Suddenly I found myself in the position where I had traded all my extra cash for bitcoin. I had slowly bought more bitcoin until I had all bitcoin, and no dollars. For some reason, I still wanted more bitcoin!
I didn't have any more dollars to trade for bitcoin, but it then occurred to me that there are more ways to get bitcoin than simply buying it on an exchange. You can actually earn bitcoin, just like dollars.
Whether you already spent all your dollars on bitcoin, or you simply don't have a lot of wiggle room to save cash to buy bitcoin from an exchange, here are some ways in which you can earn some bitcoin to stack into cold storage.
4 Ways To Earn Bitcoin Other Than “Just Buy It”
1. Get Paid In Bitcoin
Technically, any company could pay its workers in bitcoin, but unless your boss is full orange-pilled, it may be difficult to get them to actually do that. What that means is that in order to get paid in bitcoin, you probably need to work for a company offering services in the bitcoin industry. I'm not sure I've ever heard of a non-bitcoin company that pays in bitcoin, but that may change in the future as more people demand it and more bitcoiners start businesses.
If you plan on working for a bitcoin company, consider that bitcoin companies offer many types of positions within their organizations. You don't have to be a shadowy super coder to work in bitcoin. These companies still need to fill typical positions like customer acquisition and relationship development, HR, design, payroll, tax filing, product management, and corporate/middle management positions.
In other words, you don't have to be working “on” bitcoin to work “in” bitcoin.
Of course, you should be good at your job and add value to the company where you'd like to work. Being a bitcoiner isn't enough to land you a job in some of these fast-paced, bootstrapped, tight-knit teams. You gotta bring something to the table!
But for competitive positions, having a passion for bitcoin and understanding even just the basics of why bitcoin is important can be enough to be that “something extra” that lands you the position over your competitors.
What If My Company Can't/Won't Pay In Bitcoin?
Basically, you set up a direct deposit to your accounts and you can toggle how much you want to be converted to bitcoin. It's the same effect as if you were setting up a dollar cost average service to automatically withdraw a certain amount of money from your account each month to convert into bitcoin, but it does have the added effect of feeling like you get paid in bitcoin because you get bitcoin at the same moment your paycheck drops.
With services like these, it really doesn't matter that much if your company pays you in bitcoin, other than for ideological reasons.
The Bitcoin 401(k)
For those whose company doesn't offer payments in bitcoin, you may still be in luck if your 401(k) is managed by Fidelity. As of 2022, Fidelity 401(k) plans have a bitcoin option. To get the bitcoin, you would simply select it as an option from a dropdown menu, the same as buying any other type of investment available in your retirement account. This way, any bitcoin you earn can be stacked into a tax-advantaged account.
This option is only available to employees of companies that use Fidelity to manage their 401(k) plans, and only if those companies actually allow bitcoin as an option. It's a little strange that your employer can decide what you are allowed to invest in, but I guess that's the way it works.
The downside here is that you don't actually have possession of the bitcoin. It's unclear if Fidelity actually owns the bitcoin, if they own GBTC shares, or if they are just tracking the price using other financial instruments, but you certainly won't be able to withdraw the bitcoin to your own wallet.
2. Start A Business That Accepts Bitcoin
Starting a business that accepts bitcoin is a perfect way for anyone to earn bitcoin. Plus, entrepreneurship offers several other benefits as well. You get to learn the skill of how to create value and sell on the marketplace, and you will gain some perspective on how companies you rely on operate. The struggles of entrepreneurship test your grit, time preference, and mental fortitude. You'll also be forced to learn relevant skills like sales, business administration, relationship management (if you have employees), and more.
Plus, you get to flex your brain muscles as you meet challenges and overcome them. Entrepreneurship is not easy, but it is rewarding, even on a small scale. You don't have to be the next Steve Jobs to have a successful business. Even a small side hustle can be worth it!
Literally anyone can start a business because we all have useful skills to sell. If you don't, then it's time to develop one. It's nice to always have something in your back pocket, just in case things at your job don't work out.
Being able to provide value to others is a very rewarding experience and a useful skill to have, especially with economic trouble on the horizon for the United States and the world as whole.
What can you do for a business idea? Well, anything that someone else doesn't want to do, or can't do.
Just look at how many successful yard maintenance companies there are out there. Sure, everyone can figure out how to mow their grass and trim their trees, but there are plenty of people who don't have the time or don't know how to do it properly. Plus, as a bitcoiner, you have an automatic unique selling proposition of offering to get paid in bitcoin. To incentivize people to pay in bitcoin, you can even offer discounts or special package deals for anyone who pays in bitcoin.
Yard work is just one example, but there are plenty of other handyman gigs and other manual labor gigs that would be easy to start up in any local area. You could also do something at your local farmers' market. What other skills do you have that you could possibly promote to local businesses or residents in your area?
As an added bonus, as your business begins to grow and you serve more clients, you can educate them about bitcoin. It's one thing to evangelize bitcoin, but it's more impactful when you make it clear that you are hoarding bitcoin as hard and fast as you can. People will begin to ask questions!
How To Accept Bitcoin As A Business
If you want to accept bitcoin as a business, it can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. For the personal side hustle where you're dealing directly with customers, all you need is a bitcoin wallet. In fact, you can just use a mobile hot wallet like Muun wallet or CashApp that has bitcoin and lightning integration in the same wallet. With Muun you can create your own keys, with CashApp you cannot, but both options are easy to use right out of the box. You can later transfer sats to cold storage.
Alternatively, you could set up BTCPay and have any bitcoin you earn go directly into cold storage. There are many apps and user-friendly solutions for getting BTCPay integrated into your shop, including a mobile-friendly point-of-sale interface. It would look like any other payment portal you're used to seeing in everyday shops, like Square and Stripe point-of-sale (PoS) systems.
