Non-fungible tokens, more commonly referred to now as NFTs, have seen an explosion in popularity in the past year. Art collectors and investors alike have seen the value in these unique digital artworks, with some selling for millions of dollars. This has led to something of a gold rush in the space as many investors have scooped up NFTs hoping for massive returns.
While some of these investors have been able to make massive profits on early investment in the space, the jury is still out on whether NFTs will become a long-term investment, or if they are nothing more than a passing fad. That said, NFTs are a very promising development for creators and artists, and as an added bonus they are being seen as an ethical means to approaching art investing.
The following article will define NFTs, and then provide you with a step-by-step guide to creating or minting NFTs. So, if you’ve become interested in the process of NFT creation sit back and learn how to mint NFTs.
Before I get started I want to define a couple of terms for clarity:
NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) – These are unique, one-of-a-kind digital tokens that represent a specific asset, such as digital art, or even real estate. These tokens can be sold in marketplaces in the same way you might sell stock certificates or other asset classes. The creation of NFTs has been particularly beneficial for artists as it allows for the creation of new, and even passive, income streams for creators.
NFT Minting – Minting is the term used to describe the process of creating an NFT. When an NFT is minted it becomes a part of a blockchain, a digital ledger that’s tamper-proof and immutable. This means that the created NFT cannot be changed, and it is always possible to prove ownership of the original token, making counterfeiting impossible. It also means creators can continue to collect commissions every time their artwork is resold.
Should you create an NFT?
As you might already be thinking there are a number of good reasons to create an NFT representing your own artwork. Chief among those is the profit potential and recurring revenues. It’s also notable that the immutable and transparent nature of the NFT means that the creator maintains far greater control over their own intellectual property.
This control over intellectual property rights is an excellent argument for the ethical use of NFTs for creators. Over the course of history artists of all kinds have been exploited by unscrupulous marketplaces, agents, and others. NFTs remove this type of exploitation.
There have also been ethical considerations brought up regarding the energy usage of some blockchains where NFTs are created. This is most notable for the Ethereum blockchain, which has been the most popular for the creation of NFTs. I won’t get into the arguments that dispel the energy usage myths surrounding blockchains, as that’s deep enough for a complete article by itself. The good news for those concerned with energy usage and NFTs is that Ethereum will soon move from its current proof-of-work consensus to a much more environmentally-friendly proof-of-stake system. The change is already underway and could occur as soon as the first quarter of 2022.
How to Mint NFTs
While NFTs are all the rage right now, the selling of digital files is hardly something new. However NFTs have innovated on the process, and being able to prove the creator and owner of an NFT is an important development. The fact that the NFT is recorded on a blockchain, a public ledger, means the creator of the NFT is known, and that any subsequent owner is also known. Even more important for creators is the fact that NFTs allow the creator to set a royalty amount on the NFT and get paid every time that the NFT is resold on the secondary market.
Ethereum remains the most utilized blockchain for NFTs, but there are growing communities in other NFT marketplaces in a number of different blockchains. Besides the Ethereum blockchain creators can use all the following blockchains to create NFTs (and likely more in the future):
It’s worth noting that currently it’s not possible to transfer an NFT minted on one blockchain to a different blockchain. That does make it important today, however in the future it most likely won’t matter since cross-chain bridges should allow for easy transfer of assets across blockchains once they become more developed.
Understand that this is simply speculation on our part. There’s no guarantee that the technology will develop to the point where assets can easily be transferred across blockchains. One possible solution is to create your NFTs across a number of the blockchains which support them. This way you’re sure to have some NFTs on the blockchain that becomes most popular for NFTs in the future.
Currently Ethereum is by far the most popular blockchain for NFT creation, and all the largest NFT marketplaces support Ethereum based NFTs. With that in mind we are going to use Ethereum NFTs for the remainder of this article, but the principles do remain the same for other blockchains. Steps may be somewhat different however, depending on the platform used to mint your NFT.
