If you’ve been paying any attention to crypto and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) over the past couple of years, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Solana. Solana and its native cryptocurrency SOL have emerged as leaders in cryptocurrency and Decentralized Finance (DeFi) spaces, second only to Ethereum.
When Solana burst on the scene in 2017 with low transaction fees and lightning-fast network speeds, it was especially attractive to NFT collectors looking for alternative blockchains, and for people who wanted to dip their toes in the NFT space without shelling out a fortune.
And though Solana hasn’t dethroned Ethereum as the number one blockchain for NFTs, it has created a powerful ecosystem (sales from Solana-based NFTs have topped $1.5 billion) that deserves mention as an alternative blockchain and cryptocurrency, and an important component of the evolving NFT space.
In this piece, we’ll discuss the following:
1. Solana blockchain technology and SOL crypto
2. Minting VS buying on an NFT marketplace
3. Solana NFT marketplaces
4. Choosing a Solana Project
5. Loading your crypto wallet
6. Minting a Solana NFT
What is Solana?
The Solana blockchain was created in 2017 and launched in March of 2020. Anatoly Yakvenko, the current CEO, came from a background in system design and aimed to create a new blockchain paradigm to enable faster processing speeds — and he did just that.
Solana is an open-source, public blockchain supporting smart contracts, NFTs, and other decentralized applications (dApps). It runs on the SOL token, the native currency that provides security to the network through staking and a means of transferring value.
What makes Solana unique is that it operates on a hybrid protocol of proof-of-stake (PoS) and proof-of-history (PoH) consensus mechanisms. The latter is an innovation created by the Solana team and one that drastically enhances the speed of the network.
Let’s have a look at how these two processes function on Solana:
- Proof-of-history. This method for verifying transactions breaks Solana’s blockchains into slots or periods of time where a validator invests transactions and produces a block. Nodes (or validators) are determined by the quantity of SOL they hold and have the responsibility of marking the passage of time on each block, effectively lowering latency and increasing throughput on the network.
- Proof-of-stake. This consensus mechanism allows Solana stakers to vote, select the next PoH generator, and punish misbehaving validators. The system is designed for the quick confirmation of the sequence of transactions the PoH generator produces. Nodes send votes to a pre-chosen leader, whose job is to tally the votes and sign off on the block
Through a combination of PoH and PoS, the Solana network can theoretically process over 71,000 transactions per second at a cost of $0.00025 per transaction. Ethereum, on the other hand, currently only processes up to 30 transactions per second, which causes congestion and delays on the network. Furthermore, costs for paying “gas fees” on Ethereum network are notoriously high.
Here are some of the benefits of minting NFTs on Solana:
- Minting takes a couple of seconds
- The average price of minting a Solana NFT is around one penny
- Minting is secure and less energy-intensive
Although the Ethereum blockchain remains dominant when it comes to NFTs, minting on Solana offers a way to get started with NFTs without spending huge sums of money on transaction fees. With Solana, NFTs are minted quickly, cheaply, and securely.
Of course, Solana has its critics as well. Some believe the cheap cost of the network and the fast transaction speeds come at the expense of a more centralized blockchain. While there may be some truth to the criticism, the Solana network and its smart contract functionality has proven beneficial for NFT fans and has quickly grown to be one of the most respected alternative blockchains for NFT minting.
Minting vs Buying on an NFT Marketplace
There are two ways to purchase a Solana NFT: Purchase it at the token mint or buy it on a secondary NFT marketplace.
When you buy an NFT at mint, you are buying the NFT directly from the creators of the collection, so you will be the first person to own the asset. Purchasing an NFT at mint means you are essentially paying for the creation of the NFT.
When a collection is minted or released, you pay a set fee at the right time and mint the NFT. You will need SOL cryptocurrency in your crypto wallet, and knowledge of the time and place the NFT will be minted. Some NFT collections sell out in a matter of minutes, so be sure to show up on time and with your crypto wallet loaded.
An exciting aspect of minting generative NFTs is that you don’t know which NFT you are going to receive until you buy the NFT, adding an element of surprise to the purchase. If you’re lucky, you can mint one of the rarer NFTs in a collection, and rare NFTs can be more valuable than common ones.
Generative NFT collections on Solana are usually comprised of thousands of unique NFTs, and each one has traits and attributes that vary in rarity or the frequency with which they appear. So, if there are 10,000 NFTs in a collection and only ten of them have a particular trait, those ten NFTs are very rare in the collection and will have a high rarity rank.
Rarity plays a huge role in minting NFTs, and before you mint or buy a Solana NFT on a secondary NFT market, it’s a good idea to read up on how to check the rarity of Solana NFTs.
Secondary NFT Markets
When you purchase an NFT on the secondary market, the NFT has been minted (created) and is being resold. You can think of secondary NFT marketplaces like the eBays of Web3; places where you can buy digital assets directly from owners.
