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Earning crypto - risk vs reward

Earning crypto - risk vs reward

The crypto economy: risk, reward & safety

What you'll learn

  • Why crypto uses incentives
  • Learning, Staking & Speculating
  • Risk vs Reward
  • The importance of DYOR

To get the most out of this section you’ll need a basic understanding of Bitcoin and how it works. Read this chapter first if you need to get up to speed.

Economic incentives are central to how cryptocurrencies can function without a central point of control. The novel use of incentives also extends to how crypto projects attract new users, how those who own cryptocurrency are rewarded for retaining them, and the ways with which you can speculate with, and about the value of, crypto.

These three categories can be summarised as:

  • Earning by Learning
  • Earning by Stacking
  • Earning by Speculating

These themes cover the full spectrum of ways to earn cryptocurrency. What distinguishes them is risk, reward and effort, which have incorporated into a helpful infographic.

Crypto Earning Spectrum

We’ll use these three measures as yardsticks for you to evaluate the kinds of opportunities out there to earn cryptocurrency, but with the greatest emphasis on measuring risk

As a newcomer, understanding the risks involved, both explicit and implicit, is crucial. You cannot get something for nothing, and any opportunity that seems too good to be true, almost certainly is.

That being said, incentives - where you are compensated in crypto - are one of the main methods crypto projects use to attract new users. This is often simply in exchange for your attention, your time learning about a product or project, as well as promoting to others, the benefits of a new cryptocurrency. Some incentives even reward you for using or interacting with the project or crypto itself.

These things don’t require any up-front cost but understanding the implied cost of providing personal details, your time and effort - no matter how little - is crucial to realising that there really is no such thing as free cryptocurrency. 

Earning by Learning

The opportunities that focus on earning crypto simply by learning will be your starting point along the path of earning cryptocurrency, as though the returns are modest, you can earn your first Sats for no initial investment, very little risk and just a modest amount of effort.

As important as earning your first crypto, you’ll absorb both valuable knowledge and experience along the way.

The first lesson looks at faucets which provide a valuable insight into the origins crypto economy but also the importance of weighing up effort vs reward. In fact, faucets were the main way many early adopters could earn their very first crypto, especially since it was difficult to obtain crypto easily in the early years.

Clicking a button or watching an advert in return for a small amount of crypto might seem like a no-brainer, but with faucets, much like Facebook, you are the product. Remember, nothing is free.

We’ll explain why in the next article, but approached with the right mindset, they are a useful launchpad simply because you start to see crypto in action. It may not be pretty but it is real.

In contrast to low-rent, early 90s feel of faucet sites, there are also opportunities to earn by engaging with much slicker attempts at promoting new crypto projects.

The potential rewards for a successful crypto venture are huge, so significant sums are invested in glossy videos and attempts to attract eyeballs.

The learn and earn approach simply requires you to watch, listen then answer a quiz about a new cryptocurrency, in return for a small amount of the crypto concerned.

Here the implied cost isn’t so much the time spent watching, as much as the requirement to share personal details in joining the exchange that sponsors the project.

The Crypto Gig Economy

If you’re willing to commit more than just your eyeballs, the opportunities to earn crypto can start to resemble the gig economy, in the sense that crypto projects are willing to outsource marketing to an army of unofficial advocates.

This can be as simple as earning rewards for sharing referral links across your social media; leverage your credibility on forums through Bounty Campaigns, performing Microtasks or acting as a full-blown Affiliate.

Bounty Campaigns on If bounties remind you of treasures and rewards, you're not far off the mark. These are the most popular, and usually involve little effort. It could be about making posts on social media like Twitter to Facebook, or even writing full-length blog posts and articles, or creating video reviews to increase visibility for the project. The highest-paid campaigns are called "signature campaigns". These typically look for veteran forum users with good reputations to simply carry a banner or logo as their signature. In this way, every post made by the user carries the banner advertising a service or product. The user's reputation is also a subtle way of endorsing the project.

If this starts to sound like a full-time job, well that is actually the next step along the earning spectrum.

The growing crypto ecosystem needs staff, websites, marketing and communication; in short an entire economy which you can participate in by Working in Crypto.

