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All You Need To Know About Solana NFTs

Unless the past few years of Covid-19 mania has led you to become a recluse, it’s undeniable that you’ve heard of NFTs. What some may call a fad, has led to a global phenomenon with creators auctioning digital items influenced by pop culture, memes, and weirdness, for millions of dollars - with children even having accrued hefty profits also.

This new lucrative market niche has become an international hotspot for celebrities, with a high caliber roster of musicians releasing coveted NFT editions of their upcoming albums and memorabilia, filmmakers auctioning our favorite movie scenes, and sports teams enticing their fans to purchase exclusive merchandise via NFT auctioning platforms. As well as being a new way for the upper echelons to cater to the masses, NFTs have also become a status symbol, whereby specific collections and pieces (think Bored Yacht Ape Club) are now signposting the affluence and collector status of both regular people and celebrities alike.

Having garnered so much attention, it comes as no surprise that NFTs have begun to filter into a plethora of different networks, with Solana, Polygon, Ethereum, Ziliqa, and Tezos leading the pack. Yet, a majority of information regarding NFTs tends to be limited to Ethereum focused marketplaces such as OpenSea - with little clarification on how to delve into the weird and wonderful world of NFTs on other networks.

Fortunately, we’re here to clear this up for you. So, if you’re eager to ape into the next hottest NFT collection or create your own unusual pieces, all whilst branching into the world of Solana - then let us guide you.

What Are NFTs?

If your knowledge of NFTs is relatively limited, it’s crucial to understand what exactly they are and the purpose they serve. NFTs (or non-fungible-tokens) are tokens that are not interchangeable and they are entirely original from one another.

Solana’s SOL tokens are fungible. This means that they are equivalent in value to one another, indistinguishable, and interchangeable with one another. So if you had one Solana, you could easily exchange this for another Solana if you wanted to, as both are essentially identical.

Flipping the script back towards NFTs, due to their unique and identifiable characteristics they lack interchangeability. So, say you had a Bored Yacht Ape Club and it was marked as the ‘77th’ piece in the series and your friend, let’s call them The Swindler, has a regular-run-of-the-mill pixel mishmash titled ‘A Waste of Space’. The Swindler might be desperate to get a hold of your BYAC no.77, but fortunately for you, The Swindler has been foiled once again, as you can’t directly trade between two separate projects as neither is equivalent in value, indistinguishability, or frankly anything. However, NFTs bear semblance to one-of-a-kind trading cards (think of those high value Pokemon cards that we all lied we had in our youth), so in essence you can trade an NFT but only for the native cryptocurrency of the blockchain or the supported cryptocurrencies of the trading platform. 

So our pal from earlier can only nab your BYAC no.77 if they fork out the value you intend to sell it for, say the average gross weekly value of $436k - which let’s be real, would The Swindler really do that?

On a more general level, NFTs can essentially be anything in a digital format, with music, videos, art, gifs, gaming paraphernalia, some of the most common examples we see everyday on NFT marketplaces. 

But here comes the inevitable skepticism - ‘Well can’t I just screenshot or record it?’

Well, yes you can - but it doesn’t mean you own it.

The Swindler is back, but this time they’re screenshotting your BYAC no.77 and claiming it’s theirs. Despite being insufferable and thinking they have cracked the code to NFT ownership, you can breathe a sigh of relief as frankly, they do not own your NFT. 

The reason we have so many different NFT marketplaces and why people invest huge volumes of funds into the fledgling marketplace is because by owning one, it is consolidated on the blockchain. Bearing semblance to cryptocurrencies in this respective, adaptive smart contract-based blockchains are able to facilitate the transparent recording of trading and ownership of NFTs on the blockchain. Think of when you transfer cryptocurrencies between wallets, pretty quickly after this agreement has been executed you can easily locate the transaction information via blockchain scanners, so you can easily check you sent your crypto to the right wallet - this premise applies also to NFTs.

Whilst we’re sure you won’t be providing wallet or blockchain scanner evidence to The Swindler anytime soon, you can certainly rest assured in knowing your ownership is absolute (until you choose to sell of course).

How Do NFTs On Solana Work?

