How To Create an NFT: What You Need To Know
Even those embroiled in the cryptocurrency industry couldn't predict the rapid growth in the non-fungible token (NFT) market. Within a year, these once obscure crypto collectibles became some of the most desirable digital assets. Projects including the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and CryptoPunks sold for millions of dollars, and established auction houses—like Christie's—began offering these tokens to clients.
NFTs skyrocketed into the mainstream in 2021, piquing the interest of artists and crypto enthusiasts alike. As the market grew, people became curious about how to create NFTs and make a profit. To meet this interest, dozens of websites emerged that offer simple ways for anyone—including crypto novices—to design and create their first NFT collection.
NFTs are unique digital assets representing items like art, music, and videos. Like cryptocurrencies, they exist on a blockchain and can be bought and sold. Unlike crypto, they’re non-replicable and cannot be traded one-to-one with each other—each has a unique value, like paintings at an art show.
The key selling point for NFTs is their unique blockchain addresses. No two NFTs are alike, which makes tracking ownership rights simple on blockchain explorers (sites that help crypto users find information on their target blockchain). Someone who knows the contract address for an NFT can paste it into a website like Etherscan and review the token's transaction history.
Instead of solely representing a digital currency, NFTs have limitless potential applications because they represent many forms of virtual media. From paintings and animations to albums and tickets, any digital file can be converted into a token.
Interestingly, NFTs trade more like physical collectibles (such as baseball cards and fine art) than cryptocurrencies. Unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, there's no spot exchange for NFTs. In other words, these tokens aren’t worth a specific amount of another currency, like the U.S. Dollar (USD), at a given point in time. Instead, their value is determined by demand and interest. While an NFT's scarcity may increase its value, it also makes it difficult to determine a "fair price" for each token. Even "blue-chip NFTs"—projects expected to keep a stable value in the long term—remain some of the most speculative assets in the crypto ecosystem.
What does it take to create an NFT?
Some beginner-friendly platforms only require a digital file to “mint” a token. However, in most cases, you need three things to successfully create an NFT and sell it:
- Self-custodial crypto wallet: NFT markets link with a user's crypto wallet to verify NFT ownership and pay for transaction costs. You need to download a crypto wallet that integrates with the blockchain you want to mint on. For example, using an Ethereum-based NFT site requires an ETH-compatible wallet such as MetaMask.
- Digital file: Minting requires digital media to transform into an NFT. Although JPEGs, JPGs, and GIFs are popular options, you can use dozens of different virtual file types on most NFT websites.
- Cryptocurrency: Some NFT sites let users pay with cash, and some credit card providers, like MasterCard, strive to integrate with Web3 platforms to make NFTs simple for non-crypto investors. However, many platforms still require crypto to cover transaction costs. To prepare for these "gas fees," send the native crypto on your preferred blockchain to your crypto wallet. For example, minting NFTs on Solana requires SOL coins for fees.
NFT tutorial: A step-by-step guide to minting
Even with limited crypto experience, minting an NFT is a fairly straightforward process. And after mastering your first NFT mint, you can go on to create digital collectibles on dozens of platforms.
Here’s how to create an NFT:
- Buy crypto on an exchange: You need crypto in your wallet to pay transaction fees on your future NFT's blockchain. Determine the native crypto and look up the average gas fees on the chain you choose. Next, use a centralized crypto exchange (CEX) like Binance or Coinbase to purchase the crypto for your transaction.
- Transfer crypto to a self-custodial wallet: Once you have crypto in your CEX account, send your coins to a self-custodial wallet that links with your NFT market. For example, to transfer ether (ETH) off of an exchange, withdraw and paste the ETH address from your crypto wallet.
- Log in to your preferred NFT market: After transferring your crypto, visit the website of your choice to mint your NFT. Follow the instructions to link your crypto wallet to the site.
- Upload your digital file: On the NFT minting page of your preferred site, upload the digital media you wish to use as an NFT. You must be the owner of this file—you cannot infringe on someone else’s protected work.
- Add bonus features: Take your time reviewing any extra site features to enhance the quality of your NFT. Ensure everything looks exactly as you want it before publishing your token.
- Review fees and confirm your transaction: Lastly, locate the site’s prompt to mint your NFT. After you pay the crypto gas fees for this transaction, your NFT should be live in Web3.
How much does it cost to create an NFT?
Each NFT market charges different rates for services, including minting tokens. The cost of creating an NFT will depend on your platform's terms and conditions.
However, if a website advertises "free" NFT minting, that doesn't mean it will cover the gas fees to use your chosen blockchain. Gas fees go directly to the validators or miners that confirm crypto transactions. The average "gas rate" on blockchains fluctuates and depends on current network congestion.
Find the best estimate for the latest gas rates by visiting a blockchain explorer associated with your preferred chain. For example, Etherscan monitors the Ethereum blockchain’s gas rate, while Polygonscan shows the up-to-date gas rate on Polygon.
What are the benefits of creating NFTs?
Everyone has a different reason for exploring NFTs. Some are interested in acquiring collectibles, while others use NFTs to monetize their art. No matter your inspiration, a significant benefit of NFTs is your tokens’ clear ownership rights.
It's impossible to duplicate an NFT once it’s been minted on a blockchain. Although anyone can copy and paste a virtual image, they won't have access to the NFT's blockchain address. This allows creators to transfer, store, and sell their NFTs wherever they wish.
Plus, since NFT ownership is so simple to track, it's easy to program special benefits into projects. For example, the band Kings of Leon programmed VIP concert access into their "Golden Ticket" NFTs. Likewise, the blockchain technology company Yuga Labs is well-known for airdropping crypto rewards such as Metaverse land to people who own their BAYC NFTs.
Artists who mint NFTs can also program royalty fees into their creations. Anytime someone trades an NFT on a secondary market, the token’s creator receives a percentage of earnings in their crypto wallet. This perpetual fee can become a powerful passive income stream for creatives who learn how to create NFT art.
How to choose the right NFT marketplace
Dozens of NFT marketplaces offer high-quality minting services. To choose from the growing list of NFT portals, take your time screening each website's track record in cryptocurrency. When making a decision, consider:
- Reputation: Research how long the NFT market has been in the crypto business and whether it has a history of hacks and other security issues. The best NFT markets have a transparent team and a positive reputation in the crypto industry.
- Curated vs. non-curated: A curated NFT market only lets pre-verified artists mint NFTs. To apply for a curated site, like Nifty Gateway, you must have a professional portfolio and experience in the digital art market. Most people who want to experiment with NFTs should focus on non-curated sites that let anyone mint tokens. Examples of non-curated NFT sites include OpenSea, Rarible, and Magic Eden.
- Supported chains: Examine which blockchains your NFT market supports. Although some NFT websites have "multi-chain" capabilities, not every market works on the same networks.
- Accepted files: Review the file and formatting requirements on each NFT market. The digital file you want to use may not fit a site's restrictions.
- Fees: NFT websites typically make money by charging fees for NFT sales and transfers. A reputable NFT marketplace will publish its fee structure online so you can calculate expected costs.
More NFT marketplaces are making it simple for crypto newcomers to experiment with this revolutionary technology. Thanks to upgrades in UI/UX on major NFT websites, just about anyone can create a digital collectible with zero coding experience. As long as you have a self-custodial wallet, a digital file, and some crypto, you can give NFT minting a try.
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