Is Sloika the best NFT marketplace for photographers trying to sell their images? Find out in this thorough review.
N.B. This article is written assuming that you are familiar with the NFT world and all terminology associated with it. If you don’t know much about it please check my previous post.
Two of my most successful articles are about selling images and stock footage. The first one is my guide to get started selling pictures and the second one is actually about selling images as NFT. This clearly shows that people are very much interested in monetizing their content. The second article has been particularly successful in recent months, partially thanks to the rising interest in the crypto market in general.
This being said, so far I didn’t have any first-hand experience with any NFT marketplace. This was mainly because there wasn’t really any platform specialized only in photography. The most popular marketplaces (like Opensea) are not curated and for this reason, attract all sorts of crap (literally). Others, such as SuperRare or Foundation, have really great content but are not only photography-focused.
Well, this was true until Sloika joined the scene.
What is Sloika
Sloika is a new NFT marketplace focused on photographs. It was founded by Ev Tchebotarev and Arseniy Ivanov. You might not be familiar with these names but they are quite important in the photography world since Ev was the founder of 500px and Arseniy was his first employee. After successfully building that community to tens of millions of users, they’re now turning their attention to the NFT space.
I think this introduction is quite important since it shows that Sloika is a platform that truly understands the world of photography and is not simply trying to bank on a booming industry. With such a success story it’s no surprise that Sloika has just raised over $2M.
How to sell your NFT on Sloika: the step-by-step guide
This is probably the reason why you are here: you want to know how to start selling your first NFT series. This is all you need to know to get started with Sloika. Here you can check out my first NFT series on Sloika.
Step 1: Submit your application
The very first step at the moment (but things might change soon) is to click on this link and apply for a spot in the marketplace (don’t forget to say that I referred you). Besides your personal details, the things you need to show are basically two: details about your first NFT series and your social media links. After you have applied you just have to wait. It took me about a week to hear from them.
After you get approved you’ll receive a detailed document with a very thorough step-by-step guide to help you prepare your material.
Step 2: Get your blockchain stuff in order
Regardless of the fact that you get accepted by Sloika or not, you should complete this second step anyway, if one day you want to sell your pictures as NFT.
- Create a new Ethereum wallet (you can use Metamask) and remember to never share the seed phrase with anyone: only write it down on paper and don’t copy-paste it (yes there are malicious app/softwares able to read your clipboard). If you lose the phrase THERE IS NO WAY to recover your wallet and you will lose access to all your funds including any NFT.
- Send some ETH to your Meatamask address. You can use for example Binance or Coinbase. Binance is more difficult to use but has lower fees. Coinbase is much easier to use but has higher fees. You’ll need ETH to buy a domain and to pay all the gas fees for minting your NFT.
- You are STRONGLY recommended to get ENS (Ethereum Name Service). So instead of a wallet address (ie 0x91B045f86C07CD736e369e9F398582802250502a) you can use a more reasonable yourname.eth. Your wallet or ENS will be used as the URL for the photo series profile, for example, app.sloika.xyz/fabionodari.eth. This step is quite expensive. The domain itself costs only 5$ per year but the Ethereum gas fees are very high. I recommend you buy several years worth of domain so that you’ll only pay the gas fees once (it cost me about 200$ just in fees). If you really want to save money there is a cheaper option on Polygon: Unstoppable Domains. They have a higher price of 40$ per domain BUT NOT GAS FEES. Furthermore, the domain price is a one-time fee: so once you buy your domain, it’s yours forever until you decide to transfer it to someone else. The list of available domains includes .nft .crypto .blockchain but NOT .eth which is only available at ENS. Funny enough all these domains are actually NFT and as such can be transferred and/or sold between different addresses.
At this point, you might be wondering: if it’s so much cheaper to get a .nft or .crypto domain why would you want to spend 200$ for a .eth domain? Well, as far as I understand it all boils down to your personal branding. You are selling your art and the standard for any artist, at the moment, is to have a .eth domain. You are free to choose what you like but in this market, your personal brand IS WHAT SELLS. No point really in saving a bit to get a cheaper domain, at least IMO. But I understand that if you are just getting started in this space then every $ counts.
Step 3: Prepare your photo series
If you have no idea where to start, you can check the collections already on sale at Sloika such as this amazing one. The best series are thematic, have the same aspect ratio, color tone, orientation, etc. You should provide at least 10 images and at most 30. Similar to what happens when you sell your images in other marketplaces, you’ll have to create a title and a detailed description for each image and obviously the name of the series.
Another thing you have to include is “traits” for each picture. Traits are unique attributes of your photo series. They cannot be added or changed later, so pick them carefully. Having multiple varying traits allows a degree of scarcity in the series. Common traits can include location, time of year (summer, winter), time of day (sunset, sunrise), objects (milky way, stars, sun), dominant color (red, blue, green), camera type (DSLR, compact), type of shot (drone, mobile, long-exposure).
Pick your preferred type of license: editorial, limited commercial, unlimited commercial, exclusive.
Step 4: Decide the price
This is where things might get a bit complicated. The recommended price is between 0.15 and 0.4 ETH per picture and Sloika will keep a 15% commission from that price. The recommended photographer royalty is 10%. Photography royalty refers to the royalties of the secondary market, that is every time your art is sold after the original purchase.
