We launched and started taking bids for Mars Maiers on Dec 29, 2021. Since the project will span the entirety of 2022, we’ve decided to share quarterly reports throughout. Here is our first update from Q1.
First, some stats. So far to date, we’ve received 408 total bids, from 112 unique wallet addresses, totaling 82.037605560006999129 ETH of bids. Of that total, 42.580959295310131528 ETH represents losing bids and is refunded or refundable. There have been 178 refunds issued so far. Every day of Q1 had at least one bid. The sold total so far is 35.603041278141618701 ETH, with 1.6331 ETH of that going to our collaborators. The average winning bid is 0.371 ETH. There are 96 members in our Discord.
In addition, we’ve launched three end-of-month artist collaborations (Case Simmons, Adam Ho, and Infinite Grid), and partnered with FWB on membership badges.
We have enormous gratitude for the warmth and support we’ve felt from our friends, family, and community. We began discussing the project on Dec 1, 2021 and in one month, we willed an idea into existence (and Jacob learned Solidity). Q1 was obviously seminal for this project and something that we’ll be proud of forever.
That’s the good part of the story, which makes it seem like we’ve hit all our shots. What you don’t see (or maybe its blindingly obvious) is what we’ve missed. For example: every piece of this project is done by hand (not generated), by Allan, every day. Each piece takes about two to three hours to make, and we’re only ten days ahead. This means on the day of this publishing, 262 pieces have yet to be made. This aspect makes this NFT project as much of a punishing performance piece as each of the individual compositions that’s auctioned every day. If this wasn’t clear before, it’s because we’ve struggled to market and communicate clearly all the unique features and aspects of Mars: like our innovative contract, novel game mechanics, and even the ambiguity of the name itself.
We came from the Web2 world of “if you build a product with enough value the users will come”. We didn’t anticipate how much of a challenge and large of a role marketing plays into NFT projects, especially in project with our game dynamics and year long timeline.
Marketing is a zero-sum game, and we’re constantly fighting for time and attention towards our project in place of another equally as brilliant project. This works perfectly for most NFTs that generate excitement during mint in the primary market—and then transition their goal from hyping to fostering a strong community which supports a healthy secondary market. In regards to Mars, we quickly realized that the initial thrill and rush was not able to carry this project for a year, and that we needed a consistent trickle of marketing throughout. It has been a struggle for us to keep up with engaging daily marketing, to thrill the primary bidders while also maintaining a healthy community.
So in terms of guidance for our collectors, although we’ve had a strong Q1, the struggle to consistently market ourselves will put us in direct headwinds for Q2 and Q3. However we believe that Q4 will be fruitful as the project comes to a close, the availability gets limited, and the conviction becomes proven. We believe Q4 and how this project ends will determine the legacy of Mars.
- Jacob & Allan
A note from Allan:
Do not feel sorry for me, I’ve made a commitment and I will see this through. But, if I knew how difficult this project was going to be three months ago, I would’ve thought twice. It’s not the hand to paper, creating something out of thin air everyday that’s been difficult. Of course I hit creative walls, run out of ideas, and get lazy, just like anyone would. Some days I wake up and just sit there, blankly staring at the screen. But I know I can create every day, no matter what. That’s the immigrant discipline that I attribute to my parents. That is the easy part.
The hardest part of this project which I didn’t anticipate is the emotional and mental toll it was going to take. Never in any of my previous projects (professional or self-initiated) was my entire creative being put at stake every single day, to be judged by its monetary worth. NFTs have the curse of inextricably linking together your self-esteem and your monetary value in a way that is abundantly transparent. For the last three months my self-esteem, and my perception of my own worth, was tied to whether bids were coming in, how much they were coming in at, and how much each piece was being sold for. Every day for 23 hours and 50 minutes, I am in a state of constant anxiety, waiting for activity on the bid sheet. Praying and hoping that more bids will be placed in the last 10 minutes, wondering if today will be the first day with no bidders.
When each auction ends, I sigh with relief that the piece has sold before immediately judging myself on the price it fetched for. Rinse and repeat for the next day. This is all if I’m lucky enough that something even sold. I am terrified of the day when a piece doesn’t sell, and I just sit there designing into the void, expressing myself to an empty room. This is the hard part, the fear that no one cares.
Starting an NFT project is a quick way to find out where you stand on the creative ladder. Having people like and promote your project is one thing, asking people to support your project (aka, asking people to give you money) is another. It feels gross and icky and every time I talk about Mars I feel like a used-car salesman. But I have a new found appreciation for the art of selling. I shouldn’t have thought I was too good for it.
If you’re hopelessly insecure like me, you’ll eventually start comparing yourself to others. Occasionally, I’ll start on a downward spiral of comparing Mars to successful NFT projects with beautiful art, wondering why I’m not good enough? Seething with envy, letting the deadly sin provide me with some catharsis. Then I’ll compare Mars to successful NFT projects with terrible art (imo) and I’ll just hit my head against a wall without an answer. Regardless, I end up spiraling down a pit of my own self pity.
(Sidebar: I was asked what “success” means here and of course it just means how much the project returns which also made me feel icky, but it’s the truth.)
Somewhere in my despair (lol it’s not that serious) I was able to find resilience. I wish I were able to better provide the instructions for the techniques I used but it evolves a combination of complaining, exercising, and talking to myself. I would mentally put blinders on and tell myself to run my own race, one foot in front of the other. It was a constant reminder to myself that being proud and happy for others is not a knock on myself. That creativity is not a zero-sum game, and that generosity is a skill that I need to practice. I toggle myself out of a scarcity mindset and into growth, repeating to myself “we make the pie bigger”.
If any of this sounds eerily similar, then I am with you. This is how our brain works, and this is how we make what we make. Theses struggles will either make you numb or make you stronger, but either way it gets easier. So as Q1 comes to a close, so does my anxiety. This project will continue, I will struggle with something else, and I will sit here everyday at 7AM and start a new piece, making this pie bigger.
See you in Q2