How to make and sell an NFT is something many artists are asking about at the moment. Non-fungible tokens continue to hit the headlines and generate controversy due to the mind-melting prices that some pieces of NFT art have sold for, so you might well be wondering if NFTs could be an avenue to explore for your own creative work. Well, this article will explain the process of how to make an NFT and how to sell an NFT.
Let's just take a quick reality check before we go any further, though. Yes, it's true that some NFT art has sold for crazy prices. Beeple's Everydays – The First 5000 Days, famously sold for $69 million through Christie's in March 2021 and more than a dozen NFTs have fetched over $1m. Several dozen more have fetched prices in the hundreds of thousands, including Bored Ape #599 (pictured above), which was reportedly bought by the comedian Jimmy Fallon for $224,000 in November (you can see more examples in our selection of the best NFT artwork).
However, sales of works by Beeple or pieces from NFT collections like the Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks are still rare exceptions. In many cases, even if you manage to sell a piece of NFT art, you're likely to find that a large portion of the sale will be gobbled up in fees. The companies that generate and maintain NFTs and enable sales charge a variety of both upfront and post-sale fees to NFT artists that could even leave you out of pocket depending on how much your NFT sells for. To learn more before you delve in, see our article what are NFTs.
How to make and sell an NFT
If you're clear on what NFTs actually are and want to learn how to make and sell an NFT, read on and we'll walk you through the process. The first thing to do is choose an NFT platform on which you'll create and sell your NFT plus a payment wallet, which you'll need to use to pay fees – and to receive payment if your work sells
There are lots of online platforms through which you can make and sell NFTs. Popular NFT auction platforms include OpenSea, Rarible, SuperRare, Nifty Gateway (used by Paris Hilton to auction her curious Crypto Queen NFT, pictured above), Foundation, VIV3, BakerySwap, Axie Marketplace and NFT ShowRoom. NFT Payment platforms also abound, with popular options including Coinbase, MetaMask, Torus, Portis, WalletConnect, MyEtherWallet and Fortmatic.
Purely for illustrative purposes, in this guide we'll be demonstrating the process involved in making and selling an NFT using the NFT platform Rarible and the cryptocurrency payment platform MetaMask. Please note that this is no way a suggestion that either of these is the best service to use. You could consider using any of the platforms mentioned above, and many more besides. The process will generally be similar, but we suggest always checking as closely as possible the fees you'll be charged (more on that later).
01. Buy some cryptocurrency
The first thing to be aware of is that all of the NFT auction platforms mentioned above will want paying upfront to 'mint' your NFT, turning your artwork into a non-fungible token that you can then sell. Generally, they want paying in cryptocurrency, so before you have the chance to earn some cryptocurrency, you'll need to buy some to cover the fees. Most platforms charge their fees in Ether (abbreviated as ETH), the native cryptocurrency of the open-source blockchain platform Ethereum, which is where NFTs first launched.
If you already own some ETH you'll need to make sure you have it in a digital wallet, which you'll need to connect to your chosen NFT platform to be able to make (and receive) payments. If need to buy some, there are many cryptocurrency exchanges to do that, but the quickest and easiest option is usually to buy ETH directly with your digital wallet of choice.
As we mentioned, there are many options for this, but to illustrate the process, we’ll use MetaMask, which is available as a browser extension and as a mobile app. If you’d rather use another service, or if you're familiar with digital wallets and already have one, skip straight to step 4, otherwise we'll talk you though how to set up your wallet and buy ETH in the next step.
02. Create your 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'll 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.
03. Add some cryptocurrency to your wallet
Once you've set up your MetaMask wallet, or any digital wallet, you'll need to add some ETH to it. If you don't already own some ETH, you'll need to buy some now, so click on the ‘Buy’ button and select the option ‘Buy ETH with Wyre’. You’ll be taken to a screen where you can use either Apple Pay or a debit card to buy ETH. 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 (you'll want to check your chosen NFT platform's fees to know how much you'll need to buy).
The jargon involved in the cryptocurrency world can make it quite daunting, but buying currency is actually very easy to do. Just be aware that like bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies, the value of Ether can fluctuate hugely. In 2021 alone, the price of 1 ETH has gone from under $1,000 to around $4,700 at the time of writing, with many peaks and troughs on the way. It's perfectly possible for the price of the currency to swing by several hundreds of US dollars in just a few hours.
04. Connect your wallet to an NFT platform
Most digital wallets work in a similar way. Whichever one you've chosen, you'll need to connect it to the NFT platform that you'll use to create your NFT. For illustrative purposes, we’re using Rarible, but there are many other NFT platforms to choose from and the process will generally be similar to what we outline below.
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.
05. Upload your file
So now you have a wallet connected with ETH to make payment, you’re ready to create an NFT of your work. On the Rarible site, 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.
To illustrate, we’ve 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.
07. Set up an auction
In the next part of the form, you'll need to choose how to sell your NFT artwork. There are three options. ‘Fixed price’ allows you to set a price and sell your NFT instantly (rather like the ‘Buy it now’ option on eBay). The ‘Unlimited Auction’ option will allow people to carry on making bids until you accept one. Finally, ‘Timed auction’ is an auction that only lasts for a set time. That’s the option we’ll choose as an example.
This leads us to the trickiest part: choosing a minimum price. Sell your NFT too cheaply and the enormous fees will swallow up your profit, possibly even leaving out of pocket. We’ll set our price at an ambitious 1 ETH (currently US$4,700) 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.
08. Describe your NFT
Now you can add a title and description for your listing. To maximise the chance that your NFT will sell, you should 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.
09. Pay the fee (but be warned)
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 worked out at just $5.91 in US dollars. But this is only the start. Before you can go further, you'll have to agree to a further fee to actually generate your NFT, which in our case would have been the equivalent of $42.99 in ETH. If someone actually buys your NFT, you'll have to pay a commission fee on the NFT sale, plus a transaction fee for transfer of the money from the buyer’s wallet to your own. In our opinion, none of this was hugely clear on Rarible’s website at the time we tried it.
We’d love to be able to explain, clearly and simply, how to calculate the potential cost of creating and selling an NFT, but the confusing nature of blockchain technology, the wild fluctuations in cryptocurrency values and the lack of transparency on the platforms themselves make that an impossible task. Really, you're left having to take the risk and wait and see how much you get charged overall if you make a sale, and to hope that you still come out with a profit.
If you do fancy taking a punt and throwing some money into making NFT art, though, we wish you the best of luck. We’d love to hear about how you get on via Twitter at @creativebloq or Instagram at @creativebloqofficial.