How to Build an NFT Marketplace in 5 Steps

NFTs seem to be everywhere right now. Just last year, even legacy companies like Adidas, Nike, Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, and the NBA began dipping their feet into NFTs. At the very heart of the NFT hype, you’ll find NFT marketplaces. However, did you know that you can actually develop your own NFT marketplace in just a few simple steps? Follow this NFTCoders guide to learn how to build an NFT marketplace website with ease! 

Blockchain development is hard. However, with the right tools, you can blitz through even the most demanding type of Web3 development. In this article, we’ll demonstrate how you can develop an NFT marketplace website in minutes rather than months.

Until now, user-friendly tools for blockchain developers have been far and few between. In turn, this has made NFT development cumbersome. Nevertheless, cutting-edge Web3 tools – like Moralis – allow you to create dApps, DeFi projects, or NFT apps swiftly. For example, we will show you how to build an NFT marketplace in just five steps. Namely, these include:

  • Create a server.
  • Set up a smart contract.
  • Create an HTML file.
  • Create logic for the Web3 app.
  • Set up subscriptions.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps presented above. As a result, you’ll be able to build an NFT marketplace website in record time.

Creating an NFT marketplace will allow you to join the likes of OpenSea, Rarible, or SuperRare; the leading NFT marketplaces. Of course, you don’t have to aim that high initially when creating your first NFT marketplace. However, who’s to say that you can’t build the next big thing? This early in the game, anything is possible. Some might just be looking to see whether they’re able to build an NFT marketplace, or want to explore NFTs’ possibilities. No matter what, read on!

What are NFTs?

As the name suggests, NFTs – or “Non-Fungible Tokens” – are a type of crypto tokens. Unlike fungible cryptocurrency tokens (such as BTC, ETH, BNB, SOL, ADA etc.), NFTs come with specific metadata. The latter makes each NFT unique. However, to ensure a proper understanding of the topic, let’s go over the terms ”fungible” and “non-fungible”. 

The word “fungible” is a traditional economic term used to describe interchangeable assets. This means that an individual unit of a fungible asset can be exchanged for another. Two fungible assets of the same kind always have the same value. A good example here is the US dollar (USD). A certain number of USDs equals another set of the same amount of dollars. For instance, $1,000 here equals $1,000 there. Moreover, looking at the crypto industry, currencies such as ETH or BTC are fungible tokens. Essentially, this shows you that the concept of fungibility is pivotal when money is in question. 

On the other hand, non-fungible assets don’t follow the same principles explained above. Therefore, we can’t interchange NFTs since they are tokens that contain unique properties. An excellent real-life, non-fungible asset example would be a house. Since every house has unique values and characteristics (if not, its location is), it isn’t possible to just change one house for another. With that in mind, NFTs are ideal for representing unique assets. Thus, they are digital assets stored on the blockchain that can represent ownership of either a unique physical or digital asset. Moreover, thanks to cryptography, it is impossible to change a block once confirmed. Nonetheless, the distributed public ledger (a specific blockchain storing specific NFTs) offers a straight record of who owns these assets.

What is an NFT Marketplace?

We are almost ready to show you how to build an NFT marketplace with minimum effort and in record time. However, let’s first make sure you also know what an NFT marketplace is. NFT marketplaces are essentially all Web3 applications that enable users to sell and buy non-fungible tokens. Thus, there can be many types of NFT marketplaces. For one, they can be open to the general public. Anyone with a crypto wallet can use these kinds of marketplaces to buy and list their own NFTs.

There are also NFT marketplaces that are closed to the public. These marketplaces only let a particular company or brand sell their NFTs. As such, random users cannot list their non-fungible tokens. Furthermore, the potential buyers may be everyone with a crypto wallet or only a specific user (such as subscribers). Moreover, thanks to the nature of NFTs’ metadata, different types of functions can be set in place to get the desired functionality.

How to Build an NFT Marketplace

Now that you all know what NFTs and NFT marketplaces are, you are ready to learn how to build an NFT marketplace. As hinted in the introduction, we will use the biggest Web3 development platform, Moralis, when building our NFT marketplace. This platform allows any developers who are JavaScript-proficient and know how to use MetaMask to become blockchain developers quickly. Speed is essential when developing dApps, as they give more time for creating great frontends. Can you guess which dApps are the most successful? The ones with the best user interface (UI).

