No, the successful trader is not me. I’ve gotten lucky a few times and I’m still refining and trying out strategies; on the other hand, I’m part of communities of people who trade on a daily basis to grow their portfolios, and while some of the results can be attributed to luck, a majority of it is based on fundamentals, good habits, and experience.
The Result of Good Habits
Miles is the co-founder of Pure Investments. In May 2017, he started off by playing with $1,000, which he accumulated through saving 10% of his paychecks for a while. Today, he is at $46,000; i.e., he grew his portfolio by 46x in less than a year.
Similarly, after starting Pure Investments back in September 2017, Miles got one of his first community members, who goes by the pseudonym SP on the Discord channel. When SP started, he put in $40,000. By January 2018, he had over $1 million (today it’s ~$800k due to the recent Bitcoin crash).
While markets like cryptocurrency are extremely volatile and all investors are subject to its price fluctuation including Miles, SP, myself, and you, good habits will help mitigate the losses and maximize profits.
Nine Rules of Crypto Trading
Please note that none of this is investment advice. Invest at your own risk!
1. Only invest what you can lose. During the recent crash in January 2018, hobby-investors got burned. Reports of frustration and losses came at the cost of broken monitors, smashed laptops, and heavy monetary losses. While the rules are in more particular order of importance, it’s safe to assume that this is the most important rule, the rule to rule the rules. As soon as your money is converted into cryptocurrency, consider it lost forever. There is absolutely no guarantee you can get it back. Losses don’t simply come from dips in the market; extraordinary factors such as hacks, bugs, and government regulation can mean you’ll never see any of your money again. If you are investing money you can’t afford to lose, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your current financial situation, because what you’re about to do is an act of desperation. This includes: using credit cards, taking out mortgages, applying for loans, or selling everything and traveling the world (as glamorous as that sounds).
2. Always pay attention to Bitcoin. Most altcoins (every cryptocurrency except Bitcoin) are pegged more closely to Bitcoin than Asian currencies were to the USD during the Asian Financial Crisis. If Bitcoin price pump drastically, altcoins price can go down as people try to exit altcoins to ride the BTC profits; inversely, if Bitcoin prices dump drastically, altcoin prices can go down, too, as people exit altcoins to exchange back into fiat. The best times for altcoin growth appear when Bitcoin shows organic growth or decline, or remains stagnant in price.
3. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify. While the potential to earn more is increased with the amount of money you invest into a coin, the potential to lose more is also magnified. Another way to think about it is to look at the cryptocurrency market as a whole; if you believe that this is just the beginning, then more than likely the entire market cap of cryptocurrencies will increase. What are the chances that this market cap increase will be entirely driven by one coin vs. being driven by many coins? The best way to safely capture the overall growth of cryptocurrency is to diversify and reap the benefits of growth from multiple coins. Also, fun fact — Between January 2016 and January 2018, Corgicoin has increased by 60,000x, and Verge has increased by 13,000x. During the same period, Bitcoin has increased by 34x. While you would have gotten impressive gains from Bitcoin, expanding into other coins could have landed you potentially larger ones.
4. Don’t be greedy. No one ever lost money taking a profit. As a coin begins to grow, the greed inside us grows along with it. If a coin increases by 30%, why not consider taking profit? Even if goals are set to 40% or 50%, you should at least pull out some of the profit on the way up in case a coin doesn’t reach the goal. If you wait too long or try to get out at a higher point, you risk losing profit you already earned or even turning that profit into a loss. Get into the habit of taking profits and scouting for re-entry if you want to continue reaping potential profits.
5. Don’t invest blindy. There are people in this world who would sell a blind person a pair of glasses if they could make money. Those same people play in the cryptocurrency markets and use every opportunity to exploit less-informed investors. They’ll tell you what to buy or claim certain coins will moon, just to increase the prices so they can exit. Due to the highly speculative nature of the cryptocurrency markets today, a good investor will always do his or her own research in order to take full responsibility for the potential investment outcome. Information coming from even the best investor is, at best, great information, but never a promise, so you can still get burned.