You can utilise existing skills as well as employing the knowledge you have gained specific to crypto. As crypto’s star continues to rise, those skills will become more valuable.

If, for example, you are a writer, designer or especially a programmer, you can earn crypto for doing a 9-5, especially with the benefit of accrued knowledge. We’ll explain how you can work and earn cryptocurrency.

Earning by Stacking

Stacking may not sound the most appealing way to earn crypto, but don’t worry it doesn’t evolve filling supermarket shelves, just adopting a similar methodical approach to earning cryptocurrency.

Stacking sats is a common mantra within the community and done right it is a good passive way to build a portfolio with moderate risk. We explain what is involved in building that stack.

The Stacking category is characterised by what we call earning through Passive Ownership; the risk ramps up because you are putting your own money on the line, but the idea of passive earning is that your crypto is working for you.

There are different ways to build and leverage your stack, from Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA) to interest bearing services, which involve a different level of responsibility and decision making.

"If you don't find a way to earn while you sleep, you'll work until you die"Warren Buffet

Forks & Airdrops

Cryptocurrency is both a new internet money and a digital asset you can invest in. Owning cryptocurrency is, therefore, like owning shares in a company, with potential gains from its appreciation, as well as crypto’s equivalent of dividend payments aka Forks and Airdrops.

Since 2021, the popularity of non-fungible token (NFT) collectibles saw many new projects give away NFTs simply for some form of participation. We're also planning a similar type of airdrop for our very own Learn Crypto community using the Proof-of-Attendance Protocol (POAP) type of NFTs, as a reward for early birds. To learn more, head on over to the Learn Crypto DAO on Discord or read more about POAP.

These are often characterised as free crypto, but as you now know that it is never the case, it is simply a matter of understanding what compromise or risk is involved in benefiting from them.

Earning from Speculating 

Crypto is evolving, and as it evolves, so do the opportunities to earn, to the point where they start to challenge existing ways to manage your wealth and invest. This includes Defi (Decentralised Finance), Trading and crypto-specific Investment platforms, all of which carry much more considerable risk - and on the flip-side, significant potential returns. 

Defi and trading form part of the advanced section on earning cryptocurrency, focused on speculating. It will also introduce the opportunities from investing in Non Fungible Tokens. NFTs are tokens representing the rights to collectibles like digital art, and sit at the cutting edge of speculation within the crypto ecosystem

Lastly, we’ll look at how you can earn by participating directly in cryptocurrency functioning as a miner or staker, depending on the consensus mechanism used.

Setting off with your eyes open

As you’ll remember, cryptocurrency is a new type of internet money, creating trust and security without a central authority. One of the biggest earning opportunities, but with the greatest risk and complexity, is playing a direct part in running the system.. 

With Bitcoin, for example, there is no head office, it functions through a dispersed network that anyone can join - called Miners - providing computer power and getting paid bitcoin in return. 

We’ll cover that topic last of all, as some of the ideas are complex and involve the greatest investment both in terms of time, money and risk, as well consideration.

To summarise, let’s order the five broad opportunities to earn crypto as follows:

  1. Earn by learning
  2. Earn by stacking
  3. Earn by speculating

Before we explore the potential rewards, we’re going to start by explaining why the risk is an essential part of crypto and how to learn to manage it.


There are many memes that you’ll pick up as you learn about crypto. DYOR - do you own research - is one of the most important. You are doing it now, by reading this article. 

DYOR is fundamental to crypto because in its naked form, the responsibility is all on you - that is a feature, not a bug. The intention was to remove the power of central authority, 

That responsibility might seem daunting, but it is fundamental to crypto, where personal sovereignty is prized.  It is also the reason why the opportunities to earn from crypto are so great. You take the risk, you take the reward. 

You cannot, however, have one without the other as there is no such thing in life as a free lunch. This is especially important to remember in crypto because opportunity always attracts opportunists.

$1 Trillion
The collective value of all cryptocurrencies exceeded $1 trillion in 2021.

The combined value of all cryptocurrency is now over a $1 trillion - and growing. With opportunity on that scale it is inevitable that there will be those looking to exploit the situation. Keep your guard up at all times. 

Earning crypto can be both enjoyable and rewarding, but only when you are fully aware of what is involved.