How Can Artists Make An NFT: A Step-By-Step Guide Explaining

Alexis Fedor

So you want to figure out what an NFT is, and maybe create a single piece or even a collection to sell online, that’s great! Congratulations, because making that decision means you’ve already taken the first step toward sharing your art with an entirely new pool of potential customers online. Go you! In this piece, we’re going to help you figure out what an NFT is, explain you on How Can Artists Make An NFT, and show you how you can make one (or a collection!), and how to best select your NFT marketplace to begin selling your work. 

How Can Artists Make An NFT: A Step-By-Step Guide Explaining
Photo: Andrey Metelev / Unsplash

Table of Contents

How Can Artists Make An NFT

Congratulations on your interest in NFTs, because that means you’ve already taken the first step into an exciting new world of opportunity in the digital space. This trend is very much worth getting on board with, because just like email marketing, NFTS have been around for EONS. They’ve been a way for businesses to create privacy and exclusivity, with juicy special offers attached, gifted to those who acquire their NFTS. (Who doesn’t like a gift!).

The new Web 3.0 version of the NFT is a more secure way to create the same kind of exclusivity, privacy, and accessibility using blockchain technology (blockchains are permanent, secure, unalterable online records of your transactions, but more on that later). NFTs AND Blockchains are here to STAY. Combined together, they are way more than just a trend, they are the equivalent of an index-fund, built to last, low risk, with BIG long-term payoff.

Right now, only sixteen percent of the world’s population is involved in cryptocurrency and only 1% are in the world of NFTs so there is A LOT of potential for growth and creativity in this space. And on top of that, only 16% of NFTs are currently created by women, so guess what? It’s time to change that ladies! By learning about NFTs now, you’re getting in on the ground up, which is super cool and makes you super ahead of the game. Go you!

This article will give you a great overview to get you started, but if you’d like to go even deeper, our Artists In Business (AIB) Profit Canvas Program will offer super detailed, individualized guidance and strategies for you and your particular art business when it comes to creating and marketing your NFTs. Have a second? Give it a peek! 

Alright, so let’s get into it!

TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHAT AN NFT IS…

As we went over a bit in our article Build A Profitable Art Business Today, A Comprehensive Guide To Web 3.0, NFTs & Art an NFT stands for non-fungible token… which we know, kind of sounds like the name for a moldy quarter you’d find under the backseat of your car. But, thankfully, it’s not.

Non-fungible token  is just a fancy way of saying it is one unique item that CANNOT be duplicated. The word “fungible” itself simple means, “able to be duplicated.” So an example of a FUNGIBLE item, in fact the most fungible item on the planet, is the US $100 dollar bill. It can be duplicated, passed around, exchanged constantly. and you can get it and it’s equal value anywhere you go.

NON-FUNGIBLE Tokens, contrary to popular belief, have actually been around for a long time. A concert ticket that was texted to you, for example, is actually a non-fungible token. There is a code attached to it that makes it entirely unique: this is your seat for the show at this time on this date. There are no others like it. It is non-fungible. 

NFTS CAN BE DIGITAL PIECES

It’s true, NFTs CAN be digital pieces that can be traded and sold once you select your NFT marketplace, BUT, they DO NOT HAVE TO BE. Because if you’re thinking, awww I don’t WANT to make my art into some kind of fuzzy thumbnail-type digital image, the good news is, you don’t have to! What you’re really buying with an NFT is what’s called a “Smart Contract,” which lists and verifies the exclusive accessibility you get with your purchase. Smart contracts are recorded on the blockchain, cannot be altered in any way, and are a transparent, secure, way to ensure that the programming attached to your smart contract executes the full agreement contained therein. (To put it simply… it guarantees what is in the contract, happens! With no shenanigans). And the digital image that comes with the NFT serves as the symbol of the smart contract you’ve purchased and agreed to. Cute, right?

Smart contracts can include things like VIP entry to all upcoming shows by an artist, a private tour of an artist’s studio, a special one-on-one meet-and-greet lunch with an artist, etc… Or let’s say a restaurant wanted to create an NFT. It’s smart contract could include a VIP dinner in the kitchen with a chef, a free meal once a year, or let’s say, a guaranteed table at the opening of a new restaurant.”

BUT NFTS CAN ALSO BE SO MUCH MORE, LIKE PHYSICAL PIECES WITH EASTER EGGS ATTACHED!

