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5 learnings from a techie turned into a NFT artist

In September 2021 I chose to sell my crypto AI art business after two enriching (and often painful) years as a part-time sole founder. Today is one of the best-selling AI art collections on Opensea. I want to share with you some of the key lessons I learned during this period:

  • Work hard and get lucky. And I got really lucky. On February 24th 2021 I had planned to shut down, back then a business selling AI Art printed on canvas. I was discouraged after several months with no sales and my Shopify billing cycle was ending that day. Then something incredible happened: I missed the Shopify deadline and I sold an artwork one hour later. The buyer asked me: "Can I get it in as an NFT?". I had absolutely no idea what an NFT was, but after a bit of research I found the concept so interesting that, two days later, I had pivoted the entire business to NFT art made by AI. Sales started to pick up: I had finally found product-market fit.
  • Impostor syndrome as a motivation to learn. I did not have much understanding about Generative Adversarial Networks, blockchain or art in general, but somehow I ended up giving talks about these topics. Pushing myself outside the comfort zone made me prioritize training and acquire much deeper knowledge on these domains. Just that bit makes the journey worth every painful step.
  • The importance of a marketing strategy. Ads don't really work when you are targeting an uncharted market. None of my early customers had ever googled "buy ai art" before they learned what AI art was in a Norwegian newspaper. I wasted a lot of money on Google Ads and, out of despair, I started spamming on Reddit and HackerNews, which affected the SEO. I deeply regret doing that. I learned the lesson and I decided to invest in creating highly-relevant content for blogs, scientific communities, specialized magazines and social media. The effort paid off and started climbing again on the search rankings. As of today, is the first result for the terms "ai art nft", according to Startpage.
  • Respect your own work. When sales plummet I started dumping the price of the artworks with ridiculous discounts (up to 90%), making the profit margin literally disappear. Interestingly, that didn't drive more sales. It took me a while to understand that the customer segment I was targeting would despise artworks that are too cheap. People are willing to pay a fair price if you are able to communicate the value and effort behind each artwork.
  • Know when to stop. I decided to sell once the business was finally flourishing. Why? During the last two years I have stolen hundreds of hours from my family. I cannot afford that anymore. Now that I have the satisfaction of having built something that customers love, I have decided to step down and prioritize my family.
I can only wish all the best to Brian and his team, who will take the business to new heights.

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