Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have gotten a lot of attention lately. This isn’t surprising, especially when you hear stories about artists who have made tens of millions of dollars selling a single NFT.
When you look at the market, NFTs have skyrocketed in the past year alone. According to tracking company DappRadar, trading in NFTs exploded from $100 million in 2020 to an incredible $22 billion in 2021. And the collective value of the top 100 NFTs sits at a hefty $16.7 billion.
But what is an NFT, and how can you make one?
The concept can be a bit confusing to understand. But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through all the basics that you need to know, plus the steps for creating and minting your own NFT.
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What is an NFT?
NFTs are digital assets with a unique identity kept and verified on a blockchain (a digital ledger). Each NFT is non-fungible, meaning it can’t be readily exchanged for another asset of similar value. Common NFT assets include images, video, music, GIFs, and collectibles.
NFTs hold value because there is only one version of the assets made. In other words, an NFT can only have one owner at a time—no one can alter its ownership or mint the same NFT on the blockchain. Given this scarcity, creators/owners of NFTs hold the ability to set their own rates for their assets.
How do NFTs work?
NFTs require the creation of digital tokens, through a technique called cryptography. In the crypto world, this token creation process is referred to as minting. Typically, to mint NFTs, you have to pay for creating smart contracts using cryptocurrency.
Smart contracts are pieces of software code that allow blockchain to store information in a secure and transparent way. Ultimately, these codes are what manage the ownership and transferability of NFTs.
Who can create an NFT?
Anyone with a modest amount of money to spend can mint an NFT. Today’s NFT platforms offer tools that let you create all sorts of NFTs, as well as attach unlockable content to your files. Whether you’re an artist, musician, collector, entrepreneur, or company, you can create your very own NFT by using easy minting tools available on NFT marketplaces.
Popular NFT examples
Before getting into the nitty gritty of NFT making, let’s go over some popular NFT examples to get you inspired.
1. Everydays: the First 5000 Days
This NFT is a digital collage of 5,000 images created by Mike Winkelmann, a digital artist professionally known as Beeple. It was minted as a JPG file and sold for a record $69.3 million at a major auction house in 2021. The value of this NFT lies in the 5,000 daily futuristic images Beeple made each day, from May 1, 2007, through January 7, 2021.
2. Nyan Cat GIF
The cool thing about NFTs is that anyone can turn their creation into a one-of-kind asset. For its 10th anniversary, Nyan Cat’s creator decided to turn the wildly popular GIF into an NFT and auction it off. Can you guess what the winning bid was? 300 Ethereum tokens! (More than $950,000 based on Ethereum’s price at the time of this writing.)
3. Bored Ape Yacht Club
The Bored Ape Yacht Club is a top-grossing NFT collection of 10,000 cartoonish apes. It was a brainchild of four friends who were inspired to use apes as their social avatars because “aping in” is a term for folks who would buy new NFTs without considering the risks involved. Little did they know, a few years later everyone from entrepreneurs to celebrities would be aping in and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on their creations. (Just recently, Eminem spent a whopping $462,000 to acquire a Bored Ape NFT.)
4. Doge NFT
In the same way collectors pay huge sums for cult toys and rare merchandise, the Doge NFT shows how digital scarcity can make iconic creations valuable. In June 2021, the cult meme of a smirking Shiba Inu dog named Kabosu sold for $4 million. Interestingly, the NFT investor group that purchased the NFT now sells fractional ownership of it, meaning anyone can own a piece for as little as $1.
How to create and mint an NFT
Now for the meaty part. Let’s look at the basic steps to make your own NFTs. Keep in mind that this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide. There are varying ways to do this depending on the tools you use, so use these tips as general guidelines.
1. Decide what type of NFT you want to create
NFTs are versatile—you have plenty of options for choosing which type you want to create. Your options include artwork, tickets to events, memes, media and music, games, virtual items, and more. You can even create an NFT for real-life items, like valuable collectible figures or a photo signed by a celebrity.
They’re often in the form of an image, audio, or video file, like JPG, PNG, MP4, MOV, and the like.
If you decide to make a simple NFT, you won’t necessarily need a developer. But if your NFT is a more complicated item, like a game, or has a complicated smart contract (conditions for the sale), then you may need the help of a developer.
When making your first NFT, think about how you can offer value to your audience. If you already have a business, you can try creating a loyalty card or exclusive promo code. And you can always hire an artist to create custom art for you.
2. Choose an NFT marketplace
When it comes to finding where to mint your piece, there are tons of NFT marketplaces to choose from. Each NFT marketplace has its own pros and cons for sellers, so make sure you do your research before making a choice. Three of the most popular are OpenSea, Rarible, and SolSea.
