What is minting an NFT?

Credit: HNB

In all the hubbub surrounding non-fungible tokens in 2021 and 2022, you might have decided to join the fun. After all, NFTs have several use cases and they sometimes sell for millions of dollars. Whatever your reasons, you want in. But where do you start?

Often, in the talk about Bored Apes and CryptoPunks, the technical aspects of NFTs get overlooked. Still, those aspects are important, especially for newcomers getting started in the field.

In this guide, we’ll talk about minting NFTs. Minting, an integral part of creating tokens on the blockchain, is key to creating your own NFT. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What is an NFT?
  2. What is minting an NFT?
  3. How do I mint an NFT on OpenSea?

In addition to covering how to mint an NFT on OpenSea, we’ll have two more sections covering top marketplaces, so that wherever you go, you’ll know how to create your own NFT. Let’s get started.

What is an NFT?

First, the basics: What is an NFT?

NFT stands for non-fungible token. NFTs are one-of-a-kind digital assets that live on the blockchain. Unlike fungible cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether, which can be swapped for other coins without losing or gaining something of value, NFTs are unique. They are a bit like digital trading cards. Someone cannot swap one NFT for another without gaining or losing something in value.

NFTs have a set of characteristics that make them unique. The first of which is a universal resource identifier, which is sort of like a reference number on the blockchain in question. An NFT receives its universal resource identifier during the minting process. NFTs also have metadata, also called traits or attributes, that distinguish it from other NFTs in a collection or other NFTs on the blockchain.

NFTs typically start out as some sort of media file. This file can be a JPEG, MP4, or another type. Sometimes, a team creating a non-fungible asset stores the media file on the blockchain. The NFT community refers to these types of NFT files as “on-chain.” More often, a team will link to the file the NFT represents in the metadata for the NFT. This is “off-chain” storage.

NFTs have many use cases. The most common is artwork, but there are countless others as well. These include linking NFTs to real-world assets, using NFTs to represent online gaming items, and even employing NFTs for tickets to concerts and other real-world events. Although much of the focus surrounding NFTs has been around PFPs (profile pictures), it is likely these other use cases will play a role in the widespread adoption of this technology.

When a team is ready to turn their digital file into a blockchain-based asset, for whatever use, they will then use a smart contract to execute the process. This is called “minting.”

What is minting an NFT?

Minting is the process by which digital files are turned into non-fungible tokens. It involves some key components: a blockchain, a smart contract, users, and cryptocurrency. Let’s take these one at a time.

NFTs live on a blockchain. While Ethereum is the blockchain most well-known for NFTs, Solana, Cardano, Tezos, and Avalanche are other blockchains that house them. Blockchains are known for their “block-like” structure in which a handful of blocks are grouped together to form a larger block. Each larger block is connected to the next. Visually, a blockchain looks like a series of block clusters connected on a chain.

NFTs are “tokens.” In Web3 parlance, this means they are not the native coin or cryptocurrency on the blockchain. They are riders, living on the blockchain with the native coin but not central to the blockchain’s functioning. A Bored Ape is a non-fungible token on the Ethereum blockchain, while ether is the blockchain’s native cryptocurrency or coin.

To turn a digital file into an asset on a blockchain, a team writes or uses a smart contract. A smart contract is a packet of code that executes a series of commands when called upon. Like all code, smart contracts come in a certain programming language. For instance, the Ethereum blockchain uses Solidity as its programming language for smart contracts.

Often, a team will hire a developer to write a smart contract for an NFT collection. In other instances, an artist will use the pre-made smart contracts on marketplaces to mint their NFT. Either way, smart contracts are involved. While it is not necessary to have any coding experience to mint an NFT, it can help in other aspects. Knowing how to read smart contracts is a great way to avoid scams, for instance.

After a team or artist creates or uses a pre-made smart contract, a user comes in to actually “mint” the NFT. While some smaller teams or artists may mint NFTs on their own and sell them on secondary markets later, many larger teams create a smart contract, then have users interact with it. The user, then, is responsible for interacting with the smart contract.

That user is typically a paying customer who wants to own the NFT first. This has value, as minting an NFT can result in receiving a “rare” NFT that is worth more than the person initially paid for it. Usually, a user will interact with the team’s website to mint an NFT and use a non-custodial wallet such as MetaMask wallet to pay.

They pay using our final component: cryptocurrency. The person who wants to buy the NFT will need to pay in the blockchain’s native coin, such as “ether” for the Ethereum blockchain or “sol” for the Solana blockchain. They will need enough of this native coin to pay for the NFT and any associated gas fees, which are like service fees on the blockchain. Gas prices can vary a great deal.

Minting is an expensive process. When all minting fees are combined, the price can run into the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Because of the mechanics of minting, it is actually much less expensive to simply send cryptocurrency over a blockchain. And given that there are gas fees, there is no guarantee that a “mint” attempt will go through. So, it’s risky as well.

