Updated: Sep 8
Hello fellow Bitcoiners!
If you're finding this article via google and are unfamiliar with me, then welcome! My name is Ben and I've been hosting an educational Bitcoin YouTube channel called BTC Sessions since 2016. My goal here is to get new Bitcoiners off to a good start by presenting learning material in an easy to digest way. This blog post will cover just about everything you need to get started with Bitcoin. You may only need a portion of the information here, but I encourage you to parse through it as you see fit, and return whenever you've completed a step and would like to continue on.
What Are The Best Bitcoin Books?
I very much view Bitcoin as being the real innovation here, and I am less than enthusiastic on altcoins and blockchain technology as a whole. This stuff can get quite nuanced, so if you want to get a summary of my thoughts on that topic, you can READ HERE. For more reading on the topic, I would also check out The Bitcoin Standard, Inventing Bitcoin and The 7th Property if you want to dive more into the "why" of Bitcoin.
Let's get started!
Where Can I Buy Bitcoin?
Here are 3 examples of places to buy Bitcoin - from the USA, Canada, and Globally.
Swan Bitcoin is a Bitcoin-only exchange in the USA that allows for easy purchases and dollar cost averaging plans. They will never encourage you to trade/gamble, fully encourage self-custody, and have a team creating great educational resources to help in your learning journey. If you're in the US, this is where I recommend people go. SIGN UP HERE.
Shakepay, is a great way to buy and sell Bitcoin in Canada. They have a beautifully simple mobile app, accept e-transfers lightning fast, and have some of the cheapest fees I've seen in the country. On top of this, using the link here you can get $10 free after your first $100 purchase. Check out my tutorial video here, and CLICK TO SIGN UP.
If privacy, self custody, and peer to peer interaction are important to you, then HODL HODL is likely the best place to buy your Bitcoin. This is not your traditional exchange - it is a website that links up peers from around the globe to buy and sell Bitcoin without any need for ID or other private information. You can sign up in minutes with nothing more than an email. Check out the video tutorial below, and SIGN UP HERE.
How Do I Get A Bitcoin Wallet?
There are many different Bitcoin wallets you can get on your phone and desktop. While many wallets can offer differing features, the main function is the same. A wallet gives you a way to access the Bitcoin network to send and receive funds, much like a web browser gives you a way to access to the internet. For simplicity's sake, I'll recommend just a single Bitcoin wallet which I feel is accessible to brand new users.
Phoenix Wallet is a mobile wallet for both Android and iPhone. It is Bitcoin-only (better for security) and also integrates something called the lightning network - which allows for instant and nearly free transactions. I've found it's relatively easy to use and you can be set up in a couple minutes.
Download links can be found on their website https://phoenix.acinq.co/
How Do I Secure My Bitcoin?
Alright, so you've gotten a wallet and purchased some Bitcoin that is now sitting on your phone. Is that secure? Not particularly. Now don't panic - if you're dealing with smaller amounts of money it's not a big deal to have it sitting on your mobile device, but once you start to have more money than you'd be comfortable carrying around in cash, it's time to start looking into security via something called a hardware wallet.
Hardware wallets are a way to securely store your funds in a device that doesn't directly connect to the internet, thus mitigating your risk of having your Bitcoin wallet compromised remotely. There are many options for hardware out there, so here is a quick recap of my top 6, discussing some of their features. If you see one that looks appealing to you, there are links in the images just below to purchase them.
For full video tutorials on the above options or links to purchase them, simply click the device links below.
My personal favorite from the above list is the COLDCARD from Coinkite. They've also got great options like the TAPSIGNER (a simple NFC hardware device for mobile). Check out both tutorials below and CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THEIR STORE.
How Do I Sell Or Spend My Bitcoin?
While not everyone wants to spend their Bitcoin, it is comforting to know that you can indeed use it for a wide variety of things. As a Canadian you've actually got exclusive access to one of the better platforms on the planet with which to do so.
Bull Bitcoin isn't just a great place to buy Bitcoin, it also offers an incredibly simple platform called Bylls which you can use to pay nearly any Canadian biller or send dollars to any bank account using Bitcoin. They also offer a variety of gift cards for purchase with BTC. Take a look at the simple walkthrough below - I think you'll be impressed with how quick it is!
Once again, to sign up for Bull Bitcoin you can click the image below:
Bitrefill is an excellent platform that allows you to purchase from a seemingly endless catalogue of gift cards, as well as top up your mobile device. I've been using them since 2014 when I first experimented with living on Bitcoin. Check out how easy they are to use in the video below, or jump to their website and give them a try by clicking here.
Click below to visit the Bitrefill website:
Diving Deeper - Nodes
To be a truly sovereign participant in the Bitcoin ecosystem and confirm transactions trustlessly - you can run a Bitcoin node and connect your wallets to it. While not everyone NEEDS to do this, it is important that everyone CAN if they choose to. I highly encourage you to dive down this rabbit hole, as it can help you learn a lot about how Bitcoin works under the hood.
Setting up a node ensures you are not trusting anyone else to verify your transactions, while better preserving your privacy when sending/receiving transactions. It is important to note that any time you use Bitcoin, if you are not running your own node, someone else is doing it for you. Running your own node elevates you to the level of being your own bank.
My favourite project in this space currently is START9. You can either build your own for free with a simple list of items off Amazon, OR order a pre-built unit off THEIR WEBSITE. Take a look - whichever method you choose, you're certain to have a lot of fun and learn in the process!
Diving Deeper - Privacy & Coinjoin
It is a common misconception that Bitcoin is 100% anonymous. Quite to the contrary, Bitcoin resides on an open online ledger that anyone can view. While addresses aren't associated with your name in plain text, if an individual were to access your data via an online purchase registered to your name, they can start to piece together how much Bitcoin you may be holding.
Sparrow Wallet is a multi-featured Bitcoin wallet on desktop for power users. It allows you to:
Connect to your node
Manage various wallets, including hot (online) or cold (any hardware wallets mentioned previously)
Anonymize your coins using a coinjoin implementation called Samourai Whirlpool
For the basics of using Sparrow, start here:
When you're ready to dive into coinjoin, Sparrow's Whirlpool option is covered here:
Multisig & Inheritance Planning
One important thing to consider is passing on your Bitcoin to your loved ones someday. Nunchuk Wallet has created a product called Honey Badger that allows you to build an assisted digital vault with an automated plan to do exactly this. Check out the tutorial down below and CLICK HERE to learn more.
That's all I have for now - if I think of anything else relevant to add to this blog, it will be updated over time. Be sure to give this a share if you find it useful. Thanks everyone, and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel!