So you heard about this crypto stuff but you’re a struggling artist? Well, let’s do the 0x to 100 and get you started today!
This beginner level tutorial will show you how to use a crypto wallet and sell your art. Its focus will be on what is most important to you as a blockchain artist selling NFTs, or Non-fungible Tokens—the industry term for rare digital goods. We’ll be using the Ethereum platform as it is the most well known for buying and selling NFTs.
First things first, you’ll need a wallet to manage your crypto-based assets.
First things first, you’ll need a wallet to manage your crypto-based assets. While there are many wallets to explore, Metamask—a Google Chrome extension—is very well trusted and will do everything you need. Once installed, go through the prompts and take extra care in writing down your seed-phrase and password and storing it in a safe place.
Warning: do not lose your seed-phrase! There is no “lost password” function and you will lose everything if you get locked out.
Once set up, you will need to have some Ether, Ethereum’s native currency, in your wallet to interact with the network. Make sure to find a reputable place that lets you transfer Ether (ETH) to your MetaMask wallet. Ethereum.org has a great tutorial for this. Just like running your car, Ether is used to power your interactions including interactions on NFT marketplaces: this is referred to as “paying for gas”. It’s important to note that marketplaces may take a small fee in ETH, but most gas is used to secure transactions on Ethereum.
Gas can get expensive when Ethereum is very active, so it is recommended to always have a bunch of ETH in your wallet. Don’t worry, although prices change over time, wallets calculate gas fees automatically at checkout—managing this step gets easier with practice.
When sending transactions between your wallets, always check the address you are sending to is identical to the address you actually want to send to. Most scams happen when users send to addresses they don’t recognize, especially with DMs from seemingly known people.
Having issues with your MetaMask wallet? Look through this FAQ for some help.
Ok, so you have MetaMask with Ether and you’re ready to mint some NFTs, right? Great! Let’s look at a few of the growing number of options.
NFT marketplaces generally operate similar to Ebay; when you mint an ERC721—the token standard—you can create perpetual royalties for the original creator with secondary market sales, depending on the platform used. In other words, artists always get a cut—always. ERC721 tokens as a concept was popularized by Cryptopunks, later used as inspiration for the token standard and then shown to be successful with CryptoKitties. Anything that can use the properties of non-fungible assets can be seen as an NFT, meaning that any digital good, art included is an NFT. They are non-fungible because unlike the Dogecoin saying “1 Doge=1 Doge,” 1 Cryptopunk does NOT equal 1 different Cryptopunk.
OpenSea is the largest NFT marketplace, and because NFTs are generally interoperable, most NFTs can be bought and sold there. It’s easiest to think of OpenSea as the department store of NFTs—it organizes catalogues of works by collection and offers more than just art. You can find everything from virtual land for various VR metaverses to Ethereum domain names.
The process to mint NFTs is similar across platforms. If you can mint on OpenSea, you can likely mint anywhere.
Make sure you are signed in with MetaMask. Hover over the top left circle/profile drop down and click “My Profile”. From here, click “Sign In” under the large MetaMask fox icon, and you should see a drop down from your MetaMask extension asking to connect. Follow the prompts until signed in. Now, click “Create” in the top left actions bar. The page should reload and under “Create a New Collection,” click the blue “Create” button. From here, you will upload a brand logo and fill in some info to create your collection. Once you have a new collection started, you can hit the blue “Add New Item”.
Setting Up Your Digital Good
This is the part where you actually mint an NFT. Upload your image, video file or GIF to a maximum of 100 MB. Fill in the required info and click the blue “Create” button. For this tutorial, don’t worry too much about the various settings. It’s important to note you can distinguish between various traits or rarity of items etc. People have even experimented with the unlockable content that gives the user a physical item tied to the digital ownership of it. Now MetaMask should open asking for you to sign. Once signed, you can place the NFT for sale.
Selling Your NFT
Placing an NFT up for sale will require some ETH—please scroll back up to the beginning of this post if you forget how to acquire Ethereum’s native currency. Clicking the blue “Sell” button will bring you to your auction setup page. You have three main options: Highest Bid, Set Price and Bundle.
Highest Bid: If you think your project can gain a lot of interest, you can sell your digital goods to the highest bidder over a set time with “Highest Bid.” If this is part of a collection, it could help to set a desired price floor for the rest of the items in the collection. The risk with this approach is that the floor for the collection may not get met if the prized items do not sell; the upside is that one highly-bid item could drive the value of other items in your collection.
Set Price: Using “Set Price” will let you sell the rare digital goods at a given price or greater with an optional setting that lets you decrease the item’s price over time, if there is minimal to no bidding.
Bundle: Using “Bundle” lets you sell multiple items as a group with a specific price, with some optional settings similar to “Set Price”.
All selling types let you set an auction expiry date where the item is moved off the market. When you are ready, click the blue “Post Your Listing” button and look for MetaMask to drop down. Assuming you have enough gas in your MetaMask wallet, you will then click “Confirm” and follow the prompts. The price to mint NFTs will change depending on the settings you choose and the price of gas at the time. Don’t have enough gas? Click “Reject” in MetaMask and go grab some ETH!
Minting and Listing
Once the minting process has started, you need to wait for the transaction to be posted to the blockchain. This can take a few minutes, so you can check your MetaMask under activity for recent transactions or even watch them on Etherscan. Keep an eye on your MetaMask for any extra prompts OpenSea may need from you like signing etc. Lastly, OpenSea will ask you to add your email so you can be notified when your rare digital goods have any activity from buyers! You’ll need to again sign a free meta-transaction in MetaMask, and confirm your email address to complete this last step. For more information, check out their FAQ.
Congratulations, you have successfully minted an NFT! Moreover, you now have the skills needed to interact with the Ethereum blockchain!
Let’s take a quick look at some other marketplaces. In fact, you may have even seen these listed as collections in OpenSea.
If OpenSea is a department store, SuperRare is a curated art gallery. Some of the most exclusive artists are featured on SuperRare. Built with the collector as well as the artist in mind, the quality of art beckons the user to stay engaged encouraging secondary market sales of your art. With recurring royalties on every resale going back to the artist, being a part of this top marketplace is a must for working artists. See their FAQ for more.
Rarible takes the marketplace model and makes it decentralized with $RARI and a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) to manage development. Community members are rewarded for everything from moderation and curation to selling and buying. Token holders can vote on platform upgrades and governance. Artists earn $RARI as royalties on secondary market sales. Rarible is great for minting limited quantities of NFTs, and compatible with the ERC-1155 NFT standard that blurs the line between rare goods and fungible goods. See their FAQ for more.
If you took the artistic sensibilities of SuperRare and autonomous tinkerings of Rarible and birthed a platform for artists to create their own digital nation, it would be Zora. The idea is to let artists create artist owned collectives and communities. This platform seems best for established artists or collectives of local artists who feed vibrant communities, at least at first glance. But, although the platform is young, it looks to be a way to empower artists with deep tooling that artists need for the revolution—if you are to believe what a lot of musicians like Kanye West talk about.