Ok, so you’ve been speaking to a mate at the pub or a cousin in the family has managed to bend your ear and you’re starting to explore taking the plunge into the wonderful world of NFT’s. Congrats on getting this far…this guide is for those of you who are totally new to the space and need a simple guide without the jargon to getting started.
This guide is tailored to those wanting to buy a War Snail NFT but the process is essentially the same for other NFTs you may want to buy.
To buy an NFT you’ll need to have some of the cryptocurrency that the NFT is being sold in. The majority of NFTs are sold for Ethereum (ETH) which is the second largest cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin. Some creators of NFT projects have decided to use other cryptocurrencies for their NFTs such as Solana, mainly because the transaction fees are much lower. Still, Ethereum is considered the gold-standard and where most of the trading volume for NFTs is.
Right, so we’ve established that you need some ETH. The easiest way to get some using your good ol’ fashioned fiat currency is by signing up to an exchange. It’s similar in process to signing up for an online trading account to buy stocks and shares. You will likely be required to prove your address and identity as part of regulatory requirements.
There a loads of exchanges but the ones we’d recommend are the larger more established ones:
Binance / Coinbase / KuCoin / Crypto.com / FTX
Once, you’ve passed through the KYC (know your customer) process you should be able to use your credit/debit card or bank transfer to purchase some ETH. This ETH is stored in a digital wallet that is controlled by the exchange but you are free to move it to anywhere you like.
Now you’ve got some ETH on the exchange you need to move it to another wallet that you own. There are many Ethereum wallets out there. But by far the most popular and the easiest to use is MetaMask. All wallets are free to download, most make their money by charging small fees on any transactions.
MetaMask is a browser plugin, and it works best with Google Chrome. Once it's installed, it lets you store Ethereum and Ethereum-based tokens.
This bit sounds scarier than it is…all you need to do is download and install MetaMask through their website, and once the little fox logo appears on your browser, click on it. It will take you through a few quick steps. Most importantly, you’ll create a password.
Separately, MetaMask will assign you a “Secret Recovery Phrase,” which you'll need to store somewhere safe, like on a piece of paper in a secure spot. It’s a twelve-word phrase that can be used to unlock a MetaMask wallet. This is super important, do not lose this phrase, take your time, think carefully about where you are going to store it and maybe let somebody else you trust know where it’s kept. If anyone online asks you for your seed phrase you know they’re a bad egg, do not share it.
When you set up Metamask it will automatically create an address for you which is a 42-character hexadecimal address and will look something like this:
Example Ethereum Address:
You can easily create as many wallet addresses as you like. This can be useful for keeping organised.
Now that you have ETH and MetaMask set up, it’s time to fund your wallet with ETH.
It’s possible to buy Ethereum directly on MetaMask, which we don’t cover here. That option incurs higher fees than exchanges. Fortunately, sending Ethereum to MetaMask is straightforward enough!
Go to your chosen exchange’s “send” or “withdraw” page that lets you move funds to a crypto wallet. It will ask you to enter the amount you want to send and a blockchain address, and so you will need to copy your Ethereum public address as displayed on your MetaMask (starts with 0x as per the example above). Think of your Ethereum address (or “addy” in crypto slang) as your bank account number on the blockchain, sort of.
The transfer will cost a little ETH but this will be made clear by the exchange and you’ll have to do several confirmations (via SMS, email and 2FA) to withdraw. The transfer should happen quite quickly, usually within 10 minutes but sometimes when the network is congested or exchanges are making updates it can take over an hour. This is always the most uncomfortable bit for newcomers as it can leave you with the feeling that you’ve sent money into the abyss.
As long as you’ve entered the destination Ethereum address correctly all will be fine, most transfer pages on all exchanges and wallets have copy and paste buttons to remove the room for error and to make life easier. You can also check the progress of the transaction as it’s a matter of public record here.
All being well you’ll have some ETH loaded up in your MetaMask wallet and you’re ready to rock. When buying NFTs there are typically 2 ways to do so.
a) By minting the NFT directly from the owners of the project. This is generally the most exciting way to buy an NFT as the number of mints are restricted to say 10,000 and everybody pays the same for each NFT until all 10,000 have been minted and then the collection is sold out. Much like in the traditional art world.
Minting can be likened to birthing the NFT and you are the first owner of it, you’ll not know what you’ve got (pulled) until you’ve paid for it which is both exciting and risky depending on your preference. You can get lucky and pull a really rare and valuable NFT, the emotion is similar to opening a sticker packet at school and hoping you’ll get a coveted one.
The minting window for very popular projects is often very small and where there is a lot of demand it is common for mints of 10,000 to sell out within days or even hours. Minting an NFT for a project that becomes really successful is where the greatest financial gains typically lie.
Once you’ve minted your NFT you can head over to OpenSea which is by far the largest secondary market for NFTs (like eBay) and by connecting the site to your MetaMask wallet you’ll be able to see which NFT you’ve pulled. It may take some time for it to appear, this is known as the reveal.
b) If you don’t want to buy an NFT from mint but would rather wait to see what’s available on the secondary market you can browse OpenSea and keep track of the prices and resale activity. Sometimes there are some great deals to be had and of course, being able to see the NFT will allow you to find one that you really like. It’s most likely that for popular projects the price of NFTs on secondary markets like OpenSea will be in excess of the mint price but that’s the trade-off.
You’ve now got your NFT, it’s yours and your ownership is recorded on the blockchain for all to see. You can see it by connecting your wallet to an exchange like OpenSea. You currently can’t see it in MetaMask on desktop but the MetaMask mobile app does show your NFT collection.
Welcome to a whole new world of investing and supporting art and innovation. It’s a bit of a rabbit hole and there’s a lot of info to digest. Take it slow and bear in mind if something seems too good to be true it probably is, however shrewd buys in the space can yield extranormal returns in a short space of time.