In essence, NFTs operate relatively similarly on a cross-platform level, yet there are some variations. It is commonplace for a majority of NFT activity to occur on the Ethereum blockchain - yet this is primarily as a result of this branch of smart contracting technology being founded on the network. 

Yet as we see with Ethereum relatively regularly, there are a multitude of problems that lie within high volume trading upon the network. Often regarded as the blockchain trilemma, issues such as scalability, decentralization, and security rise during periods of peak volume. Whether it be in the form of immensely high gas fees, slow processing times, and a series of exploits, the Ethereum network is susceptible to fault during these episodes - with little able to remediate them, besides lower volume.

With this in mind, as well as the hugely profitable niche that NFTs fill, several other blockchains have also established their own trading and creation systems for NFTs upon their own blockchain technology. With a majority of blockchains now operating with a smart contract system, this system tends to facilitate (or can be adapted to) NFT trading and creation - something in which a plethora have now capitalized upon.

Having identified the rampant issues regarding scalability within the NFT world, Solana devised their own take on the current NFT system. Upholding a new NFT standard, creators can now dabble in the creation of NFTs without the hassle of devising new smart contracts themselves - with the Solana NFT standard and minting program ahead of the curve. Striving to offer unparalleled customizability, ecosystem-wide support, full decentralization, and ‘record speed’ processing - Solana’s NFT marketplace is becoming a hub for creators and collectors alike.

Now accommodating a vast number of different marketplaces, such as Solanart, Solsea, and FTX, Solana-based NFTs are aiming to empower everyone involved in the lifecycle of NFTs through the provision of unlimited resources, Web3 technology, and permanent on-chain data storage.

Aside from these differentiating facets, the NFT experience on Solana remains comparable to other blockchains in terms of collecting experience and the creativity of artists.

How To Mint A Solana NFT

If collecting is not your thing, or if you fancy just delving into your creative side, minting NFTs is fortunately easy on the Solana network. With a high throughput, boastable network speeds, and low fees, the Solana network is unlocking the potential for creators across the world to create NFTs of all shapes and sizes without different limitations or hindrances to the creative process. 

Drawing back to the aforementioned NFT standard and minting program, Solana works in tandem with Metaplex studios to unlock the creative power of visionaries from across all four corners of the blockchain. Having already moved to support thousands of different developers and creatives unleash the weird and wonderful sides of their creative mind, Metaplex has been joined by the likes of Candy Machine v2 to support in this initiative. The pair have contributed to the minting and selling of thousands of NFTs, whether they be a part of an exclusive collection or general social media icons, and are set to continue.

However, you may be keen to hear how you can hone the power of both Metaplex and Candy Machine v2 to unveil a roster of successful NFTs - yet first, it is important to understand how they operate.

What Is Metaplex?

Metaplex acts as a collection of tools, resources, and key components for the creation and deployment of NFTs on Solana. Having designed and streamlined an NFT creation process whereby creatives can tap into the support they need to create their own NFT storefront, Metaplex is carrying the torch for Solana NFT development. 

With no middlemen and no add on fees, Metaplex grants creators access to Candy Machine, Auction House, and Certified Collections so that they can easily access all they need to create their NFTs. Following this, Metaplex offers creatives the opportunity to set up a royalty or split program, whereby they can receive payment for their NFTs and continuous cuts of any future profit derived from the auctioning of these NFTs. Alongside this, Metaplex supports creators in airdropping NFTs and launching storefronts so that their fans can always access coveted buying opportunities, as well as potential secondary markets and offline inventories.

Alongside this incubation-style development approach, Metaplex also facilitates the sale of NFTs that is uninterrupted by bot interference, as the entirely decentralized architecture, certified collections, and CAPTCHA requirements ensure that every marketplace is driven by fairness and equality - as opposed to unfair grabs and later extortionate resell prices.

Throughout its operation, Metaplex has already minted 10.6 million NFTs, facilitated over 500 successful integrations, generated sales values of over $2.5 billion, and, most importantly, never charged any add-on fees.

What is Candy Machine v2?

The second iteration of the immensely popular Candy Machine, Candy Machine v2 is a fully on-chain generative NFT distribution program that seeks to ease the process by which NFTs are distributed, sold, and acquired. With this new addition superseding its former in terms of accessible offerings, Candy Machine v2 enables creators to simulate various distribution scenarios, gain protection from bot attacks, all whilst enabling creators to easily market their NFTs to the masses.

