How to Set-up Your Crypto Wallet and Buy (or Receive!) an NFT
a short and sweet guide
So the time has come for you to buy (or receive) your first NFT. Here’s how to do it.
👽 TL;DR Download Metamask on your Computer and Phone
Think of a Crypto Wallet like a credit card plus ID combined. It is a unique ‘address’ that points to your cryptocurrency, allows you to log-in to Web3 websites (such as NFT platforms like Opensea), lets you ‘store’ your digital files and also let’s you create (mint) NFTs. Without one, you can’t do anything in the NFT space, so this is very important!
NFT Platforms accept many wallets, including Coinbase Wallet (which is different from your Coinbase app). My preferred wallet is Rainbow, as I think it is the most user-friendly, but Metamask is the most popular/standard one, so many people start there.
TO INSTALL: Go to the Metamask website and install it on both your desktop and phone. The desktop plug-in is essential, because for the most part you will be buying or creating NFTs from your desktop.
When you sign up, you receive a wallet address (for free). You can think of this like a phone number or e-mail address. It is a string of numbers unique to you that ties to/represents your financial (crypto) account. This is inherently public and what you will share with people to receive NFTs or Crypto. In most apps, it will be right at the top of the main screen.
Step 2: Store Your Seed Phrase and Password
👽 TL;DR Don’t lose your password or seed phrase
Your seed phrase: this is the string of words given to you at set-up, and is the only way to recover your wallet if you forget your password. Write this down and store it somewhere safe and never share it with anyone! Best practice is to write it down on a piece of paper and store it in a safe, or in a password service like 1Password. Best best practice is to use a hardware wallet like Ledger, though in my opinion, that is not worth it unless you intend to be quite involved in the space, so I will ignore that.
Your password signs you into your app (and therefore to your wallet), but your seed phrase signs you directly into the wallet. Because the space is decentralized, you can think of your wallet as a ‘universal log-in.’ You can access your same wallet on multiple apps, i.e., even if you sign-up on Metamask, with your seed phrase and address you can also use it on Rainbow. Think of this like being able to have the same log-in for Wells Fargo and Bank of America, where logging in shows you the same money and the same account.
A Note on Security: Because of this it is extremely important that you never share your seed phrase with anyone. Whoever has your seed phrase can access your wallet and steal your money. 😱 Because this space is decentralized, you are generally on your own if you get scammed, lose your password, seed phrase, etc.. There is no ‘Chase Service’ to call to reverse a charge and no one you can complain to; on the other hand, there is also no potential of bank default where your money disappears.
If you intend to be very involved in the NFT space, here is a great breakdown of how to think about your wallets.
Step 3: Buy Cryptocurrency
👽 TL;DR Buy more crypto than you think you need directly from the Metamask app
With your address and wallet set-up, you can now buy cryptocurrency (i.e., Ethereum, the main one used for NFTs) by connecting your debit card. The set-up for Rainbow is similar, and you will see the option to buy Ethereum right on the home screen. This sometimes take a few days to process, so buy it sooner rather than later.
If you’ve been poking around the NFT space, you’ve probably heard the term “gas.” Gas is the “cost” of getting a crypto-transaction through. If you’ve seen my ‘WTF is a NFT?’ video, you can think of it like the cost of “writing” to the central repository.
Depending on how many people want to “write” at the same time, the cost of gas goes up and down. If a lot of people are active on the network, gas can be prohibitively expensive (more expensive than the NFT!). In short, expect that your NFT will cost on average 0.01-0.03eth more than the cost of the NFT itself and buy your crypto accordingly.
Note: Ethereum is the most popular cryptocurrency/blockchain for NFTs by orders of magnitude. There are ‘no-gas’ chains (e.g., Solana, Tezos) but if you’re just starting out, I’d ignore those for now. :)
Step 4a: Receive Your NFT
👽 TL;DR Sign-up for Opensea, send the giver your wallet address, and enjoy!
If you are receiving a NFT for someone (e.g., you won a giveaway or as a gift), all you need to do is give them your wallet address and they can transfer it on your side.
To view your NFT, create an Opensea account. To do this, you will need to connect your wallet (it is your log-in, after all!) which is easiest with the Metamask plug-in on your desktop. Opensea is the largest NFT platform and generally the best way to view NFTs. Depending on your wallet, you might be able to see it in your wallet directly as well.
Once you create an account and they confirm it’s been transferred, go to the top right corner of the screen, hit your profile icon and click “Profile” on your drop-down. In your profile page, you should see your NFT! If you don’t, check the “Hidden” tab as well.
If you feel inspired, you can fill out your Opensea profile with a username, photo, etc. just like a social media profile.
Step 4b: Buy An NFT
👽 TL;DR Sign-up for Opensea, buy your NFT, and enjoy!
Similar to receiving, chances are you will buying your first NFT on Opensea. Again, create an account by signing into your wallet. Then go to the NFT’s page and hit the blue “Buy” button on the top right of the page. A Metamask pop-up will come up, and you should hit the button “sign,” which opens your wallet.
Next, you will see another Metamask pop-up which is akin to your subtotal. On this screen, you will see the cost of gas plus the cost of the NFT for your total. You can hit accept if the cost works, or reject if the cost is too high. Again, typically low gas will be in the 0.01eth range.
If you hit accept, the NFT will be transferred to you instantly and you can view it on your profile page. Then, enjoy your NFT and the support you gave to its creator!
For more of my NFT resources, check-out: