Getting started with Polygon, NFTs, Web3, Crypto, Blockchain, etc
I had a job interview in 2014 where I was asked what is Bitcoin. All I could say back then was that Bitcoin was “Internet Pirate Gold” because of a documentary I had seen on the Silk Road. Fortunately my answer was satisfactory at the time and I got the job. Throughout the next few years I would learn more about the blockchain.
In a nutshell:
- Bitcoin allows for a number to be securely transferred between addresses. The sender subtracts this number from their total and the receiver adds this number to their total. There is a rule that prevents the sender from sending a number larger than their total.
- Ethereum allows for more complex logic to be securely carried out. Various applications can be built and a range of different types of tokens can be created and transferred, such as an NFT.
Both Bitcoin and Ethereum use a blockchain for security reasons, however this comes at a huge computing cost and so high fees are needed to complete transactions securely.
Fortunately for us new technology has emerged which allows us to enjoy the security of the blockchain without the high fees. The Polygon Network can do all the complex logic of Ethereum at a fraction of the cost.
Technically, Polygon is a protocol and a framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks. Aggregating scalable solutions on Ethereum supporting a multi-chain Ethereum ecosystem.
But this article is for people who want to use blockchain and don’t necessarily want to understand exactly how it works.
If you have already installed Metamask, feel free to skip to Step 2.
Step 1. Install Metamask Chrome Extension
I’d recommend using Google Chrome and installing the Metamask extension. Go to this website and click “Add to Chrome” (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/metamask/nkbihfbeogaeaoehlefnkodbefgpgknn?hl=en)
Then click Add Extension
The extension will then download and you will get the following message.
You will then see a new tab opened on Metamask. Click Get Started.
Next you are going to want to Create a Wallet. So click that, read the T&C’s and click I Agree if you want to continue.
You then need to create a Password and again agree to the T&C’s after you have read them.
Then you want to secure your wallet and remember your secret recovery phrase. This step isn’t essential and you can click remind me later, but I highly recommend securing your wallet before continuing. Metamask has a lot of information on their site to assist you further with this.
And Finally we have our Metamask account where we can buy, send and swap tokens.
Step 2. Connecting to Polygon Network
In the previous step we created a Metamask account but as you can see in the top right corner it is connected to the Ethereum Mainnet. A quick way to get connected to the Polygon Network is to go to Zapper.fi and click “Connect Wallet”
You will then get two notifications from Metamask. Click Next and then Click Connect. If these don’t pop up, check the top right corner of chrome for the Metamask fox icon.
Congratulations, you have now signed into your first decentralised application. Notice how you didn’t have to provide any details or a password to get inside.
At the bottom you will see Ethereum under Settings. Click the arrow to the right of Ethereum and select Polygon. You will then get another Metamask notification that you need to approve. Don’t worry about the warning message.
After you have approved, you can then switch networks from Ethereum to Polygon.
Now if you were to click the Metamask fox icon, you will see that you are now on the Polygon Network which has a native token called Matic.
You can always switch back to Ethereum by clicking “Polygon” at the top and selecting Ethereum.
It is important to note that you have the same address for both Ethereum and Polygon.
Step 3. How to get tokens on Polygon Network
This step is a bit challenging depending on which country you live in and is also a bit confusing because there are multiple types of tokens on multiple types of networks. But let me first explain the types of tokens and then we will look at how to get some.
- There is the Ethereum Network and its native token called Ether.
- There is the Polygon Network and its native token called Matic.
- Ether is needed to pay for transactions on the Ethereum Network.
- Matic is needed to pay for transactions on the Polygon Network.
The confusing part
You can get Matic token on the Ethereum Network and you can get Ether on the Polygon Network. If you are a beginner, you don’t need Matic on Ethereum, you want your Matic to be on Polygon. But you will want Ether on both the Polygon and Ethereum Networks. This is because Ether has become the main currency for NFTs and so NFTs on the Polygon Network are listed in Ether. Technically it is called Wrapped Ether and on OpenSea it is denoted by a Purple Ethereum Icon. The Black Ethereum Icon denotes normal Ether and there is even a Pink Ethereum Icon which denotes Wrapped Ether on the Ethereum Network. Here is my wallet on OpenSea that shows these different amounts.
