One of the best things about the NFT space is its wide appeal to enthusiasts from all walks of life. From millionaire celebrities to teenage hobbyists, the promise of non-fungibles is a decentralized proof of ownership that is available for everyone to use.
However, with the world of NFTs is currently dominated by the Ethereum blockchain. While Ethereum has proven vital to the blossoming of the NFT space, it is also a victim of its own success.
As the network’s adoption has increased for both crypto, NFT, and DeFi usage, it has become increasingly congested, causing extremely volatile gas fees. This often makes minting NFTs prohibitively expensive.
Fortunately, creators now have another option. In this article, we’ll explain exactly how to mint an NFT for free so anyone can get involved in the non-fungible creator scene.
What is Minting?
Minting an NFT is the process used to turn your digital art, profile picture, music, or another form of collectible into something that exists on the blockchain.
The term originates from the way coins are “minted” before being put into circulation. Unlike currency, however, each newly minted NFT is considered unique and does not necessarily have the same value as any other.
Minting involves assigning a tokenID to a crypto address. This is recorded to the public ledger and is then verifiable by anyone should they wish to check.
This process is often facilitated by NFT marketplaces that streamline all the steps involved, including linking to a graphic representation of the token, the royalties involved, a description, starting price, and any other metadata.
Most NFTs still reside on the Ethereum blockchain and, as such, use the ERC-721 token standard.
Minting an ERC-721 involves an upfront cost in terms of gas fees because the smart contract involved is written to the public ledger immediately.
What is Lazy minting?
While ERC-721 is still considered the “gold standard” of NFTs, the upfront gas fees and unnecessary strain on the network has been criticized as wasteful. With no guarantee of a sale, creators may be out by hundreds of dollars just for listing an NFT, not to mention the carbon footprint caused by processing the token’s minting.
These concerns have led to the development of an alternative called “lazy minting.” In tech, rather than an insult, calling something”lazy” simply means it won’t execute its code until it needs to, making it far more efficient.
Instead of pre-minting an NFT, lazy minting allows users to upload all the relevant metadata without actually interacting with the blockchain, making it an off-chain solution.
Lazy minting uses this idea and only mints when an NFT has been purchased. This way, the blockchain is not interacted with until it is necessary to do so, saving creators money for NFTs that never sell and significantly reducing network usage.
When lazy minting, the asset data is stored using the marketplace and decentralized storage on IPFS (https://ipfs.io/). Both ERC-721 and the newer, multi-purpose ERC-1155 token standard can make use of lazy minting.
What is lazy minting used for?
Lazy minting is ideal for large NFT collections involving thousands of tokens. Pre-minting each and every single NFT in a collection is unnecessary and a large expense. It is often the case, as well, that collectors are more than happy to mint the token themselves, relishing the understanding that they are the first to interact with it.
It is also useful for those who simply cannot risk the expense of minting before a sale. With lazy minting, the revenue from the sale can be used to offset gas fees or passed onto the minter, meaning a creator is never out of pocket.
How To Mint an NFT for Free?
With that said, here’s how to mint NFTs for free using 2 of the major platforms: OpenSea and Rarible.
While there are other NFT marketplaces that offer similar services, the process is largely the same, and the following can be used as a roadmap.
Lazy Minting On OpenSea
The biggest NFT marketplace by far, OpenSea is the first port of call for most collectors and creators.
With such a large userbase, now standing at over 1 million, the marketplace has been instrumental in the direction the NFT space has headed.
With their lazy minting feature, OpenSea legitimized the concept and is now finding an increasing amount of users choose to go this route. With the addition of royalty tracking, OpenSea is definitely worth considering when looking to mint an NFT for free.
To get started, simply do the following:
- Connect your wallet
Visit the OpenSea website (https://opensea.io/) and connect your crypto-wallet. The platform has support for multiple different kinds of wallets, with MetaMask (https://metamask.io/) being the most used.
- Create a collection
All NFTs on OpenSea exist within a collection. You will therefore need to create a collection before minting, which can be done by clicking your profile icon in the upper right corner and selecting My Collections and then Create.
You will then need to detail some information regarding your collection, including images, name, and a description.
- Choose your blockchain
With OpenSea now supporting multiple blockchains, including Polygon and Solana, as well as Ethereum, you will then be asked to select which network you want to use.
To enjoy gasless minting, choose Polygon. Polygon is a layer-2 scaling solution that works on top of Ethereum. While you will be using Polygon for minting, your tokens will still be Ethereum compatible using tools such as the NFT Bridge (https://bridge.mintnft.today/).
- Begin adding NFTs
With your wallet connected, your collection set up, and Polygon selected, you’re ready to begin lazy minting. Proceed to upload art, music, or any other digital asset and mint as an NFT. You will be given a choice to select how many copies of the token to mint, the selling format, and the price.
Lazy Minting On Rarible
To lazy mint using Rarible, follow these steps:
- Sign in with your crypto-wallet
In the top right corner of the screen, select sign in and choose your preferred crypto-wallet. Again, MetaMask is the most well-used and therefore has the most support, so is recommended for new users.
- Click “Create”
Also in the top right corner, you’ll see a brightly colored button reading Create. Click this and you will be asked which type of token you want to create, Single or Multiple. Select your choice based on what type of NFT project you are deploying. For example, a collection would select “multiple.”
- Upload file
On the following screen, you will be asked to upload your file and choose your pricing structure.
- Choose “free minting”
You will then be asked how you want to mint your token. Choose free minting and be asked to fill in some information such as the token’s name, description, and royalty structure.
- Select “Create item”
To finalize the minting of your NFT, click Create item, which will then list the token on the Rarible marketplace and add it to the public ledger upon purchase.
While lazy minting is often seen as a less attractive proposition than pre-minting amongst enthusiasts, usage is now not only sensible in terms of cost-saving but also for the good of the network and the planet. Lazy minting enables users who otherwise would not be willing to enter the NFT space to explore the world of non-fungibles and see how they fare.