Considering your first NFT purchase? This guide will walk you through the process on OpenSea.io
- Buying NFTs on OpenSea.io is one of the more user-friendly ways to purchase NFTs right now. The site has a fairly intuitive UI and provides key features to help you search creators, collections, and even specific traits.
- There are 3 basic steps in purchasing an NFT on OpenSea: 1) Connect Your Wallet to OpenSea, 2) Choose an NFT to Purchase, 3) Make your purchase on the blockchain using your crypto wallet.
- Although it is generally considered safe to connect your wallet and purchase an NFT on OpenSea.io, there are scams that you should be aware of including random/fake NFTs, fake collections, and phishing attempts.
OpenSea: The Most Popular NFT Marketplace
NFTs exploded in popularity throughout 2021 and numerous sites have been launched to help creators mint and sell their digital assets. At one point it seemed like a new platform was launching every day. Now at the start of 2022, it feels like the market has calmed down and a few platforms have claimed market dominance.
And out of all the major platforms OpenSea has claimed the top spot (see DappRadar's NFT Marketplace rankings. OpenSea ranks first by far).
In July of 2021 ETH was skyrocketing. The currency was reaching new all time highs almost every day. While this was great for the overall crypto industry, rising prices meant higher gas fees on the network and NFT creators were feeling the pain in their wallets.
OpenSea Gained Popularity with NFT Creators through "Lazy Minting"
OpenSea had launched back in 2017 but really began attracting users when NFTs started booming in 2021.
With new attention on NFTs OpenSea quickly started gaining favor with creators by offering free no-gas minting. This allowed creators to put their work out to the community and hopefully grow their collector base.
The way it worked was creators only had to pay a one time gas fee to initiate their accounts and then every subsequent transaction would be covered by the platform.
This practice has become known as lazy minting and is popular with artists who are still building up their following.
With lazy minting, the buyers are paying the costs to actually “mint” the NFT onto the blockchain so before that NFT is purchased it’s technically not yet an NFT.
OpenSea Gained Popularity with NFT Collectors through Robust Search Filtering
Lazy minting may be what attracted creators to the platform initially, but where OpenSea really took off was its NFT aggregator function that turned it into the definite market for secondary transactions.
When creators sell a project from their own website, that’s known as the primary sale.
After that sale, you can only buy them off the secondary market, aka from a current holder.
This is what makes OpenSea so popular and earned it the largest transaction volume out of any platform.
OpenSea acts as a search engine for collections and lists all the wallets that are holding that particular NFT.
Not only that, but using OpenSea as a search engine allows you to filter down your searches to find the exact NFT you’re interested in. You can search by collection, creator, and even filter specific traits within a project.
For example if you wanted to buy a Bored Ape, you can filter by clothing, fur, eyes, hat, or mouth, to name a few. So if you wanted a cheetah, cigarette, smiling ape, you could filter for those traits.
It would cost you at least 50 ETH or more for a Bored Ape, but that’s a whole different story.
Before we walk through the process of selecting an NFT and purchasing on the platform, let’s discuss safety and security.
Is OpenSea Safe?
In general, purchasing NFTs on OpenSea is considered to be safe.
It’s not like discord where a server may be targeted by bots or you’ll be subject to a phishing attack that can drain your wallet. The onsite security of OpenSea is strong and as long as your wallet’s seed phrase is secure you shouldn’t have any issues connecting to the site and carrying out transactions.
But that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down, there are some security risks to be aware of.
Scams to Avoid on OpenSea
Random NFTs Appearing
Random spam accounts will send NFTs to your wallet that you’ve never asked for. These NFTs can potentially get you into trouble if you trace them back to their websites or discords. These NFTs may be the first step in a phishing attempt.
Scammers will make attempts to get access to your wallet by spoofing their accounts online as OpenSea support. Always be careful when you receive suspicious messages and verify that any account you interact with is the legitimate source for that project or company. The more trusted a platform becomes the more likely scammers are to try to co opt that trust for nefarious purposes.
Note: Never share your wallet's seed phrase!
OpenSea is a great platform, but it’s not perfect. They do need to work on their ability to take down NFTs that are infringing on other creators' intellectual property or projects. When a project gets popular OpenSea will verify them with a blue check mark, but that doesn’t mean bad actors won’t list a collection with the same name in hopes of scamming some ETH off of a buyer who wasn’t paying close enough attention.
If you watch out for these issues and take proper precautions to keep your wallet secure then transacting via OpenSea doesn’t present much of a security risk.
Ok and now for the walk through!
Buy an NFT on OpenSea: Step by Step
Step 1: Connect Your Crypto Wallet
All you need to get started trading on OpenSea is a wallet that can hold NFTs. Currently the site is integrated with the following crypto wallets: MetaMask, Coinbase Wallet, WalletConnect, and Fortmatic.
Out of these options, MetaMask is the most popular.
- Learn how to install MetaMask here: How to Install MetaMask (with video tutorial)
To connect Opensea to MetaMask, go to opensea.io and navigate to the upper right hand profile icon > select Profile > select MetaMask > Login to MetaMask > Choose the wallet you want to connect to > Click on Connect (see demo above)
Once your wallet is connected you can set up your profile on the site. This is not strictly necessary and many users choose to remain anonymous. In this case OpenSea will assign your account a six-digit random alphanumeric code to stand in for your account name.
Many users do name their account and fill out their profile pic and bios. It’s up to you how you want to use this wallet.
Now that your wallet is connected you’ll be able to buy NFTs, make offers, list NFTs you own for sale, and sign other transactions to make changes to your account.
