Hey crafty friendos, we need to talk.
There’s a whole new art market exploding right now that you might have been hearing about: NFTs (or cryptoart). How long will it last? Who knows. Is it too late to slide in there? Nope! You’re right on time…maybe even a little early!
I’ve been wanting to write a guide to help crafters and makers get started making NFTs for a while, but I also wanted to make sure I understood things really well before I wrote it. There’s a bit of risk involved in anything crypto-related so it was important to me that I was able to express things as clearly as possible.
This little adventure through NFTs started for me just about six months ago. I’m still learning new things every day, but at this point I feel confident enough to share a step-by-step how-to guide.
So…here’s a comprehensive guide on how to get started in NFTs for crafters and makers (or anyone else who has zero experience with crypto)!
If you don’t own cryptocurrency, there’s a lot of information to absorb when you set out on this adventure. If you try to start out by googling, you’ll probably fall into a rabbit hole of technical phrases that make things even more confusing (like I did lol).
So we’ll start with a super simple definition section which includes the most common terms you’ll need to know. Then I’ll walk you through, step-by-step, how to buy crypto, prepare your work, and mint your first NFT.
I’ll share what I’ve learned – the good, the bad, the ugly (whoa was there some ugly haha!) – hopefully I made all the mistakes so you don’t have to!
Disclaimers: Nothing here should be construed as financial advice. The value of cryptocurrencies is unstable – prices can rise and fall dramatically (sometimes hourly) without warning. Governments have different rules and regulations about crypto, and there are tax implications which can be tricky to understand. If you aren’t extremely careful during crypto transactions, your crypto can be lost forever without recourse. This is totally a participate at your own risk kind of situation.
BIG GIANT HUGE WORD OF CAUTION, DO NOT SKIP THIS SECTION:
- There are scores of crypto scams. Don’t trust search results for links to anything crypto related – spoof sites are common and often promoted in search results. The safest way to navigate to crypto sites is to go to their official twitter page and follow the link in the profile. Bookmark the sites you use.
- Don’t share your seed phrase with anyone, ever. Not your friends. Not tech support. No one.
- Keep your seed phrase safe. If you’re using a paper wallet, store it in a safe place (safe from fire, water, loss, peeping eyes).
- If someone sends you a link in DM or email, do not click it. A common scam is for someone to reach out offering to collab or feature your work, and then send you a link to a virus which will enable them to steal your crypto and NFTs. (My rule of thumb is to not trust any links, ever.)
- If someone asks you to send them crypto to complete a transaction so they can buy one of your NFTs, don’t do this. This is another common scam. They’ll keep your money and never buy your NFT.
- Be extremely cautious about which websites you connect your wallet to. It’s a good idea to take your time navigating and double check what you’re about to do before proceeding.
- Be very careful while completing transactions. If you make a mistake when sending crypto or an NFT, you won’t be able to reverse the transaction – it’s permanently gone.
- You will get lots of phishing emails from crypto exchanges and the like. If you have questions about your account go straight to the site.
- Use two factor authentication when possible.
- Blockchain is public – everything you hold in your wallet whether it’s crypto or NFTs can be seen by anyone.
(Just keepin’ it real, I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t share the risks. ❤)
Definitions (super simple definitions, not a comprehensive list of terms but the basics you’ll need to get started)
NFT: non-fungible token (or token); a unit of data stored on blockchain which can represent art, photos, video, etc.
The easiest way to understand NFTs is to think about them in terms of a real estate transaction:
When you buy real estate, the transaction is memorialized in a deed. The deed then gets stamped with a book and page number and stored in the recorder of deeds’ office.
A deed reflects ownership of property. The deed also refers back to the previous owner of the property as well as the book and page number where the previous deed transfer was recorded. By following the book and page numbers, you can retrace ownership of the property all the way back to the first owner.
This is how NFTs work. An NFT is the token that reflects ownership of whatever it’s attached to, whether it’s an image, document, art, music, etc. When an NFT is purchased, that transaction is recorded on the blockchain in the same way that deeds are recorded in the deed recorder’s office — blockchain is a database of transactions. For a deed, you’d get a book and page number. For an NFT, you get a transaction hash.
So really, when you’re selling an NFT you’re not selling the art itself. You’re selling a token that reflects ownership of the art — a digital certificate of ownership, in other words.
NFT transactions are public in the same way that deeds are – you can trace transactions through the blockchain and see information about prior owners and sale prices.