These platforms make it easier for new creators to dive into the world of NFTs. Some require you to authenticate or write your NFT on the blockchain, while some like OpenSea and Rarible allow for “shortcuts” like lazy minting. In lazy minting, you can avoid some fees by putting up your NFT for sale without writing it on the blockchain, then passing that fee to your buyer if it’s purchased.
One of the most important considerations for beginners is fees, which are often referred to as “gas.” Each marketplace has its own fees depending on how you plan to mint and sell your NFT. For example, OpenSea requires a fee to initialize your account, which could cost up to $100 in some cases.
3. Set up a crypto wallet
The next step is to create a digital wallet where you’ll store your cryptocurrencies and NFTs. An important consideration you have to make while selecting a wallet is whether it is compatible with the blockchain and NFT marketplace you intend to use for minting your NFTs.
Though there’s no shortage of crypto wallets out there, most NFT creators use the MetaMask browser extension wallet. This wallet is easy to set up and connects to most blockchains used to create and trade NFTs, including Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain. Other common wallets are Enjin, AlphaWallet, and Trust Wallet.
Note: Most NFT wallets are browser-based, which means they’re as safe as the underlying browser application. For maximum security, we recommend investing in a hardware wallet like Ledger Nano X. Hardware wallets store your private keys offline, which are used to manage various coins and NFT assets on blockchains.
4. Buy crypto through an exchange
Once you’ve created a wallet, it’s time to buy some cryptocurrency so you can pay gas to mint your NFTs. The best way to do this is to create an account with a reputable exchange, like Binance, Kraken, or Crypto.com. The process is quite simple and can be completed on your smartphone.
Now that you have an account, you can log in and buy the cryptocurrency. For NFT minting, you need to buy Ethereum (ETH) or Solana (SOL) coins depending on which blockchain you want to mint. Once done, transfer your coins to the wallet you set up in the previous step.
To transfer from an exchange to your crypto wallet:
- Log in to the exchange.
- Open the Wallets tab in the top or bottom navigation.
- Tap Withdraw and choose the relevant currency.
- Enter your wallet address in the Address field.
- Choose the right network (ERC-20 for ETH, Solana for SOL).
- Enter the amount and hit Withdraw.
5. Connect your wallet to the NFT platform and mint
After topping up your wallet, you’ll need to connect it to the NFT platform you’ll use to create your digital asset. Let us illustrate the steps you’ll need to take (we’ll be using the marketplace Rarible as an example).
- Go to Rarible.com and click the Connect wallet button in the right-hand corner of the screen.
- Select your digital wallet (such as MetaMask) and give Rarible permission to view your accounts.
- Click Connect and accept the platform’s terms of service and age confirmation.
- Head back to Rarible’s homepage and click the blue Create button at the top right.
- Choose between creating a single digital copy of your NFT and creating multiple copies to sell the same item multiple times.
- Upload the digital file you want to mint as an NFT.
- Next, you’ll be asked to choose how you want to sell your NFT file. It’s not mandatory to put the asset on sale while creating it. You can also put it on sale and set minimum pricing after minting it.
- Choose whether you want to offer a full high-resolution version of your NFT or add unlockable content through a secret download link or webpage.
- Choose Rarible as the collection for the NFT.
- Add the title and description for your NFT art.
- Specify a certain percentage of royalties you want to receive for secondary sales.
- Specify your file’s properties like color or size in pixels.
- Click Create item.
- Approve the transaction in your crypto wallet (pay the gas fees).
- Click Confirm > Upload file and Mint token.
- Confirm contract integration in your wallet (a small gas fee will be charged for creating the smart contract).
- Sign a sell order by clicking Sign in your wallet.
And that’s it. Your NFT is now minted. To find the created NFT, click on Profile > My Items. Your NFT collectibles pop up on your screen.
Your own NFTs aren’t as far away as you think
When you first hear about NFTs, it can seem overly complicated or impossible to actually break into the market yourself. But with some thorough research, diligence, and creativity, it’s more attainable than it looks.
And who knows: if you play your cards right, you might join the million-dollar NFT club someday!
How to create an NFT FAQ
How much does it cost to make an NFT?
The cost of minting an NFT often varies depending on gas and site fees. On the Ethereum blockchain, for instance, you can expect to pay around $70 to secure the token. Site fees average around $300, though some sites allow you to list NFTs for free.
Can you mint an NFT for free?
It’s possible if the NFT platform you choose supports lazy minting. This process generates metadata for an NFT without actually creating a token of the NFT itself. When someone purchases that NFT, it is then officially minted, and the gas fee incurred is passed onto the buyer. Keep in mind that fees might surprise people who are trying to buy your creations. So while you get to avoid minting fees, you might end up paying in terms of missed sales and portfolio opportunities.