We hope you believe in learning by taking immediate action because we’re about to take on an example project. We encourage you to follow along. As a result, you can end up building your own NFT marketplace. As the first step in building our NFT marketplace, you should make sure to create your free Moralis account.

NFT Marketplace Example Features 

Before we move on to the actual programming, we want you to envision the finalized marketplace. As such, let’s look at a screenshot of our example NFT marketplace. As you can see, it offers users multiple options and features. These include:

  • Displaying the user’s native token balance at the top.
  • The “On Sale” section displays currently available NFTs in our marketplace.
  • Using the “Buy/Sell” section, users get to buy or sell NFTs after selecting them.
  • There is also the “Your NFTs” section, which displays collections that the logged-in user holds.

Nonetheless, these are also the features you want to include in your dApp in order to build an NFT marketplace. 

Note: As you can see, there are currently no NFTs in the “On Sale” and “Buy/Sell” sections. That’s because there is no NFT that we or any other user on our example NFT marketplace is selling. 

Example NFT Marketplace Features – Listing an NFT

We also want you to see our example NFT marketplace in action. Thus, we selected one of our example NFTs. By doing so, it became available in the “Buy/Sell” section (see the screenshots below). As such, an option to enter the price and offer the selected NFT for sale is also now available. To list the selected NFT, we need to enter the price and click on “Offer for Sale”. Moving forward, we need to click on the “Confirm” button in the MetaMask pop-up window to approve the transaction. 

After we confirm the transaction and it gets processed, that NFT appears in the “On Sale” section: 

Example NFT Marketplace Features – Buying an NFT

Let’s now look at how this example marketplace is used to buy NFTs. Since we cannot buy our own NFT, we’ll use another account. To buy an NFT, a user must first click on “Select” next to the NFT in the “On Sale” section (see the image below). This displays the NFT in question in the “Buy/Sell” section. There, a user can click on “Buy”. After clicking this button, MetaMask initiates the transaction confirmation.

Once a user purchases an NFT, it gets removed from the “On Sale” section. However, that NFT is now in the “Your NFTs” section of the buyer’s account:

Of course, the new owner now has the option to sell that NFT. 

Time to Build an NFT Marketplace

This is a perfect time to look at the backend features and components required to create the functionalities displayed earlier. Here are the aspects we need to cover:

  • The ability to authenticate users. This is a Web3 sign-in feature.
  • A tool to track the balances of our users in real-time.
  • We also need to be able to track relevant smart contract events in our dApp. 

Without a Web3 development tool at our disposal, setting all of the above backend functionalities in place would be incredibly time-consuming. Moreover, many developers still make the mistake of building directly on top of RPC nodes. However, by using Moralis, you’ll get to cover the entire backend of your dApp by simply copying and pasting short snippets of code. Now, we can neatly sum up the process of building an NFT marketplace into these five steps:

  1. Create a server
  2. Set up a smart contract
  3. Create an HTML file
  4. Create the logic for the dApp
  5. Set up subscriptions

Moving forward, we’ll take a closer look at each of these steps.

Create a Server

Whether you are looking to build an NFT marketplace or any other dApp, you need to start by creating your server. Therefore, make sure to follow these substeps:

  1. Create A Free Web3 Dev Tool Account If you still haven’t created a free Moralis account, do so now. Use the link at the end of the “How to Build an NFT Marketplace” section. On the other hand, if you already have an account, simply log in.
  1. Create a Server – Once logged in to your Moralis account, navigate to the “Servers” tab and click on “+ Create a new Server” in the top-right corner. Then, select the network type that best suits your needs (see the image below). For projects like our NFT marketplace example, you should probably focus on the “Testnet Server” option. 

