NFTs have revolutionized the way artists and creators can sell their artwork. While most people aren’t going to make $70 million from an NFT like Beeple’s ‘Everydays’, creating and selling NFT art has given artists more flexibility and ownership over how they publish and distribute their art.
If you’re a novice and want to learn how to make and sell NFT art, we’ll help you understand the basics of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and NFTs.
With quick-and-easy steps for listing your NFT artwork for free on popular marketplaces like Opensea, this guide will help you understand the basics of starting out as an NFT artist, the costs involved, as well as a ton of examples of great NFT projects that have been recently released.
What is an NFT?
Before we get started, it helps to know what we’re talking about. An NFT is a ‘non-fungible token’.
Fungible means that something can be replaced by an identical item. For example, lightbulbs are fungible, as are q-tips, volvos, and my ex-girlfriend.
Non-fungible, however, means that it cannot be copied or replaced with an identical version, like the Mona Lisa, or the years I will never get back because they were stolen from me by a heartless harpy woman.
In the context of Web3, an NFT is a piece of art that acts as a token associated with a unique line of code on the blockchain. This line of code will be unique, in that it cannot be replicated, since the blockchain is a publicly distributed record of transactions.
Other terms to know before you start
A cryptocurrency is a digitized currency, like Bitcoin or ether, that exists on a blockchain. Cryptocurrency – or ‘crypto’, as it is also known – is a decentralized and unregulated type of currency that isn’t governed by any central authority.
With conventional currency, like dollars or pounds, governments control and regulate the flow of money via fiscal policy and a central bank. With crypto, there is no single governing authority or regulatory framework.
A blockchain is a digital ledger that is distributed across a network. Think of a blockchain as a chain made up of blocks of information, in which nobody owns the entire chain.
Blockchains are public, decentralized databases, whose ownership is shared across an entire network. Since a public record exists of every transaction, blockchains offer a huge functional potential for things like digital contracts, NFTs, and cryptocurrency.
A lot of crypto-related phrases have their roots in traditional banking and finance. You might have heard that when a government puts a new batch of coins into circulation, they’re said to have ‘minted’ those coins. This is because a ‘mint’ is also the word for the main producer of a country’s coin currency, sort of like a printing press.
When you mint an NFT, it’s like putting a new coin, or token, out into the digital world, after officially ‘stamping it in’ to the blockchain. Once minted, an NFT receives a unique and uncopyable line of code associated with it on the blockchain.
A crypto wallet is where people can store their digital currencies. There are a few different crypto wallets that have gained popularity over the last few years, including Coinbase, Exodus, Electrum, and Metamask. Wallets let people interact with the blockchain using their cryptocurrency, for things like buying and selling NFTs, or exchanging crypto.
Since the blockchain is spread out across a bunch of other people’s computers, gas fees were invented as a kind of rental fee for using the hardware the blockchain lives on. Gas fees are charged as a fee for using the Ethereum blockchain, and help to stop every 12-year-old boy from minting a million Microsoft Paint drawings of butts.
The blockchain may be a digital network, but it lives on actual hardware. Gas fees tend to increase when demand for a blockchain is currently high.
When an NFT is only minted after it is purchased, it’s called lazy minting. This allows people to buy NFTs ‘off chain’, and lets artists avoid having to pay upfront gas costs in order to mint their NFTs. When an artist has not minted an NFT but sells it, they can mint it just in time for the sale and include the gas fee in the total purchase price.
How to make an NFT
There are a number of different digital assets that can be minted as NFTs. Perhaps the most common and talked about form of NFTs are just images, like the famous CryptoPunks series or the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC).
Each of these series is non-fungible, in that they have a unique piece of code associated with them that cannot be copied, and there is zero ambiguity about their ownership. However, there are a ton of other assets that can be turned into an NFT, including photography, songs, animations, videos, 3D objects, and even virtual blocks of land in the metaverse.
Note: NFTs may still be known for just being pictures of apes, but there’s a lot more to them. Owners of the BAYC NFTs, for example, get access to an exclusive community of owners, and access to future drops by the BAYC brand. Concert tickets, exclusive events, and percentage royalties are some common perks you can get from owning an NFT.
If you’ve already got art in mind you want to sell as an NFT, like a drawing, painting, or 3D model, it’s a pretty straightforward route to minting and selling it. However, if you’re not sure what art to turn into an NFT, look at other well-known NFT collections for inspiration.
Many famous NFT art collections are simple digital illustrations, like BAYC, Cryptopunks, and World of Women. Others are more complex, and involve 3D imagery and animations, like fvckrender, and Daniel Arsham’s work.
If you’re not sure where to start, play around on popular NFT art programs like:
You can also investigate generative NFT art, which is more technical but can allow you to mass-produce thousands of unique pieces of artwork using AI.
How to sell an NFT
Once you’ve designed your artwork, you can begin the process of uploading, storing, and selling it on a blockchain. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to sell your NFT art for free.
