You might have heard about non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the news, but do you understand what they are, how they work, how you can make your own, and how you can start collecting them? As soon as I heard about them, I was intrigued, especially about the possibility of using this new blockchain technology to market my Stick Figure art. But the reality is that I procrastinated taking the time to explore this possibility.
I was stuck in a rut until a friend helped me understand how to get started in seven simple steps. Then I dedicated time during the weekend to work through each step, and after about six hours total, now I not only understand what NFTs are, but have made some by minting some of my Stick Figure art, and even bought my first NFT!
My friend and unofficial NFT mentor is the one and only Mitch Jackson. With more than 30 years’ experience practicing law and building businesses, Mitch combines law, technology, and social media to disrupt, hack, and improve the businesses of his clients and the legal system. I’ve featured Mitch as a guest on my World of Speakers podcast and have appeared on his Legal Minds lifestreams. We’ve hosted Clubhouse rooms together, and if the weather is nice, you might find us having a “board” meeting in Dana Point Harbor, discussing life and business while stand-up paddleboarding. He is doing some cool things with NFTs, which I will get into later.
First, let me introduce you to the basic vocabulary you’ll need to understand to complete the steps.
Non-fungible token or NFT: Think of NFTs as digital media, like images, videos, or a digital representation of a real-world asset, like real estate, or a Stick Figure drawing. NFTs are non-fungible, meaning that they’re unique and the value of the asset cannot be traded equally. It’s all about ownership. Anyone can create an NFT and trade them on a blockchain platform. The Ethereum blockchain is the most common for NFTs.
Cryptocurrency: NFTs are a type of crypto-token, like cryptocurrencies. To purchase NFTs, you’d typically use Ethereum (ETH). Cryptocurrency is digital and decentralized, meaning there is no governing body such as a bank to regulate the exchange of money. Unlike traditional institutions, transactions are instant and recorded on a public ledger that prevents fraud and corruption (records are difficult to tamper with).
Gas fees: You need to know about gas fees. This is what you’re charged when someone buys your NFT. You’re paying for the computing energy of your NFT. What you pay isn’t related to the price of your artwork or media and is subject to the supply and demand of the blockchain.
Example: Let’s assume I have a Stick Figure NFT for sale for .005555 ETH (around $20). During checkout, the purchaser pays the .005555 ETH and another $120 (in ETH) in gas fees (or whatever it is). You get your sale price less a small commission. The gas fee goes to the miners (people/companies running the computers on the blockchain). You can keep an eye on the baseline for gas fees, based on how much computing is going on.
I want to empower you to learn about and participate in this new digital landscape, so I’ll guide you through the process of setting up and selling an NFT the way Mitch and I did it. Different platforms that allow you to make and sell NFTs have varying cost structures. The most popular NFT marketplace where you can make, sell, and buy NFTs is OpenSea. From my research, it is also the most user-friendly, so I suggest you start there. After you are set up on OpenSea, the process of minting your first NFT is free. But depending on how you sell it, depends on if you or the buyer will be responsible for the gas fees. Based on how I did it, you should be able to get set up with $400 or less up-front costs.
Step #1: Add a bank account and get a debit card
You’re going to need an account to link to your cryptocurrency purchases and NFT expenses referenced below. If you’re comfortable connecting an existing banking account and debit card, you can skip this step.
Mitch and I both wanted to keep our crypto/NFT stuff separate from my regular banking and investment accounts, so we went online and opened up new checking accounts for this purpose. Once your bank account is funded, go to step 2.
Step #2: Buy cryptocurrency
From your phone or tablet open a new (1) Coinbase account and (2) Coinbase wallet. This is where you’ll purchase your first Bitcoin and Ethereum. Link your bank account and/or debit card to your Coinbase account. Purchase a couple of hundred dollars (min) of both cryptocurrencies just to have funds to complete the NFT process. You can also use these accounts to invest if you want. For now, you’re just setting things up. This will serve as one of your foundation accounts.
Step #3: Set up your MetaMask wallet
MetaMask is a popular crypto wallet that interfaces with a bunch of different services including NFT hosting platforms. Once set up, you can transfer $100-200 into it. It’s also a Google extension that you’ll want to activate if you’re using your laptop or desktop which uses the OpenSea marketplace (below). This is another foundational type account for this and other projects.
Step #4: Make a hard copy of your passwords and passphrases
Keep copies of your Coinbase and MegaMask wallet password and passphrases offline someplace safe. You’ll need these to get access to your crypto. If you lose wallet access you’ll lose all your money. I repeat, if you lose wallet access, you’ll lose all your money!
