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How to make and sell an NFT

How to make and sell an NFT: An image showing a blue digital version of the Mona Lisa on a black background
(Image credit: ArtemisDiana via Getty)

How to make and sell an NFT is something a lot of artists and designers are exploring as a potential new avenue for creative business. NFT art continues to make headlines when pieces fetch mind-blowing prices in auctions, or 'drops'. Even traditional auction houses like Christie's have held NFT art auctions involving huge sums of money, and major brands from Nike to Warner are working with artists and designers to create NFTs as part of their strategies to enter the metaverse.

It might still all seem very strange, but what seemed like it might be a short-lived fad shows no sign of petering out. So if non-fungible tokens are here to stay, at least for now, is it time to look at how to make make and sell an NFT as a possible route for your own creative work? 

We would first point out that the prices achieved by artists like Beeple or by well-known collectable NFTs such as CryptoPunks are still relatively rare, and that there are a lot of fees involved in generating, maintaining and selling an NFT. Though some NFT marketplaces now support fee-free NFT minting, where the cost is placed on the buyer and not the creator.

That said more and more artists, illustrators and designers are marking money from selling NFTs, so it may be something you wish to consider. In the guide below, we'll walk you through how to make an NFT of your work and how to sell an NFT through an online auction. 

You can take a look the NFT trends for this year for inspiration – and if you're still not clear on what a non-fungible token really is, we'd recommend reading our what are NFTs explainer sure you’re clued up before going any further. We also explain what are NFT drops too, and detail how to spot a fake NFT. If you are ready to dive in and 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

How to make and sell an NFT: Linday Lohan's Bitcoin to the Moon NFT on sale at Rarible

Paris Hilton listed her Iconic Crypto Queen for sale on the NFT auction site Nifty Gateway (Image credit: Rarible/Lindsay Lohan)

First you'll need to make, or 'mint' your NFT. To make an NFT of your artwork, you'll need to choose an NFT platform and a payment wallet, the latter of which you'll need to use to pay fees – and to receive any payment if you're lucky enough to sell your NFT. 

There are lots of online platforms you can use to make and sell an NFT. Some of the most popular NFT auction platforms include OpenSea, Rarible (pictured above), SuperRare, Nifty Gateway, Foundation, VIV3, BakerySwap, Axie Marketplace and NFT ShowRoom. See our guide to NFT marketplaces for a comparison of some of the most popular options.

There are plenty of NFT payment platforms too, with Coinbase, MetaMask, Torus, Portis, WalletConnect, MyEtherWallet and Fortmatic some of the best known. For illustrative purposes, we'll show the process involved in making and selling an NFT using the NFT platform Rarible and the cryptocurrency payment platform MetaMask. Note that these two platforms are chosen purely to show how the process works, and it doesn't mean we're saying they're the best service to use. 

You could consider using any of the platforms mentioned above, and many more besides, and in most cases, you'll follow a similar process.  We recommend checking the fees involved as closely as possible before choosing (we'll come back to the fees later).

01. Buy some cryptocurrency to fund your wallet

How to make and sell an NFT: the Ethereum homepage

Most platforms take the Ethereum cryptocurrency, Ether (Image credit: Ethereum)

All of the NFT auction platforms mentioned above will want paying upfront to 'mint' an NFT, which is the process that turns your artwork into a non-fungible token that you can sell. In most cases, payment must be made in cryptocurrency, which means that before you have a chance of earning any cryptocurrency by selling an NFT of your work, you'll need to buy some in order to cover the fees.

Ether (abbreviated as ETH) is the most commonly accepted currency since it's the native cryptocurrency of the open-source blockchain platform Ethereum, which is where NFTs first launched. However, some platforms are starting to accept a variety of payment formats and to create NFTs using different blockchains (see our guide to NFT crypto to learn more on which might be best for you).

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 make (and receive) payments. If you don't have currency, there are a lot of cryptocurrency exchanges out there where you can buy ETH or other currencies, 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 prefer to use another service, or if you already have a digital wallet and know how it works, 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.

How to make and sell an NFT: screengrab from MetaMask

The MetaMask website (Image credit: MetaMask)

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

How to make and sell an NFT: a screengrab from MetaMask

The MetaMask account view (Image credit: MetaMask)

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 this part of learning how to make and sell an NFT 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 sell the 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.

