Let's Celebrate Small-Time Crypto Success Stories
Sometimes participating in a utopian internet experiment is better than making a million dollars.
Illustration by Ben Thomson
It’s always a friend of a friend who made big money cashing out their Bitcoin. A coworker from another department who you barely speak to. A distant and surprisingly computer-savvy uncle. The guy who supplied every party you attended between 2012-2014 and still follow on social media, but never actually liked or trusted, especially not in matters of personal finance.
Specifics change, but one constant remains: you didn’t choose to buy in, not back in the good old days when you could have chucked some spare change into the digital ether and forgotten about it, only to wake up three years later a literal multi-millionaire. Just didn’t make much sense at the time, did it, to swap made-up paper currency for made-up computer currency? Maybe you had a coin or two at some point but spent it/them on dubiously legal summer festival good times. Maybe your hard drive got hacked by the FBI. Maybe you decided all that magic internet money sounded like a scam , not something a fiscally responsible adult such as yourself would bother with.
Except somehow now the silk road stoner with terrible taste in music who you always dismissed as a badly dressed real-life Reddit troll just put down a deposit for his second home and you’re still working a desk job and renting in a suburb at least three zones out from the city centre.
Friend, I am right there with you. Blockchain? More like Blockpain. Blockregret. But while many of us lost our chance to become accidental Bitcoin millionaires, we are still totally able to participate in the hot new digital currency trend: blindly betting small portions of our paychecks on the next cool coin. The coin we’ll all be trading for clean water and medicine when the nuclear apocalypse comes (June, I think?). Or, in more optimistic terms, the coin that will pay for a nice, moderately-priced two-week Bali getaway.
I present to you: inspirational stories of small-time crypto success. Proof that, in some admittedly limited ways, getting to participate in a viral trend as it reaches its frenetic cultural peak is much more fun than getting in on said trend early and retiring early to live on a private island.
Bitcoin? Never heard of her. It’s all about altcoin, baby! HODL on as tight as you can.
Hannah, 27, Agency Creative
I got involved because friends and coworkers told me to. My girlfriend and I got on the exchange, and it takes a while for your money to clear so during that time we did heaps of reading on Reddit and decided Ripple was a goer. We poured in $250, and it started going up. I doubled my money overnight, so I put in another $250. Now I'm up to $1000, but I haven't sold it yet. I'm riding the wave.
My goal is that I want to go to Italy this year; I want about $5000 or enough to just go sit in a villa and say "Crypto got me here." I don't want to make a million dollars, I just want a holiday. I don't have enough money to put in that could actually make me a millionaire anyway. Unless Ripple turns out to be Bitcoin, which is probably won't, because it's not as scarce.
Crypto is really addictive and more about having fun than making money, for me. My girlfriend and I talk about it all the time—it's brought us closer. We literally get home and sit together on our couch with our laptops, split a block of chocolate and go into a Reddit hole while watching our profits rise.
Barnabas, 25, Teacher
I work as a teacher, so over the past month’s school holiday have been enjoying a summer of crypto. In the space of one month, I’ve made the equivalent of six months’ salary by investing in four different coins, all with decent backing. I got interested late last year but spent a heap of time trawling Reddit before putting in money. It’s a freaking weird space, to be honest, and can become a pretty unhealthy obsession. I probably think about my crypto every 25 minutes, and I check on it about every three hours.
Over the past few weeks the altcoin craze, like smaller more unknown coins, has really kicked off, and it’s been a wild time getting involved in these obsessive online communities. There’s a depressing side of it too—these nerds with massive success stories, but success founded on what? It’s also important to note that there’s a barrier to entry for a lot of people on the tech side of things. All I know is that when I get off the crypto train, I’m never getting back on. It’s a deep dark hole to fall down and I’d definitely advise that people only play around with a small amount of money that they can afford to lose.
Harlett, 27, Sales Assistant
I didn't have much money to my name, but within a couple of weeks and no regrets later, I've managed to build a small portfolio of Ripple, Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic and plan to re-invest my profits into new altcoins down the track. At this point in time, I've made around $2000. What I like most about cryptocurrency is that it's not only super interesting to learn about, but it also brings people closer together! Over Christmas I was finally able to connect with my brother's girlfriend, and guess what we spoke about? Ripple! We now frequently share crypto memes with each other over Instagram.
At the end of all of this, I'd like to use my crypto profits to fund a holiday with my partner and use the rest to get back into the "brick and mortar" stock market... because I sold my shares in Telstra to get here.
Steph, 27, IT
I bought a little bit of Ethereum and Litecoin and it didn't do much. So I moved it over to another wallet and split my investment among some different, smaller coins. My few hundred dollars turned into a thousand, so I put another grand in. I've doubled my money by doing a little bit of day trading and basically hedging my bets by putting money in different coins and seeing what happens. I have no desire to fall into a hole and spend my whole day trading and making larger amounts—mine seems to be going well with minimal effort and minimal research. There was a big crash late last year where I sold a lot of it, because everything was down by about 60 percent, but it's already recouped. I've got a friend who has made about $30,000 and is considering giving up his apprenticeship and trading full time because he's making that much money.
There's been a ripple effect with people jumping onto the trend. For me though, I've just put in the $4000 I had reserved for a holiday. Losing it wouldn't be ideal, but the way things have been going I could earn shitloads more if I leave it in there for a bit. It's high risk but it's worth it, and if I lose the money I just won't take a holiday this year. Not the end of the world.
Raoul, 19, Labourer
I'm not all over crypto or super into the technical analysis side of things, but I am well and truly obsessed. Since late last year my friend group has being doing heaps of research—we’re like a bit of a team now. I put in about $2000 as my first entry. The first thing I bought was Dash, and I felt like it was the future. After I bought it, it quickly went up about $200 USD per coin. But because Dash was already going well it was hard to keep up those crazy gains. So I sold it and reinvested in smaller currencies, Ripple and Cardano. And those have been going ballistic: I've made about $3000 per month.
After all the verification processes are done and you start watching the market closely, you see patterns. You can figure out when the price is going to go up and down—when to sell, when to buy. For me a lot of the appeal of crypto is that I've always been interested in technology, and I like the decentralisation of it all. Giving control of money back to the user.
Ben, 32, Graphic Designer
I definitely left buying crypto too late because I was lazy about it, but decided to give it a go anyway because I had heard about people making tonnes of money for very little effort. And it has a comparatively low entrance hurdle compared to day trading or something like that. I signed up to two Australian exchanges and I've basically just been watching a million YouTube videos and reading Reddit and making purchases based on that. I actually don't have a lot invested, I'm trying to invest small amounts of money on big risks and then a bit more money on things that are fairly stable.
I've made $243, using money that I had put aside for paying back my student loan. Actually, my main reason for doing it is I want to make extra money to pay back said student loan. I don't think it's a good idea to put large amounts down, personally this is a fun thing I'm trying for a year and maybe it will work out. It's like a really addictive although kind of boring iPhone game, but with real money which makes it exciting. It's 90 percent really stupid people doing it too, which means stupid things happen all the time. Which is fun.
*Some names have been changed
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