It’s true, NFTs can play in the physical space too! So Alexis Fedor, founder of AIB, is a HUGE fan of fashion designer Stacey Bendet, the Creative Director and CEO of alice + olivia. And alice + olivia recently came out with a limited edition NFT, (which is housed on the PolygonScan blockchain) an animated digital avatar of the Stace Face 20th Anniversary rainbow print, which unlocks priority access to an exclusive, live course taught by Randi Zuckerberg, CEO of Zuckerberg media. The NFT will be gifted to 150 people who purchase the Stace Face 20th Anniversary Willa blouse and in four alice + olivia stores (SoHo, Dallas, Austin, Miami). The goal? To inspire more women to learn and get involved with NFTs and the Web3 economy. HOW COOL IS THAT? 

And, wait for it, Alexis Fedor bought her very own Stace Face rainbow print blouse! So Alexis got to support one of her favorite artists, win an animated digital avatar, get insider access to an exclusive course, meet with other like-minded women who bought the NFT, meet and network with the boss women that are Randi and Stacey, AND all with a blouse on top! (OMG you have to see the blouse, it’s incredible). THAT’S the power of NFTs. They let you engage with your community, offer something that they would love and connect to, and they’ll allow you to do some really incredible things!

We’re in an exciting time with NFTs, where they’re going from being just collections of JPEGS in the digital space to becoming investments with long-term utilities. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are not attaching NFTs to physical pieces like blouses, jewelry, artwork, photos, etc… you are missing out on a HUGE opportunity to connect with your community. 

This tactic of offering an incentive to your customers with the purchase of an item, is called “creating access.” You’re giving that purchaser a one of a kind token that gives them exclusive, meaningful, often VIP access, to something in your business. 

THE COACHELLA NFT AND ITS SMART CONTRACT

There are lots of different ways you can create access. For example, Coachella recently sold 10 tickets that’ll give lifetime, VIP access to their festival to purchasers. For the people who bought it, they’re over the moon, they get to show their support and have VIP access to one of their favorite festivals of all time, forever! 

The NFT laden tickets were bought for $55,000 and up to $100,000, so Coachella won in that they could raise that kind of capital without having to get a loan from a bank AND they got 10 diehard fans front row in the VIP at the festival anytime they want to go. The fans lifetime access is permanently recorded on the blockchain too, and cannot be altered!

In addition to that, in the NFT smart contracts there are all kinds of things you can include. In this particular instance, let’s say the lifetime Coachella ticket holder wanted to sell their ticket? Great! It would just go to another diehard fan who would get the opportunity to enjoy it, PLUS, Coachella would be entitled to a percentage of the sale since it was written into their smart contract. So whenever one of these tickets gets sold, Coachella will get money from that transaction every time. Win, win, win!

FINDING A TREND TO CONNECT YOUR NFT TO

As artists, sometimes you’ll connect to a particular trend or popular theme that resonates in the culture right now. As Randi Zuckerberg discussed in this video, “toxic positivity,” is a movement within the NFT community where the collections are telling people, “It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to feel not okay.” Especially with the pressure and difficulty of life in today’s times, and challenges like coming out of the pandemic, the art sends the message that you CAN be upset and you don’t have to pretend like everything’s smooth sailing. 

Sad Girls Bar, created by talented artist Glam Beckett, is an NFT collection of charmingly sad black-and-white goth noir pieces. You can collect the whole set: a sad girl, sad cat, and sad boyfriend, a whole sad family, which will then unlock a “super NFT” which portrays all of your characters interacting in a bar setting. 

Sacred Skulls (beautiful, ornate skulls) and Meemo’s World (adorably cute cartoon characters) play in this theme as well, and on top of that, they use some of the proceeds from their NFT collection to build mental health apps and tools. So by supporting these artists you are also supporting a movement: helping people with mental health issues. THAT’s a great strategy for you as an artist to connect with your community, identify something that you, your customers and your fans are passionate about, and then create an NFT that supports that cause.

COLLEGE DEGREES AS NFTS? WHY NOT?!

UC San Diego is doing something really groundbreaking, and schools across the US will most likely follow suit. Every single student who graduates will get their diploma as an NFT. Whereas anyone could duplicate a paper diploma, prospective employers of the students would be able to see the NFT diploma in the graduate’s gallery or in their wallet, and it would prove 100% that they are a graduate of the school since the NFT cannot be duplicated. 

So we’ve given you some incredible examples of how you can create NFTs in all kinds of ways and hopefully some of these examples are inspiring you to think about how you could do it with your NFT!  

So now we’ll show you in a step-by-step fashion one of the ways you can create a digital art piece or collection of your own and become a part of the NFT community online. From blockchain, to wallets, to cryptocurrency, to NFT marketplaces, to minting, and more, we’ll show you in a simple way how you can get involved. Yippee!

