Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to get into buying and selling cryptocurrency. I intentionally didn’t use the word “investing,” because that is a bloody loose term for what many people are doing.
This post goes into most of the important stuff you need to know in as few words as possible. I’ve worked out a lot of this shit by making mistakes, so hopefully, this is a fast track for you so you don’t screw the same things up.
It does not go into the technology behind these things (usually the blockchain), because that has been covered by many people much smarter people than me. In the resources at the end, there’s a couple of places that will help with learning this stuff.
If you have any questions, drop in a comment below.
The most important part to understand
You’ll hear this from pretty much everyone, but it has to be said.
Only put in what you can afford to lose.
There’s a very real chance you will lose everything. This space is full of people manipulating markets and doing a lot of dodgy shit.
For someone to make money, someone else has to lose even more money. Read that again and let it sink in. Not everyone can win.
Even just rumours will drive a price up 80% in a day, and it can crash double that the next day. 100’s of Billions can get wiped off the market on fake news. It’s ridiculous.
Cryptocurrency is also a total mindfuck. You might go up 100% one day and think “ooh cool”. Then the next day you’re down 30% like “THE SKY IS FALLING FUCKKKK”. It doesn’t matter that you’re overall up… shifts that big in a single day really mess with your head. When you’re in the red, it’s much worse.
If you have weak hands and panic sell on price drops, you’ll almost definitely lose money.
My initial pool came from a little bit of money in shares. I’d completely forgotten about it and didn’t give a shit about it anymore. I wasn’t doing research in those companies, so I figured that money was better off in crypto, which I was actually interested in.
If there’s one thing you do today, it should be to create accounts at these places. Lately, many have been shutting their doors to deal with a large influx of new people. If you can get in, get in now. You can leave your account dormant until you actually need that exchange. I did this at the beginning and it’s worked in my favour to snap up a couple of coins that happened to be on only one of these.
I go into more detail on these sites at the bottom of this post. With some of these links I earn referral fees.
A note on security: Enable 2 factor authentication on ALL your exchange accounts anyway. The more security you can have in this the better. There’s a lot of dodgy people in crypto.
Getting money in and out
The hardest part of crypto is getting money in and out. That’s the conversion of “fiat” (what you know as real money), to a cryptocurrency.
For us Aussies, the places where you can convert fiat to crypto are pretty much the worst Exchanges. They are usually quite limited or have high fees. As soon as you buy the currency, you’ll want to send it to bigger Exchange.
I’ll list out these places below with their pros and cons. I’ll use my favourite, BTCMarkets, as the example.
At BTC markets, you’ll use some real money to buy one of the coins they have available. Right now they have 6 options. So if you want to buy any of the other ~1300 cryptocurrencies, you’ll need to move the coin you just bought to another exchange.
The same applies when you want to get real money back out. You’ll send a coin back to BTCMarkets to cash out into your bank account.
Side note: There are a few projects that plan to allow you to use a Visa to pay with crypto, so this is an alternate way to cash out.
At an “Exchange”, people are putting in buy and sell orders. If your sell matches with someone else’s buy, an exchange takes place and the “Exchange” takes their cut.
This is important to know. Like the gold rush, where people selling tools made all the money, Exchanges are making a killing from people like you and I.
Fees range from 0.05% to 4%, so you should always check the fees as you can get stung.
There are a ton of different exchanges, and I’ll list out some of the best below.
Example exchange: I say I want to sell 0.2 Bitcoin (BTC) for Ethereum (ETH) at a price of 0.096421. I put in this sell order, but the exchange only happens when someone else comes along and says they are willing to buy that 0.2 BTC at the same price or better. If 2 people want to buy 0.1 each, that would also execute your order.
These bigger Exchanges generally don’t deal in real money. They will have a list of “pairs” that you can trade in.
- BTC/ETH allows you to sell or buy Bitcoin for Ethereum
- ETH/LTC allows you to sell or buy Ethereum for Litecoin
Every exchange trades in Bitcoin (BTC). Many trade in Ethereum (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC) as well. Some have even more.
This means you can’t always just exchange one coin for another. You might need to do a few trades to make that happen.
