NFTs 101: How to buy your first NFT
In today’s short post, I will discuss how to start collecting and investing in NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. I will not make any recommendations regarding which NFTs to buy, as the purpose of this post is to get you started on your journey to collecting your own NFTs.
(You can skip this section if you already have MetaMask set up on your device)
First things first, you will need a MetaMask wallet, which can be installed in your browser (Brave, Firefox, or Chrome) by visiting your browser’s extension marketplace and searching simply for “MetaMask.” Once you have installed MetaMask, you will need to create TWO wallets: this is important, for reasons I will discuss later on. The first step to creating your wallet is to simply follow the instructions that pop up once you press “Get Started” on the extension.
If this is your first time using MetaMask, you will see the above image after clicking “Get Started,” and you should click on the “Create a Wallet” button on the right. Follow the instructions, up to and including watching the short (1:35) video on how to secure your secret recovery phrase. Once you have stored your secret recovery phrase somewhere secure, you should have your wallet set up in your browser.
It is at this point that you should create a second wallet by clicking on the colored circle in the top right corner of your wallet, which should bring up a menu that includes “Create Account,” which you should click on to create second wallet within the extension. Don’t worry, you can switch between wallets at any time without any hassle whatsoever.
Once you’ve created your wallets, you are almost ready to start collecting NFTs, but first let’s discuss why you’ve created two wallets instead of just one. In order to mint wallets and interact with various Web 3.0-enabled websites, you will need to connect a MetaMask wallet with websites. Since scams and hacks abound in the cryptosphere, it is essential that you take your security seriously! Connecting your wallet to websites is safe, but it is considered good practice to examine every single signature and connection request that you encounter, and if you’re not particularly tech-savvy this can be intimidating and confusing. Therefore, I always suggest that people have two wallets: one that they use to connect to websites and mint NFTs from, and a second that is NEVER connected to any website and acts as your vault — once you mint or buy an NFT, you should immediately send it to this second wallet.
Again, connecting to websites isn’t dangerous on its own, but if you were to accidentally visit a malicious website to mint an NFT (let’s say somebody sends you a fake link, which is something that happens ALL THE TIME in the NFT world — a very common hacking method) and you were to click “Accept” without thoroughly reading the transaction details, you could technically give the hackers unfettered access to that specific wallet, allowing them to drain it of its contents, including all your funds and NFTs.
Again, this won’t happen if you practice good operational security, but this is unfortunately a very common hack and it is important to protect yourself against it. The best way to prevent someone gaining access to your wallet is to never connect to a website that you haven’t personally verified (you should never click links that are sent to you, for example).
After setting up your MetaMask wallets, the next step to ensure you’re ready to purchase an NFT is to send funds to your wallet you intend to make purchases from. Remember, always keep one wallet secure by never connecting it to websites — this is NOT the wallet you will be minting/purchasing from, so send the funds to your other wallet instead.
After receiving the funds, the next stop is to visit an NFT marketplace. The most popular marketplace by far is OpenSea.io, however SuperRare.com and Rarible.com are well-known competitors.
Feel free to browse the marketplace for any NFTs you might want to buy (I will not discuss how to find good NFTs in this article — see my other articles for that information), and then you can begin the checkout process. Let’s walk through the process together:
You’re going to click on “Buy Now,” assuming that the NFT you have chosen is indeed the one you want.
If you don’t have sufficient funds (as seen above) you will need to add enough ETH to your wallet first before checking out. However, assuming that you do have enough funds, you should be able to confirm the checkout. You will see a pop-up confirmation from your MetaMask wallet, which will include the total price (including the transaction fees) before clicking “Confirm.” Once you’ve confirmed, within the next few seconds you should see the transaction confirm, and voila! You are now the proud owner of an NFT! However, you cannot (yet) see your NFT collection inside your MetaMask wallet (this is one of the primary complaints about MetaMask, as other wallets do in fact show your NFT collection — more on that later).
In order to see your NFT collection, stay on the OpenSea website and hover on the circle in the top right corner and click on the button labeled “Profile.”
After clicking on “Profile” you should be able to see the NFT that you purchased:
At this point, you’re now the proud owner of an NFT — but what about if you want to sell your NFT? Well, let’s take a look at that process as well. First, you’ll want to click on the NFT you want to sell from your profile page:
Click on the “Sell” button in the top right corner.
From here, you’ll see the above page — you can choose the price you want to sell it for (the primary currency is ETH, but you can also choose to sell it for ETH on the MATIC network, or the USDC stablecoin). I recommend denominating the NFT in ETH, as it’s by far the most popular choice for buyers. You can also customize the auction duration, and even reserve it for a specific buyer by clicking on the “more options” button. After you’ve chosen your price, click on “Complete Listing.”
However, there’s one more thing to know: you will need to first initialize your wallet before approving the transaction, which costs a fee in ETH. After initializing the wallet, you then need to approve the item for sale, which requires another signature from your wallet. Finally, after doing both above steps, you will see that your NFT is listed for sale, and you can start searching for buyers or wait until one shows up on their own.
Finally, the last thing you should know how to do is participate in minting a new NFT. There are various ways to do so, but the most common is to visit the artist’s website where they are hosting the mint and to connect your wallet to the website (you will often see a large button that says “Connect Wallet”). If you have the funds to participate in the mint, you will be able to mint directly from their website (every website is different in the process, but they’re usually very easy to understand) and the NFT will appear in your wallet after a few minutes. Keep in mind, though, that minting an NFT can cost a lot of money in gas fees, so be sure to factor gas prices into your budget when minting a new NFT.
Now, since we’ve already covered a lot of information, I don’t want to dive deeply into another topic, but I want it to be clear that there are other options for buying and selling NFTs on other chains, particularly on Solana. Luckily, the steps for beginning that process are similar to the above process, but you will instead need to install the Phantom wallet instead of the MetaMask wallet, saving your secret recovery phrase and making two wallets again. After you’ve done so, visit one of the Solana NFT marketplaces such as MagicEden.io, DigitalEyes.market, Alpha.art, or Solanart.io.
The steps for buying and selling are similar to ETH, and Solana has significantly cheaper transaction fees and a much better user interface (you can see your NFT collection from within the Phantom app, for example).
There you have it! You should be able to buy, sell, and mint new NFTs at this point! As always, feel free to ask me any questions via Twitter and I wish you luck on your NFT collection journey!