1. Create a digital wallet
First, you’ll need a digital wallet. A wallet lets you store and spend your cryptocurrencies, and will allow you to transact on marketplaces where you can buy and sell NFTs. Opensea.io is one of the largest NFT marketplaces out there and has a list of wallets compatible with the platform.
Generally, it’s a good idea to choose a wallet that is compatible with the Ethereum blockchain, since Ethereum (or ether, as it’s technically known), is the most common cryptocurrency used in NFT sales.
To get started with a wallet on Metamask, one of the simplest and most popular cryptocurrency wallets, follow these steps:
- Head over to Metamask.io, using Google Chrome
- Download Metamask and add it to Chrome as an extension
- Follow the instructions in Metamask to create a new wallet
- Your wallet is now set up and ready to go.
2. Choose an NFT marketplace
After you’ve set up a wallet, you’ll need to find a marketplace to list, mint, and sell your NFT art, such as Rarible, Opensea, or Nifty Gateway. These major marketplaces have well-stocked support sections, and resources to help you get started with buying and selling NFT art.
Whichever marketplace you choose, keep an eye on the platform fees associated with listing your NFT art, and the type of cryptocurrencies they support.
3. Buy cryptocurrency
The most popular cryptocurrency for the NFT art market is Ethereum (ETH). Ethereum was one of the very first blockchains, and its eponymous cryptocurrency has become one of the most widely used in the world.
Keep in mind that whatever crypto you use, any transactions on the blockchain, including minting and listing fees will cost money, so you’ll have to invest in some ETH before you can get started and list your artwork for sale.
4. Connect wallet to an NFT marketplace
You can now connect your digital wallet to a marketplace. Opensea has a wallet icon in the top right corner through which you can seamlessly link your Metamask wallet in just a couple of clicks.
5. Upload the file you want to turn into NFT
Once you’ve set up your wallet, stored some crypto in it, and connected to a marketplace, you’re ready to start uploading and selling your NFT art. Opensea has one of the simplest upload processes out there, simply click the ‘Create’ tab and you’ll be taken to an upload workflow, like this:
Once you’ve filled in your file’s details and written a solid description for your piece, you’re ready to upload your first NFT.
Opensea and other platforms also give the option to set royalty amounts, which will allow you to take a percentage cut (to a maximum of 10%) of any future sales of your NFT, even after you’ve sold it to its original buyer.
Note: Depending on how you want to list your item, you’ll need to pay gas fees to mint your NFT. These can vary depending on the network you use and the cryptocurrency you choose. Minting costs can also fluctuate over time and based on the cryptocurrency you use, since a cryptocurrency’s relative value in ‘real money’ can fluctuate with the market.
6. Set up an auction or fixed price
Most NFT marketplaces will allow you to set your listing type as either an auction or a fixed price. These are two common ways to buy and sell NFTs.
An auction will allow you to set a reserve price, i.e. the minimum bid required to allow the sale of the NFT to go ahead. If the reserve is not met, the sale will typically not proceed.
A fixed price is the listed price for an NFT. While fixed prices offer the prospect of immediate and predictable sales, auctions have more unpredictable returns, with some NFTs going for much higher than they would have if they’d been listed with a fixed price.
Ultimately, it’s up to you how you want to price your NFTs. Keep in mind that NFT art is becoming increasingly competitive, and you will need to justify a higher floor price through unique artwork, amazing functional benefits to owning your NFT, or a combination of both.
How much does it cost to sell an NFT?
Selling NFTs comes with a variety of fees, depending on the cryptocurrency and platform you use. Platforms like Opensea have a simple fee structure, charging 2.5% commission only once a transaction is completed.
Other platforms like Nifty Gateway charge a much higher commission of 15%. While this is probably cheaper than a physical art gallery, it’s still the highest commission out there at this time.
NFT fees are actually a little bit complex and can vary a lot. This is due to the following factors:
- Every NFT platform has its own fee structure, which can include listing fees, minting fees, commission, or account membership fees.
- Different blockchains have different processes and fees. Data size, project quality, transaction speed, mint time, and gas fees all play into the cost of an NFT.
- Blockchain transaction fees change according to the network’s supply and demand. In periods of high demand, gas fees can increase significantly. If you find gas fees seem too high, wait for another time to transact on an NFT.
- Cryptocurrency prices are volatile and can fluctuate significantly, which also influences the costs associated with NFTs in ‘real money’ terms.
A note on gas fees. All blockchain operations require at least one transaction, which costs gas fees. Given that many people are using a finite amount of processing power on the blockchain simultaneously, gas fees can often fluctuate, sometimes up to hundreds of dollars per transaction. According to Banks, who’s one of the most prominent voices in the NFT/Web3 space, it’s not uncommon for gas fees to hit around $500 per transaction these days.
Ultimately, prices for minting an NFT currently range from $1 to $500. However, given the ever-evolving nature of this space, plus the advent of new blockchains, currencies, and marketplaces, it’s likely that NFT fees will continue to change over the coming months.
Pros and cons of selling NFT art
Still unsure whether you want to sell NFT art? That’s okay. It can be a daunting space, and NFT art is still new territory. While some of the best-known NFT artists, like fvckrender, have made themselves millionaires many times over selling NFTs, they are generally the exception, rather than the norm.