Example: I have some NEO on “Exchange X” and want to buy some Ripple (XRP).
Unfortunately, Exchange X don’t have XRP, but “Exchange Y” does.
Exchange X allows me to buy/sell NEO using BTC only.
Exchange Y allows me to buy/sell Ripple against BTC and ETH.
I could exchange NEO for BTC on Exchange X, send the BTC to Exchange Y and buy XRP.
The problem with this is that BTC can be extremely slow and expensive to send (more on this later).
Instead, I might first sell NEO for BTC, then sell that BTC for ETH.
I can send the ETH to Exchange Y and buy the XRP.
Sounds complex right? It kind of is.
Depending on where you are buying and selling, you might have to go through 3 trades to change one currency to another. That means 3 different exchange rates you need to check.
There’s also usually fees to transfer between exchanges. More on that below.
Tip: Finding which exchanges that sell a coin
The best resource to find what exchange the coin you want can be bought is at CoinMarketCap. Search or find your coin in the list, then go to the “Markets” tab to see a list of exchanges and trading pairs. The dropdown at the top right then allows you to switch between USD or BTC equivalent price.
Getting coins around
Without getting too technical here, the way coins get around is by sending an amount from one “address” to another.
Anywhere that a coin is stored, there is an associated address. An address is normally just a long string of letters and/or numbers.
For example, let’s say you buy one Litecoin on BTCMarkets and want to move it to another exchange. When you buy the LTC, BTCMarkets will create you an address where this Litecoin now exists on the network.
If you want to send that Litecoin to another exchange, you log in to that exchange and find the “Deposit” section. Find the Litecoin deposit section, and it will show you an address.
You then go to BTCMarkets and find the “Withdraw” section. It will ask you for the address you want to send to, and the amount to send.
It is extremely important to get this address right. Triple check it every time. If you get it wrong, there’s no way to recover your coin and you just threw away money.
Exchanges will almost always charge a fee to withdraw. They vary between coins (e.g. 0.01 Litecoin or 0.005 Ethereum) and between exchanges. Some exchanges are MUCH more expensive.
You might have plans to send coins from one place to another and get blindsided by the fees, completely destroying the profit you made. This is especially true when dealing with smaller trades.
Some coins have different requirements, like Ripple. XRP requires both an address and a “tag”, but they exchanges will usually show you this when you go to the deposit/withdraw screens.
Sending coins also takes time. Different coins have different speeds, and it can slow down during large price changes when lots of buying and selling is happening and the network gets bogged down. Never rely on coins getting from point A to point B quickly, because it can take up to a day.
Sending coins can cost money. Depending on the coin, less coins will show up than you send. The difference is the network fee. They can change based on how loaded down the network is. Sometimes, Bitcoin’s fees are crazy, which is why I almost never send BTC.
Storing your coins
This is by far the most pain in the ass part of all of this. But it’s also very important.
Leaving your coins on an exchange is dangerous. Exchanges get hacked. When this happens, they steal a bunch of coins and there’s nothing you can do to get them back. If someone gets into your account, you can kiss all your money goodbye.
This is why people store on “wallets.”
Sending to wallets is the same as sending between exchanges. You get the address from your wallet and send the coins to it, less the withdrawal fees from the exchange.
There are many types of wallets. These include paper, hardware, mobile, desktop and web. I’m not going into this too much, but I use a Nano Ledger S for most of my coins.
The shit part is, no wallet supports every coin. Some of the newer coins will only have their own wallet, until other multi coin wallets add support for that coin. You can end up with a LOT of different wallets.
If you’re techy, the best idea I’ve seen is to have all your wallets on a virtual machine which you back up regularly.
No matter what wallet you’re using, find the backup section and learn how to backup and restore your wallet. If you don’t and something goes wrong… bye bye money.
Every wallet has their own setup instructions, so you’ll simply need to Google around and find what wallet is best for your coins.
CryptoCompare is a good place to start.
I find out about new interesting coins in two ways. Through Facebook groups, or simply looking through the list at CoinMarketCap.
On CoinMarketCap, you can see market cap (number of available coins * the price), recent price changes, links to the project’s website, telegram (chat) groups, twitter and more.
