- Most marketplaces are non-custodial. Creators truly own their work.
- All marketplaces are integrated with OpenSea.
- All marketplaces provide secondary sale royalties to artists.
- About half of these marketplaces have their own native contract through which you can mint your NFTs; the other half will let you create custom contracts that you can own. Some offer the option to import custom contracts.
- Most marketplaces are exclusively art-focused, while a handful has a broader scope.
- If you want to mint an NFT in more than one edition, some marketplaces are out of the question, e.g. SuperRare.
- Burn function (=delete your NFT) is almost ubiquitous.
“2021 will be the year of NFTs.” For those who don’t know, this statement was dominating news headlines at the beginning of this year, and it seems that the NFT scene is living up to that prediction.
At an almost daily rate, more and more creators/artists are hopping onto the NFT train ready to explore new territories and enrich the ecosystem with their creations. Nevertheless, if you have already tried to go through the process of creating an NFT, you’ve probably come across several platforms all seemingly offering the same service — but, there must be some differences between them, you wonder to yourself.
Undoubtedly, a newcomer looking to mint their first NFT can have a hard time deciding what’s the right platform, feeling overwhelmed by all the relevant information that’s out there.
However, the point would not be to seek out the “perfect” platform — not sure if such a concept even exists. It all depends on what you are looking for and what each platform wants to offer. The NFT world is fascinating, innovative, and rich in noteworthy dapps that are utilizing open-source technologies to offer their conception of how NFTs can be utilized.
Therefore, the goal of this article is to address those looking to get their first NFTs minted but don’t know what to look for and where to pay attention to. In fact, we are not looking to perform a cross-platform comparative analysis, but to educate readers and assist them in making informed decisions on their own. As this is part of the Ultimate NFT Guide series, we will be sticking to applications that operate within the public Ethereum network.
Platforms vs. Marketplaces
There are platforms and marketplaces. The two terms are very often used interchangeably, yet in theory, there is a slight difference. A platform allows you to mint NFTs; either through creating your own (custom) NFT contract or through using the platform’s native NFT contract. Imagine that as having your own printing store vs. using someone else’s printing store — but, all of this on the blockchain.
A marketplace is … well, this is self-explanatory. Similar to traditional e-commerce marketplaces, an NFT marketplace is where one can buy and sell NFTs.
In practice, the majority of NFT dapps are marketplaces that offer users the possibility to mint their work through the dapp’s native NFT contract and put it up for sale directly on its native marketplace. This trend can be explained partly due to the high costs (gas fees) involved in iterating a custom NFT contract, and the complicated UI that can be a downer for beginners without prior knowledge.
The oldest and largest marketplace is OpenSea. A peer-to-peer marketplace for NFTs and digital collectibles, ranging from digital art to card games and event tickets. It has the widest audience and highest traffic, and it can be used to create custom contracts or simply mint through its native contract and get directly listed on OpenSea’s marketplace.
Similarly, Rarible, Mintable, and Cargo are NFT marketplaces that, besides their native contracts, also offer the option to create custom NFT contracts, while they also have their own native marketplaces and several other cool features. Rarible is a digital multi-media NFT marketplace and has its own token ($RARI), while with Cargo you can manage NFTs on several blockchains and can mint several NFTs in a single transaction.
Mintbase is another example of a platform that helps you create your own NFT contract which you can then manually integrate with marketplaces of your choice. Of course, it also has its own marketplace, however, it doesn’t offer the possibility to mint directly through its native contract.
On the flip side of the coin, there are marketplaces in the likes of SuperRare, Foundation, MakersPlace, KnownOrigin, and AsyncArt, which only allow minting through their native NFT contract as a means to make the process as frictionless as possible for inexperienced users and more exclusive for collectors. Here, the differentiating point lies in each marketplace’s focus of interest ranging from exclusive single-edition NFTs and live NFT auctions to programmable art, unlockable content, and 3D object files.
First Things First
Contrary to common belief, NFTs do not equal art. NFTs are tokens minted by smart contracts that register asset ownership on the blockchain. Consequently, an NFT could contain (almost) anything that can be digitally verified with digital art being the most popular current use case.
Nevertheless, there are several other existing NFT use cases, yet not all marketplaces support all of them. Ultimately, the first thing to consider would be the asset class of the NFT you want to mint.
If you’d like to learn more about what an NFT could be, feel free to take a look here.