How to make and sell an NFT: the Rarible website

Rarible is one of a number of marketplaces for digital collectibles (Image credit: Rarible)

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

How to make and sell an NFT: screengrab from Rarible

The screen for uploading a file to Rarible (Image credit: Rarible)

So now you have a wallet connected with ETH to make payment, you're ready to know how to make and sell an NFT. 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.

How to make and sell an NFT: screengrab from Rarible

The 'artwork' that we'll turn into an NFT (Image credit: Rarible)

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

How to make and sell an NFT: screengrab from Rarible

Choose the settings for your auction (Image credit: Rarible)

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

How to make and sell an NFT: screengrab from Rarible

Add a description for your piece (Image credit: Rarible)

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!)

How to make and sell an NFT: a screengrab from MetaMask

Rarible's payment screen (Image credit: MetaMask)

The final step in learning how to make and sell an NFT is to 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.

How to make and sell an NFT: frequent questions

NFTs can be confusing, and there's a lot of information to take in and misinformation to wade through. If you are wanting to make and sell an NFT we're here to make it a little easier to understand. Below are some common questions you may be asking yourself ahead of creating your first NFT.

What is minting?

Like with physical currency, "minting" is the term used for the process of creating a currency and NFTs on a blockchain. With NFTs it's usually on Ethereum. The process of minting records data in a public ledger that is unchangeable and tamper-proof, and which can follow and track the NFT as future sales are made. Minting usually has a cost – the gas fee that we mentioned above. But as we said, some marketplaces are becoming creative about how, when and to whom the fees are charged.

What's a blockchain?

Investopedia describes a blockchain as: "a distributed database that is shared among the nodes of a computer network." The strength of blockchain tech is that it guarantees security and trust without the need for a third-party, speeding up data transactions. The data entered is irreversible, ensuring it's permanent. For NFTs, it means the artist can trace their NFT and ensure a percentage on future sales. Read our guide to NFT crypto for more detailed information.

Do I need a crypto wallet?

In most cases, yes. In most cases, you will need to pay in cryptocurrency to mint an NFT, or to buy an NFT. As a result, most NFT marketplaces require you to create a crypto wallet to mint and trade NFTs. A common one is MetaMask, though Coinbase is another secure wallet. Some newer NFT marketplaces, such as Nifty Gateway, have started allowing the use of Fiat currency payments (US dollars, etc) via credit and debit cards, making access to NFTs easier.

What are gas fees?

This is the charge you need to pay on the Ethereum blockchain to perform a function, which includes the case of creating (minting) an NFT. Gas fees are measured in gwei, and they can go up and down depending on how heavy the use of the blockchain is. On average you'll be charged 0.0042 ETH per transaction. You can find lower fees early in the morning, between 1am and 3 am (UTC) or late at night, between 9pm and 11 pm (UTC).

Can I avoid gas fees?

Yes, some NFT marketplaces are offering gas-free minting. These including OpenSea and Rarible. This approach essentially places the gas fee on the buyer not the creator, so it will show in the sale (a little like VAT, or the fuel tax added by some airlines). There are some blockchains that have no gas fees or at least lower fees. These include Polygon on Opensea, or ImmutableX on Mintable. Before minting or buying an NFT, look into the fees and at which blockchain and token are being used.

Are there any energy-efficient blockchains?

Yes, and NFT marketplaces are now offering alternatives to energy-hungry Ethererum with better carbon footprints. These include Flow, Tezos, and Polygon. New blockchain Solana boasts of being carbon-neutral. Check on your NFT marketplace which is being used and opt for one that suits your conscience.

Can anything be an NFT?

Yes. Any kind of digital file can be stored as an NFT. Most marketplaces are set up for digital artwork, but more are now supporting video, game assets, and music. Physical items are also now digitised as NFTs, for example physical limited edition Nike trainers. Expect NFTs to exist on and between the digital and physical spaces in the future.

(Image credit: Future)

Creative Bloq created this content as part of a paid partnership with MPB. The contents of this article are entirely independent and solely reflect the editorial opinion of Creative Bloq. Keep your eyes peeled for more articles in this Creative Business Month series, which we'll be posting throughout February.

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.