Once the minting process is complete, the NFT will have its universal resource identifier and metadata stored on the blockchain, sometimes with the digital artwork as well. And the owner will have a brand new digital asset.

How do I mint an NFT on a marketplace?

For the remainder of this article, we’ll focus on minting NFTs using pre-made secondary marketplace contracts. It is the place, typically, a person will start. We’ll cover two popular NFT marketplaces that have seen billions in volume since 2021, ones that support a variety of blockchains. That way, you have choices for the digital marketplace and blockchain on which you’d like to mint your NFT.

Let’s start with the grand-daddy of them all: OpenSea.

How do I mint an NFT on OpenSea?

To mint an NFT on OpenSea, you’ll need some key components:

  • The image or multimedia file for your NFT
  • The name of your NFT
  • Cryptocurrency to pay for gas fees
  • An NFT wallet

To start, you’ll go to OpenSea’s homepage. After, you’ll hover your cursor over the marketplace profile button in the upper-righthand side. When the menu drops down, you’ll select “Create.” When you click on the “Create” button, OpenSea will prompt you to select your wallet. There are a few choices, and you’ll select the one relevant to the blockchain you’re minting your NFT on.

Clicking on the wallet button on OpenSea’s website will pull up the crypto wallet to your screen if it’s installed as a browser extension. If you’ve never connected this crypto wallet to OpenSea before, the wallet will prompt you in a series of authorization transactions to give approval for OpenSea to access the wallet. Don’t worry: You still have full control over your actions on the site.

Once you’ve fully connected your wallet to OpenSea, you’ll go to the “Create” page. OpenSea’s NFT creation process involves some simple steps. There are a handful of fields to fill out and a big, blue “Create” button at the button. Some of the fields are as follows:

  1. Upload the NFT file. There is a 100 MB limit and several supported file types.
  2. The name of the NFT
  3. A description of the NFT
  4. What collection the NFT will belong to
  5. Metadata fields such as attributes or stats
  6. An option to “freeze” the NFT metadata

After filling out the fields, you’ll click on the “Create” button at the bottom. Now, you have completed your step to mint your OpenSea NFT!

How do I mint an NFT on Rarible?

Minting an NFT on Rarible is similar to minting one on OpenSea. It is a simple process with some basic steps. First, you’ll go to Rarible’s homepage. Next, click on the “Create” button on the upper navigational bar. After, the site will take you to the first step in the process: choosing the blockchain. You’ll have three choices: Ethereum, Solana, and Tezos.

After you select the blockchain you want to mint on, you’ll connect your digital wallet. Like on OpenSea, if you’ve never connected your cryptocurrency wallet to the website before, a series of authorization transactions will take place. After you sign them, your wallet is connected.

Then, the website will ask you whether you want to mint a single item or multiple items. The process is similar for both. The only difference is that on the “multiple items” page, Rarible will ask you for the number of copies you want to create. After selecting the option you want, Rarible will take you to the “Create” page.

It is similar to OpenSea’s, though there are some key differences. Here are some of the fields you can fill out:

  1. Upload file
  2. Name of the NFT
  3. Description of the NFT

Unlike on OpenSea, there aren’t many places to put metadata information. So, if you’re someone who wants to add traits and attributes to your NFT, you might be better using another marketplace or writing your own smart contract. But there are some benefits to Rarible as well.

For one, you can submit the price or bid information directly on the “Create” page. This means that your NFT will be ready for sale with its initial selling price after you click the “Create Item” button on the bottom of the page. You can also set the percentage of royalties  or creator fees you want to take from each subsequent sale, up to 50%.

In addition, you can do a “lazy minting” process on Rarible where you don’t have to pay gas fees to mint an NFT. The first buyer will “bear” the gas fee when they purchase the NFT. This is entirely optional. If you elect not to use the lazy minting strategy, then Rarible will trigger your wallet for gas fees when you click the black “Create Item” button at the bottom of the screen.

After all that, you now have minted your NFT!

How do I mint NFTs on other marketplaces?

Where you mint an NFT will likely depend on the blockchain you want to host your NFT on and the marketplace you want to sell your digital asset. Each online marketplace is a little different, has its own terminologies, and in some cases and its own rules. Some may not even offer individuals the option to mint on their platform, preferring to cater to larger collections.

Either way, you can’t go wrong with the two marketplaces listed above. They are among the top dogs in the NFT space, and OpenSea still accounts for most of the trading volume for NFTs in the Web3 world.

Final Thoughts on Minting NFTs

Whether you’re an artist, a digital entrepreneur, or simply have a really cool idea for a crypto asset, minting NFTs opens up a brand-new world and new streams of income. While there may be some technical aspects to learn, most marketplaces make the process easy and straightforward, using pre-made smart contracts and easy-to-understand language.

If you’re up for a challenge, writing your own smart contract is another way to mint NFTs. Although the process may take a little longer up front, there are many perks, including the ability to read smart contract code in the future, which can guard you against scams.

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