A Beginner's Guide to Minting
Ready to mint your first NFT?
Before reading this article, make sure you read "A Beginner's Guide to Solana NFTs" first. The information there is crucial to understanding the fundamental principles of the SOL NFT ecosystem and should be read through prior to minting your first NFT.
In this article, we'll cover minting, launchpads, and whitelists. Before we get into those topics, there's only one place we can start. Making a burner wallet.
Besides writing down your seed phrase when you first create your wallet, making a burner wallet is arguably the most important thing you can do to stay safe. It takes literally two seconds and can be the difference between you losing a couple of SOL or you losing everything. Do NOT skip this step.
What is a burner wallet? A burner wallet is a second wallet address that you use specifically when you're minting something. You don't keep any NFTs in this wallet, and you only put the amount of SOL needed for that specific mint into this wallet right before you go to mint. The reason we do this is just in case you are minting something that ends up being a scam, the worst you lose is the SOL that was in this wallet.
The scams we are referencing are known as wallet drainers. When we go to process any transaction on the blockchain, there's a series of instructions for that transaction to go through. To put it simply, there's code that tells the blockchain what to do once you click on approve. A lot of mints take place on launchpads, which are safe and trusted. We still use a burner....we ALWAYS use a burner. However, sometimes projects will create their own minting site to launch their project. Launchpads charge a fee to launch with them, so projects may want to save that cost. It's not an instant red flag if they choose to go this route, but it does open the door for scams since they are making the code themselves.
If it does end up being a scam, also known as a rug, it can mean that when you click on the approve transaction button, the instructions are to send everything inside of your wallet to a wallet of their choosing. Once you hit the approve button, it's all gone. Now there are ways to see that. An example that I mentioned in the beginner's article referenced at the top of this page is where you can see the transaction details. If it shows all of your items being sent out in red, don't approve. But it may not always be easy to spot. Again, ALWAYS use a burner wallet to be safe.
To create a burner wallet, simply open the Phantom extension (or whichever wallet you use). Click the small circle icon in the top left.
After that, click the arrow point to the right next to your wallet's name
From there, click on the button at the bottom that says "Add/Connect Wallet"
Then click "Create a new wallet" and you're all done! You now have a second wallet address within your extension. It resides within your same overall wallet, meaning the unlock password and seed phrase are still the same. It's just a completely different wallet address. Now you can use this as your burner wallet that you ONLY use to mint from.
Now that you have your burner setup, let's talk about minting. Minting is the NFT term for buying at the initial sale. When a project's sale goes live, that means the mint is open. If you buy an NFT during this live period, you are minting the NFT onto the blockchain. The specific NFT you get, which is usually a random one from that collection since they're all different, is now your newly minted NFT.
The information for a project's mint time is always found in their Discord. Usually, you will see it in the announcements a few days before mint. It may also be pinned in the top left of the server, or there may be a channel specifically for the mint info. Again referencing back to the article at the top of this page, finding the mint information is part of doing your own research (DYOR).
Once you have researched and decided to try and mint the NFT, you'll need to know the mint link. This is usually posted in the announcements channel shortly before mint or even right at the time of mint. At this point, you should already have the amount of SOL needed for this mint inside of your burner wallet. Once you click the link, you can connect to the site using your burner wallet. Simply click the mint button, approve the transaction (after checking the details), and wait for it to process successfully!
Launchpads are sites that will launch your project for you. If you are a project that doesn't have a Solana developer on your team who can set up a mint site for you, using a launchpad is the easiest way to go. Since they get a % of the sales, they of course want your project to sell out so that they earn more. Most projects these days are launched on a reputable launchpad.
Below are several commonly used launchpads, each with its own pros and cons:
The real question is, will you even be able to mint? Enter, the whitelist.
Around the beginning of 2022, mint sites (launchpad or not) were being taken over by bots. Once the mint went live, people would use bots to mint as many as they could which prevented most people from being able to mint. Sometimes a single bot would mint hundreds, while we were left with nothing. To this day, there is no definitive solution to prevent bots from minting. The best we have at the moment are whitelists.
What is a whitelist? A whitelist is a list of users' wallets that a project permits to mint from their smart contract. Only the wallets listed on the whitelist are able to mint. These wallets are usually limited to only minting one or two NFTs from that collection. This ensures that only the people who have been granted a whitelist spot can mint without having to battle it out with bots.
Unfortunately, what this has done is caused us all to have to live or die by the whitelist spots we do or don't get. For the most part, if you don't get a whitelist (WL) spot for a project, you won't be able to mint it. Your only choice at that point is to buy it from a marketplace after they get listed, and you may have to pay a premium if the project is performing well.
We get whitelist spots for projects we know nothing about, that may not even have any information available, just in case it turns out to be a good project. Whitelist first, ask questions later. That's the motto. As more and more people enter the ecosystem, it gets harder and harder to get a spot. The best way to get spots is to join a DAO. You can read more about what a DAO is here if you want to know the true definition. In the NFT space, a DAO is typically just a gated community on Discord. For most projects, once their mint is completed, they set up a holders-only channel. That channel is essentially the DAO.
A normal benefit of most DAOs is giveaways for WL spots. When a new project starts up, they'll usually give a certain amount of WL spots to as many different communities as possible to help spread the word about their project. A requirement to get that spot is to be inside of their discord, so these giveaways also help them get people into their community. The more popular the DAO, the more quantity and quality WL spots they usually get. Of course, the entry price into these DAOs is usually higher.
At the time of writing this, a Radar Pass is only 2.5 SOL. We get pretty good WL spots for a smaller DAO, and you can make back the value of that 2.5 extremely quickly.
It will take some time but you'll get used to the whitelist process and understand the best ways to go about getting them. When you get a WL spot, you will need to submit your wallet address that will be used to mint. You guessed it: use your burner wallet address.
I realize there's a lot of information above to process. It may seem scary, but you'll get the hang of it quickly. You want to get as many WL spots as possible, hopefully only have to mint from launchpads for safety purposes, and try to have a nice smooth minting experience without competing with the robots.
As always, more information can be found inside the Radar Discord server. Feel free to tag me in the general chat or DM me with any questions you may have.
I hope you have a lovely time minting your first NFT!