Whitelists and presales are a promise of future access to an NFT project come mint time. They are pretty popular amongst Solana-based NFT collections. Given that the Solana NFT ecosystem heavily relies on community, implementing whitelists and presales rewards your earliest and most loyal members as opposed to a public sale where an NFT mint is open to everyone. Additionally, it serves as free marketing as people share it on social media and try to get on the whitelist. It can also help build a large NFT community on Solana organically.
NFT projects often use whitelists and presales in their infancy as it is much more challenging to entice people to follow you on Twitter or join your Discord server when you have 10 followers, as opposed to 10,000 followers. The whitelist “promise” comes in a variety of forms, ranging from free mints or discounted mints, to preferred information or pricing, or simply a guarantee of access to the NFT mint come launch day.
Implementing whitelists for NFT mints helps to bring individuals into projects at early development stages before marketing starts and hype begins to build. NFT Projects have found ways to limit the number of whitelist spots or time to join to unlock whitelist perks which can create a flourish of NFT collectors joining a community in a very short period of time to try and achieve preferred status. One common way that NFT projects incentivize active community members prior to granting whitelist status is through invite contests (e.g., if you invite 10 people to the Discord server and they accept) and Discord level rankings (based on post frequency).
However, issues have arisen whereby whitelist links or presale access to NFT projects have been misappropriated to members of the public who were not whitelisted and should not have had access to the NFT presale. This has led to projects selling out before the general public is able to mint the NFT, creating FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) around the project as it hits secondary markets. To combat this, NFT projects request wallet addresses of all whitelisted members and create a separate minting contract to only allow whitelisted wallet addresses access to the NFT mint. This is effective but is more technically demanding and time-consuming.
If you’re thinking of a discounted or free mint (either via a direct NFT mint or through airdrops), know that there’s potential impact to your NFT project when it lists on secondary markets. Some NFT collectors will join every community and Discord server they can find, chasing the potential reward of a lower mint cost or a slight head start to mint the next big NFT project. These members who only care about early/discounted access, are not truly interested in the project and their sole objective is to flip and make a quick profit. Thus, diluting your project's value in crypto. As a result of these NFT flippers, you run the risk of establishing a floor price below public mint price for your NFT project. For example, if 100 people are given a free NFT and the public is asked to pay 1 SOL for the remaining 900 NFTs, you run the risk of those with early access trying to flip their free NFT for a small profit (.5 SOL) which then establishes a secondary market floor price below the public mint price and adversely affects those other 900 people.
Of course, a strong project can easily overcome this hurdle but it is important to consider the economic impact NFT presales and whitelists can have on your project post-mint. The same risk exists with uncapped whitelist minting in the presale period, whereby an NFT flipper may mint a large quantity of NFTs with the intent of instantly selling them for a slight profit post-mint, creating a large floor value slightly above mint price, and potentially hampering secondary market value.
Come mint day, NFT project owners need to be especially wary of malicious actors trying to take advantage of those in the community. These attacks are especially prevalent when there is an NFT whitelist or presale in place as members of the general community are looking for any advantage they can get and may be less careful at vetting links. Scammers may pose as legitimate members of the NFT project team with access to the presale and send direct messages to community members on the NFT project’s Discord server.
Therefore, it is essential to announce EARLY and OFTEN to your community, that they should not open or trust any links provided that do not come directly from your NFT project’s Twitter or the announcement section on your Discord server.