What are NFT drops?
November 10, 2022

An NFT drop happens when a new NFT collection is released. NFT drops can vary in both how the NFTs are sold (listed for sale or auction), and in who they’re released to (the public, or a specific list called an “allowlist”).

Often, NFT drops coincide with when the NFTs in the collection are minted, that is, written to the blockchain. You might hear these terms used interchangeably— a drop might be referred to as the project’s mint.

Primary vs. secondary NFT sales

In addition to the term “drop” you may also hear the terms “primary” and “secondary” when referring to NFT sales or markets. This is because NFTs are often bought and sold multiple times after their initial purchase. 

Primary sales

Primary sales happen the first time an NFT is sold. The first sale can be after the creator has minted (written the NFT to the blockchain) their work themselves, or it can be minted by the buyer at the time of purchase. NFT drops are almost always the primary sale of the collection.

Sometimes, there are additional benefits for those who participate in the primary sale and are the first owner of the NFT. For example, an art collection might offer community membership to anyone who holds an NFT from the collection, but only the people who minted an NFT in the primary sale get a physical print of the artwork.

Secondary sales

Secondary sales happen when NFTs are bought and sold after the initial sale, similar to how fine art or trading cards might pass through multiple owners’ hands over time. Because all NFT transactions are written on a public, immutable blockchain, you can see an NFT’s entire sale history, all the way back to the primary sale.

What does an NFT drop entail?

Typically, when an NFT project announces their upcoming drop (usually on their official Twitter or Discord), they’ll include information about the allowlist, “the reveal,” and the drop schedule. Let’s walk through these pieces.


An allowlist is a list of crypto wallet addresses predetermined by the NFT project’s founders or team that may have special or early access to the NFT drop. Think of it like being on the list at a nightclub— you get to skip the line and go right in. Projects may give allowlist spots to people who hold other NFTs from the same creators, influencers, active members of the project’s community, or giveaway winners.


NFT project mints will usually have a “reveal.” This means that when buyers participate in the drop, the NFTs everyone mints will look the same (often they’ll display placeholder artwork until the real artwork is revealed). Later, the NFTs will be “revealed” when the drop owner updates the NFT’s metadata. Although the NFT you own is still the original token, the image will look different. This is common when NFTs within a given collection have different utility or varying rarity. Think of it like buying a pack of Pokémon cards— you buy the pack hoping you’ll get something rare, but you don’t know until you open it. Reveals typically happen after the mint date. It’s up to the creator to decide when they want to reveal the collection’s artwork, and the timeline varies from creator to creator.

Pre-reveal artwork from the HUGO x IO “Embrace Your Emotions” collection.
Post-reveal artwork from the HUGO x IO “Embrace Your Emotions” collection.

Drop schedules

Typically, an NFT drop will have multiple stages, including an “allowlist phase” or “pre-mint” that gives early access to those who are on the allowlist. Sometimes, a project might have more than one allowlist phase. The drop schedule (sometimes referred to as “mint schedule”) will outline who’s eligible to mint and when. The reveal date may also be included in the drop schedule, although typically the reveal timeline is announced after the drop happens.

An example drop schedule on OpenSea from Everybodys.

NFT drops on OpenSea

Drops happen weekly directly on OpenSea! Participating in a project’s drop on OpenSea is simple.

Before the drop is live, you can check out the project’s drop page. Here, you can learn more about the project, including its mint schedule, roadmap (the project’s future plans), and the team behind the project. You can also set an email or calendar reminder to notify you when the drop is about to go live.

If you’re signed in to OpenSea and the project has already uploaded their allowlist, it will show which stages of the mint you’re eligible for.

An example mint schedule showing the user’s eligibility for one allowlist stage.

How to mint a drop on OpenSea

Minting on OpenSea is easy. Below, we’ll show you how to do it using a credit card (you can also pay with crypto if you choose!).

  1. First, make sure your compatible crypto wallet is connected to OpenSea. You can connect your wallet by clicking the wallet icon in the top right of the OpenSea website.
Connect your wallet via the wallet icon in the top right of the OpenSea site.
  1. Once your wallet is connected, navigate to the project’s drop page. You won’t be able to mint before the drop is live, but you can see the mint schedule. If you aren’t eligible, it’ll say “You’re not eligible for this mint stage” and the “Mint” button will be grayed out.
  2. Once the drop is live, it’s time to mint! If you are eligible for an allowlist, you’ll see the word “ELIGIBLE” in green.
Example of what it looks like when you’re eligible for an allowlist stage.
  1. Choose how many NFTs you’d like to mint, then click “Mint.” The maximum number you can mint depends on the project’s set limits.
  1. A popup will appear with the NFT, the quantity, and a prompt to choose your desired payment method. For this example, we’ll be using a card.

Click “Complete purchase” and you’ll be taken to Moonpay’s flow to enter your credit or debit card information.

  1. Follow the Moonpay instructions to input your card details.

Please note that if you’re buying something more than $2,500 USD, you may also be asked to verify your identity. You will only need to do this once.

  1. You may notice that the price is slightly higher than the mint price alone. This is due to the network (“gas”) fee and Moonpay’s processing fee. You can see these prices broken out by expanding the “Summary.”
  1. Once all your details are entered, confirm your order! It might take a moment to process and write your transaction to the blockchain.

That’s it, the NFT is now yours! You can keep the NFT as long as you want or sell it on the secondary market whenever you choose.

🧠 Q&A

How do I get on an allowlist?

Often a major part of allowlists is holding NFTs from related collections, but there are usually also free ways to get on allowlists. Keep an eye out for official giveaways from the project (but make sure to vet them properly), and be active in the community. Project teams often pay attention to who their most active community members are, especially in places like Twitter and Discord!

I missed a mint. Can I still buy an NFT from the project?

Yes! Although the price might be different from the mint, you can always still participate in the secondary market. Just be sure to check if any utility (like merch or a print) was only available to those who minted so you can make an informed decision on your purchase.

I want to do a drop on OpenSea. Where do I start?

We love to hear that! Please reach out to our Partnerships team at