If this sounds a little complicated don’t fret, it was hard for me to understand in the beginning too! Once you jump in this process becomes easier to conceptualize.
Blockchain: a record of cryptocurrency transactions maintained across a network of computers.
Cryptocurrency: digital currency, does not have a physical counterpart. Transactions are verified and records are maintained on blockchain; also referred to as crypto or coins.
Cryptocurrency exchange: a site that enables you to exchange fiat for cryptocurrency.
Gas: a transaction fee charged to complete transactions on blockchain.
Fiat: paper money issued by a government.
Keys/seed phrase: a password to access your cryptocurrency.
Mint: recording your NFT on the blockchain (a/k/a listing your NFT for sale on a platform – it’s called minting a token to mimic the concept of minting a fiat coin)
Wallet: a container to store your cryptocurrency.
Paper wallets: Keys are written on a physical medium like paper and stored in a safe place. This of course makes using your crypto harder, because as digital money it can only be used on the internet.
Hardware wallets: Keys are stored in a thumb-drive device that is kept in a safe place and only connected to a computer when you want to use your crypto. The idea is to try to balance security and convenience.
Online wallets: Keys are stored in an app or other software – look for one that is protected by two-step encryption. This makes sending, receiving, and using your crypto as easy as using any online bank account, payment system, or brokerage.
(Above three definitions via Coinbase)
How to mint your first NFT, step-by-step:
Before you get started, it’s a great idea to join Twitter if you’re not already on there. Most of the conversations around NFTs and crypto happen there. It’s a great place to learn and connect with helpful artists! You can follow me there @jenjustjen3
Step 1: Make art.
If you’re a crafter or maker, you can sell physical items. However, it works a little differently in the NFT space. NFT platforms, so far, don’t offer functionality for transactions involving physical items. Your NFT will be attached to a digital artwork.
One of the best pieces of advice I got back in the beginning (from @dearesthaley, a highly recommended follow especially for crafters and makers!) was that craft needs a reason to exist on the blockchain. Your NFT is going to be attached to a digital artwork — that digital art (which represents your physical work) is what will hold value. The reason this is important is because NFTs can be resold. One of the benefits of selling work as NFTs is that you can set royalties for your work — whenever it gets resold, you’ll receive a portion of those sales!
An easy way to look at this is to think of the digital artwork as adding value to your physical work. People might be interested in buying a physical work with simple product photography (that’s how I started!). But, your art will hold more value in the long term if you create a digital work that has standalone value. There are lots of ways to do this — a simple stopmotion gif, digital art around your physical work, creative photography, etc.
Step 2: Decide where you want to mint your NFTs.
(I’m not including links here to encourage you to adopt the practice of navigating to platforms safely via their Twitter page!)
There are a LOT of opinions about where to mint your work, and lots more options now than there were when I got started.
If I were starting today, I’d mint my first works on Hic et Nunc (@hicetnunc2000). Hic et Nunc is built on the Tezos blockchain. Tezos an environmentally friendly NFT option with very small transaction fees (a few US cents). The artist community is extremely supportive and friendly. There are frequent events which provide new artists with opportunities to connect with wider audiences. It’s an open, noncurated platform, so you don’t need to submit an application to mint NFTs there. To cover your initial fees you’ll need to buy (a little) $XTZ. (There used to be an $XTZ fountain available which would give you enough $XTZ to get started, but I’m not 100% sure it’s still available – good question to ask on NFT Twitter!)
Another option on Tezos is Kalamint (@kalamint_io). For that site, you’ll need to submit an application, but that’s more of a verification process than a gatekeeping one. I’ve only minted one NFT there so far, but my experience was top notch and I highly recommend it. This site offers the ability to auction work in addition to listing it for sale.
Mintbase (@mintbase) is another environmentally friendly, low fee platform which is run on NEAR. I’m a huge fan of Mintbase and closely followed their development, just haven’t had an opportunity to mint any work there. (SOON!) To mint work on Mintbase, you’ll need a little $NEAR, and there’s a fountain which will provide you enough $NEAR to get started.
Ethereum is the most common blockchain onto which NFTs are minted. OpenSea (@opensea) and Rarible (@rariblecom) are the two most-used open platforms. You’ll hear people say that minting on OpenSea is free because of “lazy minting.” Without going into a whole lot of detail, yes, after your first two transactions on OpenSea, minting work there is free. All of my work on Ethereum is on OpenSea for this reason. To mint on one of these sites, you’ll need to buy $ETH (a fair amount of it).
