How to create an NFT for free

create an NFT for free, as shown by a painted portrait of a woman
(Image credit: Ian Dean)

So, you want to know how to create an NFT for free? This tutorial will show you how. It's way simpler to create, or 'mint' an NFT than you'd imagine – and doing it for free is just as easy. In this tutorial, I will create a single NFT artwork, and not delve into minting generative NFTs or an NFT collection.

But, what are NFTs? I hear you ask. Well, these non-fungible tokens are everywhere but they're not actually as complex as they first seem. Basically, NFTs are a way of registering a digital file on a cryptocurrency blockchain, to make sure it's a unique item and demonstrate ownership. Need more? See our guide to how to make and sell an NFT, but here I'll show you how to specifically create an NFT for free.

You might assume you'll need a computer or laptop to create an NFT. While that's obviously possible, you can also do it on your mobile device. The best NFT apps for iPhone allow you to create an NFT on the go, and check out how your collection is doing. Plus, you can track NFTs on different blockchains. With that in mind, some of the steps below for creating an NFT for free are applicable, but I'm using a desktop browser and Wacom Studio tablet.

Once you have your NFT you'll want to show it off in style, so consider buying one of the best NFT displays. For more on the top end of digital art frames read my feature 'Why Tokenframe is one of the best NFT frames for digital art'.

How to create an NFT for free: the steps

01. Creating a crypto wallet account

(Image: © Ian Dean)

You're going to need a cryptocurrency wallet to set up an account on any NFT marketplace in order to create your NFT. We're choosing Metamask as it's one of the most widely used and accessible. There are alternatives, such as Coinbase wallet.

When you create your wallet account you'll be given a 12 word 'seed phrase', this is your unique password. Keep it safe and don't share it anywhere, the seed phrase acts as your security code (handy if you forget your password).

02. Making an account on an NFT marketplace

(Image: © Ian Dean)

For this tutorial I'm creating an account on Rarible, but the same approach applies to any NFT marketplace. Read my guide to the best NFT marketplaces to find the right one for you.

Once you set up our account (adding a user name, photo, bio, etc.) link your Metamask account to your Rarible account by following the instructions. Linking your two accounts ensures your NFTs will appear in your wallet and all transactions can be easily completed (you'll need to go into Metamask's settings to automatically bring in your NFTs). My Metamask account also acts as my Rarible login.

Spend some time personalising your NFT marketplace account, adding a banner image, and linking in your social media accounts. The more time spent ensuring your socials are connected the better; you'll find your art is more visible the more time you take to add detail into your page.

03. Painting some art

(Image: © Ian Dean)

For this guide to how to create an NFT for free I quickly create a new piece of art. I google some random photo references and create a sketch using the painting app Rebelle 5; it's quick and I'm not focusing on detail but a general sense of the face and proportions. (Read my Rebelle 5 review to find out more about this excellent digital art software.) 

An NFT can be any digital file so create the art you enjoy making, but here I'm choosing a digital painting. I save the new painting as a jpeg and prepare to upload it to my new NFT marketplace account and mint it as an NFT.

04. Uploading your art

(Image: © Ian Dean)

It's time to upload my art and begin creating an NFT for free. These NFT marketplace sites like Rarible have very user-friendly guides to uploading your art and the process is generally the same (some select NFT marketplaces may want verify you, and this can take a few days). Click the Create tab in the top right of your account and continue. 

You'll now need to choose a blockchain. On Rarible there are four choices, including the new low-carbon cryptos Flow, Tezos and Polygon. (We have a must-read guide to the most popular NFT crypto to decide which is best for you.) To create an NFT for free I choose Ethereum. 

05. Choosing free minting

(Image: © Ian Dean)

The next options help your decide the value and type of NFT you're creating, for example choose Single to create a one-off unique NFT or Multiple to mint a series of NFTs to create a collection. (Take a look at my NFT trends feature for inspiration.) Set the price, add a name and description, and make sure you switch Free Minting to 'On'.

Free minting, or lazy minting, enables you to put the fees for minting onto the buyer so you won't be charged. Usually you're charged 'gas fees' – the cost of transacting on the blockchain – to mint an NFT. The unit of gas is called a 'Gwei'. Depending on the traffic on the blockchain as you're minting the fee can increase or decrease; the greater the traffic the higher the cost. Often it can be cheaper in the late evening or early morning.

But… I'm not being charged if I choose Free Minting. The downside to pushing the gas fees onto the buyer is you may need to lower your asking price to anticipate the later cost, or mint your NFT as an auction and let the buyer decide.

06. The NFT is minted

(Image: © Ian Dean)

On Rarible, when the NFT is minted you get a lovely explosion of digital confetti. Now the real work begins. It's best to social and post about your new NFT as soon as possible. You can link the new NFT directly to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels from within the NFT marketplace.

You see, minting an NFT for free is easy but there are some things you need to know; the advantage of free minting enables you to quickly create an NFT for free but it can have some drawbacks as NFT marketplaces tend to make 'normal' NFTs more visible. Because of this you'll need to make more of your own social channels for promotion. You can find this NFT on Rarible to see how it looks in the wild.

How to create an NFT for free: frequent questions

What's a blockchain?

This is a database that is shared amongst the nodes of a computer network. Each block in the chain contains data and constantly check and update the data. This makes any assets on the blockchain immutable, which ensures the data is extremely hard to change or delete. These are decentralised networks, meaning there is no third-party involved and all data is freely available for view and tracking.

What gives an NFT value?

Rarity and / or status help an NFT achieve value. So, for example, an NFT created by established artists such as Beeple, Damien Hirst, and Takashi Murakami will be worth a lot.
But NFTs are breaking the rules. New artists are finding new ways to ensure NFTs differ from traditional art valuations. Community and utility is a major factor. Think of an NFT such as a Bored Ape Yacht Club as a ticket to a club, and that club will have exclusive events, chat groups and projects to be involved with; these community driven NFTs have great value. 

Why is an NFT jpeg worth so much?

An NFT jpeg is worth so much because it's not the jpeg that is being bought, but the hash token on the blockchain. The Crypto Punk art is the visual 'thing' we can find easy to understand, but the true value of the NFT is its token and the benefits it can bring by being on a blockchain. This can include being invited to exclusive in real life events. 

How much does it cost to make an NFT?

It can be free, if you use lazy minting. Standard NFTs can vary wildly in the cost of gas fees to generate and register on a blockchain, and the costs rises and falls as the blockchain is being used. A typical NFT can cost anywhere from $10 / £7 to ¢$200 / £170. We have known of fees to reach $2,000 / £1,700. 

What kinds of NFTs sell the best?

NFTs that have utility will always sell well as they embrace the full functionality of the blockchain. This is why you will find the below NFTs are some of the most popular.

1. Bored Ape Yacht Club
2. CryptoPunks
3. The Sandbox
4. Art Blocks
5. Doodles
6. Cool Cats
7. Decentraland
8. World of Women

Can I avoid gas fees without using lazy minting?

Yes, to a degree. Newer NFT crypto blockchains such as Wax enable you to set the gas fee limit you're will to pay to mint an NFT. It will be processed and minted at a time when the gas fee matches your set level. Also, consider avoiding minting an NFT on Tuesdays and Thursdays as these are historically the busiest days and so the costliest. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific financial or investment advice or recommendations for any individual for any investment product. The article is only intended to provide general information and opinions about NFTs. The views reflected in this article are subject to change at any time without notice.

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Ian Dean
Editor, Digital Arts & 3D

Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & 3D at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.