NFT Utility Ideas: How to Add Real-World Utility to Your NFTs

How do you add utility to your NFT? Where do you even start? This list of practical utility ideas for NFTs will set you on the right track.
Ned Rockson
October 16, 2022

How do you make your NFT as useful as possible? That’s a question NFT creators, entrepreneurs and developers need to answer — and answer well — if they want to maximize adoption and attract a community actually interested in what they’re building. Now that the initial enthusiasm for NFTs is waning — and the average sales price has dropped by ~90% since its peak — most of the ‘speculation only’ investors have been (hopefully) flushed out. 

Now it’s time to focus on utility and use cases. The Bored Ape Yacht Club have added exclusive perks and membership bonuses to their NFT but that’s just one option. Let’s take a look at what else you can do to add real-world utility to your NFT projects.

How to add utility to NFTs and create real value

If you move past the hype and think about what NFTs can achieve, things get pretty fascinating. These permanent blockchain records — that can’t be faked or destroyed — have a lot of practical, real-world applications. 

Let’s talk about the best ones. (And if you’re looking for examples, visit our list of best utility NFTs.) 

1. Support digital communities exclusive to NFT-holders 

As NFT projects move away from the digital equivalent of trading MTG cards, certain projects are likely to attract specific groups of people. Something like RTFKT connects artists, creators and digital fashion lovers. Zeedz, on the other hand, may bring together fans of Animal Crossing and environmental justice. 

Offering an active community people can belong to, and participate in, can help them bond and grow the reach of your project. Most NFT communities currently find a home on Discord — the features are great and most people are familiar with it already. So if you’re not sure where to start with utility, you can’t go wrong with adding a shared home to your roadmap.

Something to keep in mind when sharing content with your community is security. Web3 authorization and hosting are essential for keeping your community content in the community. If you’d like help token-gating your community, come visit us at SlashAuth.

2. Grant in-person access to exclusive services

A utility NFT can act as both a virtual ticket and group identity token — a way for people to access exclusive events for set communities only. All you have to do is decide on the event or service. Here’s the thing: the NFT market is full of early adopters. And if there’s one thing early adopters love almost as much as being first, is being one of a select few invited to hang out at a secret location. You can handle this in a few different ways.

At Andy Nguyen’s pop-up restaurant Bored & Hungry, holders of $Ape, Bored Ape, and Mutant Ape or Bored Ape Kennel Club NFTs, get special privileges. Unlike ‘normal’ diners, they get access to exclusive special perks. BAYC don’t stop at restaurant perks though. Token holders (and guests) get access to Ape Fest — an annual festival that features top musical talent. 

3. Empower community members to vote on community issues

Give your community of NFT holders the ability to have a say over how shared assets get distributed or what to build next. This can help increase buy-in and create something truly shared. 

Voting ability is a major part of projects like Nouns. When you buy a noun NFT through the daily auction, you join the community. The money you paid gets added to a shared pot (e.g. trreasury). The Noun community then votes on how the pot gets used — each noun gives you one vote. And to keep things fair, votes can’t be sold.

4. Let your people contribute ideas to shared creative projects

There’s something unbelievably human about building cool things together. And through NFTs, you can make the creation process accessible to everyone that holds that token. This allows people to support the creation of works that they really want to see. It can even give them access to the people behind them. 

How you handle this is up to you. You can hold special brainstorming sessions, open up forums for regular creative contributions from members, or even create one-off member-generated projects. 

5. Create exclusive, limited edition merchandise 

Unique merch can strengthen your unique bond. It shows outsiders you have a shared interest and tells them what you stand for — and what you support — without opening your mouth. In a community, it can serve as a safe bonding method through a shared inside joke — so why not create some limited edition merch only token holders would get?

A few NFTs are doing a great job of this. RTFKT — Nike’s foray into NFTs — released exclusive merch including Cryptokicksthe IRL version of their AR hoodie, and DNA merch. Fitness Friends, an upcoming London-based NFT, is including access to unique gym merch as part of their owner bonus. Crypto Barista’s NFT  gives you access to special coffee-themed merchandise and solid discounts. 

6. Grant special access to exclusive content

Subscription-based content is getting more popular. Services like Substack and Patreon let you follow and support individual creators on an ongoing basis. Now, you can do something similar with a utility NFT.

Stoner Cats puts this idea into dazzling action. The animated show — created by Mila Kunis’s production company and a team of creatives & tech folks with incredible credits to their names — is only accessible through collectible NFT tokens. The token gives you exclusive access to an exclusive show. 

7. Open up early content access 

Who doesn’t love early bird access? If you’re working on a project with wider appeal — something that will go beyond the crypto community and get distributed through other channels — you can grant your token holders exclusive early access. You can share demos, previews, and production shots and even invite critiques on creative concepts. 

8. Add special drops in the virtual world

NFTs and gaming go together like peanut butter and jelly. Whether you’re adding a gaming element to your build, building a game like Axie infinity, or powering activities that happen around real-world games like Silks and Zed Run, you can add exclusive content NFT holders will love. You can create unique in-game assets and add special skins or rare drops. 

9. Membership-only discounts

This is a fantastic option if you have a different, related business or if you’re building an NFT that supports your current business. Renga — a Toronto branding studio — created the Renga pass. This unique NFT gives holders priority status for getting on the studio’s client calendar and 10% off all invoices, forever. It’s a brilliant way for an agency — or client services business — to raise money and book projects at the same time. 

Utility ideas for NFTs: What’s coming over the hill

Utility NFTs are a young, developing space. The use cases we are seeing today will grow and evolve. Here are three NFT utility ideas we believe are heading our way sooner than later. 

1. Digital certificate of authenticity for collectibles

Collectibles — like limited edition clothing runs, cards, and anything else that’s rare and exciting — can have a hard-to-prove provenance. If you’re buying something like this though, you want to know that your item had the exact ‘life’ that the seller is claiming. Minting NFTs that capture all that information can make transfers and sales much easier for everyone involved. 

2. Creating digital deeds

Connecting an NFT for a physical object doesn’t have to stop at collectibles. Cars and properties have complex titles and deeds. Transferring those can be extremely painful and usually involves too many conversations with banks and lawyers. Turning those deeds into NFTs can cut out that paperwork. (This is something Propy is working on.)

3. Secure certifications 

An NFT is an unalterable record you can use to establish ownership or authenticity. As we keep moving into a remote-first world, sharing college or professional certificates — or verifying real experience — can get harder. Creating NFTs that capture those accomplishments can make it easier. 

It all starts with security

To achieve any of the ideas listed in this article, you’ll need the same thing: Web3 authentication and authorization. This allows you to securely grant access to content based on the tokens held by your community members. SlashAuth makes that easy — you can set up multi-level access to your content (and host all your stuff) in just 15 minutes. After you’re done, users will be able to connect their wallets and seamlessly enjoy all the benefits your community has to offer. 

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