British national Graham Bullock used to spend up to three months away from his family as an offshore field specialist for oilfield services company Baker Hughes.
But after working in the oil and gas industry for 16 years, the 50-year-old decided he wanted to spend more time at home with his family and switched careers.
“Four years ago, I decided I had to resolve this but the money in an offshore job was very good. I wanted a job where I could stay at home and earn a similar income,” Mr Bullock says.
In June 2020, he heard one of his colleagues discuss the earning potential of cryptocurrencies. He decided to invest $3,000 in Evai, an emerging “cryptoasset”, which kicked off his interest in the cryptocurrency and blockchain market.
“My initial thought was, 'If this comes off, it could be huge',” Mr Bullock says.
Demand for cryptocurrencies soared during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as monetary easing by the US Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world gave novice day traders more money to invest during pandemic lockdowns.
About 4 per cent of 6,741 people in the US said they had quit their jobs at some point over the past year due to the financial freedom gained from investing in cryptocurrencies, according to a survey by online polling app Civic Science in November. About 7 per cent said they knew someone who had quit their job to pursue cryptocurrency investments.
Twenty-seven per cent of participants said they resigned from jobs that paid less than $25,000 a year, while 37 per cent left jobs with salaries of about $50,000, the survey found.
“Cryptocurrency trading is becoming an increasingly attractive option for people wanting to achieve financial independence and freedom from the daily grind of office hours,” says Matt Dixon, chief executive and founder of cryptoasset rating platform Evai.io.
“The flexibility of trading from anywhere in the world is also an appealing prospect for many people. However, the decision to make a full-time career needs to be carefully considered and based on a number of factors.”
The cryptocurrency market is volatile in the short term but for traders, that’s usually where the opportunity lies, according to Srinu Chowhan, vice president of marketing and growth at cryptocurrency exchange BitOasis.
“The cryptocurrency market is open 24x7 unlike the stock market or forex market, so trading can become an all-day commitment for many, demanding patience, non-stop analysis of trading patterns and concentration in equal measure,” he says.
The reward can be high, the same goes for risk. Traders also have the option of using trading bots to react quicker to price movements, while freeing up their own time, Mr Chowhan adds.
Mr Bullock spent numerous hours researching investment opportunities and educating himself on all aspects of the sector, including basic technical analysis, market trends and emerging sectors.
Since then he has invested a total of $20,000 and his cryptocurrency portfolio has grown to be worth $350,000. He also quit his full-time job in December.
“There’s so much money to be made and I get to be with my family, which is invaluable,” he adds.
His cryptocurrency investments include Ripple, Litecoin, Crypto.com, Evai, Contentos, Sandbox, Decentraland and Project Quantum.
As a self-described value-seeking investor, Mr Bullock steered clear of Bitcoin owing to its high price. He buys cheaper digital tokens so there is potential to make more money from them.
Mr Bullock has set himself a goal of becoming a millionaire by the end of this year.
Staking multiple cryptocurrencies earns him more by way of interest than his previous oil industry job, he says.
Staking is a way of earning rewards for holding certain cryptocurrencies for a set period of time, according to Coinbase.com.
Mr Bullock's success with cryptocurrency trading led to his recent decision to relocate his family from the UK to Dubai.
“I am learning every day. You have to diversify and keep six to seven cryptocurrency assets in your portfolio,” he says.
“All cryptocurrencies are volatile, that’s the nature of the market. If Bitcoin and Ethereum go down, the whole market follows.”
Trading in cryptocurrencies is not for the faint-hearted, Mr Dixon says. The swings in price can see traders make huge profits in one moment, followed by dramatic falls in a matter of hours or days, depending on the level of volatility.
For some, the market cycles can prove nail-biting but for the vast majority of experienced traders, volatility presents opportunity, he adds.
“It’s a good idea to have savings and an emergency fund to fall back on before you consider trading full-time,” Mr Chowhan says. “Newbies can also try paper trading or virtual trading where you trade with dummy money and learn to strategise before getting started with real money.”
Mr Bullock seeks advice from successful traders on how the market will perform. The market works on the Elliott Wave of analysis, he says.