To put it simply, if you are a digital artist, all existing marketplaces can be a good fit. If you want to release music, you still have many options to select from. If you are into creating digital wearables and collectibles, again, there are plenty of available options.
In fact, it gets tricky for those NFTs that register ownership of physical assets (Yes, this can be a thing). In this case, there are still several options, but marketplaces are taking responsibility only for what’s related to the digital identity of the asset. That means that the whole process of getting the physical item from the seller to the buyer is determined at the individual level, and, currently, an automated decentralized way to handle the physical redemption assets is non-existent. Still, the job can be done.
Key Factors To Take Into Account
Knowing what you want to mint is the first thing and it’s pretty straightforward. Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the platform selection process. One can be very meticulous when choosing which platform to mint their NFTs on — and for good reasons. Below are some of, what we consider to be, the most essential factors for a beginner NFT creator/artist.
1) Accessibility — i.e. friendly user interface. As aforementioned, in the early days of the NFT world, UX was a bit hindered, but as the scene kept on growing an organic tendency arose towards making the interface more relatable to Web2 apps, and, thus, more accessible to newcomers. As a consequence, all marketplaces have set the bar high and made the user experience as seamless as possible.
2) Contract ownership — It can be advantageous for NFT artists to own their NFT contracts. In fact, we talked about some platforms that allow the creation of custom contracts. Nonetheless, starting off with a shared contract is not inherently bad, as you reduce the learning curve while still owning your artwork.
2) Royalties scheme — Luckily enough, all platforms have an artists’ royalties scheme. There is a small variability across marketplaces with some offering a fixed percentage for secondary sales (e.g. 10%), while others letting you adjust it as you wish. In addition, some marketplaces provide artists with the option of automatically splitting fees and royalties across several wallet addresses.
3) Marketing reach — This might be one of the most important factors to consider if you aim to get your NFT sold. There is a plethora of possibilities one can self-execute to promote their NFTs, but the marketplace plays its own role as well. There are marketplaces that are exclusive; both with collaborating artists and their target audience. You mint your NFTs, and you rely on the marketplace’s community (such as SuperRare, Makersplace, Foundation) and reputation. On the other hand, there are marketplaces with broader scopes that are more inclusive and focus on empowering artists to become more autonomous and self-supporting (e.g. Mintbase, OpenSea, Cargo). The good thing is that all of the biggest marketplaces are integrated with OpenSea. That is, when an NFT gets minted on their platform, it automatically gets listed on the platform’s marketplace and in OpenSea.
RareCandy3D — Our Approach
RareCandy3D is a publishing house for scarce digital and physical assets registered on the public Ethereum blockchain. At the heart of our core values lies our passion to help as many artists/creators as possible to onboard the NFT scene by holding hands with them during the entire minting process. We stand for educating artists, instead of just showing them the easy way. That’s one of the reasons why you are reading this article from RC3 Academy.
In addition, we like to view other NFT platforms more as collaborators to our cause rather than sheer competitors, and, thus, we have integrated our native smart contract with as many other platforms/marketplaces as possible. In other words, when an NFT gets minted through RareCandy, it automatically gets listed on 4 major marketplaces (OpenSea, Rarible, Mintbase, and Cargo) as well as in our VR gallery in CryptoVoxels.
Concluding Comments — Disclaimers
1) The purpose of the present article is to educate newcomers and suggest some points of focus. The aforementioned entails some factors that we consider important, yet these are mere recommendations. Certainly, everyone can choose freely and there’s no right/wrong choice.
2) The fundamental principle of blockchain technology and NFTs, in this case, is decentralization. In this article, we chose not to even discuss NFT marketplaces with more centralized approaches (e.g. NiftyGateway), because that’d go against the main premise. As a matter of fact, we consider it given that the decentralized approach is (and should be) the default.
3) For those readers that know of other networks hosting NFTs and having significantly lower gas fees, this article is about Ethereum-based marketplaces. I know there are many other networks that support NFTs, but Ethereum has by far the largest volume, community, and, possibly, innovation. Plus, the transition to Ethereum2.0 is getting increasingly imminent, which will radically replace the current gas fee model with a cheaper and greener one. Most importantly, the Web3.0 future is and will be interoperable. For instance, Cargo is already integrated with 3 networks, xDai, MATIC, and Ethereum, while Mintbase supports NEAR and Ethereum. Sooner or later we’ll all be able to easily roam around most networks, and the network you are based on will be just a matter of preference.