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What Does Minting an NFT Mean? A 101 Guide

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) attracted attention during the 2021 crypto bull run. As NFT trading activity skyrocketed, more people became curious about what makes images of NFTs such as Bored Apes and CryptoPunks so valuable. Many artists, game developers, and tech enthusiasts also began researching how to make NFTs for sale or simply for fun. 

As you learn the basics of NFTs, you're bound to run across the term "minting." Without the "minting process," NFTs wouldn't be different from cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Learn what minting an NFT means to understand how these digital collectibles work.

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What does minting an NFT mean? 

Unlike fungible crypto assets, NFTs are unique digital tokens that can’t be traded 1-to-1 with any other asset. You can't sell an NFT on a centralized crypto exchange (CEX) as you would Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Litecoin. These coins are divisible and identical, and NFTs don’t have these traits. Instead, NFTs have one easily identifiable address on a public blockchain. This scarcity makes NFTs more difficult to value, but it also accounts for their desirability among enthusiasts. 

"Minting" transforms digital media such as JPEGs, GIFs, and PNGs into NFTs. When someone "mints" an NFT, they "publish" address information on a blockchain such as Ethereum or Solana. And once they mint the NFT, they can track its location on the blockchain. This new traceability feature makes it possible to verify ownership and easily trade NFTs. Whoever minted the NFT can easily exchange their new digital collectible on NFT markets such as OpenSea

Why is minting an NFT important? 

Without the minting process, NFTs wouldn't be different from ordinary digital files. The specific blockchain address created during minting authenticates NFTs as unique virtual assets with clear ownership rights. Once an NFT is minted, anyone can verify the owner on its respective blockchain. Minting an NFT makes it possible to display, store, and trade these digital tokens across Web3. 

Being on a blockchain means that digital art can be more valuable. Artists who want to monetize their NFTs can set royalties to receive payments whenever their digital artworks swap hands. If it wasn’t on a blockchain, it would be impossible to know the true history and prove ownership of the art. Blockchain art is also more easily tradable and has other benefits. 

Also, minting establishes the "rarity ranking" for an NFT collectible. Creators can decide how many versions of an NFT they’ll create during minting. For instance, the studio Yuga Labs only minted 46 Bored Ape NFTs with gold fur. In total, there are 10,000 NFTs in the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) collection. Since gold fur is such a rare attribute, it increases these NFTs’ value compared with others in the BAYC.

What do you need to mint an NFT? 

No matter which website you use, here are three things you need to mint an NFT successfully:

  1. Digital file: NFTs are digital files that have special blockchain "authentication tags." Start with some form of digital media to create an NFT. Although many popular NFTs are JPEGs or GIFs, you can use any digital file to mint NFTs.
  2. Self-custodial crypto wallet: A self-custodial crypto wallet gives you complete control over your digital assets. Many of these wallets also connect with Web3 dApps (decentralized applications), including NFT marketplaces. To use an NFT website's minting service, link a compatible crypto wallet to verify transactions and pay gas fees.
  3. Cryptocurrency: You’ll also need to pay some crypto to mint your NFT. Even if you don't have to pay a commission to mint an NFT, you’ll need crypto to take care of network transaction costs. Every blockchain charges gas fees in its native cryptocurrency to confirm transactions such as buying, listing, or minting NFTs. 

How to mint an NFT

Some NFT markets may have unique procedures, but most follow similar steps for minting an NFT. 

  • Choose your NFT collectible: Create or find a digital file (e.g., JPEG, GIF, or MP3) you want to mint as an NFT. Be sure to research any special media, size, and formatting requirements on the NFT website. Although many NFT sites accept various digital media, not every marketplace has the same standards.
  • Buy some cryptocurrency: Remember, even if it's "free" to mint NFTs on a website, you’ll need to spend some crypto on gas fees, which depends on the blockchain. For example, if you're minting NFTs on Ethereum, you’ll need Ethereum's native ether (ETH) cryptocurrency to pay gas fees. You can purchase crypto on many websites, but most people rely on CEXs like Coinbase or Binance. Make sure you send this crypto to the self-custodial wallet that you’ll use to mint your NFT.
  • Connect your crypto wallet: Once you have enough crypto for gas fees, link your wallet to your preferred NFT market. Most NFT websites have a "Connect" icon in the upper right-hand corner to sync your preferred wallet. A few of the most downloaded wallets used in NFT trading include MetaMask, Phantom, and Coinbase Wallet.
  • Select "Mint an NFT:" If an NFT website allows anyone to mint digital collectibles, you’ll see a "Mint" option on the main page. Some websites may list this option as "Create." Clicking this link reveals the instructions on how to mint your NFT.
  • Upload and personalize your digital file: Once you are on the site's "Create NFT" portal, upload any digital file you want to become an NFT. You can also give your NFT a name, write a description, and set dozens of other unique traits. Some NFT sites will let you set your preferred royalty rate before formally minting digital art.
  • Confirm your NFT mint: When you're satisfied with the appearance of your NFT, click the "Create" or "Mint" button. You'll need to confirm this transaction in your crypto wallet and pay gas fees to finalize the minting process. 

How much does it cost to mint an NFT? 

There's no standard fee for minting an NFT, but it's never free. Even if a site doesn't charge extra for minting an NFT, you’ll need to pay gas fees on whatever blockchain you use. These fees go to the node operators that validate transactions on their respective chains. Reports from 2021 suggest average minting prices for Ethereum-based NFTs hover around 0.07–0.1 ETH. Typically, Ethereum competitor chains such as Cardano, Tezos, and Solana charge cheaper gas fees than Ethereum. However, these gas fees can fluctuate depending on network congestion. Experts suggest checking a crypto gas calculator for a precise estimate.

However, if you’re looking for information about how to mint an NFT for free, crypto airdrops provide free digital collectibles. When NFT creators give away airdrops, they send a crypto collectible directly to your wallet. Just be sure to thoroughly research new NFT projects to avoid scams. Minimize the risk of a security breach by using one crypto wallet solely for airdrops. 

Is minting an NFT the same as buying it?

Minting is different from buying an NFT. When people mint an NFT, they authenticate it on a public blockchain. If you're purchasing an NFT on a market such as OpenSea, the token has already been "minted."  

The only time you would buy and mint an NFT simultaneously is if you're on an NFT whitelist. Also called "allowlists," whitelists give prescreened crypto wallets special access to a new NFT collection. Anyone on a whitelist could buy and mint NFTs in one transaction.

Where can people mint NFTs? 

Dozens of websites support NFT trading, but not all offer minting services. Also, some curated NFT markets, such as Nifty Gateway and SuperRare, only let prescreened artists mint NFTs. While professionals can apply to mint their NFTs on curated markets, most people use less-restrictive non-curated NFT sites. 

At the time of writing, OpenSea has the highest average trading volume in the NFT space. It allows anyone to mint NFTs on various blockchains, including Ethereum, Solana, Klaytn, and Polygon

Although OpenSea is the most influential name in the NFT sector, many other competing sites let users launch their NFTs. For instance, Magic Eden and Rarible or multi-blockchain NFT markets that have minting services. Also, many CEXs such as Binance, Coinbase, and Crypto.com have NFT markets with minting tools. 

Wrapping up

Minting NFTs is a fun way to experiment with Web3 technology. However, remember that the NFT sector still faces challenges such as hacks and Ponzi schemes. Experts suggest relying on reputable websites with transparent leaders and a successful track record when minting NFTs. 

At Worldcoin, we aim to increase safety on dApps such as NFT markets using our Orb technology, which verifies that crypto wallets have unique owners without collecting KYC data. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to learn more.

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