I try to get an idea of market sentiment (what people are thinking about a project) by digging through Reddit and Twitter. That said, there are so many idiots in these places that it is bloody hard to find the stuff worth reading.
There will always be people saying how great they think a certain coin is… usually because they are invested in it. A lot of the time they will have no real reasoning for it.
You can look for things like:
- A good idea that has real market potential
- A good team behind it
- Real commercial partnerships
Many coins are just stupid. Some are straight up scams. Even some of the biggest coins by market cap are simply promises, and they don’t even have a working product yet. You’re just betting on whether the team behind it will be able to create real value in the future.
It’s the fucking wild west.
But I’m not here to tell you how to research. Just start reading. A lot.
Just remember that almost everyone is full of shit. In late 2017, you basically couldn’t make a bad call, so just because someone called a few coins that went up, doesn’t make them a genius.
That said, you do need to find some people that are more trustworthy, and through your research you’ll find some.
An ICO is an Initial Coin Offering. It’s essentially fundraising for a new project. This is an entirely different world.
ICOs are not on exchanges, and you’ll usually have to go through a complicated process of registering, setting up a “smart contract” and spending another coin (usually Ethereum) to get some of the new coin.
They are even more speculative than an already speculative market but have the potential for large gains by getting in early.
That’s all I’m going to say on this as it is a huge topic that you can start researching.
ICOBench is a good place to start.
These are my favourite exchanges. If you use these links, I get a little cut of trades you might make on the platform in the future.
Create your accounts now. With the huge volumes of signups lately, many exchanges have had to close their doors temporarily. Get in while you can and just leave your account dormant. If you find a coin you want to buy that’s only on one exchange, if you already have an account there it’s much easier when that time comes.
The first couple are more newbie friendly, but that comes at a premium.
With the huge volumes of signups lately, many exchanges have had to close their doors temporarily. Not all of these will be open.
Coinbase – Sign Up Here
- Easiest way in
- Pay by credit card or bank, depending on country
- It start with very low limits, so you can only put a small amount in. These limits are raised the more you transact.
- Highest fees. Don’t let the low coin rates fool you, they make up for it with fees
- You can’t sell, only buy
CoinSpot (Aussies) – Sign Up Here
- Easy to get in
- Large range of altcoins
- Not a real exchange. They are a broker which means they are buying on your behalf and you don’t even have the coins
- Extreme fees
- Most coins cannot be sent TO CoinSpot to see. Some can’t even be sent out
BTC Markets (Aussies) – Sign Up Here
This is my preferred way to get money into the system. You can buy LTC or ETH to send onto another exchange.
- Lower fees than the above two (not great though)
- Starts with a 2k daily limit so it’s easier to get money in
- Rates can be a little above market
- Crap interface
Binance – Sign Up Here
- Probably the best exchange out there
- Decent mobile app
- Very low fees when you buy some “BNB” coin. This is their own coin that you can elect to use for fees. I put $100 into BNB and it will pay my fees for a while
KuCoin – Sign Up Here
- Has a lot of the newer, hard to find coins
Cryptopia – Sign Up Here
- Has harder to find coins
- Horrible, slow interface
- Ridiculous withdrawal fees on some coins. I find best way to withdraw is to convert and send ETH or LTC
Poloniex – Sign Up Here
- Just another one worth having that might have a coin or two that isn’t on the others
- Fiat – normal, government currency
- Moon – a massive price jump
- Moon lambo – something idiots say. Cause they’re going to buy a Lambo with their crypto money
- Hodl – a way of saying hold your coins and don’t panic sell. “Hold” typo, on purpose
- FUD – Fear, uncertainty, doubt. Drives prices down.
- CoinMarketCap – List of cryptocurrencies, prices, market caps, links to project websites. A great starting point
- CryptoCompare – info about blockchain, wallets, coins and lots of other stuff
- Reddit – Google “<your coin> reddit” to find the subreddit for that coin
- Twitter – Hashtag search for each coin abbreviation
- CoinDesk – Crypto news
- SteemIt – A place with its own coin where people earn for posting great content. Because of that, it’s mostly crypto chat
Any questions… hit me up on the contact page.