Moving forward, enter your server’s name, select your region, network type, chain(s), and spin up your server by clicking on “Add Instance”:

  1. Access Server Details – Once your server is up and running, you get to use its details to gain access to all server details. To access these details, click on “View Details”: 

All the information you need (mainly “server URL” and “application ID”) will be displayed in a new window. You can copy those details (one by one) by using the copy icons on the right-hand side:

  1. Initialize Your Web3 Dev Tool – To finally gain full access to the power of Moralis, populate your “.js” file:

Use The “Sync” Feature

Once you have your server created, you also have an option to create “sync” events. This is accessed via the same “View Details” button; however, you need to select the “Sync” tab. For our NFT marketplace example, we’ll use two “listeners” to detect specific smart contract events. As such, we will be detecting when a new offer is placed (selling) and when an offer is closed (buying):

Your Dashboard

Each Moralis server also comes with a complete database, where you can store, and index live on-chain details. As such, token balances, transaction history, pending transactions, NFTs, and much more become easily accessible for further application. Furthermore, this is also where the data is available for the two listeners above (underlined with green lines):

Set Up a Smart Contract

Once you’ve created your server, it’s time to construct a smart contract that operates the marketplace. Using Solidity, which is ideal for smart contract development, we easily create a perfect contract for the occasion. 

The key parts of our smart contract are four events: ”OfferingPlaced()”, ”OfferingClosed()”, ”BalanceWithdrawn()”, and ”OperatorChanged()”. They are triggered by users’ specific actions on our example NFT marketplace. The complete code for this is available at GitHub:

All-in-all, there are six simple functions within our smart contract: 

  • placeOffering() 
  • closeOffering() 
  • withdrawBalance() 
  • changeOperator() 
  • viewOfferingNFT() 
  • viewBalances() 

Create an HTML File

With the smart contract deployed, we need to create an interface for our NFT marketplace. For that purpose, we use an HTML file as a structure. Of course, we will later add functionality to our dApp using a “.js” file. As you saw in the preview provided previously, our UI is pretty basic. As such, you should be able to cover that aspect with ease. Of course, you may use our code:

Moreover, we encourage you to use your frontend development skills to upgrade our example. 

Create the Logic for the dApp

As with the smart contract and the HTML file, you can also access the “.js” file at GitHub:

The logic part of our dApp is in charge of authenticating users with MetaMask. Then, the marketplace can query information regarding their NFT and token balances. Moreover, successful authentication instantly triggers three functions that populate the NFTs, offerings, and balances. 

With essential data populated, it’s time to add further functionality. One of these includes selecting NFTs (the “selectNFT()” function). The latter allows users to select an NFT and then perform tasks offered by our dApp. Another is the “offerNFT()” function, which is there to offer and sell digital collectibles on the marketplace. It consists of two parts, one for placing an offer and one for approving the marketplace. With this implementation, we ensure permission is given to the dApp to make transactions on behalf of the users. This is also a place where we use our Web3 development tool’s cloud function to safely handle our private key. 

All that is left to implement is the “buyNFT()” function. The latter enables users to purchase digital collectibles on the marketplace. This is solved by calling an additional two functions whenever a user clicks on the button from the UI.

Set Up Subscriptions

Another mention-worthy part of our NFT marketplace example logic are three “subscribe” functions (“subscribeOfferings()”, “subscribeBuys()”, “subscribeUpdateNFTs()”). They allow us to continuously update the dApp for our users in real-time. As such, whenever a transaction of digital collectibles occurs in the marketplace, it is “logged” in our dashboard.

For more detailed guidance, make sure to check out the video below. In it, you’ll have a chance to check how to build an NFT marketplace website. 

Summary of How to Build an NFT Marketplace Website

In the above guide, you’ve discovered how to use the ultimate Web3 shortcut to kickstart your own NFT marketplace. Although Web3 development is usually complex, with the right tools, it doesn’t have to take too long. In this guide, we use Moralis, the leading Web3 development platform, which is free for you to use. This tool cuts your development time massively, allowing you to focus on other things. According to Covalent, Moralis cuts the average Web3 development time by 87%. 

Moreover, you now know how to complete the initial setup that’s essential for fast dApp deployment. Furthermore, using our lead and code examples, you now have all it takes to build an NFT marketplace. Of course, we encourage you to take things further and create other excellent dApps. 

Creating an NFT marketplace is just the first step on your journey. Now that you’ve got a functioning NFT marketplace, you need to think about the many other aspects that go into running a successful NFT marketplace. For example, you will want to think about how to promote your NFT marketplace, what partnerships you can put in place to increase visibility, what different products you want to feature, or what user interface and design you want in order to wow your users. Best of luck, and check back to NFTCoders for more tips and tricks relating to NFT development. For example, learn all about lazy minting NFTs – in just a few minutes!

January 12, 2022
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