We are still hearing about ICOs, held in 2017, that are continuing to send their makers skipping all the way to the bank! With EOS raising a whopping $700 million and Tezos $230.5 million being only some of the success stories, if you too are planning to jump onto this bandwagon, 2018 could be a good year to do. The world has definitely woken up to cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology and ICOs, and it will take some doing to poke a finger through this bubble, if it is a bubble at all.

The first challenge, whether in 2018 or not, to ensuring a successful ICO is to offer something of value, with key differentiators that make it stand out from the crowd of ICOs that seem to pop up at regular intervals. Here are some essential steps that you need to take and the likely expenses they will incur for you.

Creating the Token

To start with, you need to create a Minimum Viable Product or a Protocol that is characterised by transparency and authenticity, to gain market trust. Most exchanges will need you to create a smart contract token that is ERC20 compliant, and allows transfer from one user to another. So, the first cost you will need to bear is that of an ERC token developer. At present, an experienced Ethereum developer could cost you about US$10,000 and would take approximately two weeks to develop with the AVG hourly rate of around US$100-$200

Of course, having a token means you also need a means to distribute it among the public. So, the next step is to create a smart contract programme that will enable the distribution of your token to potential investors. Again, you will need a developer for this, which could cost you about US$15,000 for about a month, which is the time usually required to create a Crowd Sale Smart Contract.

Now, unless you can assure investors of security, your token is unlikely to succeed. For this, you will have to audit your smart contracts. The importance of this process cannot be overemphasised, given that it will require you to expose all the vulnerabilities that might exist in the code and find solutions for them. To be audited by a reputable auditor, you might need to spend about $50,000.

Marketing the ICO

Now, you are ready to let the world know about your creation. Apart from creating a stable and safe token, this is where most of your expenses will be incurred. If your concept or protocol is something whose value you can clearly demonstrate, such as Filecoin did, your marketing expenses might be lower than if you need to build the entire story for the target investor. On an average, you can expect to spend anywhere between 1% and 5% of your target hardcap for the ICO on marketing.

Do note that the better Core Team, Advisory Board, VC Funding and product developed would allow you to achieve far greater multiples and ROI.

So, what will all this money be used for? Here are the key areas that you should consider to market your ICO.


A well-written, informative, detailed and authoritative whitepaper is invaluable. This is where you not only let people know that you know what you are talking about, it is also where you can clearly discuss your product, its value proposition, how it can be used and its distribution process. Today, whitepapers have become an indispensable part of any ICO, acting as a business proposal for potential investors. Consider hiring a writer to create an extremely technical and professional whitepaper that establishes the credibility and quality of your offering. This could cost you about US$4,000-US$10,000.


If you aren’t looking for all your information online, you aren’t ready for cryptocurrencies or ICOs. So, you know that you target audience needs to find you online. For this, you need a strong online presence that is search engine optimised. So, invest in a good web developer to ensure an attractive, user friendly, informative site that has high quality content, which is regularly updated to keep potential investors informed. This could cost you up to US$30,000. This will be dependant on how interactive and fancy you would like your front end and back end website to be.

Video Content

The two videos that we are seeing are motion graphic explainer videos which help explain the concept of the intiail coin offering in a simple effective way that will engage the user and inspire them to contribut expect to pay up to $10,000 for a quality 60 – 120 second video.

Example here:

The second type of video is the live video with the goal of showing the core team and in some cases the advisors behind the project advocate and clearly show the passion and vision behind the project. People do not only invest in technology they invest in people and it is very important to show the face behind the project expect to invest up to $20,000 for the full production of a video.

Example here:

Social Media

The power of social media cannot be ignored when marketing any business, especially those that are digital in nature. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and even Telegram, to make your presence felt, to spread the word about your impending ICO and to create a buzz. And unless you are a social media genius, it is best to hire skilled and experienced professionals to create a carefully thought out social media campaign. A huge part of this campaign will be content creation, so don’t cut corners here. A social media campaign could cost about US$3,000 a month and further investment would be needed on a monthly basis to promote the ICO within the social channels.

Press Releases & Media Events

In addition to all the online campaigns, you also need to work on the offline media, connecting with financial and blockchain journalists and analysts, telling them about your product and ensuring that you put up press releases on as many websites and publications as you can. Also, consider offline and online ad campaigns to spread the word about the ICO. Here, the cost will be related to hosting events, as well as paying to upload your content on certain sites.

So, if you are looking to launch an ICO, make sure you consider every step of the process, since a compromise on any single step could impact the entire venture. As they say, you need to spend money to make money!