Bitcoin ordinal inscriptions let users attach additional data to individual satoshis, creating digital artifacts that are stored on the Bitcoin blockchain, enabling users to create Bitcoin-based NFTs.
The ordinal inscription process can be highly technical and complex, but this guide details how you can create your own ordinal inscriptions using one of the simplest methods.
There are some risks in creating your own ordinal inscriptions, so make sure you follow a few tips to avoid potential exposure to losses.
What Are Bitcoin Ordinals?
Bitcoin ordinals were introduced in January 2023 as a method of creating Bitcoin-based NFTs by attaching metadata to individual satoshis. Satoshis, or sats, are the smallest denomination of bitcoin worth 0.00000001 BTC.
The way ordinal inscriptions work is through the ordinals protocol, a system for numbering satoshis, giving each satoshi a serial number, and tracking them across transactions.
Users can attach extra data, which can be in any format, such as text and images as long as they are under 4MB in size, to individual satoshis. This essentially creates digital artifacts that are stored on the Bitcoin blockchain and enables Bitcoin-based NFTs.
Why Do People Want To Create Their Own Ordinal Inscriptions?
The prospect of inscribing any data onto the Bitcoin blockchain excites many people. The total number of ordinal inscriptions ballooned from nothing in February 2023 to nearly 15 million in July 2023.
Ordinal inscriptions make creating NFTs directly on the Bitcoin network much easier compared to before the ordinals protocol was introduced. Some people create the ordinal version of their favorite NFTs or choose to inscribe digital files of personal importance.
They believe that their ordinal inscriptions would be more valuable in the future or storing files on the Bitcoin blockchain would afford unique features such as immutability or scarcity, especially considering the modest cost of doing so.
Bitcoin has a fixed supply of 21 million coins and inscriptions can only be added to a fixed number of sats. Some believe that this potentially makes Bitcoin-based digital artifacts rarer than other types of NFTs.
There are some niche venues where ordinal inscriptions can be traded, and bigger marketplaces are being planned. There is a possibility that a more active ordinal inscription market could emerge, but nothing is guaranteed.
How to Make Your Own Ordinal Inscriptions
If you are thinking about making your own ordinal inscriptions, such as making an inscription of your marriage license or property deeds so that they are forever stored on the Bitcoin blockchain, here is a detailed guide on how to do this.
The process of creating an ordinal inscription is highly technical and complex if you follow the Ordinal Inscription Guide. Users must install the Bitcoin Core, sync the Bitcoin blockchain, create a Bitcoin Core wallet, and perform additional steps.
For this guide, we'll use one of the simpler methods using a platform called Gamma, which describes itself as a creator launchpad and open marketplace for ordinal inscriptions.
Step 1: Install and connect a compatible wallet
The first step is to install a compatible wallet. The easiest way to do this is by going to https://gamma.io/ and downloading one of the listed wallets after you click “Connect Wallet.”
All of these wallets are browser extensions that you can easily download and install. Remember to keep your wallet seed phrases safely backed up in multiple secure locations.
It’s recommended that you use a separate new wallet for creating ordinal inscriptions. Make sure you don’t use any wallet where you store your bitcoin holdings. Always keep your bitcoins in safe storage and don’t mix them with experimental activities.
Step 2: Select your inscription type
Once you’ve connected your wallet, you can click Create/new inscription. Click create/new collection mint if you want to create a collection. It’s a good idea to try a single inscription for first-time users. Alternatively, you can click https://gamma.io/ordinals to go to the selection page.
Step 3: Upload your inscription
Once you’ve made your selection, you can upload the files you want to inscribe. Accepted file types include WEBP (recommended), JPEG, PNG, SVG, and GIF. It’s recommended that you keep your image size under 60 KB and your GIFs under 200 KB. Note that Gamma may resize, compress, and convert your image files.
Around 85% of ordinal inscriptions are text, while only a small portion are images and files of other formats.
Step 4: Set your fees
After you’ve uploaded the file you want to inscribe, you need to select which fee plan to use. Generally, the larger the file, the higher the fees, so make sure you balance your file size to a decent quality and a fee level that won’t be too much for a single inscription.
For a 25 KB image, the fees are in the following range as of July 5, 2023. The fees fluctuate significantly depending on the demand and competitiveness for block space on the Bitcoin blockchain.
The higher fees you pay, the faster and more likely your inscriptions will be created. If you pay lower fees, the inscription could take much longer - many days sometimes - or not get executed at all.
Step 5: Fill in your ordinal recipient address
You’ll need to fill in your Bitcoin address where the ordinal inscription you are creating will be transferred. This should be an ordinals-compatible wallet. The three browser extension wallets in step one are all ordinals-compatible, and if you’ve already connected your wallet, you can simply copy your wallet’s address and paste it here.
Alternatively, you can download your ordinals-compatible wallet elsewhere and copy and paste its address here. Make sure you conduct thorough research on any new wallet you install for this purpose and pay attention to its compatibility, security, and features.
You don’t have to connect your wallet in order to do all the steps listed here. The steps are arranged this way to make the process easy to follow.
It’s recommended that you also provide a refund address, to which the fees you paid will be sent back to you if your inscription fails. This can be the same wallet address where you receive your ordinal inscription. You can also provide an email address to receive a receipt if you wish.
Step 6: Complete your transaction
The final step is to pay for the transaction. You can either send a specific amount of bitcoin to an address designated on the final page, or you can scan a QR code to make the payment using a supporting Bitcoin wallet. If you do this, please conduct thorough research to ensure that the wallet is safe and compatible.
Alternatively, you can use the browser wallet extension you already installed. Simply send some bitcoin to this wallet, and then use it to pay for this transaction. Remember you must send your payment in a single transaction.
After you’ve successfully completed these instructions, you’ll need to wait for hours or days to know if your ordinal inscription is successful. You can constantly check this page to view updates. The wait could be long, so just sit tight.
Safety Tips When Creating Your Ordinal Inscriptions
The ordinal inscription ecosystem is still experimental and users should follow safety tips and best practices to stay protected.
First, create a new wallet for ordinal inscriptions only, and don’t mix it with other wallets that you use for crypto investing and hodling. Only send the right amount of bitcoin to pay for your inscriptions as any excess funds you send to this wallet may be at risk. There is a chance that errors could lead to losses of funds.
Be cautious sending your inscriptions or when you do other types of transfers. If you’re unsure, don’t do it until you can confirm you are doing it right. Join online forums or social groups if you want to get deeper into the ordinals space.
Ordinal inscriptions open brand new opportunities to people who are interested in exploring innovative Bitcoin use cases. Some people believe ordinal inscriptions offer unparalleled features as an immutable, scarce, and unique file storage venue. Others are optimistic that the space will continue to grow to rival other NFT ecosystems.
If you want to get into ordinal inscriptions, this guide can inform you of the simpler ways to do this. The cost is moderate if your file size is small, and it could be fun to try this out. But remember, this isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, so think again if you plan to spend lots of money to inscribe multiple huge collections. As always, being prudent with your investment is recommended.