The Elliott Wave theory is a form of technical analysis that looks for recurrent long-term price patterns related to persistent changes in investor sentiment and psychology, according to Investopedia.com.
“Experts tell me when to expect the market to drop and later recover. This helps me to sell at the top and buy at the bottom,” he adds.
Similarly, Brenda Gentry, 46, from San Antonio, Texas, quit her full-time job as a mortgage underwriter in September 2021 to pursue a career in cryptocurrencies. She worked in banking and real estate lending for 16 years.
Ms Gentry learnt how to trade cryptocurrencies from her daughter and friend and decided to take it up full-time in 2020. She now runs a cryptocurrency consulting company.
“My daughters had seen how many overtime hours I was working and just wanted more time with me. So when they started trading in cryptocurrency, they told me it would be good passive income so I didn’t need to work so much and we could spend more time together,” Ms Gentry says.
“That’s how I got into cryptocurrency trading. I saw an opportunity to do this full-time and live the life I had been dreaming of.”
She bought Bitcoin and Ethereum during the first Covid-19 lockdown. She started small and would use the dollar-cost averaging strategy during dips.
Dollar-cost averaging is an investment strategy in which an investor divides up the total amount to be invested across periodic purchases of a target asset to reduce the impact of volatility on the overall purchase, according to Investopedia.
“People wanting to pursue a full-time career in cryptocurrency trading should make the move gradually. It’s not a case of immediately quitting your job and going full-time in a heartbeat,” Evai.io’s Mr Dixon says.
The most seamless transition into a career in cryptocurrency trading would be to build up experience over time before making the leap, he says.
Ms Gentry mainly invests in alt coins now, although she is still invested in Bitcoin and Ethereum. “It’s always good to diversify your portfolio with blue chips and alt-coins,” she adds.
Refusing to divulge her cryptocurrency earnings, Ms Gentry says: “I have made six figures, which is equivalent to my 401k portfolio earned across 10 years.”
A 401(k) plan is a company-sponsored retirement account in the US that employees can contribute income, while employers may match contributions, Investopedia.com says.
“I achieved financial freedom with cryptocurrency investing. I’m free from the shackles of debt, lack and poverty. I have sovereignty over my money, therefore, I have sovereignty over my life,” she adds.
Cryptocurrency investment provides a huge opportunity for people to achieve financial freedom and the gains on emerging assets can exceed 10, 100 and even 1,000 times in terms of profits, but investors need to stay on their toes and put a lot of time into self-education and do their own research, according to Mr Dixon.
“Leading cryptocurrency exchanges understand the important role education plays in increased adoption and have been putting major resources behind the development of easy-to-understand tutorials, blogs and videos,” he says.
“There are also a variety of paid courses run by universities and organisations such as the Dubai Blockchain Centre, which offer courses and industry-recognised qualifications.”
It is also important to follow trusted cryptocurrency media publications that keep you updated with real-time market news, Mr Chowhan says. While cryptocurrencies may be an influencer-driven market for many traders, it’s important to refrain from acting on unverified tips, he warns.
Pitfalls to avoid
“The number one rule new investors and would-be traders need to follow is to secure their assets safely. Keep your wallet seed phrases secure and do not share them with third parties or people who contact you on social media,” Mr Dixon says.
Traders should research and carefully choose the exchange they are making trades on as they can become exposed to fake trading volumes and liquidity issues, which can leave them stranded when it comes to cashing out profits, he adds.
“Only the most experienced traders should consider using leverage trading as part of their strategy. For beginners, there is more than enough volatility to contend with, without adding additional risk.”
Six tips to start cryptocurrency trading
- Choose a recognised and regulated cryptocurrency asset exchange platform to secure your investment with sophisticated risk-control systems.
- Take time to develop your strategy and gain an understanding of what it’s like to trade in both bull and bear markets.
- Learn the fundamentals of technical analysis and how key market indicators can be used to inform your trades and identify your entry and exit points.
- Stress test the data sources you will use to identify value in the market.
- Test and evolve your trading strategy with a small amount of funds and increase the amounts as you grow in confidence.
- Keep comprehensive records of your trades to evaluate what’s good and bad about your approach.