NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have exploded in popularity, with celebrities hawking them and teen artists earning millions off them. But if you’re not sure what a non-fungible token even is, don’t worry — you’re not alone.
An NFT is a digital asset representing something in the real world, like a piece of art or music, or something digital, like a video or a tweet. More often than not, they are forms of digital art, and they are bought and sold online. NFTs are special because they’re one-of-a-kind, and each digital collectible has a unique identifying code. Something unique is, by definition, scarce, and that scarcity is what makes NFTs valuable.
Jumping on the hype, a sea of online marketplaces have popped up, with NFTs available to suit various budgets. To help you navigate this brave new world of NFTs, we’ve rounded up some of the most popular NFT marketplaces out there.
10 of the most popular NFT marketplaces
OpenSea was the first NFT marketplace, and it’s also the biggest. Founded in 2017 and worth about $10 billion, OpenSea boasts more than 600,000 users, 2 million collections, and more than 80 million NFTs.
Signing up for an account is easy, and it supports many crypto wallets, including Coinbase Wallet, MetaMask, Formatic, Bitksi, and more. Once you’re in, finding and buying a crypto collectible is simple — the most challenging part is choosing the one you want.
There are countless collections to browse, including art, collectibles, domain names, photography, sports, and virtual worlds.
You can also create and sell your own NFTs on this platform. Simply go to the “create” tab, connect your wallet, upload your NFT, add a description, and wait for someone to make an offer.
Like OpenSea, Nifty Gateway was one of the first big NFT marketplaces to pop into the scene. This platform deals heavily with curated drops and has hosted NFTs from some pretty big names, including Eminem and The Weeknd. There are plenty of other artists whose work you can browse in the NFT showroom for curated collections. A new NFT collection drops every three weeks, and you never know when the work of a famous musician or digital artist will show up.
Signing up for an account is easy. If you plan to sell NFTs, you must verify your identity using Stripe. Load up your account with ETH or by linking a credit card, and you’re ready to shop. You can also link your Gemini account, and Nifty Gateway allows you to do deposits and withdrawals via bank transfer, trades, crypto deposits, and wire transfers.
Rarible is a community-owned platform with a wide range of collectibles and digital art. It has 1.6 million total users who have created more than 405,000 NFTs.
Rarible is similar to OpenSea in that it sells a variety of media. Sellers can opt to create more than one NFT for each image they create or sell more than one, though doing so may decrease the value of the NFT.
This marketplace supports a variety of crypto wallets. It uses its own cryptocurrency called RARI and allows you to top off your balance using a transfer from your bank or a debit card.
If you want a higher-end NFT marketplace, check out SuperRare. Whereas larger marketplaces like Rarible and OpenSea have a massive number of NFTs across various categories, SuperRare prides itself on being more selective. It focuses on quality rather than quantity, curating its collection and working closely with artists. It bills itself as a social platform that encourages creation.
You need a supported wallet to set up an account, but the whole process is pretty simple. Each purchase comes with a record of ownership. The social aspect of this marketplace comes into play with upvotes and other engagement. That said, the digital artwork featured on the site is chosen by SuperRare’s management and not determined by the community.
Axie Infinity is a video game-based NFT marketplace, and it only trades one thing: Axies. These are cute digital pets that players can buy, sell, and trade within the marketplace.
Unlike straightforward NFT art, the NFTs from Axie serve a purpose, which in NFT lingo means they have utility. Owners use them in the game to battle monsters and other players, earning tokens that they can use to breed new Axies. The Axie marketplace is so popular that some people have made a decent living just by breeding, selling, and trading new Axies.
This marketplace is one of the most ingenious uses of NFTs, but it’s not without criticism. Some gaming industry experts have referred to Axie Infinity as a “house of cards” fueled by hype and a need for new players to join (and pay to play) in order to keep the money flowing. New players must buy three Axies from the marketplace to get in the game — which will set you back a few hundred dollars before you even really get started.
And just recently, Axie Infinity suffered one of the biggest thefts in crypto history when a hacker yanked some $600 million worth of cryptocurrency from the platform. We’ll see whether Axie Infinity can bounce back to its former glory.
CryptoPunks is one of the earliest NFT marketplaces, and the concept is pretty simple. It’s a series of 10,000 characters, randomly generated with an old-school pixelated video-game look. They were available for free when they first came out, but now they can cost you a pretty penny. In fact, the least expensive CrytoPunks cost more than $200,000, but depending on their rarity, some of them can cost as much as seven figures.
To get started, connect your wallet, search for available punks for sale, and make an offer. Just keep in mind that this marketplace has some of the most expensive NFTs in any crypto market, so unless you have deep pockets, it might be best just to browse.