Step-by-Step Guide to Minting an NFT
Because OpenSea remains the largest NFT marketplace we’ll use OpenSea for our guide to minting an NFT. Each NFT marketplace will have a slightly different process, but in general the steps will be quite similar. So here’s how you can go about minting an NFT:
1. Connect your Crypto Wallet to the NFT Marketplace
If you don’t already have a crypto wallet you’ll need to create one first (we’re using MetaMask). Then you’ll open the wallet and connect it to the NFT marketplace. At OpenSea that means clicking the “Create” button in the top right of the website, then choosing the wallet you’d like to connect. OpenSea supports 12 other wallets in addition to MetaMask. These include Coinbase Wallet, WalletConnect, and Fortmatic.
Depending on which wallet you’re using and whether you’re on a desktop or mobile device you could get different prompts for connecting the wallet (such as using a QR code scanner if you’re on amobile device).
Once your wallet is connected you should also go ahead and complete your OpenSea profile. This is how the NFT world will find you, and in it you can include links to your own website if you have one, or to social media and other pages. You can also specify which cryptocurrencies you’re willing to accept as payment when someone purchases your NFTs.
2. Time to Create Something
Once your wallet is connected you’ll be taken to the screen to Create a New Item. This is where you’ll upload your digital file (JPG, PNG, GIF, SVG, MP4, WEBM, MP3, WAV, OGG, GLB, GLTF – 100Mb max) and name your NFT. Other optional fields here are a link to some external webpage, a description of the NFT and which collection you’d like to add the NFT to. Of course if this is your first NFT you can also create a collection.
In addition to those above features you will also be able to choose between minting on Ethereum or Polygon and decide how many copies of the NFT you’d like to mint (same gas cost no matter how many copies you mint). You’ll also be able to set the royalty amount for when your NFT is sold on the secondary market. The typical royalty amount is 5-10%.
Other advanced features you can add at this time include Properties (textual traits that show up as rectangles), Levels (numerical traits that show as a progress bar), and Stats (numerical traits that show as numbers). Finally, you can also include Unlockable Content that can only be revealed by the owner of the item or set the NFT as Explicit or Sensitive Content.
Once you have everything set as you like click “Create” at the bottom of the page and your NFT will be minted!
3. Be sure to have the Necessary Funds
When you’re selling your NFT there could be a gas fee, which is the fee paid to the network to process the transaction. This is only true for NFTs you mint on the Ethereum blockchain at OoenSea. If you choose to mint on the Polygon blockchain there are no gas fees.
If you’ve minted your NFT on the Ethereum blockchain and plan on selling it you’ll need to be sure to have some ETH in your wallet to cover these gas fees. Note that gas fees do fluctuate and have been known to go above the equivalent of $100 in ETH. Plan accordingly and fund your wallet accordingly. At OpenSea you’re able to fund your wallet directly from the platform using a credit card, which is quite handy.
Note that OpenSea will calculate the amount of gas needed for fees in the next step, however because the fees can fluctuate quite rapidly you will want to over fund your wallet. For example, if the fee calculation says $30 you’ll likely want to put $50 or more in your wallet just in case the fees jump rapidly.
4. List your NFT for Sale
As much fun as the minting of the NFT is, the real fun comes in selling it on the open market. You can start that process quite easily by clicking the “Sell” button you’ll see in the upper right corner of the description page for your NFT.
After clicking on that Sell button you get to specify all the details. The first choice will be whether you want a fixed price sale, or a timed auction with a minimum bid. And if you’re creating an NFT on a marketplace other than OpenSea this might also be when you set the royalty payout for your piece. Don’t skip that step or you could be foregoing thousands of dollars – or more – of future passive income.
The marketplace should also disclose any fees for selling your NFT at this point. On OpenSea that fee is 2.5% of the sale price of the NFT.