Okay great, so how the heck do I create an NFT? (Easy Steps)

STEP 1: TIME TO TURN PHYSICAL ART INTO NFT ART

How do you turn physical art into NFT art? Magic. Just kidding. First and foremost, you must be the creator and owner of the piece of art that you want to become an NFT. You’re an artist, you’ve got work, so this should be no sweat!… not that you sweat a lot, or maybe you do, we don’t judge, so, um keep sweating! 

As in the case of the alice + olivia blouse we mentioned above, the NFT can be a physical item (like a blouse) and the digital symbol found on the blockchain just represents the purchase. 

It can ALSO be a physical piece of art that you can represent through a digital image that, again, serves as the NFT symbol- your people actually get the physical piece of art when they buy the NFT- the digital image serves as a symbol for it. (Digitize just means put it online, and as long as you have an internet connection, you should be good!). 

One way to go about digitizing, is to simply take a photo of your work with your smartphone or digital camera and upload your file. If your artwork is a flat piece (painting, drawing) you can also scan it with a 2D scanner specially made for artists. 

However you digitize it, you want to ensure that the colors, dimensions, and presentation of the digitized piece are accurate and true to your original piece. Like let’s say you want to upload your file of an orange tomato, but when you upload it, it looks purple, and more like a pear. Interesting, perhaps, but not what you’re going for. 

There are all kinds of ways to adjust, and a simple search online should be able to give you the tips you need to ensure your digitized art is perfectly colored, sized, and presented. (Photoshop anyone?). 
Your digital file can be a JPEG, MP3, GIF, PNG, just make sure that when you upload your file it is compatible when you eventually select your NFT marketplace. And voila! You’ve now got artwork digitized and ready to go! How simple was that?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAEAuNEuw20

STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR BLOCKCHAIN

A blockchain, in laypersons’ terms, is a highly secure, online record of all transactions made in bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies) making it very difficult to steal or distort. As reported by NFT Now, one of the most popular blockchains with NFT artists is Ethereum. “It’s highly decentralized and provides all the financial and legal services one typically needs for transactions without the need for any intermediaries.” 

However, it’s also one of the most expensive blockchains and it does use A LOT of energy. Understandably, those who may be a bit more fiscally conservative or worried about the impact of Ethereum on the environment may want to go with different blockchain technology for this reason. Tezos and Polkadot have much smaller carbon footprints than Ethereum, as does ​​PolygonScan (as used by alice + olivia for the aforementioned blouse). If you’d like to see a list of cryptocurrencies that are much more environmentally friendly, take a look at this article by The Motely Fool.

When you choose your blockchain just make sure that it aligns with your values, is supported by the marketplace you go with, and checks all the boxes when it comes to being the hub for your NFT. To hear more about top-rated blockchain technology, you can read the full article by NFT Now here.

Ethereum - Cryptocurrency and Blockchain
Ethereum – Cryptocurrency and Blockchain
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=owFY_z5fF-Y&feature=emb_title

STEP 3: SET UP YOUR DIGITAL WALLET

Once you’ve chosen the blockchain technology that you’d like to move forward with, the next step is to set up your digital wallet. Ah, the digital wallet, one benefit is… you’ll never get your pocket picked! Take that sticky fingers at the train station! A wallet will allow you to hold onto cryptocurrency without fees and store NFTs for buying, selling, trading, or transferring to someone else. Cool!

Ledger Digital Wallet
Ledger Crypto Wallet

As outlined in this piece by Wired, your digital wallet is decentralized so you control the account, meaning, “Only you are responsible for what’s in the wallet, remembering the password and secret seed phrase that unlocks the wallet, and managing the fund that it holds.” (Whatever you do, don’t forget your password and secret seed phrase! Write it down, commit it to memory, or tattoo it on your arm, whatever you need to do!). 

You’ll want to set up your digital wallet so that it will be compatible when you select your NFT marketplace. As we mentioned before, you’ll also want to be comfortable with the blockchain technology that the NFT marketplace operates on. 

As Wired details, the OpenSea NFT marketplace, one of the biggest in the world, is a popular option for beginners and “supports Ethereum, Polygon, and Klatyn blockchains; most transactions use Ethereum and a lot of NFT traders use Metamask to buy, sell, store, and list for purchase NFTs they got through OpenSea. Some of the top NFTs on OpenSea include ‘CryptoPunks’ and ‘Bored Ape Yacht Club.’” 

Metamaks Digital Wallet
Metamaks Digital Wallet

Bored Ape Yacht Club is one of the most popular collections of NFTs which you may already be familiar with, you know, like the ones Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton bought and hyped up in this somewhat cringey interaction. And CryptoPunks, in short, pixelated zombies with beanies, recently sold the CryptoPunk 7523 for $11.7 million. (Wow! But do you really want to invite a zombie into your home?).