NBA Top Shot
NBA Top Shot made NFTs a bit more mainstream. Rather than buying cute animals for video games or pixelated punk avatars, this marketplace sells digital NBA trading cards featuring highlights from official NBA videos. Once you make a purchase, the clips are stored in your wallet. You can watch them whenever you want or trade and sell them.
One of the reasons this marketplace is so popular is that it’s easy to use. You can link your Google account, enter your phone number, and authenticate your account. From there, you choose your favorite team and start looking through available packs. You can pay with a crypto wallet or a credit card.
This marketplace is owned by the NBA. When you purchase an NFT from Top Shot, you receive ownership rights for the videos in your wallet. Demand has increased dramatically, with tokens selling from a few bucks to millions of dollars.
Foundation presents itself as a playground for artists and has hosted many famous sales, including everyone’s favorite meme, Nyan Cat.
Artists can create a profile and submit it for a community upvote. Applications are approved based on the community’s reaction, so making a good impression is essential.
Setting up an account to buy a digital art NFT on Foundation involves linking your wallet using WalletConnect. Then, you can start browsing the marketplace for something that catches your eye and place a bid.
One of the best things about Foundation is that artists receive 10% on any secondary transactions. That means they can earn money every time their art gets resold.
Although KnownOrigin has a smaller trading volume, it’s more concerned with quality than quantity. This approach recently landed the marketplace over $4.6 million in capital venture funding.
All artworks sold on KnownOrigin are held on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), which uses content addressing to identify each file to offer buyers protection for their collections. If you’re looking for cute or whacky characters, you won’t find them here, as the marketplace has an art gallery feel to it. But you will discover museum-quality pieces coming directly from the artists.
This platform is pretty easy to use. Just connect your crypto wallet and get started.
Another marketplace aimed at selling fine art is MakersPlace. While it doesn’t have the total volume of many of the other NFT marketplaces, it still has plenty of beautifully curated art pieces to choose from.
Signing up for an account on MakersPlace if you want to buy something is simple. So simple that you can use your Facebook or Google account to log in. Then, choose a few artists to follow to continue the registration process, and use your wallet balance or a credit card to make a purchase.
For creators, the process is a little different. To sell on MakersPlace, you have to request an invitation to join and wait for the curators to approve you. Artists earn a 15% share of the sale’s total value and a 10% commission every time a piece is resold.
Why you should buy NFTs
NFTs are blazing hot right now, and everyone is trying to get in on it. Many celebrities have launched their own NFT collections, and as we mentioned, institutions like the NBA are making their own impression in the NFT market.
So, there’s no denying that there is a lot of money to be made in NFTs, whether you’re an artist, a collector, or a trader.
But beyond that, the blockchain and innovative contract technology behind NFTs are starting to spread across different industries like wildfire. In fact, a Florida property was recently auctioned as an NFT for 210 ETH (over $690k).
So, it’s useful to get in the game and understand the technology as it is starting to develop, as it will help you spot many future opportunities.
Most important features of an NFT marketplace
While the draw of an NFT is its uniqueness, that doesn’t mean that every NFT has value. You can always buy an NFT because you like it, but if you’re hoping to make a profit, there are more factors to consider. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Does it have traction?
Is the NFT you’re interested in something that has a broad reach? Is it popular? The more popular something is, the more likely it will last, and the more money you’re likely to make.
Are people excited about the NFT itself or the digital artist that made it? Does it have any long-term potential? Are people talking about it online?
The more buzz around an NFT, the more profitable it’s likely to be. If you’re trying to make money, do your research before investing.
Will it last?
Just because something is new and generating buzz doesn’t mean it will be the next big thing. If you see something you’re interested in, but you’re not sure if it’s worth buying, keep an eye on it for a few weeks. See what it does.
Make sure you look for something with a bit of momentum if you want to have the best shot at coming out ahead.
How has it evolved?
If you’re looking at a more established NFT, consider its performance over time. This is a bit like watching the stock market. There will be ups and downs, but strong performers will always trend in the right direction.
Look for NFTs that sustain their value when other options on the market aren’t performing as well. Those that have staying power and hold steady when the market takes a dip are the ones that are worth investing in.
NFTs are all the buzz right now, and as they become more mainstream, their value will only continue to rise. If you’ve been thinking about buying an NFT, now might be the time to leap.
If you are looking for an NFT to invest in, check out the crypto art marketplaces listed above. There are many cool things out there and a wide variety to choose from. The marketplaces we chose offer a range of NFTs to get you started, whether you’re looking for a cute virtual pet to adopt or groundbreaking digital art.
Featured image: mundissima/Shutterstock.com
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