Gas is a huge factor to consider when minting on Ethereum. When I started, it was around $200 to mint my first piece — OUCH! I didn’t know this at the time, but there are gas trackers like ETH gas watch which can help you time your transactions. Use them — gas fluctuates wildly, from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. Don’t pay hundreds of dollars in fees to mint your work when you don’t have to!
There are lots of closed (or “curated”) platforms on ETH as well. To mint work on these platforms you’ll need to have a portfolio of work and submit an application. I haven’t applied to any closed platforms so I can’t share experiences. Some of the ones you’ll see a lot are SuperRare (@SuperRare), KnownOrigin (@KnownOrigin_io), and Foundation (@withFND).
If you’re interested in minting work on ETH but the gas fees are a barrier, I’d recommend starting out on Tezos or Near and moving over to ETH later, after you’ve sold enough work to cover transaction fees.
These are by no means the only platforms/blockchains onto which you can mint work, and new platforms are being launched every day. I’ll come back and update this as I play around with new ones, but please don’t feel constrained by my recommendations – hop on Twitter and ask, people love to share their opinions!
Step 3: Buy some crypto.
You’ll need to convert fiat for whatever cryptocurrency the platform on which you want to mint work requires. The easiest place to do this is on a cryptocurrency exchange like Coinbase or Binance. Depending on where you live, these platforms or the cryptocurrency you want might not be available. Hopefully by now you’ve joined Twitter, hopped into the NFT community, and made some friends you can trust for recommendations. (Remember, don’t trust links random people offer you! Go to the official Twitter account and proceed from there.)
Step 4: Set up a wallet.
The wallet you need will depend on the cryptocurrency you’re using. I like the Kukai wallet for $XTZ and MetaMask for $ETH. The platforms might offer other options as well.
It’s kind of weird that one wallet can’t hold lots of different cryptocurrencies, right? But yeah, you’re going to have a lot of wallets to keep track of.
VERY EXTREMELY IMPORTANT:
When you’re setting up your wallet write down your seed phrase carefully. Check it ten times to make sure you’ve written it down exactly. You’ll be given this information one time only. If you lose it, you’ll permanently lose access to your wallet. There’s no lost seed phrase option in crypto.
For Kukai, specifically, you’ll be prompted to download a keyfile. Make sure you do that and save it in a safe space where it won’t accidentally get deleted.
Step 5: Transfer crypto from the exchange to your wallet.
The process for this will vary depending on where you’re trying to transfer from, but it’s usually pretty straightforward.
Unsurprisingly, if you’re transferring ETH, there’s gonna be fees to complete the transfer. Use a gas tracker.
Step 6: Follow the instructions on the platform to mint your artwork.
The process for this will vary by platform. It’s really helpful to read through the FAQs, which will answer most of your questions. In addition, all of the platforms have a Discord channel where you can pop in and ask for help or tech support, so if you have questions that’s the best place to go.
Like I mentioned before, NFT platforms don’t have native functionality for physical items. If you’re including a physical item in the NFT transaction, you’ll need to specify the terms in the item description.
The way I do it is to offer the physical amigurumi to the first purchaser of the NFT, including worldwide shipping. I ask that the buyer contact me after the sale to make shipping arrangements via Twitter or email. Sometimes they do, but if they don’t I’ll try to find them on Twitter to sort things out.
That said, there are lots of anonymous folks in crypto and/or people who would prefer not to provide their address. That’s ok too! When that happens I just keep the amigurumi in a safe place in case they ever do want it.
Step 7: HAVE FUN!
Someone on Twitter reminded me to mention this. I don’t know how I forgot, but yeah, having fun is the most important part!
A lot of people take NFTs verrrrrrry seriously because they’re coming at them from an investment perspective. Nobody likes to lose money and when they do, they can get a little cranky (understandably!).
This is a really new space which people are just learning to navigate. There are opportunities to build just about anything you could imagine! But, like with any new thing, there are bugs to be worked out and obstacles to overcome.
If you stay focused on having fun and remember that this is all basically a huge experiment, you’ll be good.
Thanks for hanging in there, you rock!
This is a LOT of information to digest! I really hope you found this helpful if you’re curious about getting started in NFts. If there’s anything confusing, or if you feel like I missed something, please drop a comment so I can clear it up!