NFT Minting Explained

Mint - The act of interacting with a smart contract to generate an NFT for the first time.

Today we will break this down in more detail and have a look under the hood to see what’s actually happening when someone mints an NFT.

To understand minting, you have to understand that every NFT is created by interacting with a smart contract. A smart contract is essentially a body of code that is stored on a blockchain

Rather than have developers create this code from scratch every single time, like with most things, a few standards have been created. Most NFTs fall into one of two standard categories:

ERC-721 and ERC-1155.

What are ERC Tokens? Read HERE.

You can ignore what ERC stands for, it’s technical and not particularly relevant. Just know that if a token is an ERC-721 token, it follows a standard template of code, and if it is an ERC-1155 token, it follows a different template of code.

The biggest difference between the two is that every ERC-721 is unique. ERC-1155s can be either unique or the same. In other words, ERC-721s are always non-fungible. ERC-1155s can be either non-fungible, or fungible.

You might think that this makes the ERC-1155 standard superior, but in fact, it is far less used. The reason being is that there are certain tradeoffs that have to be made when allowing for the ability to use both fungible and non-fungible tokens, and, generally speaking, most developers/founders prefer to use the ERC-721 standard when working with NFTs.

Once the code for the NFT to be minted is created, it is then up to a human to decide when, where, and how to mint it. As the creator of the code, you can decide to mint one or all of the NFTs yourself. You can decide to allow other people to mint them themselves, either for free, or charging them a price. This is what most people refer to when they think about “minting an NFT”, it’s “buying an NFT from someone else for the first time”. 

Remember, if you buy on a secondary market, you’re not actually minting it – it has already been minted (aka created). Minting only refers to the first time the NFT is created, similar to how real world paper money is minted and then is in circulation forever.

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