As long as you’re realistic in your expectations, there are a number of benefits to selling NFT artworks that didn’t exist before, as well as a few drawbacks to selling art in this emerging space.
- Selling NFT art allows you to market your art immediately to an international audience
- You can make NFT art with a huge number of different programs, from illustration platforms like Photoshop and Procreate, to generative imagery using Python, 3D models in programs like Blender, animations, and much more.
- NFTs have many niches, and there’s an audience for everything. From projects with tons of utility attached to the art, like exclusive events and memberships, to digital sports memorabilia, there is something for everyone.
- NFTs offer artists a unique connection with their fans, by giving them access to future drops, membership in exclusive communities, and the ability to earn royalties.
- There is very little transparency across the NFT space, and it can be confusing at times. With currency fluctuations, multiple currencies, and many more being developed each day, scam NFT projects, unclear fees, and terminologies, Web3 is still very much a developing area. For now, the tradeoff of the NFT gold rush is that we’re very much still living in the Wild West of Web3.
- NFTs are still inherently risky. Minting and selling NFTs takes time and money, and you may not make enough to break even in the beginning. Given the volatility of some cryptocurrencies and the fickle nature of the NFT market at times, it’s worth exercising caution when jumping into new projects, especially if you’re listing and minting multiple pieces at once.
Are NFTs worth it?
According to Yahoo Finance, the global NFT market is expected to grow by over 400% in the next 5 years, representing a total market value of 13.6 billion USD by 2027. The possibilities of NFTs are only just beginning to be explored, and thousands of artists have made – and kept – significant returns on their work through NFTs.
NFTs also provide something that has never been done before in the art world. Because NFTs are built on the blockchain, the concept of artistic scarcity is now written into code for all to see. NFTs revolutionize concepts of authenticity, ownership, and subjective value.
Ultimately, as with all creative endeavors, the more time you invest in building your knowledge and your skill set, the more likely you’re going to find something worthwhile. NFTs offer a unique opportunity for artists to develop their craft and run a business.
Even if you’re not making fat stacks in the beginning, NFTs provide a great way to keep more control over the way you distribute your work and earn money.
Some inspiring examples of cool NFT artists
Here are some of our favorite examples of great NFT artists:
How to make and sell NFT art FAQs
1. Can I sell prints of NFT art?
Only if you are the creator of the original artwork or have been granted express permission to do so. NFT artists keep the commercial rights to any artwork underlying an NFT, sort of like owning the original master recordings of a song. While collectors are free to sell, trade, and transfer NFTs, they cannot reproduce the artwork without permission.
2. Can you sell someone else’s art as an NFT?
No, since the artist owns the copyright to their artwork. While NFT screenshot scams are prevalent, the whole point of NFTs is that they are time-stamped with an original line of code that distinguishes ‘fakes’ from real NFTs.
3. Can you sell an NFT of anything?
You can technically include anything within the utility provided by an NFT sale. Some people have sold houses as NFTs. While you can’t literally turn your dog into a line of code, you could technically sell a jpeg image of your dog, mint it, and include in the contract underpinning it that the owner gets your actual dog (you maniac.)
4. Is creating an NFT profitable?
It can be. It largely depends on who you are, when you created your NFT, whether you possess any marketable artistic ability, or if you’re offering any uniquely enticing utility in your NFT.
Besides the numerous examples of NFT artists who’ve made bank, NFTs provide an alternative way to transact and keep a record of sales, and are therefore proving profitable for many different businesses, events, and individuals.
Start making and selling your NFT artwork today
If you’re interested in how to make and sell NFT art, the best thing to do is start by getting clear on your medium first. If you’re already creating art, great! Many artists sell NFTs of physical art like paintings, drawings, and photographs, while others create them digitally first.
Being an NFT artist involves a solid understanding of three key layers:
- The artwork. Which pieces sell? Why do people buy some collections and not others? What makes your work unique? Is there enough of your work to provide potential collectors with an incentive to track down ‘rare’ objects or pieces within your collection? The best collections have a high number of artworks, common themes, and slight variations on those elements for certain pieces. Sort of like a pack of pokemon cards!
- Technical knowledge. Knowing a little bit about the blockchain, cryptocurrency, and NFT marketplaces can give you a massive head start. Hopefully, this guide has armed you with the baseline knowledge needed to list, mint, and sell your artwork online.
- Knowledge of NFT utility. One of the most critical, and often overlooked aspects of successful NFTs is the associated utility that comes with the artwork. Think of the artwork as a token. While some NFT art is purely valuable for its rarity and quality, many successful projects provide some utility to their owners, through royalties, access to exclusive drops, community membership, and more.
- Community-driven and unique NFT projects generally have a longer shelf-life than just spamming artwork alone.
Ultimately, the NFT space is still a new and evolving landscape, and it’s a really exciting time to be taking part in it. There is still massive potential for new projects, and we’re only just scratching the surface of the capabilities of NFTs.
Good luck, and happy minting!