KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

Original author: Ignas

Original translation: Luffy, Foreisght News

I never thought about becoming a KOL. The word KOL sounds a bit cheesy.

There is a general negative sentiment towards influencers and the influencer economy as a whole. I understand why, the crypto world is full of scammers who sell and dump on their fans, ultimately causing harm to them.

But not all KOLs are scammers. Money is not my motivation for posting on Twitter, I originally posted just because I was bored during the 2022 bear market.

Now, I was bored again, so I asked on Twitter what to write next. The most popular ideas were sharing insights on becoming a KOL, how to grow your audience, and revealing some secrets of crypto KOLs and marketing. Since I already had 100k followers on Twitter, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share something different.

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

In this post, I’ll briefly share my story, provide tips for growing your audience, discuss popular monetization models (including pricing), and more.

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

First of all, do you want to be a KOL?

I was working at a Korean CEX when the market crashed in late 2021. Suddenly, the cryptocurrency market became unusually quiet.

For a few months, I went to the office just to check Twitter, nothing interesting happened. To make matters worse, my boss was promoting CEX, so there was no real work to do in the office.

This is the second bear market I have experienced, so I know a new bull market is coming.

The 2020-2021 bull run started with DeFi, but few people understood how it worked. Most people traded on CEX and didn’t know how to use MetaMask. When DeFi summer came, those who understood the basics of DeFi reaped huge profits. I also started farming YFI on Curve early on, and the annual interest rate once reached a terrifying 10,000%. What a great time…

My plan is to continue researching to find the next opportunity sooner rather than later.

I originally wrote on Twitter to record personal notes to prove that I actually understood the subject. Thats why my Twitter handle is DeFi Research.

Tip: If you think you really understand a concept, try writing it down. Youll find that its much harder to explain your ideas clearly on paper than to visualize them in your head.

But I was still bored. So I wrote a big study on 25 DeFi protocols roadmaps to find out their common trends. It took me a week to write this separate article.

I was worried that it might fail. After investing so much time into a piece of writing, you really want it to succeed.

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

I was lucky that the article went viral. DeFi Edge, Miles Deutscher, DeFi Dad… all the big DeFi people participated in the interaction, and it is still one of my top 5 most liked posts (244k views).

I only had 300 followers at the time. But then, over the next few days, my followers increased rapidly. With this post, my followers grew to about 3,000, which is a 10x increase!

Tip: Content quality on Twitter is important. While popular posts can be accidental, sustained follower growth requires insightful and unique content, which takes time and effort. Some posts will fail, but successful ones will attract quality followers.

I continued to learn and share content about token economics, stablecoins, SBT on a weekly basis and soon grew to 10,000 followers.

Tip: Persistence is key. Once you gain momentum, you need to keep pushing. Otherwise, the Twitter algorithm will “forget” about you and your posts won’t show up in other people’s feeds.

The first milestone is achieved, and the first 10,000 followers are the hardest. After that, you can cover a wider range of topics. Next, I’ll cover more advice on growing your audience.

Why You Should Write on Twitter (Even If You Don’t Want to Become a KOL)

Two other reasons that motivated me to start writing on Twitter were: my girlfriend and Naval Ravikant. Naval completely changed my concept of success. He shared his own success story in his famous post “How to Get Rich (Without Luck)”.

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

The post is great but the book goes into more detail. You can read his book here .

Interestingly, as an experiment, I wrote a (viral) post about how I got rich from cryptocurrency, which earned me thousands of followers.

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

In short, Naval teaches people to pursue wealth rather than become rich. You can become rich by arming yourself with professional knowledge and leveraging it through the Internet, which greatly broadens the scope of career development.

This specific knowledge is very specific and creative, and can be acquired with curiosity and passion. You can apply specific knowledge through coding and media, You can create software and media that work for you while you sleep.

But this is the part that really caught my eye:

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

“If you can’t code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts.” This will eventually allow you to apply “specific knowledge, plus leverage, and eventually you’ll get the rewards you deserve.”

In the era of attention economy, having an audience is an advantage.

Our attention span is limited, but information is unlimited. With so much information vying for your attention, your attention becomes more valuable and more difficult to capture.

For a crypto project, getting your attention can mean the difference between success and failure for a protocol, with technical features taking a back seat.

If this isn’t an attention game then what is it? Valuations are largely driven by attention and crypto is still 99% speculative.