6. Don’t FOMO. This is a spot that people most frequently lose money on. A dash of manipulation, two tablespoons of media hype, a cup of CME and CBOE announcements, and a generous handful of FOMO drove Bitcoin prices from $10,000 to $20,000 in December. Since that time, Bitcoin fell to a low of $9,000 and is currently sitting at around $11,000. It’s easy to look back and say, “if only I waited one month, then I could’ve bought at $9,000 instead of waiting for Bitcoin to hit $20,000 again for me to break even.” But the reality is, the combination of 1) being greedy, 2) investing blindly, and 3) FOMO were likely large contributors to the purchase at an all-time-high. Even in the crazy world of cryptocurrency, if a coin pumps that quickly, it will correct — it’s a matter of time. Speculative pumps are almost always followed by dips. While trying to jump onto a train going full speed sounds like something straight out of a James Bond movie, I’m sure most of us can agree we would probably save some limbs if we just waited for it at the next stop.
7. Categorize your investments and look at the long picture. In the process of your research, you’ll eventually realize you’re coming across a few different categories of coins. For some of them, you believe they have good teams, great vision, amazing publicity and a track record for successful execution. Great! Put these into medium or long-term holds and let them marinate into a delicious tenderloin. When the price dips, don’t even consider panic selling because anything in your medium or long-term portfolio should remain untouched for a set amount of time. BNB is a good example of a coin Miles considers a long hold. Recently, it dipped 20% for a while, and within our community, we witnessed some sell-offs to preserve investments. A week later, it jumped up almost 3x for a period of time.
8. Always learn from your mistakes. Never accept a total loss. Always evaluate the situation and try to figure out why it happened. Take that experience as an asset for your next move, which will be better because you are know more now than you knew before. We all start off as amateurs, and we have all lost money throughout out trading experience. In his first month of trading, Miles went from $1,000 to $300. I’ve lost a lot by selling at losses inspired by fear. No one is perfect, no one wins every single trade. Don’t let the losses discourage you, because the reality is they’re making you better trader if you choose to learn from them.
9. If you are doing any active trading, set stop losses. For any coins not in your medium or long-term holds, always set stop losses. This is important for several reasons — the most obvious is mitigating your losses. But more importantly, you force yourself to decide on a point of acceptable loss, and because you now have a reference point, you are able to measure your effectiveness to keep or adjust for future trades. Sometimes, during a market dip, altcoins can plummet, and stop losses can lead to profitability by automatically selling for fiat that you can use to re-enter at lower prices.
10. #10 Bonus — always check the ticker symbol. Ticker symbols are not universal, and may vary from exchange to exchange in rare cases. Those cases, though, can come back to bite you. For example, Bitcoin Cash trades on some exchanges as BCH, while it trades on others as BCC. BCC is also the ticker symbol for BitConnect, which was recently outted as a Ponzi Scheme. If you bought BCC under the impression was Bitcoin Cash, you would’ve lost a lot of money.
You Don’t Have to Go At It Alone
While these rules are by no means the only lessons you need, they’re definitely a great starting point. Sometimes, though, things are easier said than done, such as watching your portfolio value plummet and still having the iron willpower of resisting the sell button. One of the best solutions I’ve found to this was to join a community of like-minded cryptocurrency investors. Educated and smart crypto-traders, as well as the community members, will all be there to support your efforts and will be holding with you in the rough times.
On top of that, the cryptocurrency market travels at lightspeed compared to other markets. New coins enter the market on a daily basis (in 2016, there were about 550 different coins, today there are about 1,500), and each one has news every day. I’m not doubting your ability to consume and analyze news, but that level of information bombardment will always be more effectively consumed as a group. In these communities, you’ll see members link news and relevant articles about coins you’ve invested in and coins you’ve never heard of. The community will definitely expand your knowledge much faster than doing it all yourself.
The Pure Investments community, as well as many other communities out there, have a free and paid membership. The paid membership is similar to the free one in that each one can access the community, but the paid one has more hands-on guidance from the analysts, and you can learn more through the education sections.