How to make and sell an NFT is something many artists and designers are wondering right now due to the incredible prices that some pieces of NFT art have fetched at auction. Non-fungible tokens are the latest trend to hit the art market, and they’ve hit it big, with even Christie's holding NFT art auctions involving astronomical sums of money.
Opinion is divided on whether cryto-art is a passing fad or a tendency that’s here to stay, but you might well be asking whether it’s time to take notice and explore how to make an NFT, and how to sell an NFT, of your own work. If that’s the case, you’re in the right place. This article will walk you through the process from making an NFT of your original artwork to selling an NFT through an online auction.
First up, we should take a little reality check, though. Yes, some NFT art has sold for prices that might seem like sheer lunacy. Beeple's Everydays – The First 5000 Days still holds the record for now, after fetching $69 million at Christie's in March 2021 and Beeple's work continues to sell for incredible prices. His hybrid evolving digital/physical kinetic video Human One (pictured above) sold for $29 million in November. More than a dozen NFTs have fetched over $1m and several dozen more have hundreds of thousands (find more examples in our selection of the best NFT artwork).
However, the prices achieved by Beeple, or by collectable NFTs like those in the Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks collections are relatively rare occurrences. What’s more, the reality is that there's a wide range of fees involved if you want to generate, maintain and sell an NFT. These can consume a large portion of the proceeds of any sale, or even leave you out of pocket depending on how much you manage to sell your NFT for. We’d recommend you read our explainer on what are NFTs to ensure you’re fully clued up on what NFTs involve before you dive in, but if you’re ready to try your luck, read on for our step-by-step guide to how to make and sell an NFT.
How to make and sell an NFT
The first thing to do to make an NFT is to choose an NFT platform on which to create and sell your NFT, as well as a payment wallet, which you'll need to use to pay fees – and to receive payment if you're luck enough to sell your NFT.
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, jump 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 a digital wallet to pay for your NFT
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 the file you want to turn into an NFT
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.
06. Set up an auction for your NFT
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.
07. Add a description to sell 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.
08. Pay the listing fee to sell your NFT (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.