Since it’s common for people to mint NFTs and resell them with the intention of making a quick profit once a mint or NFT drop is finished, many NFTs show up on secondary marketplaces immediately after an NFT collection is minted. The prices the NFTs are listed at depend on a myriad of factors, such as the rarity of the NFT and the popularity of the project.
The lowest possible price that you can purchase an NFT from a given collection on an NFT marketplace is called the Floor Price. Before purchasing NFTs on a secondary marketplace, it’s best to study rarity systems, what makes NFT projects successful, and how NFT sale prices are determined. You don’t have to be an expert rarity sniper to get started, but the more you know about NFTs before making spending your hard-earned cash, the better.
There are several NFTs where you can purchase Solana NFTs. Listed below are some of the most popular and successful Solana NFT marketplaces:
- Solanart. The original NFT marketplace for Solana, legendary collections like SolPunks and Degenerate Ape Academy are sold here.
- SolSea. One of the first Solana marketplaces, Solsea launches edgier collections than most marketplaces and has some benefits for creators, such as a means of embedding copyright licenses when creating an NFT.
- Digital Eyes. Although still a lightweight in the field, this marketplace features many top Solana NFT collections and has added a new social feature that could bring value to you as a collector.
- Magic Eden. This up-and-coming marketplace is a contender for the top Solana marketplace. Since launch is has done over $200 million in sales volume.
These markets also have upcoming drop sections where you can check out new projects before they drop. If you’re planning on minting at the drop or purchasing an NFT on a secondary marketplace, you should also investigate the NFT collection’s community through its Discord and Twitter channels and use other factors like the quality of the artwork to determine if it’s a worthy project.
For more information about how to choose an NFT to mint or to purchase from an NFT marketplace, you can check out our articles about how to invest in NFTs and the top Solana marketplaces.
Setting Up a Crypto Wallet
Whether you decide to mint an NFT or buy on a secondary marketplace, you need to have a crypto wallet and some amount of SOL cryptocurrency to make the purchase.
Though there are several cryptocurrency wallets for Solana, including Solflare Wallet and Sollet, Phantom is the most popular and it’s supported by most NFT projects and marketplaces. Phantom can be thought of as Solana’s version of MetaMask: a browser extension that connects to Solana dApps.
The Phantom wallet also provides a built-in DEX (decentralized exchange) for swapping tokens and the ability to stake SOL from your wallet to earn rewards.
To get started with Solana NFTs, download the Phantom wallet and add it to your browser extensions. It can be added to Firefox, Chrome, Edge, or Brave. Enter your credentials to create a Phantom account, and deposit whatever amount of SOL tokens you wish to spend or invest.
Then you can visit the NFT marketplace or NFT collection website where you wish to mint or purchase an NFT and connect your wallet. Now you’re ready to mint a Solana NFT.
Minting Made Easy
You can mint a Solana NFT in five easy steps:
- Step 1. Show up on time to the website where the NFT drop is taking place. This will usually be on a secondary NFT market like Magic Eden or Solanart, or on the project’s website. Double-check the launch time in the project’s Discord channel and be sure to convert it to your local time.
- Step 2. Make sure that your Phantom wallet has been loaded with sufficient SOL to purchase the desired NFT. You can do this by checking the minting price and loading slightly more than it to pay the small transaction fees associated with the purchase.
- Step 3. Open the site a couple of minutes before mint and wait patiently. Refresh the page if the project goes live and you don’t see a mint option.
- Step 4. When the mint goes live, you will be able to connect your Phantom wallet to the launch site. Click Connect Wallet in the browser extension and enter your password. Agree to connect to the page.
- Step 5. If you are successfully connected to your Phantom wallet, you will see a Mint button or something similar on the page. Choose how many non-fungible tokens you wish to mint and click Mint to open the wallet confirmation window. Lastly, click Approve Transaction to mint your NFT.
Some NFT projects are extremely popular and because of the traffic on the site, they can be difficult to mint. If you try to mint a Solana NFT and are unsuccessful, you have two options: Search for the NFT on a secondary marketplace and purchase it from the original owner, or find another NFT project you like and try again.
Solana has only been around since 2020, but it already proven it’s an up-and-coming blockchain worth paying attention to, especially for the NFT community. While like nearly all cryptocurrencies at the time of writing, the price of SOL has declined significantly in this bear market, Solana NFT enthusiasts remain active and enthusiastic on social media, and NFT projects are continuing to be minted every day on the Solana network.
Time will tell if Solana remains a top blockchain for NFTs and digital collectibles, but in less than two years, it has risen to become a major player in the crypto and NFT space. For more information on Solana NFTs and daily NFT news, check out Rarity Sniper’s NFT News page.