We could even click view all available tokens and you will see that I have other tokens like USDC on Polygon.
When it comes to crypto, get comfortable working with different tokens. Remember you can always swap between tokens on the same network using either Zapper.fi or even within Metamask.
If you are on Polygon and want to swap any token for any other token, you will need a bit of Matic to do so on Metamask Swap or Zapper.fi. But if you want to swap any token for Matic then you can use this tool on Polygon.
- You will need to click Approve
- You will then need to sign a request in Metamask
- Wait while the transaction approves
- You will then be able to decide how much Matic you need and what the other token you are going to swap is going to be.
- 1 Matic should be enough, but get as much as you want.
- You will then be able to click Swap
- You will then need to sign another request in Metamask
- Wait while the transaction approves
- Check your Metamask account, you should have Matic.
Okay so now we know how to swap tokens once they are on the Polygon Network. But how do we get them in the first place?
The easiest way to get some tokens is to visit OpenSeas, the largest marketplace for NFTs.
You can use your Metamask to sign in, just like we did with Zapper.fi.
Now go all the way to the top right hand corner and click on the wallet icon. You will then see this:
Click “Add Funds” and choose the credit card option. Follow the steps and you will have purchased some crypto. Remember to select Eth (Polygon) as your currency.
If your bank (like mine) denies the MoonPay transaction then you can Bridge Ether from Ethereum to Polygon via this website:
However this requires quite a high transaction fee. Another way would be to deposit Ether on Ethereum into an exchange and then withdraw Ether on Polygon from that exchange. But sometimes exchanges halt this action so it isn’t the most reliable.
Okay so now we have shown how to move Ether from Ethereum to Polygon. But how do we get Ether on Ethereum in the first place? Here in South Africa we use an exchange called Luno. It is important to research the exchange in your country and make sure it is trusted before moving forward. Most exchanges will require KYC documentation and a bank account registered in your name before they allow you to purchase crypto.
- Research local exchanges and make sure they are trust worthy
- Register with exchange by sending KYC documentation
- Make a bank deposit to the Exchange
- Then exchange your local fiat currency for Ethereum
- Withdraw your Ethereum to your Metamask address
- If you can, select Polygon Network when withdrawing
- If you can’t, then you will need to bridge to Polygon
This is a confusing step, so let me know if you need me to clear anything up or maybe give it another read incase you missed a part.
Step 4. Minting your first NFT
NFT stands for Non-fungible Token. Fungible is a new term for many of us.
Gold is fungible in the sense that we don’t care if we get this gold bar or that gold bar. As long as they are the same weight, we are happy. Ether is a fungible token because 1 Eth = 1 Eth. Fungible Tokens follow the ERC-20 standard.
Diamonds are non-fungible because each one has multiple parameters that significant to its value. The clarity, cut, colour and carat all contribute to the price. So 1 diamond ≠ 1 diamond. SuperRare Art Tokens are non-fungible as each one has a different image, artist, date, description, etc that all contribute to the price. Non Fungible Tokens follow the ERC-721 standard.
Then there is the ERC-1155 standard which is a fungible NFT. Yes crypto can get confusing. A good example of a fungible non-fungible item is a pokemon card. Each pokemon card has its own name, image, stats, etc but it is possible to have duplicates of each card. So when we want multiple parameters to determine value and we have multiple copies of this item, we use the ERC-1155 standard.
To mint NFTs, head to OpenSea and click on your profile picture in order to get the following drop down menu. Then click “My Collections” where you should see something like this:
Before you mint an NFT, you want to create a collection. I’ve created 3 so far. The Treasure Hunt contains ERC1155 tokens that contain riddles that only the buyers can unlock. The Brilliant Chess Moves contain ERC721 tokens that are based on human moves that outsmarted AI’s. We will talk about my final collection called the Airdrop Club a little later. For now, click create a collection.
