I’m back with an update on the NFT business potential for content entrepreneurs.

When all the talk was about NFTs as avenues for artists and musicians to sell their works,  I talked about the potential for NFTs to be an entirely new business model for content creators. The difference? Use NFTs as vehicles to build and sustain relationships with your community, and thus your content business could grow too.

Use #NFTs as vehicles to build and sustain relationships with your community, says @JoePulizzi. #ContentEntrepreneur #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

What I expected with the first NETs

Shortly after that, I introduced NFTs into The Tilt’s business model by creating an NFT that I dubbed a NET – Never-Ending Ticket. Our NETs were for The Tilt’s annual event, Creator Economy Expo. Still, it’s a model I anticipate will grow in their use and be invaluable to content entrepreneurs and, frankly, anyone who organizes regular events.

I believed a conference could be pre-funded by selling a lifetime ticket (some have likened it to a “golden ticket”) to attendees. Of course, this ticket would be a higher price than standard one-time admission. It also would give the entrepreneur the ability to help invest in the future success of the event.

To my knowledge, it had never been done before, and it was all a big theory. (In case you’re saying, “Wait, Joe, what about Gary Vaynerchuk’s VeeFriends?” Admission through his NFTs expires after three years.)

We created 100 CEX Never-Ending Tickets that could be bought and minted as an NFT. In addition to admission to the general event, NET holders gained access to all VIP activities, including one exclusive to them. In addition, 38 of the 100 NETs contained additional perks. (Buyers didn’t know until after they made their purchase if their NET included those bonus benefits.) 

We made available 100 Never-Ending Tickets for #CreatorEconomyExpo. When minted, these NFTs would admit the holder to CEX and all VIP and exclusive #NET events, explains @JoePulizzi. Click To Tweet

Buyers paid between 0.75 and 1.25 ETH [Ethereum crypto currency]. The scale rose to the higher end as more NETs were purchased.

What actually happened with the NETs

Leading up to Creator Economy Expo, the first week of May 2022, we sold 34 NETs. I suppose most of those who purchased them were betting on me. After all, there was no product. CEX hadn’t even happened. How could they know there would be a second or third event when there hadn’t seen the first?

Lesson one: You can’t launch a NET if you don’t have an existing audience. (That’s why that’s the  first step in my recommended process to launch a NET.)

Never-Ending Ticket Lesson: You can't launch a NET if you don't have an existing audience, says @JoePulizzi. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Of those 34 NET holders, 25 attended the Creator Economy Expo. They started the experience with an exclusive pre-event roundtable discussion. We could meet each other, and they could talk about what they’d like to see for the conference and each other. Then, they gained admission to the speakers’ party as a VIP member.

The next day, two of the NET holders took the stage. My only ask of them was to introduce the next keynote speaker. But before they did that, each shared with all CEX attendees why they purchased a NET. Frankly, it was magical.

Lesson two: Create a powerful community where NET holders want to spread the word about their value.

Never-Ending Ticket Lesson: Create a powerful community where NET holders want to spread the word about their value, says @JoePulizzi. #ContentBusiness Click To Tweet

Then, I got a text from NET owner no. 8. He suggested giving the general admission audience credit for what they paid to attend the inaugural CEX and allowing them to upgrade to a NET. “They bought a ticket to this year, and that money is gone. Well spent, but gone. If they upgrade to a NET, they get to come next year and they can resell that NFT anytime. It makes their fee an investment, not an expense,” Brian Piper wrote in his text.

I thought about how the idea worked with my business model for the event. Then, I read his text from the stage. By the time the event was over, 20 more people had signed up to become NET holders. 

Frankly, this is a much better event ticket business model than “buy at a discount rate before the price goes up next year.”

Lesson three: Listen to your NET holders. They have a vested interest in you and your business doing well.

Lesson four: Credit a payment from those who want to buy lifetime access after acquiring your first product.

Never-Ending Ticket Lesson: Credit a payment from a first-time buyer to buy lifetime access, says @JoePulizzi. Click To Tweet

All that interest – and eventual transfer of currency – is great. But NETs present a unique challenge. In our pre-event sales, payment was required in the form of a cryptocurrency (ETH in our case) or social tokens ($TILT coin). Many of the new buyers had never owned an NFT of any kind. For those who didn’t want to buy a cryptocurrency and then buy the NET, they could pay us by credit card. But they still needed to learn about and set up their digital wallet to hold the NET. We walked them through that process.

Lesson five: Given NETs are a type of NFT, be prepared to teach your audience about what they are, how they work, and how to acquire and access them.

NFT as a NET is a golden ticket for creator and holders

One more thing to note. As an NFT, NETs involve more than lifetime VIP access to the event. The holders can sell them on the secondary market (Opensea in our case). If they sell, as the owner, we get 5% of the sale price – it’s written in the smart contract.

But those secondary market sales aren’t figured into my long-term business model. What I have found with NETs is that their real power is they have let me find the super fans. In my case, they are now my friends. I rely on them for feedback on the event and The Tilt newsletter. 

The real power of Never-Ending Ticket NFTs isn't sales on the secondary market. Instead, it's their power to let you find the super fans, says @JoePulizzi. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

I’ve been in the media industry for over 20 years, and I’ve never, ever seen anything like this. If this is what a NET community is, I’m in love with it. It’s incredible. They feel vested in our business model, and I don’t want to let them down. 

Sara, a NET holder from Sweden, came up to me at the CEX event and said she believes in me. Whatever happens with the event, she knows I’ll do right by her. It’s that kind of trust that makes NETs invaluable to a content business.

Can you get this kind of gold any other way? Maybe, but I can’t think of it.

About the author

Joe Pulizzi is the founder of The Tilt, author of seven books including Content Inc. and co-founder of speech-therapy fundraiser, The Orange Effect Foundation.