In addition to Metamask, other popular digital wallets include Coinbase, Rainbow, Trust Wallet, Phantom, Solflare, and Sollet. If you’re having trouble deciding which wallet to select, (we get it there are tons of choices!), then this article detailing the best NFT wallets for 2022 should be able to help!
Once you’ve set up your digital wallet, it’s time to purchase cryptocurrency. According to the Motley Fool, “Most NFT platforms accept Ether, the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain platform. If you already own some cryptocurrency elsewhere, you’ll want to connect your wallet so you can use it to create and sell NFTs.”

Bored Ape Yacht Club - NFT Collection
Bored Ape Yacht Club – NFT Collection
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AebT53Lybaw

STEP 4: SELECT YOUR NFT MARKETPLACE

Okay! Now it’s time to select your NFT marketplace. OpenSea, as we’ve already mentioned, is a good place to start for beginners, because you can mint your NFT with them. Minting is the process whereby your NFT is published on the blockchain and becomes purchasable online. 

Once you’ve chosen your marketplace, you’ll want to connect your wallet so you can pay the minting fees (usually minimal, but make sure to double-check) and hold the payments you get from sales. OpenSea accounts are free (other than the cost of minting) though there can be fees, called “paying gas,” associated with sales and trades, which we will get into later. You can see some of the “gas” here on OpenSea’s support page

This marketplace is also very user-friendly for making trades. And remember, as we stated earlier in this article, it’s important to make sure you’re happy with how you digitized your piece of art (coloring, dimensions, presentation) because once you mint it on the blockchain you WILL NOT be able to alter it. Yikes!

According to Decrypt.co, “OpenSea generated more than $5 billion in total trading volume in January between Ethereum and Polygon sales, breaking the previous record from August 2021.” As Bugs Bunny might say, “Dat’s alotta carrots!”

Other NFT marketplaces that are good for beginners are Rarible, LooksRare, and Binance. Some NFT Marketplaces are highly-specialized. NBA Top Shot, for example, is basketball-focused, so you wouldn’t list an NFT on there that didn’t have to do with basketball. For more information on popular NFT marketplaces, check out this article by Wealth Of Geeks.

NFT Marketplace
NFT Marketplace
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHfJf1X2JpY

STEP 5: TIME TO UPLOAD YOUR FILE AND MINT YOUR NFT!

So you’ve selected a marketplace that’s supported by the blockchain of your choice, you’ve gone through the connect your wallet phase, and you’re raring to go. 

Now it’s time to upload your file and mint your NFT! Your marketplace will have a simple process with which to follow to do so. So, um, happy minting! (What do you call it if you mint two NFTs? A DoubleMint? No, no that’s the gum…!).

When creating a listing, entering a title and description is crucial. Write a title that’s attention-grabbing and informative, but not too “salesy.” (Is that a word? We think it’s a word). The description is a great place to tell your Signature Story (WRITER’S NOTE: LINK TO AIB SIGNATURE STORY SEO ARTICLE) and give the potential buyer a peek into your life, process, and journey as an artist. 
They want to know the person behind the art so let them in! We cannot stress how important it is to have a solid Signature Story, so if you haven’t developed one yet, our Profit Canvas Program is specially designed to help you do so.

STEP 6: SET UP THE SALES PROCESS

Now it’s time to set up the sales process and choose how you want to sell your NFT. As this article by Oberlo points out, with OpenSea, you get two options:

“On Sale: If you want to sell your NFT for a fixed price, go with this option. To create an on-sale listing, simply enter the price for your NFT and choose the length of time you want the listing to be active.”

OR

“Auction: In this type of listing, you set a minimum price (also known as the reserve price) for your NFT. Then an auction takes place, where the highest bidder gets to purchase your digital asset.” 

“Whether listing on sale, or auction, the average price of an NFT can vary anywhere from $100 to $1,400, depending on its scarcity, utility, and popularity. Additionally, fluctuations in the value of the underlying cryptocurrency may impact a non-fungible token’s price.”

To ensure you are not losing money on your NFT sale, be wary of paying gas (fees). Per The Motley Fool, “Depending on the platform and pricing, you could pay a listing fee, an NFT minting fee, a commission on the sale, and a transaction fee to transfer money from the buyer’s wallet to yours.” 
Fees can also go up or down depending on the swings in cryptocurrency valuations. So just make sure you fully understand all the fees that may be attached to your NFT when you select your NFT marketplace.  Read the fine print folks!

