from community members.
    Successful NFT projects maintain an active Discord community that is constantly conversing with one another on a variety of topics. Very often, there is a dedicated Discord channel for sharing news, resources, and support for new and upcoming projects. This is an excellent place to scope out new projects on the horizon, and network with other collectors, investors, and like-minded individuals.
    Pro-tip: Start organizing your discord channels from the start. It's easy to get over-cluttered in Discord with all the projects you follow. Disorganization will lead to you missing important updates and giveaways.

    View OpenSea Activity

    A free and public way to view trending NFT activity is within OpenSea's live stats. OpenSea is the biggest NFT marketplace in the world, and its website provides trading activity, floor prices, number of holders, and much more for each collection on the platform. You can even view OpenSea's rankings to get a sense of which projects are performing the best in the past 24 hrs, week, month, and all time. It can be beneficial to check in on this from time to time to understand what trends are occurring and which projects are performing well. Opensea stats provide a very basic market overview, but if you're looking for more in-depth NFT analytics, you'll need to use a specialized NFT tracking tool.

    Leverage Icy Tools 🧊

    Now let's put you ahead of the curve. icy.tools is an NFT tracking and analytics platform designed to give you a leg up in the world of NFTs. Instead of having FOMO and FUD drive your decision-making, icy.tools provides real-time updates on sales trends, floor prices, and transaction history, so you have ample data to make informed decisions.
    In addition to real-time data aggregation, customizable watchlists, and alerts, icy.tools also has an NFT calendar to view upcoming mints and NFT drops. Another of the most popular icy.tools features is wallet tracking, which is the ability to track any NFT wallet's activity and receive instant alerts when they buy or sell. Many savvy investors leverage this tool to follow whales and track their every move.
    You can use icy.tools to see which projects are currently trending by watching the live trending feed. You can also see which projects are currently minting, and getting close to minting out, on the Discover Feed. There are lots of NFT tracking and analytics tools out there, but we're partial to icy.tools. 🧊😉

    Keep an Eye on NFT Calendars

    Some projects decide to do stealth mints—a semi-secretive NFT drop with little or no prior warning and very little marketing. But the majority of NFT projects want lots of attention before mint day. One way a project might market itself is by submitting mint information to various NFT calendars. Besides the icy.tools NFT drop calendar, there are countless others with varying degrees of reliability. So definitely make sure the calendar you're using is trustworthy—projects go through a community filtering process before being listed on the icy.tools NFT mint calendar.
    Many Discord groups will also have a dedicated NFT calendar channel for upcoming drops. Just be super careful clicking any Discord links, and always do your own research(DYOR) and independently verify that links and projects are legit.

    Research the Team

    Before unclutching your fist from that hard-earned crypto and investing in a new NFT project, it's best to evaluate the team receiving that crypto. The beauty of web3 is that anyone in the world can create an NFT collection. The downside is that anyone in the world can create an NFT collection! As a result, many projects are scams, rug pulls, slow rugs, or having little to no value in the long run. And that doesn't even include the projects that started with the best intentions, only to be abandoned by founders a few months after mint. It's inevitable that if you spend enough time trading and collecting NFTs, you'll eventually experience one of the previously mentioned scenarios. Ultimately, it's up to you, the savvy collector, to spot and filter out the NFT slop. Understanding what to look for in an NFT project's team can help minimize the chances of getting caught in a scam.
    When evaluating an NFT project, it is usually beneficial if the founders are "doxxed," meaning their identities are revealed on their website. If the founders are doxxed, they become much less likely to scam holders or ditch the project altogether. Otherwise, they will risk permanently damaging their reputation. In the past, anonymous founders have notoriously disappeared and left NFT holders holding the bag with nothing to look forward to. Stay alert!
    Secondly, be sure to give some bonus points to founders that have a track record of success. For example, the team behind NFT Worlds is fully doxxed and has a track record of building three startups to exit in the past decade. A team with a strong history of wins improves the likelihood of a successful project. A few other examples of successful projects with doxxed teams are Moonbirds, backed by entrepreneur Kevin Rose, and Doodles, an art-focused project created by Burnt Toast.
    A team with a proven track record, even if not related to Web3, is a huge bonus when evaluating a project. However, there is one big caveat! Be careful with NFT projects that are solely fueled by a celebrity or influencer. While mostly these projects are harmless and sometimes successful, there are definitely instances of celebrities using their fame to pump and dump an NFT collection or crypto token.

    Is There a Transparent Roadmap?

    To make a wise NFT investment, it's imperative to know the direction and aims of a project. A roadmap is a timeline of goals and expectations the team has set out to accomplish. The best NFT projects include a transparent roadmap on their website with clear goals that indicate where this project is heading. In addition to keeping investors informed, a transparent roadmap holds the team accountable for hitting those milestones at a specific time. Setting the expectations of a project upfront displays confidence and transparency from a team dedicated to long-term objectives. An example of a project that created an ambitious roadmap, and consistently delivered on it, is Forgotten Runes Wizard Cult.

    Analyze Utility

    It's important to understand the utility of a project before investing. This is something that is often overlooked. Most people assume that an NFT project will magically appreciate in value over time. However, it will only appreciate if others see value in that project. NFT utility encompasses the "usefulness" of a project. Some examples of utility include pfp collections (CryptoPunks), p2e gaming (Axie Infinity), move to earn (STEPN), real-world access (LinksDAO), or just great art (Beeple, Pop Wonder).
    This isn't to say that one category of utility is better than another. It is simply important to recognize which category of utility your new NFT project is building within (maybe they're trailblazing a new category of utility). The more "useful" an NFT project can become, the higher likelihood it has to sustain growth.

    Identify Rarity of NFT Tokens

    Rarity is a first-rate predictor of an NFT's market value within a collection. Many generative NFT projects equip their NFTs with an assortment of rare traits. The rarer an NFT within a collection, the more valuable that NFT is on the market. There are many fantastic tools for quickly identifying undervalued, rare NFTs in any given collection. One of the more well-known tools for spotting NFT rarity is Rarity Sniper. They have 1,600+ verified Ethereum and Solana-based collections on their platform. So instead of purchasing an NFT at random, you can use a tool like Rarity Sniper to identify relatively rare NFTs trading below market value.
    Another note on rarity is that sometimes traits people have a personal affection for—independent of actual rarity—become more valuable simply because of preferences. For example, a few desirable traits across many NFT projects are 3-D glasses, wizard hats, hoodies, noun glasses, and of course, cats. There is also the argument of buying rares vs. floors, but that is a more advanced NFT trading strategy you'll discover for yourself over time.


    Whoever has the most information has the biggest advantage in the NFT space. First, spend your time in the right online environments like Twitter, Discord, and OpenSea to understand which projects are buzzing and gaining traction. Next, leverage a multitude of cutting-edge NFT tools designed to help you save time and make better investing decisions. Finally, it's always essential to evaluate the dev team, roadmap, and utility at the foundation of every project. Once you're feeling confident, be sure to use the best tools available to gain every advantage! By following these tips, you'll be on your way to discovering new NFT projects that have potential.

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