Today, I created my first NFT. It took mere minutes to create one and put it up for sale. It was poop. Let me explain.
My news feeds had been overrun with articles about digital art in the form of NFTs (non-fungible tokens). After seeing some eye-popping figures of how much tweets, art, and digital cats were selling for, I tried to ignore the buzz. But as soon as I closed those feeds, I started seeing conversation in our company Slack channels, then started fielding questions from various clients inquiring about NFTs and the marketplaces that sell them. I could ignore NFTs no more.
I had a cursory understanding of what blockchain is (the tech behind NFTs and cryptocurrency), and had seen plenty of click-bait news about how much money was being made and spent, but I what I wanted to know was what is involved in creating and selling a “cryptoasset” on one of these marketplaces. What better way to do that than to create one myself, and collect some of that money that people are throwing towards NFTs.
But first, what do I create?
I am not Kings of Leon, nor am I Banksy. I don’t create original works of art. I am not Elon Musk. I don’t have a tweet that someone would pay a million bucks to own. “I’m just a man with a cat”, I thought. Then it became clear to me what I have to offer this world. Poop.
Don’t worry, I was not planning to produce this poop myself. I would be outsourcing this to my friend, Sebastian.
Sebastian doesn’t value his poop at all, so I would be able to get my hands on some (figuratively) at no cost. I’d sell it at whatever price the market would bare and it would be 100% profit. Then as the NFT was sold countless times in the future, I’d collect a small commission on each sale. THIS IS HOW YOU BUILD WEALTH, PEOPLE!
The possibilities of what an NFT can represent are unlimited. Commonly, you see things like digital art, music, and virtual goods for games and virtual worlds being turned into NFTs, but ownership of real-world items is possible too. For instance, the title of a piece of real-estate could be represented in a token.
To keep things simple and clean, I decided that a photo of the poop would suffice. Selling an NFT of a digital image fit nicely into my vague idea of what an NFT was. So, I took the photo.
Next, I decided to use OpenSea.io as the marketplace for creating and selling my feces-centric NFT. OpenSea is just one of several NFT marketplaces. I only chose OpenSea because someone had brought it to my attention that morning.
After briefly exploring the recent listings on OpenSea, I concluded that I would in fact be bringing something new to the market. The majority of the listings seemed to range from simple pixel art, derivative digital images from largely the same artist, and a handful of “digital real-estate” for various game/virtual worlds. Not one butt nugget to be found.
Clicking on the prominently placed “Create” button on the home page opened a screen letting me know that I needed an Ethereum wallet to use OpenSea. Luckily, I already had one, MetaMask.io, with a small balance in it. MetaMask has a Chrome extension which I already installed, which was used for the rest of my experience as a form of login as well as to send/receive funds. I just confirmed through MetaMask that I wanted to share the appropriate information with OpenSea, and I was off.
From there I was prompted to create a new collection for my NFTs. The collection initially just seemed like a way to organize your NFTs, but it also controls some important payout parameters across the contents of that collection.
In order to buy my private island that the poop-wealth would afford me, I decided that I wanted to collect a modest 2.5% fee on future transactions of this NFT and all other “Created by Cat” NFTs. It took me a little Googling, but the key was to open the “Edit” screen for the collection. Once in there, it was easy enough to set the commission to 2.5%. Now, whenever one of these is sold, I will be credited 2.5% of the sale automatically.
Now, the fun part of almost any new project, “Add New Item”.
This was more like adding an image to a Facebook post than braving a new frontier. Very little technical details regarding the supported file types, and a small set of self-explaining, mostly optional fields.
That was easy!
Listing it for sale was just as simple. After clicking “Sell”, I was taken to another short and sweet form. I chose to do a 7 day auction instead of a set price. I set the initial bid price at .0005 ETH. 0005 ETH equated to about $.92 USD at the time. ETH, or “Ether” is the cryptocurrency used on the Ethereum platform. I figured this was a good place to start the frenzy of bidding, knowing full well that this was obviously worth way more and that I shouldn’t expect that low of a figure to last for long.
OpenSea set a reserve price of 1 ETH ($~1822 USD), a massive leap from my humble starting bid, but I wasn’t worried. On the off chance that “Cat Poop: An NFT Journey” didn’t get scooped up at auction, I could always re-list or sell it at a fixed bid.
In the margin of the page, OpenSea spelled out the listing fees for this sale. OpenSea takes their standard 2.5%, and 2.5% would go to the NFT creator (me) since I had already specified that amount on the collection that this token was added to.
Clicking “Post Item” lead me to my biggest surprise…
I was prompted to “Initialize my account” with a “free + gas” transaction. “Free” sounds good, but what is “gas”. The internet says…
Gas refers to the fee, or pricing value, required to successfully conduct a transaction or execute a contract on the Ethereum blockchain platform.
Fair enough. So how much is “gas”? Turns out, it was a lot. 0.053368 ETH ($74.69 USD). Ouch! The price is set by the Ethereum platform, not OpenSea, primarily based on volume of transactions. This is a one time thing for my marketplace account, so I would chalk this up as cost-of-doing-business. Mind you, I’m was not happy about it.
A second transaction of ~$8 was tacked on (as expected) to “allow OpenSea to access [your] items”. I don’t fully understand why this one wasn’t the “Gas” price, but I was thankful that it wasn’t. I’ll research that later.
My enthusiasm dipped.
But hey, a hundred bucks is a small investment in my poop-fueled future, so I bit the bullet and completed the two transactions.
BAM! Just like that, my new NFT is for sale! Look out world!
In less than 45minutes, I went from barely knowing what an NFT was to creating one, and putting it up for sale. I hope to later update this article to let you know how we have spent the millions of dollars this NFT has provided Sebastian and me, but for now, all we have to show our efforts is 💩.
UPDATE 03/30/21: Unsurprisingly, there were no takers for my token during the auction. I have now re-listed it with no minimum for ~$1.80 USD, where it will likely remain.