There is a lot to fill out and most is self explanatory. You can add a royalty so that you earn a bit on secondary sales. A potential strategy is to make your NFTs cheap so that many people buy them and then you make your money after a while when they get sold to other people. You also want to change the blockchain to Polygon. Ethereum will require a fee to set up a new collection and all your buyers will have to pay an expensive fee to complete the sale. With Polygon, you don’t have to worry about those fees. Once you have filled all of that out, click create and sign Metamask to finish your collection.
Now you can click “create” on the top menu bar and fill out the fields.
Remember to select the collection you have just created and change the blockchain to Polygon. You can also decide whether you want to make 1/1 NFTs or 1/many NFTs by changing the supply parameter. Then click create. Once your NFT has been created, you can transfer it to a friend or list it for sale.
Step 5. Buying your first NFT
There are perks for buying NFTs. NFTs can get you access to communities and can also make you eligible for airdrops. I’ll soon be writing a whole article on the reasons for NFTs but in the meantime I created the MJ Airdrop Club NFT as a fun example to provide both community and airdrop exposure. I made it as cheap as possible at 0.0005eth. OpenSea wouldn’t let me set the price any lower otherwise I would have because I want this to be accessible to everyone.
The community is mainly based in South Africa and we do meetups in Cape Town and Johannesburg, we also engage online via a WhatsApp group and regularly engage with each others on Twitter. Feel free to follow me @bayman1991 (mjactuary.eth). When purchasing any NFT, check out their community. Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs are expensive because they have a great supportive community.
The main purpose of the MJ Airdrop Club NFT is to get exposure to Airdrops. Many third parties airdrop tokens to eligible addresses as a marketing promotion. To be eligible for these airdrops, various conditions need to be met and sometime they check whether you have ever bought an NFT, so purchasing a cheap NFT helps you tick that box. Airdrops are occurring more frequently and can be worth over $1000 each time. To learn more about Airdrops watch my video on the topic here. Note some airdrops target specific NFT holders. I’ve received many airdrops because I hold SuperRare NFTs, however they have quite a high floor price.
Our community also uses the list of buyers of this NFT to make their own airdrops. Zaroblanart sent everyone on the list a unique 1/1 NFT which some members then sold for $60. So purchasing this NFT might help you start your own NFT collection. Also feel free to airdrop your NFTs to the club as a way of promoting your work amongst people who have purchased an NFT on Polygon before. You can read more about doing that here: MJ Airdrop Club NFT.
So if you don’t know which NFT to buy first then lets go through the steps of buying the MJ Airdrop Club NFT. Click on the link to get directed to this page.
If you have 0.0005 Wrapped Ether on the Polygon Network then you will be able to click “Buy Now”. If you don’t, you can try “Buy with card” or refer to the previous steps in this article where we show how to get tokens on Polygon. You will then see this image showing the number of sales for the NFT.
Click the box confirming that you understand that this collection hasn’t been reviewed by OpenSea and that blockchain transactions are irreversible. You will then see this image.
Here you can change the quantity. Some airdrops have less NFTs than the number of members in the Airdrop Club, so then they have to be randomly distributed. To increase your chances of getting these airdrops, feel free to purchase more than 1. Although a pro tip would be to create multiple addresses and buy 1 with each so that they all become eligible for third party airdrops, but that is a story for another day. Click “Confirm Checkout” once you have decided on the number of NFTs you want to buy. You will then see this image:
Before you can purchase your first NFT, you need to give OpenSea permission to use your tokens. Click “Unlock” and check for the Metamask popup.
Sign this transaction. Note only sign transactions like this for trusted websites. Do your research before you connect and sign transactions on unknown sites. After this, the following image will appear.
Click “Sign” to bring up Metamask again. You then need to click “Sign” again on the Metamask popup.
Once this is done, the following confirmation image should appear.
Congratulations! You have now purchased your first NFT. Welcome to the future.
In this article we introduced blockchain and spoke about how to get started with Metamask, Polygon and NFTs. There is still so much to learn but the best way to do that is by exploring the various Web3 sites. Of course it is dangerous out there and many scammers are waiting for new users, so in a future article I will be writing about how to avoid getting mugged online. See you soon.