Getting Started, From the Team

What I Learned Starting Out with Crypto in My 20s

As I started my career in crypto after graduating college, it became evident that there was a lot of information to process in order to get an understanding of the DeFi space. Seeing the potential of crypto, but also the abundance of experience required to really know what I'm doing, I focused on a couple of things that I needed to learn before anything else. With the help of my colleagues and reputable sources on the internet, here are some key takeaways if you’re first starting out in crypto: Make sure to always DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH (DYOR), be wary of scammers/phishing websites and their tactics, and to understand how you can start actively earning rewards on your crypto.

Do your own research (DYOR)

When cryptocurrency was just starting to get mainstream attention a few years back, it was difficult to find the right piece of information to understand what was going on; and if you did, it would still take time to figure out how things worked in layman’s terms.

Fortunately, as more and more people got involved, users began creating communities, YouTube channels, and learning centers online so a beginner can quickly get involved and start participating in the crypto space. r/Ethereum is a prime example of a community that focuses on what’s going on in the crypto world and offers help to newcomers. With over 1.3 million users and 500-1000 daily active accounts, r/Ethereum has helped not just me, but many others with getting into crypto.

As a note, it’s important to understand that not all comments/answers you get on this forum will be 100% accurate. You will most likely get your correct answer from the ones that have the most upvotes (a voting system used to have other users vote on whether a comment/post is good or bad). However, if forums aren’t the right platform for you, the Ethereum foundation has a guide that shows how everything works, from an intro to blockchain to smart contracts.

The major points to take away are to find information from trusted websites, double check on what you read, and most importantly to do your own research. Many people make the mistake of following a person’s advice based on their amount of following or how entertaining they might be. While this may seem like a shortcut, it may not turn out as you expect, and the reward will be greater when you figure it out on your own.

Be wary of scammers/phishers

When you think of scammers, you might be imagining that one emailer who swears a Nigerian prince needs your help. Unfortunately, scammers/phishers have been getting more savvy with technology and are not that easy to spot sometimes. Here are some ways scammers try to take control of your wallet, and how to avoid them.

DM (Direct Message) bots on Discord and social media
When you sign up on a Discord server for an NFT collection, a crypto videogame, or anything else DeFi related, there might be a message request on your top left a few minutes after you join. It might say something along the lines of “ You’ve been selected to pre-mint at __ ETH! Connect your wallet at this website to start minting” or “ Want to get on the presale for ___? Join this discord server now to get whitelisted!”

Nine times out of ten, Discord servers will have rules stating they will never DM you and to turn off receiving direct messages for their server (unless stated otherwise). In order to do this, head to the Discord server privacy settings and turn off the function that states Allow Direct Messages from server members.

The same goes for Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Telegram and any other social platforms. Most official support teams (including MEW's) will never message you first. And they will certainly never ask for your phrase, your keys, or to 'verify' your wallet.

Double check usernames and websites
On Twitter, if you state you have a problem with a certain wallet, tokens aren’t being shown, etc, you might receive a reply with something along the lines of I’ve had ___ help me out with all my crypto needs. Simply use this google form to fill out your problem, and we’ll help you as soon as possible”.

The important thing to note from this is the google form. Do not believe users that tell you to fill out a google form. Instead, make sure to go to the actual wallet or crypto company account (double check the username!), head over to their main website for links to official channels, or send a DM to them. There are many scammers who use nearly identical usernames by swapping out just one character in the handle name or website address, so be extra vigilant.

Secure your crypto wallet

One of the best ways of securing your crypto is with a notable and trusted wallet company, and writing down your recovery phrase on paper (never storing it online). It’s easier to just take a screenshot of your recovery phrase and store it in your photos or note app, but what happens when a person gets into your phone? All of your data will be compromised, including your crypto. Similarly, if you store your phrase in your email or in the cloud, there are many ways for hackers to get at this information. If you’d like to take your security a step further, you can purchase a cold storage hardware wallet, and read about more pro tips to avoid phishing.

Understand how you can use crypto to earn rewards

As the crypto space grows, there are more and more ways you can earn crypto by the day. Buying and holding crypto is great, but it doesn't have to just sit there. The first thing I would like to point out is to start out small. There are many ways to earn rewards, and it’s important to try and test out features to see which ones you like more.

For example, there is staking on Ethereum and other blockchains, which earns your rewards while you help secure the blockchain network. MEW offers multiple staking options to explore, both on the MEW wallet app and MEW web.  Staking is probably the simplest way to put your crypto to use, but once you feel more comfortable, other options to take into consideration are yield farming, liquidity farming, and NFTs.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what would be best for your crypto portfolio, and to remain vigilant on finding the right information and the right kind of DeFi options. The internet has allowed us almost infinite access to information, but comes with the risks of having too many choices. This is why it’s important to stick to a small amount of opportunities at first in order to fully learn each function, then expand onto more ventures (but never invest more than you are prepared to lose!).

MEW offers a help center, which dives into a wide range of subjects from ‘what is an NFT’ to staking, swapping, and much more. As you progress further into your crypto experience, you will find out more ways you can earn crypto, and how to play it smart. Sooner than later, you’ll be very glad you dove deep into the world of Ethereum and cryptocurrency. DYOR, good luck, and have fun!

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About Jason Kim