If you think a trend will continue for a while, or if it’s too hard to predict when the price will change direction, following the trend is a more risk averse strategy. With this strategy, you trade with the trend rather than with the swings. If the market is trending up, only open long trades. If the market is falling, you only open short trades. Trend followers start trading after a trend has been established, and they exit when the trend changes. This is also called “Position Trading.”
Watch out for odd Altcoins and ICOs. The market is tricky enough with the major coins, it is even trickier with odd alt coins and ICOs. Yes, sometimes you can buy these low and see insane gains. In fact, getting it right is the best bet in crypto. The problem is, almost all the odd coins down the list and ICOs will spend the majority of their life being near worthless. Then, you may see a short time span in which these coins preform well. You would think that you would be able to take profits then, but so many people do not. After that one event these can end up in the graveyard. Yeah, you could make it big on low cost alts and ICOs… but I’ve seen more than a few people lose money. Be careful bottom fishing, Bitcoin might not make you rich, but it is a way less risky bet than coins further down the list.
Closing a trade in profit. It is important to take your winnings out of a trade. Cryptocurrencies move faster downwards than they do upwards, and you don’t want to be late cashing out of a trade. You also don’t want to be too early and miss out on extra profits. There are a lot of techniques to help you make this decision that are out of the scope of this beginner’s guide.
On cryptocurrency mining: As noted, one way to invest in cryptocurrency is via cryptocurrency mining. That is a valid way to start investing if say you love computer gaming and need a new rig and want to invest in small amounts of cryptocurrency while maybe making back some of the cost of the rig (and maybe even breaking even) but that is an entirely different subject. The average investor will want to trade USD for cryptocurrency on an exchange and avoid the complexities and investments of mining. In all cases, unless you already have a good rig with a great graphics card, you’ll need to put down USD upfront anyway.
These are what allow us to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. There are a handful of popular crypto exchanges, some of them have advantages over others. For example, some exchanges don’t allow us to deposit and withdraw using fiat currency like the U.S. dollar and euro; others aren’t available in certain countries. In this guide we will focus on two very popular exchanges, GDAX and Poloniex. GDAX gives us the ability to use our fiat currency to buy Bitcoin. Poloniex does not, but does give us a wide array of altcoins to trade. There, we’ll be using major coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum to buy the altcoins, and vice versa. Other popular exchanges such as Kraken and Bittrex offer even more coins.
Learn the lingo. BTC is the symbol for Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency. An altcoin is a coin that isn’t Bitcoin (like Ether). Limits, stops, exchanges, shorting, forks, ICOs, margin trading, etc (search for any of those on our site). It is way easier to invest and trade if you understand the common terms used. It is also easier to make friends in crypto groups if you know investing lingo and basic memes like “hodl.”
Is it possible to place a ‘take profit’ and a ‘stop loss’ command simultaneously? As of the time of writing, excluding some leveraged trading exchanges, such as Bitmex, current trading exchanges do not support the placement of the two commands simultaneously. In a perfect world, we could have set both stop loss for trade and levels of profit taking, lowering the chance of substantially loss. Until that happens, we will settle for what we have – I usually set take profit levels for some part of the position, while setting a stop loss level for the other ones.
EDIT: #10 Bonus (Suggested by @kerstenwirth ) — 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 could try this instead: You could try to avoid times where you know there’ll be relatively less liquidity in crypto — like nights and weekends — by closing out all of your positions every night and over the weekend. You might also consider maximizing the liquidity to which you have access by trading on a platform that allows you to access many different exchanges at once, rather than trading on only one or two specific exchanges.
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.