Once everything is set to your liking you can click the “Complete Listing” button. OpenSea will then calculate the necessary gas fees and request payment from your wallet. Remember that gas fees do fluctuate constantly, and if the fees are excessive now you might want to wait and check back in an hour or two, or even on another day. If you’re interested in tracking the price trend for gas fees you can do so here.
Once the gas fee is approved and paid you’re NFT is listed on the marketplace as available for purchase.
5. A Growing NFT Business
Once your NFT is listed for sale you’re not done. Now you’ll want to begin engaging with fans and potential patrons. You could also expand your NFT into a collection around a theme in the hopes you’ll attract the interest of collectors or art dealers. It’s also possible to transfer your NFT from one marketplace to another if necessary, but there are likely to be fees involved in doing so.
Like anything in the digital space the best way to grow your business is by interacting and creating rapport with your users, fans, and NFT collectors. Watch for feedback from the community, create pieces that are likely to find willing buyers, and grow your NFT empire.
For NFT Creators
NFT creators find that they benefit from an improved flexibility from this digital delivery method when compared with more traditional methods for creating and selling their art, music, videos and other works. Minting NFTs allow a creator to remove the middle-man from the traditional art scene and gain access directly to the consumers and collectors. And by using an established and reputable NFT marketplace the creator is able to simplify what could otherwise be a very intensive process for those not technologically inclined. At the end of the day the creation of NFTs means creators get to keep a larger share of the profits being generated by their own creativity and hard work.
On top of that creators get to benefit in the long term by creating NFTs with royalty payments that can provide passive income for the rest of their lives and even beyond. Imagine if the descendants of Vincent Van Gogh were still able to collect royalties any time one of his art works is sold on the open market. That is possible with NFTs, where smart contracts make it possible to stipulate a commission is delivered to the creators wallet address anytime the NFT is sold. That means an NFT can continue generating income in perpetuity to whomever has control over the creators wallet.
For NFT Collectors
NFT collectors also appreciate the digital art medium for its immutability and transparency. No longer will collectors need to worry over counterfeits or proof of ownership of any specific piece of art.
Of course it’s true that a digital copy of any NFT can be made, however the authenticity of the original is forever preserved on the blockchain. Just as there are tens or hundreds of thousands of copies of Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting, the original work maintains its value and collectability simply because it is the original. In the same way that making a copy of the Starry Night painting doesn’t diminish the value of the original, so too making a copy of any NFT does not diminish the value of the original.
Why can’t I make Changes to my NFT after Minting it?
The minting of an NFT creates the token as an entry in the immutable ledger of the Ethereum (or other) blockchain. In the nature of blockchains all transactions are irreversible and tamper-proof. It’s one of the defining characteristics of the blockchain.
One way to make changes to an NFT you’ve created is to destroy it in a process called burning and then to recreate it as a new NFT with the changes you require. To avoid the need to burn your NFT you should be quite diligent during the minting process to be sure you are creating exactly what you want.
Early days for the NFT movement
The digital artists and creators who have made big money from their NFTs have also made big headlines. Based on that you might think you’re too late to the NFT space to hit it big easily, but the truth is that we are still very early in the NFT movement. Online creators were very early adopters of the NFT movement, and it is only going to grow larger and faster as more traditional outlets begin to join the movement. The good news is that this could mean it is becoming far easier for artists, musicians, video game developers, and other digital creators to make a living from their efforts.
That said, minting and selling NFTs shouldn’t be looked upon as some get-rich-quick scheme. There’s no guarantee you’ll make any money by minting an NFT, but as I’m fond of saying “never try, never know”. Your NFT creations could be the next Bored Ape Club viral NFT craze, but you’ll never know if you don’t get out there and mint them first.
Using NFTs to get involved in the ever-growing world of blockchain technology and finance is a very promising field, particularly for early adopters. It could be the beginning of a change that forever reshapes the ways in which creators are compensated.