If you haven't heard about Bitcoin yet then you really should pay attention to this because in the long run it could make you a lot of money. Before we get into the whys and hows and what it means for photographers though, you need to know what it is in the first place. Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency designed around the idea of using cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money, instead of relying on central authorities. All transactions are sent easily through the internet in peer-to-peer transactions without need to rely on or trust in third parties. There are little to no transaction fees and all transactions are irreversible which means that chargebacks become a thing of the past.
However, it is still a very volatile currency and as such still suffers large swings in value.
What does this mean for you as a photographer? Well, for one it is another way to accept payments and set yourself apart from the competition.
More important than that though is the fact that their value continues to go up on average. I've written a lot in the past about how a photographer could find financial freedom and this is yet another option. There aren't many other ways to see the kind of returns that working with Bitcoin can generate. 1 BTC was worth around $200 a few weeks ago. Today it would have a value around
$750 $1100. That means that the shoot that paid in Bitcoin a few weeks ago now made nearly four six times as much revenue.
Of course it could have easily gone the other direction, that's a given. Which is why I am not recommending putting all of your eggs in this basket. However, if you are willing to take a risk, this could be a very good option for you as time goes on. Most speculators seem to agree that in time a single Bitcoin could be worth $10,000 or more. Personally I believe we will see each coin reach a value of at least $1,000 by the end of this year (edit: turns out I was right). So it may be a decent idea to look into applying for a merchant account that can operate in this currency like BitPay which can accept the currency and immediately deposit USD into your bank.
With the fact that more and more merchants are adopting this as a way of taking payments and senate hearings regarding regulation, all signs point to cryptocurrencies being here to stay. We, as business owners, need to pay attention. Ultimately the point is about giving people more ways to pay you. It doesn't matter so much if you invest in anything, but opening up to a new form of payment can certainly set you apart from the competition.
I make it a point to speak from experience when I write anything here, so over the last month I have done exactly what I am suggesting here before I recommended it to you. Unfortunately in that time the value of Bitcoin has gone up a substantial amount so I apologize for taking so long to talk about this with you. However, I believe we are still at a time where the value will continue to rise despite the fact that it now costs more to purchase a single unit.
That is the reason that my recommendation to you is not to invest more than you would be willing to lose (as with any investment), but to consider getting as involved as you can even if it just means being willing to take them as a form of payment. I think most people wish they had invested in Apple or Google when they could have gotten in cheap. Despite the fact that entry is now around $750 all signs point to this still being a low amount in the long run. If that is still too high then I would suggest looking at alternate currencies like Litecoin that are still low enough to buy volume without breaking the bank. One Litecoin (LTC) is still under $10.
How do you go about buying Bitcoin if that's what you choose to do? Well, it has been tricky in the past but currently the best way to do so is via a service called Coinbase. If you wish to buy LTC or another currency you will need to go through an exchange like BTC-E or Crypto-trade which can be a bit more complicated if you aren't familiar with currency trading. Since that subject is far beyond the scope of this article I advise you to do your research before you do anything. There is a tremendous amount of information out there about Cryptocurrency, as well as an equal amount of myth.
Above all, understand that any investment is a risk and in the end your decision is your responsibility. Be brave, but be smart.