Buy some cryptocurrency
The first crucial thing to understand is that you’ll need to pay a platform to ‘mint’ (i.e., generate) an NFT of your work. Most platforms want paying for that using Ether, the native cryptocurrency of the open-source blockchain platform Ethereum, which is where NFTs first launched.
Be aware that, like bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies, the value of Ether (abbreviated as ETH) can fluctuate wildly. In 2021, the price of 1 ETH has gone from under $1,000 to $4,800, with many peaks and troughs on the way, and it’s been known to swing by several hundreds of US dollars in a matter of hours.
To buy Ethereum, you’ll need to create what’s called a ‘digital wallet’ and connect that to your NFT platform of choice. There are many digital wallet services, but for illustrative purposes, we’ll use MetaMask, which is available as a browser extension and as a mobile app.
Create a digital wallet
To create a digital wallet with MetaMask, you’ll need to go to its website and click on the blue ‘Download’ button in the top-right. As we’re using a desktop computer, we choose the option to install the browser extension, but there’s also a mobile app.
You’ll be asked to confirm that you wish to ‘create a new wallet and seed phrase’. Don’t worry too much about what ‘seed phrase’ means (it’s basically a list of words that stores blockchain information). Say yes, then it’s simply a matter of agreeing to the terms, creating a password, and making your way through some security measures, then you’ll have your account set up.
Add money to your wallet
Once you have set up your MetaMask wallet, or any digital wallet, you’ll need to add some ETH to it. That’s fairly easy to do so: just click on the ‘Buy’ button and select the option ‘Buy ETH with Wyre’. You’ll be taken to a screen where you can buy ETH with either Apple Pay or a debit card. Note that if you’d rather not part with any money yet, you can leave this stage until later; it just requires a little more faff.)
Connect your wallet to an NFT platform
Most digital wallets work in a similar way. Whichever one you’ve chosen, once you have some ETH in your wallet ready to spend, you can head to the NFT platform that you’ll use to create your NFT. Again, for illustrative purposes, we’re using Rarible, but there are many other NFT platforms to choose from.
Go to Rarible.com (shown above). In the right-hand corner of the screen, there’s a button that reads ‘Connect wallet’. Click there, and on the next screen, you’ll be asked for your wallet provider, which is our case is MetaMask. A popup will give you the option to connect your wallet with Rarible. Click ‘Next’, then ‘Connect’, accept the terms of service and confirm you’re over 13 years old.
Upload your file
Hooray! You’re now ready to create your NFT. Click the blue ‘Create’ button at the top right. You’ll then be given options to create a single, one-off work, or to sell the same item multiple times. In this example, we’ll opt for ‘Single’. Now you need to upload the digital file that you want to make into an NFT. Rarible accepts PNG, GIF, WEBP, MP4 and MP3 files, up to 30MB in size.
The ‘artwork’ that we’ll turn into an NFT
To illustrate, i created an ironically awful piece of art, inspired by David Hockney’s controversial London Underground art. Upload your (hopefully much better) digital file, and on the right, you’ll see a preview of what your NFT post will look like.
Set up an auction
In the next part of the form, you’ll need to choose how you want to sell your NFT artwork. There are three options here. ‘Fixed price’ allows you to set a price and sell to someone instantly (like ‘Buy it now’ on eBay). ‘Unlimited Auction’ will allow people to carry on making bids until you accept one. Finally, ‘Timed auction’ is an auction that only takes place for a certain time. That’s the option we’ll choose for our example.
Now comes the tricky part: setting a minimum price. Set it too low, and the enormous fees will swallow up your profit and could even leave you losing money after a sale. We’ll set our price at an ambitious 1 ETH and give people seven days to make bids.
Next, you get an option to ‘Unlock once purchased’. This gives you the chance to provide your eventual buyer with a full, high resolution version of your art, and/or additional material through a secret web page or download link. Below that is the most confusing option, titled ‘Choose Collection’. This is a very technical question about how the blockchain is set up. The default option here is ‘Rarible’, and we’d advise leaving it like that.
Describe your NFT
Now you can add a title and description for your listing. To maximise your chances of selling your NFT, you’ll need to take some time to think about this. You’re then asked to consider what percentage of royalties you wish to claim on any resale of your art in the future.
Again, this is a balancing act, as a higher percentage will net you more money per sale in the long run, but it will also deter people from reselling your art in the first place as they’ll be less likely to make a profit for themselves. Finally, there’s an optional field to add your file’s properties. With that complete, you’re almost done.
Pay the fee (but be warned)
Rarible’s payment screen (Image credit: MetaMask)
Click ‘Create Item’, and you’ll be invited to connect with your wallet to pay the listing fee. If you don’t have sufficient funds in your wallet, don’t worry: you won’t have to start again. Just click on the wallet icon in the top-right corner of the screen, and you’ll be given the option to add funds directly within Rarible.
Before doing so, just a final word of warning. The listing fee may seem low: in our case it was just $5.91. But this is only the start of the fees you’ll be charged. Before you can go any further, you have to agree to a further fee to actually generate your NFT, which in our case would have been $42.99. If someone actually buys your NFT, there’ll also be a commission fee on the sale, plus a transaction fee for transferring the money from the buyer’s wallet to your own. From our point of view, none of this seemed very clear on Rarible’s website at the time we tried it.