Let’s suppose you sell your first image for 0.2 ETH. Sloika will keep 0.03 ETH (15%) and you’ll get 0.017 ETH (85%). If that original buyer decides to resell that picture for, let’s say 0.5 ETH you’ll get 0.05 ETH (10%). If the picture is sold again you’ll get another 10% from the sale price, and again and again. And that is the beauty of selling NFT. There are no intermediaries and you keep getting commissions every time your art is sold. All of this is thanks to the smart contract that governs the transactions.
The initial sale price and the photographer’s royalty really depend on how famous the artist is. For some people, 0.4 ETH is way too high. But for some others is probably too low. If you have any doubt, don’t hesitate to ask the folks at Sloika for a price suggestion.
Step 5: Pick your preferred type of drop
Sloika offers several types of photo series drops, which are exclusive to their marketplace:
- Fixed price: All photos in the series are priced the same.
- Variable price: For series where photos are priced individually.
- Gacha-style randomized drop: All photos in the series can be seen, but a collector doesn’t know which particular photo they will get. Best suited for photos with high variability of the traits.
- Mint and reveal (soon): Just like the top “10K pfp” projects, Sloika is bringing mint-and-reveal functionality. You’ll be able to pre-sell your tokens and add photos to them later.
Step 6: Mint your NFT
After all this preparation it is now time to mint your first NFT collection on Sloika. This is the most painful step since it will cost you (arguably a lot) of money. To clarify, this cost has nothing to do with Sloika but it’s due to the high gas fee on the Ethereum main net. The price can vary wildly depending on the time of the day, the market conditions, the number of transactions on the chain, and especially the number of pictures you are minting. For 20 pictures you can expect to pay 0.2 ETH. For comparison, on Foundation you might end up paying 0.5 ETH so Sloika is way cheaper, the main reason being that the smart contract developed by them is more efficient.
Step 7: Extras and promotion
If you want to, you can choose to provide special perks to collectors. Here are some ideas:
- If you hold 1 NFT from each of 4 drops (ie 25 photos in 4 photo series), you can unlock a special gift (a physical print, another NFT, a photo book, etc)
- You may introduce “rarity traits” in your photos – some photos might be common, some rare, and collectors can buy a photo from the series, but may not know what they get beforehand
- Primary buyers who hold NFT for longer than 1 month can receive a gift
The only limit in this part of the workflow is your fantasy, really. The key point is that you want to create a community, a group of people who is willing to actually buy your art NOT because they want to flip it for a quick profit, but because they really appreciate your work.
Finally, you should do your best to let other people know about your coming NFT drop. Use your social media and your other resources to tell the world that you are minting your first NFT series ever! This is particularly important since you’ll be mainly responsible for promoting your own creations.
Pros and Cons of the Sloika NFT Marketplace
These are some of the major pros and cons I found:
- It’s a curated marketplace focused on photography
- You decide the price
- Custom secondary market (you earn money EVERY time the artwork is sold to another collector)
- Floor price very high compared to traditionl photography marketplaces
- Direct communication with the people working at Sloika which are very helpful
- Unlike Opensea, you actually own your own artwork
- “Agency” commissions of only 15%. This is totally unheard of in the traditional stock photography market
- High investment to mint the first collection (at least until ETH doesn’t fix the gas fees issue, if ever…)
- For now very limited number of photograpers accepted
- At the moment the process of sending the material is quite slow
- The smart contract is not public, so it can’t be vetted by anyone
Final thougths about Sloika
In my opinion, this is just the beginning of a new trend and in the near future, we will see traditional stock photography agencies embracing the NFT world: they have no choice after all. They’ll certainly see this as an incredible opportunity to make more money and will adapt. How these traditional agencies will implement an NFT market has to be seen, but given their past (especially Shutterstock) I’d personally be cautious: they have been squeezing photographers for decades and I don’t see why they would suddenly start putting the photographers’ interests first.
Sloika, on the other hand, started on the right foot. There are certain things that could be improved but so far I think it’s simply an amazing NFT marketplace, if not the best NFT marketplace for any photographer.
There are three main challenges of selling your art as NFT:
- At the moment is quite difficult to become an approved contributor on Sloika
- You need to have at least some familiarity with the crypto universe
- To get started, you need an initial investment that can be relatively high
Regarding the first point, I expect things to change quickly. Don’t let the competition discourage you and if you are not accepted don’t take it personally: I’ve lost count of how many times I got rejected in my career as a photographer. Use this time to learn what makes a collection interesting from the point of view of a buyer and if you don’t have any material ready yet, start today. Building a solid NFT series is not easy, especially if you come from a stock photography background.
As for the second point, I know it can be super confusing when people start talking about gas fees, smart contracts, etc but make no mistake: the blockchain is here to stay, just like the internet is now part of our lives. The sooner you start to learn about it the better it is.
There is one big advantage of learning all of this today: you are still quite early in the adoption of this technology. Imagine becoming an iStock contributor back in the days when it was first launched! You are reading this article so you took the first step already. Kudos to you! Now don’t give up!
What are your thoughts on this? Are you interested in selling your images as NFT? What are the challenges you are facing? Please let me know in the comment section. I’d love to hear your feedback and if I notice a trend in the questions asked I’ll add a FAQ section.
It took me quite a long time to create this article, so if you found it useful, please consider supporting me by buying me a coffee (or an NFT). 🙂