The Creation Process

Now that you’re well versed in some of the most critical facets of the Solana Standard NFT and Minting program, we can delve into how to mint your own NFT. 

Initially, you will need to create an account on Metaplex. Following this brief and secure process, you will have access to a vibrant dashboard full of various options including: create, sell, Phantom, my items, creators, and explore. Each of which performs relatively self explanatory functions and are easily accessible - unlike alternative NFT creation platforms that are relatively complex to navigate.

Firstly, you will need to click on ‘Create’. You will then be presented with a series of options under the ‘Create a new item’ tab, with these including ‘image’, ‘video’, ‘AR/3D’, and so forth. These options enable you to import your design from Arweave, this is a simplistic process that involves you uploading your file from your device to the platform through the Metaplex platform. As an alternative, you can also provide an absolute link to the destination of your fille. Whether you have a video, three-dimensional design, or some digital art, Metaplex supports the minting of almost every type of file you can possibly imagine.

Following the upload process, you can simply click ‘Continue to mint’. Now you will be tasked with titling your piece and providing a description, as well as a maximum supply and attributes field.  The maximum supply field essentially allows you to decide whether this piece will be a one of a kind NFT, or whether it will have several copies that can be created from the ‘master edition’. This leads to a differentiation between the ‘master edition’ and the copies, as each copy will be marked by a number that consolidates which copy it is. 

Now, you can set your royalties and how you and others will be compensated for your work. A royalty percentage option can be chosen, which is where upon future reselling of the piece, you will receive a designated percentage of the secondary resell price, for example this could be a 1% percentage. Alternatively, you can opt to establish a creator split, this is where you can choose to split proceeds between yourself and other creators upon the first sale. In order to do this, you will need to locate your ‘admin’ page and add other creators to your store - this ensures that any involvement with collaborative pieces is compensated.

After this, you will be instructed to ‘Continue to review’. You will then be presented with a minor fee, with the current average being $1.5, that you can select to be paid in Solana or your credit card. Upon paying the fee, your NFT will begin the upload process!

Now you have successfully learnt how to create your very own Solana NFT.

The Growth in Solana NFTs

NFTs have caused a stir around the world, whether it be in blockchain or traditional markets, yet it has caused concern also. With cryptocurrencies having come under fire for several years for their immense environmental impact, it comes as no surprise that their peers are also a great contributor to the current climate crisis - with proof-of-work (PoW) blockchains being the biggest emission ‘pumpers’. This substantial pushback has deterred many from exploring the potential of NFT creation and ownership and somewhat slowed mass adoption. Yet, fortunately harming the environment does not have to be the future of NFTs.

Promising a lower environmental impact, blockchains such as Solana, Polygon, and Tezos have emerged into this lucrative space with the intentions of rewriting the narrative. All operating under a proof-of-stake (PoS) infrastructure, these blockchains bear a significantly lower environmental impact in comparison to their PoW friends and they are presenting an alternative means of creating and transacting NFTs. Instead of operating via energy guzzling machines, PoS blockchains require people to stake their tokens in order to solve puzzles to facilitate transactions, thus acting as validators. These validators are incentivised for their contributions and as a result, these blockchains use a significantly lower volume of energy on a day-to-day basis.

Take a look at Ethereum for example. Currently armed with a PoW infrastructure and seeking to transition towards PoS, Ethereum’s creators have hypothesized that their energy consumption could decline by 99.95% and that they could become 2000x more energy efficient. These figures appear joyous considering the imminence of the transition to PoS, yet they remain worrying nonetheless.

The likes of Solana have unsurprisingly witnessed an influx of creators and developers migrating to the network as a means of lowering their carbon footprint and refusing to contribute to an already alarming crisis. With so many alternative Layer-2s pledging to move towards carbon neutrality or having already attained this, it comes as no surprise that so many are rejecting the hegemony and supporting a vital cause with this transition.

If PoW blockchains are unable to lower their immense environmental impact, its highly likely that PoS blockchains, such as Solana will begin to usurp Ethereum’s position at the pole position of the NFT world.

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