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

Stacy interprets Delphi Digitals report: Attention is everything

This is why I support Polkadots adoption of an influencer marketing strategy. I believe this is the most effective way to spread information to native Web3 users. Polkadots problem is poor execution.

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

Since cryptocurrency is largely driven by narrative and sentiment, crypto companies want to work with influencers.

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

As Edgy says, this leverage makes it easier for individuals to obtain jobs and trade, thereby reducing their reliance on a single source of income.

In short, Navals book says it all for me:

  • I was bored but curious about cryptocurrencies, so I started researching, which helped me build a specific body of knowledge.

  • Since I can’t code, I chose writing to grow my audience and gain influence.

  • As my audience grew, I gained multiple ways to monetize.

  • For me, crypto is like a game. (When I was a teenager, I played Lineage 2. Leveling up in the game is similar to gaining followers on Twitter. Money in crypto is like Adena in the game, and becoming a KOL is like becoming a hero in Lineage, expanding your influence.)

Tip: What are you really curious about? You need curiosity to stay motivated in the long run.

Commercialization Model

Before I share tips on how to gain followers, I want to share one important reason to become a KOL: to make money.

This is the biggest problem for many KOLs. Monetization is more difficult than attracting viewers and fans.

A few months after I started writing, I quit my 9-to-5 job. It was the best I’d ever felt.

I went to a cafe, opened a Notion spreadsheet, and listed all the popular models that influencers were using to make money. My first thought was to look for VCs to invest in while learning about the best protocols in crypto. Long story short, I ended up with a blog, pitches, Instadapp ambassadorships, and launched my influencer marketing agency Pink Brains.

Besides my salary, I have at least five sources of income (including airdrops).

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

Note: This Notion sheet is something I created myself and I havent touched it in a year. So, its not finished and has a lot of typos.

Therefore, the following are the most popular commercialization models of crypto KOLs:

Paid posts: It may seem simple, but it can damage your reputation.

  • One bad collaboration with a shady crypto project can ruin your reputation, so make sure the project is credible. Accounts with fewer than 10,000 followers rarely attract mainstream projects, while accounts with more followers can be overwhelmed and make researching projects time-consuming.

  • Payments vary based on private negotiations, the KOL’s reputation and influence, and the KOL’s knowledge of other rates. Posts typically start at $500 for KOLs with less than 20,000 followers, but can reach $3,000-5,000 for KOLs with hundreds of thousands of followers. Mainstream projects have lower reputational risk, so the fees paid are generally lower.

  • When the market changes from bullish to bearish or from bearish to bullish, the rewards will also change accordingly.

Blog Sponsorship:

  • Dedicated section in a blog post. Prices range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the number of subscribers. Expect to pay upwards of $1,000 for 150 words of sponsored content in a blog post.

  • Featured Blog Posts: One well-known KOL I know charges $15,000 for a featured blog post, and typically a blog post costs much less.

  • Paid subscriptions: Unpopular because it limits the development of KOLs. You can earn more income from the above two methods. For example, I earn $13,000 per year before tax from paid subscriptions.

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

KOL Private Equity Investment:

  • Private equity investment is becoming more and more popular among KOLs. Projects also like this model because KOLs will voluntarily participate in project construction without having to pay for commissioned articles.

  • The investment amount for each KOL is usually between US$1,000 and US$20,000.

  • The terms such as unlocking period and valuation are better than those of most venture capital companies.

  • You are asked to post about the project, usually a few tweets per month.

  • High profit potential. Previously, it was considered almost risk-free due to short unlocking time and low valuation. Now the situation is a bit different, as low circulation and high FDV tokens are constantly being sold off.

Advisor/Ambassador Position:

  • Both have a minimum monthly posting requirement, which is long-term. Payments are usually paid in the project token, while one-time paid posts on Twitter are paid in stablecoins. Payments vary, but typically $5,000-10,000 or even $15,000 per month can be obtained.

Recommended by:

  • I like referral models that give referrals special benefits. Airdrops are a good fit. Another common one is that CEXs reward referrals with a portion of the fees they get from new users. This kind of income is unstable.

Dumping tokens to fans

  • Buy tokens and recommend them to your followers. This is very common and is even done by the “most respected” influencers on Twitter.

There are more ways for KOLs to monetize, such as becoming a representative of a DAO. The upper limit of your monetization ability depends on your creativity.

Finding a revenue model takes time. It took me 9 months and 40k+ followers on Twitter to find my first blog sponsor. I decided not to do paid posts (only one for Pancakeswap V3) and instead started a KOL agency.

