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So You Want an NFT
For those not into crypto or blockchains, getting an NFT seems overwhelming. We walk you through the steps.
NFTs are taking the world by storm. However, it is a space that can feel inaccessible for those not already well-versed in the cryptocurrency ins and outs. While some NFT platforms do let you purchase NFTs with “fiat” (e.g. dollars), the vast majority are only bought and sold using cryptocurrencies like Ethereum. This can seem overwhelming. But there are just 3 simple steps you need to do.
Get a Crypto Wallet
Load the Wallet with Money
Buy or Mint an NFT
This might still seem like a lot, but we’ll break it down step by step. Important to note as well is that the “T” in NFT stands for “token,” and “minting” is the process of creating a new digital token — much like when you create a new physical coin. This token, this NFT, can have anything attached, but the most common use case so far is artwork and digital collectibles.
There are many blockchains on which NFTs exist, though, for the purposes of this article, we will focus on the most common, Ethereum, where we released Dastardly Ducks. The general principles are the same for alternatives like Solana and Tezos, though they are not compatible with Ethereum wallets. Which is what you need to get first.
Get a Crypto Wallet
Your NFT must exist in a wallet. This is the place on the blockchain where your assets are stored. They can either be a software wallet — an app that runs on a device you already own — or a hardware wallet that it is its own dedicated device. The latter are more secure, but good software wallets are secure enough for most purposes.
The most popular option for software wallets is MetaMask, which is a perfectly fine solution available for most platforms, mobile or desktop/laptop. On the latter, it functions as a browser extension. However, Rainbow, available on iOS and Android, has features to enable NFT viewing directly in the app — and generally great app design to boot.
One can even use Rainbow on mobile and MetaMask on their desktop or laptop using the same “seed phrase,” which is issued to you when creating a new wallet. Your seed phrase is like a password you cannot change. Do not share it with anyone, but keep a copy of it secure.
Load the Wallet
Lovely! Now you have an Ethereum wallet and — what’s that? — you see that some places are offering free NFTs to mint? Surely you can get an NFT already, right? Nope, because you still have to pay “gas,” the transaction fees necessary to use the blockchain, and your wallet is still completely empty. Most NFTs aren’t free either, so we better put some digital cash in that virtual wallet.
Rainbow lets iOS users in some countries buy a few hundred dollars worth of Ethereum straight through the app a week. This might be enough for people making occasional purchases of inexpensive NFT projects and not trying to buy overpric— I mean, high profile NFTs like Bored Apes.
In cryptocurrency spaces, you will often hear the term “on-ramp.” This is a way of converting the fiat money you are used to into something like Ethereum. The most popular on-ramp is Coinbase, known for their QR code Super Bowl ad. These sorts of exchanges typically require you to comply with “know your customer” regulations, attaching a real identity to the transactions.
Buy an NFT
One of two ways you can use your newly acquired Ethereum to get an NFT is to buy one that already exists on the blockchain. There are numerous marketplaces for this purpose, from ones that only feature certain artists and collections like Foundation and SuperRare, to open ones like OpenSea that list basically anything not taken down for copyright or other legal reasons.
Given the decentralized nature of NFT trading, people have bought and sold our genesis profile picture collection, Dastardly Ducks, on numerous marketplaces, including Rarible, LooksRare, and the aforementioned OpenSea, which is where the most ducks are listed for sale by resellers. We also use OpenSea’s data to display the ducks listed there on our website!
To login to these sites, you connect them to your wallet — which doubles as providing your billing info in an online shopping checkout process. However, simply connecting the wallet does not give the site direct access to your funds, so you will still have to approve the transaction in your wallet.
For beginners, we recommend browsing the “Buy Now” NFTs and find one of the ones on the lower end of pricing that appeals to them. This will open up a request in your wallet you must approve, and then, once the transaction is confirmed on the blockchain, the NFT is yours!
Placing offers on NFTs without “Buy Now” prices requires a special alternative form of Ethereum called “Wrapped Ethereum” that is beyond the scope of this guide.
Mint an NFT
As mentioned before, when a new NFT is created on the blockchain, it is “minted.” Some collections are minted directly by their creators and then sold on sites like OpenSea, where the first person to buy the art has an identical experience to those acquiring resold NFTs. However, allowing anyone to mint helps drive initial interest in a project.
When we released Dastardly Ducks, people could mint up to 10,000 directly from the official website. When we release the follow-up, Yo Kitties, there will be 5,000 available in a similar fashion. Much like with buying an NFT off of a site like OpenSea, you still connect your wallet to the site in an almost identical fashion.
However, from there, you then pay a standardized fee set by the creators to make a new NFT. In most cases, what you get is simply random, akin to a blind box, though some collections offer the ability to customize your NFT. Even in cases where you don’t, it enables you to become the true first owner of a NFT and, in cases of projects that later go up in value, get it for much cheaper. However, NFTs are very risky investments. For most people, it is probably better to focus on getting art that you love.
Because of the size limits set on these sorts of NFT collections, mints are limited-time opportunities. How long it takes to “mint out” a collection depends on its popularity, buzz, and size. In the case of Dastardly Ducks, they were only available to mint for less than 6 hours. Some take months or even never mint out. Though a “used” NFT is identical to one freshly minted, many people find joy in taking part in the minting process, which is often art in and of itself.
New technology can be overwhelming, and, even after reading this, I am sure many will still feel it. This feels like a lot just to buy a piece of digital art for those not familiar with any of the underlying technologies. People should also be extremely careful about treating the purchase of NFTs like investments — and we at smol farm must emphasize we never make promises about the future value of our own.
We merely create blockchain art that we hope people will enjoy, and hopefully this article made it feel a little less daunting.
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