BTCPay allows for both on chain and lightning payments.
Lighting (2nd layer bitcoin) is having a bit of a renaissance moment right now, and there are also many emerging solutions for merchants who want to start to accept lightning payments. Some use open source hardware and software, like in the video below, while others are Bitcoin startups who are trying to get bitcoin integrated into current PoS systems.
3. Earn Bitcoin Rewards
Bitcoin Rewards Cards
You can actually earn bitcoin rewards by doing your regular shopping by using a couple of different credit cards and debits cards that offer rewards programs that pay out in bitcoin. My favorite is Fold, which is a sats-back debit card.
Other possible cards you could use include:
- Gemini Credit Card
- Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa Credit Card
- Brex Credit Card
- Venmo Credit Card
- SoFi Credit Card
- Unbanked Debit Card
- Crypto.com Debit Card
- Wirex Multicurrency Debit Card
- Binance Debit Card
- Coinbase Debit Card
Some cards allow you to earn directly in bitcoin, while others pay “points”, then allow you to exchange it for a variety of options, including cash, crypto, miles, or whatever else.
There are more debit cards out there, but not all of them pay rewards. Also, watch out for some of those crypto debit cards like the Binance one, because they pay may pay out in shitcoins instead of bitcoin. To then trade your rewards for bitcoin, you'll have to pay a trade fee and/or network fee, which will cut into your rewards profits.
What About Games To Earn Bitcoin?
The play to earn model is extremely attractive, and there are plenty of companies that claim to offer it. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that well (yet). Most play to earn games are outright scams meant to get you to invest in the game in hopes of making a return on your investment.
There are some legit games that pay bitcoin, but the payouts are very, very small. Also, most games tend to not actually pay you for winning. The most successful games paying out bitcoin are done on a prize drawing model, where a certain pool of players (possibly the top players) are selected from to earn a sats-denominated prize over a certain period of time.
There are a couple of games where you can pay to enter a server and winners are awarded based on skill, but they are still very early in development, so you shouldn't expect to earn any significant amount of bitcoin from these games, even if you're really good at them.
If you've got nothing to do and are trying to kill some time, sure, this could be an interesting way to earn some sats in your free time, but when comparing the time invested versus hours played, you'd have a greater ROI developing a real life skill and figuring out how to use that to acquire more sats.
4. Do Microtasks For Bitcoin
Stacker News is a Hacker News style website where you can post news from around the web and then get paid based on the activity that happens on your postings. People can vote to boost your content with sats, and pay sats to comment on the post itself.
The idea is that people are getting paid to post quality content, and the payments come directly from the readers themselves, rather than being curated by a central source of authority.
Though Stacker News is mostly about bitcoin and related topics, you could imagine that other sites in the same style may pop up in the future, with news being curated on specific topics.
Microlancer is like Amazon Mechanical Turk where you can post jobs and get paid for performing microtasks as a freelancer. These are typically things that just take a few seconds to complete, so doesn't make sense to hire someone individually. Instead, job posts are essentially crowdsourcing microtasks.
Unfortunately, a lot of the work ends up being a little scammy, with people trying to arbitrage other affiliate rewards game systems for a small profit. For example, if an offer pays you $10, you can outsource $8 worth of fake signups and make 25% ROI. If an app needs downloads and reviews or a person needs votes to win an award, you can game the voting system by hiring out anonymous people from around the world to skew the results.
There are some legit jobs on here, but I just wanted to give fair warning before using the site.
Stakwork is also microtasks, but a lot more legit, and a lot more curated. This is an actual company that is offering a service and using sats payments over lightning to pay its workforce. You can perform these basic tasks like image labeling, video annotation, and other manual online markups. You can do all the work directly from your mobile phone.
This is a great win-win situation for clients and workers because Stakwork can hire a skilled, high performing, curated workforce to complete tasks in bulk, and workers from developing countries are able get legit, consistent side hustle work they can do from their home on their phone. Stakwork will even help you get a mobile phone if you don't have one.
Right now, it's only available in Argentina and The Philippines, but I assume the company is expanding to other countries. I think companies like this that are using bitcoin to facilitate real world needs are the ones who are going to survive for the long term. How else would you be able to pay someone $5 per week in the Philippines for a side hustle, especially if they don't have a bank account?
Fountain Podcasts Learn & Earn feature was just introduced. It already works, and I'm already using it (June 2022). In fact, I didn't have to do anything at all except listen to podcasts I was going to listen to anyway.
I'm not sure how things work on the back end, i.e. if you can set the number of sats paid per minute, but it looks like I'm earning about 3-4 sats per minute to listen to a podcast I was going to listen to anyway. I also don't know if you can stream sats to a podcast at the same time they are paying you, but I checked my wallet and didn't see any outgoing transactions to this podcast so that may not be the case.
Either way, this seems like a very good way to promote a podcast, and potentially other media in the future. Imagine a podcast being able to pay someone a few pennies per minute to listen, while also including ads, so you are basically getting paid to listen to ads. It's not something I would personally spend a lot of time doing, but there would be a ton of people around the world who would absolutely do it.
At the very least, it's a good way to promote your content. You could run some good paying deals during the first weeks of a podcast launch. Pay people a couple of bucks to try your show, and get them past the first 30 seconds to see if they actually like it.
There aren't a ton of options to earn sats from other companies, but the main option available to anyone at any time is to start a business that accepts bitcoin. A business doesn't have to be anything crazy complicated. As long as you can help someone or provide value, then you can get paid, and you have the choice to accept bitcoin as payment. This is how the bitcoin circular economy gets bootstrapped, from grassroots plebs taking the first step and engaging locally in their own communities.
At the very least, you should be earning bitcoin rewards on your credit or debit card. Come on man. It's free money.