STEP 7: START WITH REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS

The greatest thing about NFTS is they give you the ability to build and connect with your community. In the AIB Profit Canvas Program, we’ll help you develop a sales strategy behind your NFT, focused on building your community and creating the most engaged audience for your art business. 

Whether you’re interested in selling digital pieces online, creating physical pieces with NFTs attached, or creating NFTs with special “access” incentives or offers attached, the most important thing to remember is to do something that will particularly resonate with you AND the community you are trying to build. If there is a specific trend, like “toxic positivity” that you really vibe with, that could be a great place to start. You can also attach a philanthropic element that you really care about to it, like Sacred Skulls and Meemo did with mental health services.

Once you know what kind of NFT you’d like to create, you’ll want to create a marketing plan to get the word out there. There are all kinds of ways to do this, let people in your community know that you’ve gone online! Post your NFT and the story behind it on all your social media channels! Email people directly to let them know what you’re doing. Contact friends and family who you know would love and support what you’re doing. After all, your community loves what you do and WANTS you to succeed, so don’t be afraid to give them a buzz! Buzz, buzz, buzz!

As Randi Zuckerberg tells us, NFT drops are one of the hottest new ways people get digital assets. Offer presales, host an event leading up to your NFT drop and invite everyone in the community to come and enjoy themselves! Randi herself received an NFT drop that was a party invite when she was at a crypto conference in NYC and anyone who was an early member of the Discord community, Royal Society Of Players, got an NFT drop in their wallet which included the “access” of being invited to a super secret party. When you arrived at the party, you showed your NFT, which was both a ticket and a digital asset at the same time. When new collections come out you can drop them as a reward to your fans for being an early member of the community and those fans may drop those NFTs to others. There are so many ways to create cool and interesting offers with your NFTs.

You might try and drop your NFT into a celebrity’s wallet, so other people can say, ooooh, Kendrick Lamar has your NFT, I want it too! But be careful with this approach as oftentimes you might drop your NFT into the wallet of a celebrity, but since they have so many people bombarding them with thousands of NFTs all the time, they may not even really know it’s there. An NFT in a celebrity’s wallet may simply have been dropped there by someone, and the celebrity may not necessarily support it or have purchased it themselves. So if you are to purchase an NFT as a collector, don’t make your judgment about the purchase be based solely on whether a celebrity is carrying an NFT in their wallet, because you may be vulnerable to scams.

There’s no guarantee that you will make money immediately with your NFTs online, but once you start you’ll be able to learn from any mistakes you make, pivot, adjust and continue to grow a community of people online that are interested in your art and want to be a part of your journey! Be realistic with what you are willing to spend online, in the beginning, to share your NFTs (know those fees!). 

As Lee Richter, entrepreneur, business innovator, mentor, and global NFT visionary cautions, NFTs are not a place to throw your retirement money into, but instead, your Las Vegas money. It’s an opportunity to get in at the early stages and participate in an exciting and vibrant community of artists online. There is so much growth and potential with NFTs, you’ll really be missing out if you don’t at least get a taste and put your feet in the water. 

And sure, 5 years from now NFTs could be nothing, it’s possible, BUT they could also be a HUGE THING. Just think about dot coms back in the 90s, you either took action and got involved, or you were left saying you wished you did. People who got in on Ethereum early were buying hundreds upon hundreds of shares at $2.16 a share, and a few years later, its success completely changed their lives. 
You have the chance to participate in an incredibly creative, new, and raw space that is super exciting. Even the Super Bowl has gotten in on NFTs, they gave NFTs to every ticket holder, so every one of those people who got one are now part of this vibrant marketplace, But do understand that our advice to you is not investment advice, it’s creative advice. Ultimately it’s up to you to make sure you want to sell an NFT.

Conclusions on How Can Artists Make An NFT

Is there a chance that NFTs may not be the road you’d like to travel down? Sure, but you’ll never know until you try, right? It can be a fun and exciting road to take some steps down and we at AIB are all about getting you out of your comfort zone and trying new things that are directly related to you being an artist, sharing your work, and growing your art business. 

You’ve got incredible art, so why not explore a fascinating new way to build and connect with your community. As we’ve discussed, you can offer digital art on the NFT marketplace, you can turn physical art into NFT art, you can “create access” with your community by offering special incentives, you can tap into trends, you can be both a creator AND a collector. Limitless possibilities!  Whether it’s physical or digital pieces, art is art! So you go boy, or girl, or however you identify! You got this!

Oh! We almost forgot! Be sure to look out for our next article where we’ll tell you all about how you can build community with NFTs for Web 3.0.