OpenSea operates primarily with the Ethereum blockchain and accepts Ethereum and wrapped Ethereum.
Recently the platform integrated the Polygon network which is a Layer 2 on Ethereum. This means you can also purchase and mint NFTs on Polygon with Match or Ethereum on the Polygon chain.
Eventually OpenSea may come to support other blockchains, and thus become an even larger NFT marketplace but as of now no announcements have been made.
Step 2: Choose an NFT to Purchase
Researching NFTs before your Purchase
Deciding what NFT to actually buy can be difficult. Please do your own research and don’t rush into any investment with funds you can’t afford to lose.
Spend time reading the project’s whitepaper, roadmap, and social media profiles.
If they have a discord community, join in and check out the activity. Also look at the project's stats on OpenSea.
One of the coolest features of the platform is how much marketplace data they make available.
You can view project stats like the floor price, number of holders, transaction volume, and percentage change over different time frames. They also provide rankings and break it down by category of NFT.
There are so many different types of NFTs and projects launching in the space these days so take your time before moving forward on your purchase.
Use the OpenSea Search and Filtering Tools to Find the NFT of your Choice
Although OpenSea has one of the best UIs in all of crypto, navigating the platform can be tricky when you are first getting used to it.
The search bar is your friend, but make sure you verify the collection you are looking at before moving ahead with a purchase.
As stated above, popular collections often get spoofed and if you aren’t careful you’ll end up wasting your money on a Jpeg with fraudulent provenance.
As long as you verify the asset, then the search function can help you find exactly what you are looking for.
You can view entire collections, filter by items on sale, items on auction, and items with a “Buy Now” price. This aspect of the site works a lot like auctions on EBay do.
Within a collection you can search by property if you are looking for something specific above the floor price.
Step 3: Make the Purchase
Buy Now vs Make a Bid
Some NFTs are listed with Buy Now prices, other’s some are on auction you can make bids in hopes your offer will be accepted.
When you purchase an NFT at the Buy Now price that’s the price you’re paying Ethereum plus gas to receive ownership of the asset. When it’s on auction you’re making a bid in "wrapped" Ethereum for what you’re willing to pay.
Note: Ethereum and Wrapped Ethereum (WETH) have the same value, but are slightly different. Learn more about WETH here.
When an NFT receives an offer, the owner will be notified by Opensea at the email address tied to their account. If they accept the offer they sign the transaction on their side you receive ownership after it settles on the blockchain.
It’s hard to say which is better when making a purchase. Holders can list NFTs at whatever price they want so you can’t say that you’ll always get a deal when submitting offers.
The big difference is when you purchase at the Buy Now price you’re locking in the transaction immediately. If you bid your offer may not be accepted or you could get outbid before the auction period ends.
When you’re looking to buy from a collection take a look at the market for both Buy Now prices and items on auction.
Signing The Transaction and Paying The Gas Fee
Now you’ve selected the exact Non-fungible token you want and it’s time to set the transaction in motion. The site will trigger a transaction to your wallet that you must then approve. This is where you will have to pay the gas fee to the network in addition to the price of the NFT.
Make sure you have enough funds in your wallet to cover both. Gas prices are often slightly lower when the major markets (US and Asia) are fast asleep.
Who pays the Gas Fee?
There is actually a difference in who pays the gas fee depending on if you "Buy Now" vs making a bid. When you "Buy Now", you, as the buyer, pay the gas fee; however, if you make a bid and the seller accepts the bid, then the seller pays the gas fee.
However, to bid on an NFT you have to convert your ETH to WETH, which costs gas. In addition, if you are transacting with WETH for the first time on OpenSea, you get charged a one time gas fee.
Also, if you cancel a bid .. you guessed it... you have to pay gas.
Congratulations On Your NFT Purchase!
Once the transaction completes you should be notified by both your wallet and the platform. Sometimes it takes some time for the site to update, but if you look at the blockchain records on a site like Etherscan then you will have no issues.
Congratulations on buying your first NFT! Welcome to the community!
Can You Buy NFTs with the OpenSea Mobile App?
OpenSea does have its own mobile app which we’ve reviewed here.
The app has a lot of great functions and a comparable UI to the desktop site. It makes it easy to view NFTs listed on the site and browse the market. However it leaves a lot to be desired in its current form.
One of the main drawbacks is that you can’t actually purchase NFTs with the OpenSea mobile app. It works more of a window shopping app than a full-service mobile platform.
Hopefully in the future it will plug into your mobile wallet and allow for a seamless purchasing experience.
For better or worse, OpenSea has set the bar for secondary NFT marketplaces. Whether or not you believe that’s a high bar is a matter of debate. OpenSea has done a great job accomplishing some of the MVP requirements for a successful platform and was one of the first players in the market.
They’ve been able to add more functionality and support for additional blockchains which shows their commitment to growing with the market. However the platform does have significant flaws which it must address and there’s no reason to think it’s place in the industry is secured by any means.
In fact quite the opposite, and the competition among platforms is likely to become even fiercer in 2022.
Not being able to make purchases from the app is a huge drawback and makes you wonder why even release an app?
Another criticism of the platform is the slow support times for creators with issues and the joke on Twitter is that OpenSea only has two employees so be patient.
Coinbase is about to launch their own marketplace and given their clout within the overall cryptomarket they’re likely to steal some transaction volume from OpenSea.
Given the decentralized nature of Web3 users have a lot more power in the relationship between them and platforms.
We own our assets and we can choose where we transact and with who. If we don’t like the options offered in the market it’s easier than ever to create an alternative and level the playing field.
But as a means to get started in the NFT industry, OpenSea is the place to be.