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Why You Want to Get Involved With ICOs ... Now Crypto and blockchain are in the same place the internet was 20 years ago. Early adopters and first-movers will have a massive advantage.

By Han-Gwon Lung

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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If you've read my column, you know that I'm a content creator by trade, a digital marketing manager by popular demand and a business owner who happens to have a vested interest in personal wealth management and investing.

Related: Watch Out for These Cryptocurrency Scams

That's why I've been heads down for months now, deeply immersed in the world of cryptocurrencies, blockchains and initial coin offerings (ICOs) -- most of which, I believe, are scams.

But if you haven't heard already, they're not getting banned. In fact, they're likely here to stay, at least in the United States, South Korea and most other non-Communist countries.

Now, here's why these technologies' staying power should matter to everyone, including the skeptics: Cryptocurrencies will one day be no different from the universal credits that characters in sci-fi movies and video games use to pay for stuff. We may still be decades away from that goal, but we've seen the road map.

Here's what I've learned since diving head-first into the world of crypto:

The long-term vision (or why "the bubble" doesn't matter)

The list of crypto skeptics is long and illustrious. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, economists who have won Nobel Prizes have all weighed in on crypto and deemed it too untested, speculative and basically untrustworthy.

We're seeing the biggest bubble in history, they keep saying!

Yet no one's debating that, which is why I think the skeptics are missing the point. Sure, it's true that when the crypto bubble pops, most coins will go to zero. Yet it's what happens afterward that matters.

What I'm talking about is the ability to have a completely digital, decentralized legal tender. It will be so secure you'll need a quantum computer to even attempt to hack it. It will be so easy to use, to spend or transfer money with that you'll be able to move millions of dollars with just a few clicks or swipes. Transactions will be completely anonymous (XMR) or incredibly transparent and trackable (ETH), depending on your preference.

This is not just game-changing -- it's world-changing. And early adopters and enthusiasts are not only making out like '49'ers during the 19th century California Gold Rush, they're in a position to greatly influence and impact the development of crypto as a whole.

How do you get involved with crypto?

How does the average person take part in the crypto revolution? The first step is to invest in it. But the time for easy HODLing and pump-and-dumps is mostly over. Since the mid-January flash crash, the markets have been much more rational about cryptocurrency (relative to their actions in 2017, at least).

What about starting an ICO? Let's put it this way: I've talked with many people in various stages of ICO setup and structuring, and I'd estimate that 9 out of 10 hopefuls have no idea what they're doing. They just want to make a quick buck and get away with it.

As for the real ICOs with legitimate teams, platforms, investors, and tenacity: You can't exactly bootstrap one of those.

And if you go out seeking the right development team that can competently navigate the landscape and create for you an ERC20 token, much less a new blockchain, you probably won't succeed. (Good luck poaching them, too.) Those in-demand people are already taken. To get their attention, you'll need truckloads of cash.

Not to mention the fact that the average ICO investor is becoming much more discerning. With the emergence of every new crypto publication and ICO tracking site, the "blue ocean" starts to look just a bit redder.

Related: Why Marketers Need to Pay Attention to Cryptocurrency -- Now

So, if you don't want to invest in volatile cryptocurrencies, and you don't have the team or know-how to put together an ICO for your great decentralized idea, how do you get involved?

The answer is that there's a much better, more reliable and more satisfying way to capitalize on this huge crypto revolution . . .

Experiencing a gold rush? Forget the gold. Sell picks and shovels.

You probably know what they say about gold rushes. Hedge fund manager and entrepreneur James Altucher, for example, has been telling millions of people (based on how much he paid for those infamous Facebook ads) that they should be buying stock in the companies that are "selling picks and shovels" for the growing crypto industry. That means companies like AMD and Nvidia.

Personally, I think there's an even easier way to sell those essentials for the crypto rush; and it doesn't involve buying stock in companies that make GPUs for miners. In fact, you can help legitimate ICOs get off the ground and get in front of investors and the world at large.

Successful ICOs, after all, are massive undertakings that require coordinated teams around the world to dance to a single tune. So, consider this short list of what ICOs need in order to launch (the proverbial picks and shovels):

  • Content creation: At a minimum, ICOs need white papers, websites and shareable articles. They also need explainer videos because most people won't read a white paper. And they need email marketing, in order to stay in front of potential investors. That's just scratching the surface.

  • SEO and SEM for distribution and impressions (native networks like Outbrain or Stack Exchange can be particularly powerful). Since Facebook banned ICO advertising, new ICOs have been scrambling to figure out the best marketing channels.

  • PR, for obvious reasons. One of the best ways for ICOs to get in front of investors is through mentions and links in high-traffic, targeted general business and investment publications, as well as crypto- and ICO-specific publications, like CoinDesk.

  • Legal expertise: Cream-of-the-crop firms are charging as much as $300,000 or more to set up ICOs (I've heard this anecdotally). In a constantly changing regulatory environment, first-movers are in demand.

  • Investor networks, like accredited or institutional investors. If you work in finance and know these people, you can get referral fees for introductions.

  • Community management: This is probably the easiest way to work for an ICO. Regardless of whether you have any customer-support experience, ICOs need lots of people manning live-chat channels, like Telegram 24/7 (if only to ban trolls and scammers at 3 a.m. in the morning).

What do all of these pick-and-shovel peddlers have in common? In a landscape as new and exciting as that of cryptocurrencies and blockchains, early adopters and first movers are setting themselves up to become sought-after experts for decades to come. That's why my co-founder and I started

Get involved and don't miss out.

Remember all those people who poo-pooed the "world wide web" when it first came out and were actually in a position to capitalize on the opportunity? They all feel pretty silly today.

Clearly, crypto and blockchain are in the same place the internet was over 20 years ago. Early adopters and first movers will have a massive advantage once the technology matures.

Related: 8 Benefits of Blockchain to Industries Beyond Cryptocurrency

So, if you've heard about this "crypto" thing but have only been waiting on the side lines, now's the best time to get your feet wet. You can be one of those people who participate in the future of a world-changing technology.

And, who knows? In just a few years, you might be that sought-after professional in a rapidly growing and very profitable industry.

Han-Gwon Lung

Co-founder of Tailored Ink

Han-Gwon Lung is the award-winning CEO and proud co-founder of Tailored Ink, a copywriting and content marketing agency based in New York City. His clients include Fortune 500s and VC-funded startups, and his writing has been published in Forbes, Business Insider, Fox News and Yahoo Finance, as well as by the Content Marketing Institute, Kissmetrics and Moz. Before co-founding Tailored Ink, Lung worked at New York City agencies like The Writer and The Economist. 

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