I’m always a believer in diversifying as a freelance graphic designer — and that includes catering to a wider range of clients by not only accepting fiat, but cryptocurrency as well. At the moment public perception of cryptocurrency isn’t positive, and with good reason due to the many scams and frauds that has happened over the years. However, if you are able to understand the risks involved and take a careful approach to accepting crypto payments while freelancing, then you might stand to benefit in the event that the value of cryptocurrency appreciates, potentially increasing your earnings over time.
Points to Consider when Accepting Crypto Payments as a Freelancer
A BRIEF LOOK AT CRYPTOCURRENCY
For those who are not familiar with cryptocurrency or crypto as it’s more widely called, it’s basically a digital currency in which instead of a central regulating authority such as banks, transactions are verified and records maintained by a decentralized peer-to-peer system. This means anyone anywhere can send and receive payments, which is ideal for a freelancer who is looking to increase your market reach and work with clients from overseas.
Bitcoin is the world’s first successful cryptocurrency, launched in 2009 by a mysterious creator by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. It remains the biggest market cap today, with Ethereum in second place. Both cryptocurrencies are widely seen as the safest out of the many other cryptocurrencies out there.
On the other hand, crypto is a highly volatile asset and its value can change drastically over a short period of time. It’s definitely not a good feeling when for example you received $100 worth of crypto after putting effort into completing a project, only to have it be worth $10 the next day. And being not subject to a central regulating authority means cryptocurrency is a hotbed for scams and frauds. You might have heard of the collapse of FTX in late 2022, which operated a fraudulent crypto exchange and hedge fund, allegedly misusing billions in consumer funds.
But while crypto has come a long way with more regulatory frameworks being put in place over the years, the fact remains that there are still many risks involved in accepting crypto as payment as a freelancer. Here I will highlight some points and advice to consider based on my own experience.
BITCOIN AND ETHEREUM ARE THE SAFEST
Over the years many cryptocurrencies have come and gone, including meme coins like SafeMoon which has lost over 99% of its value from its peak in 2021. However, despite the many ups and downs Bitcoin and Ethereum have stayed strong, and as such I would highly recommend accepting most of your crypto payments in only these 2 cryptocurrencies.
If a client insists on another cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin or Ethereum, then it’s up to you whether you want to accept or not. Cryptocurrencies like XRP and Solano are still considered relatively safe, but ones like Pepe should be treated with caution.
ALWAYS ASK FOR A DEPOSIT
The importance of asking for a deposit before starting a project couldn’t be understated — but is even more crucial when accepting crypto payments as a freelancer, since there is little to no protection for you if a client decides to ghost you.
I would recommend asking for half upfront and half upon completion, and not moving with a project forward if the client refuses to do a deposit.
You will need to have at least one cryptocurrency payment processor or wallet to receive payments while freelancing. Popular ones include Coinbase and CoinGate for payment processors, and MetaMask and Ledger for wallets — whatever you choose should be secure, reliable, and reputable. Also, be sure to keep your private keys as safe as possible.
IT MIGHT BE WISER TO HOLD
Depending on your risk appetite you might get to benefit greatly from holding onto your crypto. For some perspective, 1 Bitcoin was around 400 USD back in 2016, but is now worth around 27,000 USD (as of October 3, 2023). That’s an increase of 65 times over just 7 years — imagine if you have received Bitcoin back then and have held till now.
Of course, the reverse could certainly be true and Bitcoin’s value might plummet overnight, but if you as a freelancer are accepting crypto as payment then you should already be taking such risks into account, which brings me to my next point…
DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAKE SOME RISKS
If you’re open to accept crypto payments while freelancing, then you should already be aware of the risks involved. Consequently, it might not be a bad idea to take some risks such as accepting a lesser-known cryptocurrency for a particular project, or as mentioned before holding onto a payment in the hopes of it going up in value in the near future.
As the 3rd U.S. President Thomas Jefferson said, the saying goes, “With great risk comes great reward.”
BE AWARE OF LEGAL AND TAX IMPLICATIONS
With cryptocurrency being increasingly regulated over the years, it’s crucial to understand the legal and tax implications of accepting crypto payments while freelancing. I would also suggest maintaining accurate records of all your cryptocurrency transactions, including dates, amounts, and client information, to facilitate accounting and tax reporting.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
As the cryptocurrency landscape changes rapidly and constantly, regularly doing your due diligence helps to keep you informed about the latest developments, trends, and security practices. Remember, knowledge is power and you always want to be in the know when it comes to crypto.
PLACES WHERE YOU CAN LOOK FOR CRYPTO PROJECTS
The following is based on my own experience, so this list isn’t comprehensive — if you have any recommendations please feel free to comment below.
LaborX is a blockchain-based jobs platform that helps clients connect with freelancers. As a freelance graphic designer you can create a profile with some of your previous work to generate interest, while looking for gigs posted there. LaborX protect your financial engagement through digital escrow, releasing them only after the work has been completed and accepted.
CryptoTask is another platform similar to LaborX, with escrow and gigs for graphic designers.
Finally, we have Reddit, a social network that is home to thousands of communities, including ones dedicated to crypto projects. r/Jobs4Bitcoins and r/Jobs4Cryptos are some of subreddits that you can check out as a freelancer.
In the end, accepting crypto payments while freelancing involves risks and requires a good understanding of the cryptocurrency landscape. Careful planning and compliance with local regulations will help ensure a smooth experience for both you and your clients.