Step #5: Open an OpenSea account
Next, you’ll create an OpenSea account. This is where you can list your artwork and other projects on the NFT marketplace. There are many different marketplaces and you don’t have to use OpenSea, but it’s easy to use and will familiarize you with the process. Mitch is using it for his photographs and some other creative ideas, and I am using it to make my Stick Figure NFTs.
Once you’re in, you’ll be asked to connect your MetaMask wallet to your OpenSea account. There is an initial charge for gas fees, to get things set up and these funds will flow from your MetaMask to OpenSea. You will have to pay the gas fee before you can sell your NFTs.
Step #6: Your first NFT: Upload your digital item (content) to OpenSea
Now you can upload your image, GIF, video, or other “thing” that you have digitized to your OpenSea account. You can also make different collections to group NFTs together by theme. Don’t get hung up on what to make for your first few NFTs. I stressed over this for way too long! Just decide on a couple of ideas and publish them. There are lots of options depending on price/auction/video choices.
NFTs also allow for hidden content that only the owner can access. And this allows for a lot of creativity in how you add value to your NFT. Mitch is exploring how to mint chapters in his book, and even podcast episodes, with unlockable content that gives the owner access to him and his guests! I’m looking at offering copies of original Stick Figure artwork with some NFTs, and I’m exploring adding perks that allow people to get access to my speaking and consulting services. My advice is to get creative and think outside the NFT box! (I’d love to hear some of your NFT ideas. Tweet them to me!)
To get a good idea of the possibilities for using NFTs to build your brand, I suggest you start by reading How To Make An NFT Project as Popular as Nike, a Forbes article by Brian Evans. Get in the habit of finding and following people like Brian, who are NFT enthusiasts. It’s a good way to stay on top of the evolving NFT space.
Step #7: Add an OnCyber Gallery
Once you get your OpenSea set up, you can create a free 3D art gallery-like Mitch did on OnCyber. It is pretty intuitive. You connect using your MetaMask wallet and then choose from a variety of “showrooms.” Choose whatever you want, and then add any of the NFTs that you created in OpenSea to populate your 3D viewing gallery!
Step #8: Promote and Sell
Once you’re set-up, you can promote the links. One thing I learned by reading The NFT Handbook, is that NFT marketplaces, like OpenSea, don’t have any algorithms to get your NFTs in front of users. That means the only way people will know about your NFTs is if you share it with them. So it’s worthwhile thinking through your marketing NFT strategy.
When a sale goes through it goes into your MetaMask wallet. From there you can transfer funds to your Coinbase wallet or other accounts. When it comes to selling, you can name a price, put it on auction with a minimum bid, or you can leave the pricing blank, and let people make offers. But don’t expect anyone to find your NFTs on their own. You will have to bring eyeballs to your work. That is why so much of the NFT game is on building community and awareness. It is not easy, but if done right, over time, you can make it work.
Warning: There is a lot of media about NFTs selling for crazy amounts. Don’t be fooled, and don’t expect to be an overnight success with NFTs, sorry, but that just won’t happen. Look at this as a long-term game, one that might take years to get traction.
I see making and collecting NFTs as a fun way to be creative, a good excuse to learn more about crypto, and be on the cutting edge of the future of digital ownership. I’m still determining my prices and thinking through how to build and nurture a community of folks who want to be part of owning Stick Figure NFT art. Ideally, as I grow my Stick Figure NFT art brand, those who are collectors might also add a few “figures” to their crypto wallets as their one-of-a-kind Stick Figure NFTs increase in value over time. If you believe that crypto is here to stay and that it will increase in value over time, then that value will also be reflected in NFTs that are tied to those cryptocurrencies.
Don’t get overwhelmed. That is what kept me from starting my NFT journey a year ago. Don’t make the mistake of standing still. It is still the “early” days, so take the leap, and follow these 7 basic steps.
I hope you found this helpful. Let me know if you successfully get your first NFT live. Tweet it to me and I’ll share it with my network!
Once you are set up, visit my OpenSea account, and feel free to buy your very own Stick Figure NFT. Who knows, they might become valuable sought-after collector’s items in the future. Better get them while you can! (And keep an eye out for some Stick Figure campaigns!)
Disclaimer: The author, Ryan Foland is not an attorney, broker, or financial advisor. The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. Mitch Jackson and his firm Jackson & Wilson do not provide financial or investment advice. Trading non-fungible tokens (NFTs) is extremely risky and could result in significant capital losses and unexpected liabilities.
Published November 18th, 2021