Here are the essential cryptocurrency resources for those getting started with cryptocurrencies.
To use cryptocurrency, you need a wallet, and you need a way to buy/sell coins. Once you have “coins” (aka crypto), you can trade those for other coins (either on an exchange like GDAX or via a program like ShapeShift).
The Top 10 Coins By market cap
If you are new to crypto, you probably want to focus on the top 10 coins by market cap. To keep track of these, go to CoinMarketCap.com.
Coinbase is a digital wallet/broker you can buy Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Ethereum from. GDAX is a traditional exchange operated by Coinbase where you can trade USD for Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum’s Ether (and trade Bitcoin for Ether and Litecoin). This is an excellent first step for someone new to cryptocurrency.
Other top exchanges include Bittrex, Binance, and Kraken, but none are perhaps as beginner friendly and widely used in the U.S. as Coinbase/GDAX. There are lots of choices, but starting with the most popular and most commonly used (like those above) is a good bet.
Technical Analysis / Trend Analysis (Analyzing Charts and Trends)
If you are actively trading, you will very likely want to follow some smart people who do technical analysis and analyze trends (“those who draw lines on charts” and infer trends from whatever medium they can: fundamentals, social media, historical price movements, etc.). Two good sources are Tradingview.com and Steemit.com.
These are both free to use sites in which other people online with or without the skills to be making this breakdown patterns in charts (things get upvoted, downvoted, and commented on, so you can get a decent sense of who knows their stuff that way). Crypto doesn’t always follow the trends that the charts suggest (like news and strange events can throw wrenches in things; hence making social media and such part of one’s research process). However, the analysts end up being right often enough that they are worth paying attention to.
Always check multiple analyses by multiple traders to get a good sense of the current sentiment on a coin or “trading pair” (for example Bitcoin to Ether).
We typically suggest using an official (or officially endorsed) wallet for any given coin. So, for Bitcoin we would suggest using the Bitcoin Core Wallet, for Litecoin we would suggest Litecoin-QT, and for Ethereum we would recommend either Ethereum Wallet or MyEtherWallet.
Figuring out what block we are at
With bitcoin, you can use BlockExplorer to find out what transaction block is the current block (this is helpful to know for forks). The same general thing goes for each coin, Google “current block for [coin name]” NOTE: A blockchain is a ledger of transactions organized by “blocks” of transactions. A fork is when a blockchain splits and creates two different chains (and often coins).
If you want to “mine coins” you need a mining rig and likely will want to join a mining pool. Being a miner is a bit like a mix between running computer software and being an accountant. Learn about mining.
In general, and especially with crypto used for investment, cryptocurrency is treated as an investment property. The implications of this aren’t that simple. Further, there are a bunch of tax guidelines and regulations to know on a state and federal level. Learn more about cryptocurrency and taxes.
Keeping up with the news
Aside from reading our site, you can keep up on the news on crypto with longstanding publications like CoinDesk and CoinTelegraph. You can also check out bitcointalk.org (a popular forum for everything crypto). Further, you can follow smart crypto folk like Charlie Lee (of Litecoin) and Vitalik Buterin (of Ethereum) on social media (see others recommend when you start following them, there are a few useful people to follow, but take advice with a grain of salt as a few people have questionable motives). Further, you can join crypto groups on social media (just don’t let them pump you full of mania).
Keep cool, avoid mania
If you don’t know the history of bubbles and the basics of how currency, assets, and investing work, or if you aren’t a seasoned investor, try not to buy into this idea that crypto will go up forever. Its a risky space for investing and some coins aren’t that amazing as everyday payments systems (i.e., crypto is magical in a way, but we aren’t dealing with real magic beans). At least read up on the basics of investing and the history of economic bubbles.
White papers and ICOs
When a new coin comes out it generally releases a “white paper” this is like the sales pitch. ICOs are new coins used for crowdfunding. If you want to invest in an ICO or new coin in general, read the white paper and know the risks (the top coins by market cap are generally less risky than new coins; plus some ICOs are scams). With that in mind, generally be aware of scams (crypto is a somewhat unregulated space).
Nothing in life is free
With crypto, hard forks can produce free coins, and early access to ICOs can result in crazy growth, but there is always a trade-off. Just generally, crypto is a bit like the Wild West, avoid deals that seem too good to be true. There is often, but not always, a catch.