In fact, I make more money from paid posts than I did through our influencer agency, and with less work. But I’m more interested in growing Pink Brains than making money.

How to Grow Your Audience

This topic could be a blog post in its own right, and you can find plenty of relevant posts on Twitter, like this one from Edgy. To keep it simple, I’ll just share my personal advice:

1. Start with a focused area and then gradually expand your scope of influence.

  • Start by focusing on a hot area or even just one protocol and become an authority in that space. Write guides, share updates, connect with the core community and share your insights.

  • Make sure you’re actually passionate about it, rather than feeling like you’re working for it.

  • As you grow, expand your reach: a popular protocol → similar protocols → DeFi → crypto → others

2. Find what you are good at:

  • You might be good at on-chain transactions, making memes, and finding airdrops. It’s best to combine multiple skills to make you irreplaceable.

  • For example, CC 2 ventures shares airdrop guides while farming these airdrops themselves.

3. Provide value first, then seek to monetize.

  • First, you need to offer something of value to your audience without asking for anything in return. Write guides, share insights, and connect with like-minded people.

  • Monetization needs to wait. If you start monetizing through paid posts too early, it may hinder your long-term growth.

  • For example, ELI 5 of TLDR grew to 13,000 followers by commenting on popular posts.

  • KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

4. Avoid using hashtags and use tickers instead. Too many hashtags will make your post look like spam.

5. Choose an eye-catching avatar and use it all the time. NFT avatars (such as Pudgy Penguins) can attract community members and increase your number of followers, but NFTs are expensive.

6. Try something new: Yesterday’s success may be tomorrow’s failure. As crypto trends evolve, stay ahead by constantly reinventing yourself.

  • I’ve seen many influential people lose influence because they failed to reinvent themselves.

  • Stand out by being unique. Take inspiration from your favorite writers, but don’t copy their content.

  • Mix light content posts (like this one) with topical and longer posts. Light content gets views, and longer posts attract followers.

5. Tag a few experts on the topic at the end of your post. But please don’t tag the same person over and over again, it will be annoying.

6. Dont post meaningless spam. Insightful spam is a high-level art form that requires wisdom and expertise.

KOL’s Self-introduction: How to Become a Crypto KOL?

7. Use tools like Typefully to help you write posts: fix grammar, use AI to help brainstorm, and track data.

  • Review your analytics to understand what type of content resonates best with your audience and adjust your strategy.

8. Reply to comments on posts, participate in discussions and express gratitude to fans. Building a community is a two-way process.

9. Try other platforms: You can start with Farcaster, Debank or Lens to build your audience without fierce competition. Once you have a stable fan base, bring them to Twitter.

10. Dont look for easy shortcuts, there are no shortcuts.

  • Avoid Twitter campaigns of likes, retweets, and comments. These will skew your engagement metrics. After the campaign ends, the algorithm will show future posts to the same reward-seeking users. If they stop engaging, your reach will shrink. Prioritize small, focused communities.

  • Don’t just aim for eyeballs, aim for quality. Forget vanity metrics and attract “valuable fans” with top-notch content.

Ultimately, it comes down to having a unique opinion, knowing how to write, and working hard. It took me two years to get to 100,000 followers.

Unfortunately, building a following is harder now than ever. There are very few new people on crypto Twitter, so the people who post and read the articles are the same.

Twitters recommendations feature reduces the need to follow accounts directly.

I recommend following Alex to learn about changes in the Twitter algorithm and how to adapt to grow your audience.

How to market to others on Twitter

An unexpected side effect of becoming a KOL is increased sales power. And it’s not just because of the expanded audience.

I receive dozens of private messages every day, but can only respond to a few of them. Unfortunately, I cant respond to every message because its very time-consuming and most private messages are meaningless.

Most KOLs do this. The number one reason for not replying is lack of mutual attention: If I don’t follow anyone who follows you, you will be passed over.

That’s why, even if you are not a KOL but a developer, researcher, company employee, business developer, etc., you should get followers if you plan to connect with people on Twitter.

I get a lot of pitches every day from people who teach me how to pitch. Here are some tips:

  • Keep it brief, long messages will be skipped.

  • Introduce yourself, state your needs and emphasize your value.

  • Don’t put a link in your first message, especially not a Calendly one!

  • Be persistent but polite.

  • No reply? Your recommendation may not meet my needs, please dont mind.

  • Theres nothing worse than a Calendly link in the first message!

All in all, this is just my path, yours will be different.

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