Indonesian Student Becomes Millionaire After Selling Selfies as NFTs

NFTs have become readily adopted in recent years thanks to them providing users/investors with the opportunity to buy or sell the ownership of various one-of-a-kind digital assets. The non-fungible tokens let users track who owns the digital assets using the blockchain and can contain anything digital like video game items, songs, or drawings to name a few. Even animated GIFs can be used as NFTs. But, one student somehow reaped huge financial benefits by converting his selfies into an NFT, showing that simple pictures for social media have true value after all. 

An Indonesian student became an accidental millionnaire in January after converting a selfie collection into NFTs as a joke. But that gag netted him more serious returns than he bargained for and has raised questions on the parameters surrounding how NFTs work. Is it that easy to sell your photos online as non-fungible tokens? And, what qualifies as an NFT? 

The Context 

Sultan Gustaf Al Ghozali, a computer science student based in the South East Asian country of Indonesia, made world news in late January when a collection of expressionless pictures he converted into NFTs extraordinarily won him a seven-figure amount of money. 

For five years, Al Ghozali took pictures of himself sitting in front of his computer with little to no expression on his face, doing so every day for five years. While taking this photo collection, Al Ghozali decided to use them for a time-lapse video collection to mark his graduation before deciding to sell his photos as non-fungible tokens. He informed his social media followers of his intentions in mid-January and priced each of his photos at $3. 

Initially thinking the joke would run its course, the photos garnered interest from hundreds of social media users who purchased Al Ghozali’s selfies while some of his social media followers created shirts bearing his images. Some users even made songs about him. 

As of late January, Al Ghozali’s selfie collection accumulated a total trade volume of 384 Ether, which is equivalent to over one million dollars. 

A confused and overwhelmed Al Ghozali expressed his shock that his selfie collection went so viral and made him a rich man so quickly. 

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Al Ghozali’s Twitter post after his selfie collection netted him a high return after converting them into NFTs

The 22-year old student was so stunned by the developments that he didn’t even tell his parents about his newfound wealth as he feared they would not believe where he got the money from. 

How Can You Earn Money Through Selling Photos as NFTs?

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How can photos be sold as non-fungible tokens?

Non-fungible tokens can be collected similarly to how different editions of photographic prints within traditional markets. As a result, anyone taking pictures can market and sell their work within the marketplace, with everything from ownership to any transactional activity being done through blockchain technology. The technology affiliated with NFTs has existed since 2015 but didn’t become truly highlighted until Beeple’s composite NFT netted a high eight-figure sale in 2021. 

Keep in mind that non-fungible tokens can’t be replicated or split into different sections like more common tokens such as Bitcoin. The unique aspect of NFTs lies in the digital asset attached to the token. 

Getting set up for NFTs requires you to go through a few complexities. First, people interested in establishing NFTs must choose a platform to auction their photos. Some platforms like SuperRare and others are invitation-only. Others like OpenSea, where Al Ghozali sold his selfie collection, are fully accessible to everyone. 

After deciding which platform to market and auction your photos on, you will need to exchange your money for Ethereum, a popular type of cryptocurrency. This exchange will be done as a digital transaction through the Ethereum blockchain. With Ethereum in tow, you then need to set up a digital wallet. You need to ensure the wallet is connected and is your login to the auction site of your choosing. From there, you transfer your Ethereum to your cryptocurrency wallet before completing the setup process. The transfer should be straightforward, though it’s best recommended to transfer smaller amounts to start with to ensure a seamless transaction. 

Once the platform and wallet are established, you’re ready to mint or produce your NFTs, paying fees along the way, including minting and listing fees. The platform you choose will take a percentage of your sales price, as is typical for any type of auction. With OpenSea, for example, they take a flat 2.5% fee on all sales, with no service charges issued to buyers. 

Pricing photos can be difficult, whether you’re a professional photographer or someone like Al Ghozali, who takes pictures from social media. You’ll need to judge this based on the market and then price your work accordingly. 

When NFT purchases are made, the purchaser acquires ownership of the digital asset, but not the copyright, which stays with the photographer and allows the photographer to license his/her work at any time in any publication. 

NFTs are Bound to Create Unique Opportunities Going Forward

NFTs are particularly popular with photos and any sort of digital artwork. However, the potential of non-fungible tokens is high because they can be used to make digital land purchases in virtual reality, as well as for new generation music ownership and publishing. NFTs may even offer future access to limited-edition items or special events like concerts. While Al Ghozali’s story may sound too good to be true, it does open up greater possibilities for what qualifies as an NFT and how quickly things like selfies and other visual media can attract value. Because NFTs can be used to log ownership of unique digital assets, there are more use cases of NFTs being used for various interactive experiences. NFTs will not only focus more on widening the scope for which produced qualify to be converted into these tokens but widening access and authorization possibilities as well. 

Want to know more about non-fungible tokens, how to get them and where you can use them?  Check out our resources to learn more about the different nuances involving NFTs. 

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