The easiest way to start buying, selling, and mining Bitcoins

Despite all the negative news around bitcoin, I believe cryptocurrencies are the future. Bitcoin may not be the one to take off, but one of them will eventually.

Here’s how I started earning bitcoins.

  1. Create a Wallet: I setup a digital “wallet” with Coinbase where you can save the bitcoins you’ve mined, or just buy and sell bitcoins directly with Coinbase. You’ll need the wallet “address” to spend your bitcoins elsewhere and receive bitcoins from others. You’ll also need that address to get into mining bitcoins, which is what steps 2 & 3 are about.
  2. Join a Mining Pool and setup a Worker: I joined the BTCGuild (no longer a thing) to increase my chances of earning bitcoins. Otherwise you’ll mine for months and may not ever receive bitcoins. In a pool you’re joining forces with lots of other miners and are rewarded based on how much processing power your computer contributes to the pool’s efforts. You get smaller increments of coins, but you get compensated more consistently. These days I’d try something like the Pool or Slush Pool
  3. Setup a Miner: I installed Asteroid (no longer a thing, try this instead Mac Miner) on my Mac Pro to start mining bitcoins. Asteroid will ask you or the name of the Worker you setup in step 2. After following a few more instructions your mining bitcoins. My computer is a beast, but its easily brought to its knees when I have the miner running. Asteroid let’s you throttle the mining intensity so you don’t crash your computer, but be careful. If you choose to allow Asteroid to use your graphics card for mining, it may appear to freeze your computer. There are lots of devices you can buy specifically for mining that are faster than your desktop or laptop.

Each of those 3 steps takes about 5 minutes or so, but may take longer to really understand what each step is about.

*Website Developer Bonus

  • TidBit – Earn bitcoins by letting your visitor’s computer mine bitcoins for you while they visit your site.  This will be the end of website display ads when the finish beta testing. [No longer a thing]


After about a week worth of letting my computer mine for hours everyday if earned about 0.00001497 BTC, which converts to about 0.01293 USD (2014) according to this bitcoin to USD converter. So… with my current hardware setup it would take months to earn enough to buy anything. However, if I bought some fancy but inexpensive bitcoin mining hardware I mentioned earlier, I’d be earning at a much faster rate. Either way I’ll probably keep mining. I may even convert a few dollars into BTC. Given the state of the world, a multi-currency strategy couldn’t hurt. Like the saying goes, “Don’t throw all your babies in the egg water.” Or whatever. Let me know if you try it out. Happy mining.


Breaking the cycle: Why I’m voting for a 3rd party candidate.

This is an old problem

Politics in America bend to the will of two parties: Democrats and Republicans. Why?

  1. Money. Big dollars bank roll these two parties. It takes a lot of money to keep your agenda in the news and part of the culture. Brain-washing is expensive. Which brings us to reason number two.
  2. Exposure. They are the loudest parties. They get the most press time and overall attention from major media companies.

Affiliation with, or much less voting for, a party that is neither blue nor red seems foolish. Everybody knows the president is going to come from one of the two big parties. If your values, principles, knowledge of history, or opinions about who would be best for the country bring you to the conclusion that your ideal candidate is not part of the two-party system, you must choose the lesser of two evils, right? It’s the only strategic move, right?


The way out = Principles + Money + Votes

If we continue to vote for the least evil candidate, there will never be other options. Someone must decide to open the door for a more diverse political landscape. The Federal Election Commission allows any party that receives at least 5% of the general election to gain access to federal monies specifically set aside for presidential campaigns.

Since no third-party candidate received 5% of the vote in 2008, only the Republican and Democratic parties are eligible for 2012 convention grants, and only their nominees may receive grants for the general election when they are nominated. Third-party candidates could qualify for retroactive public funds if they receive 5% or more of the vote in the general election.

Some say the electoral college really chooses the presidential election winner so the popular vote doesn’t really matter. But the popular vote does matter. Even if it’s just a bit. Just enough to give a third-party the wedge they need to get into the public’s spotlight a little more.

If your principles line up more with a third-party, then don’t give up hope. Support the candidates you believe in. Vote for what you believe in.

How do you know which candidate lines up with your principles?

I use tools like,, and to learn who actually makes decisions in favor of things I value. I use to keep track of the polls in real time.

Find the candidate that aligns the most with your principles, opinions, morals, economic philosophy, or whatever you really believe would be best for our country. Vote for that person with a clear conscience. You’ve done your part.

The END of the WORRRRLD!

I know, I know, every election is literally the end of all humanity if the other candidate is elected. Remember in 2000 when the Earth exploded upon the election of Bush? Remember in 2008 when the Solar System vaporized when Obama was elected?


But maybe this time it really is the end. Maybe if Dollary Clump, or Honald Trinton,  gets elected the galaxy will finally lose hold of itself and collapse deservedly into its own blackhole.

And of course, Aliens

Either way, the newly elected president will obviously walk directly into a meeting with the secret aliens to accept his marching orders. So… why not go down in history as voting for what matters to you!

[Updated for 2016]

How much should I charge as a new freelancer getting started?

How much should I charge?

This is the first article in a new category I’m starting for my blog: Reader Questions. I’ll be answering questions that I’m often asked by young designers just starting out in their careers. If you have questions about freelancing, graphic design, web design, or anything really, I’ll do my best to find the answer for you. It’s not like I’m some wise old world-renowned designer pro, but I’ve learned a few things over the past 5 7 years as a freelancer.

Our first question is from Nick Elam who contacted me through Facebook:

Hey Paris,
We got the brochure (actually it was a rack card because we didn’t want to spend a lot printing brochures) printed. They look nice. I got Office Max to print them for us because we only needed 100 and Office Max is pretty good at small print jobs like that. (The Green Printing company you suggested would have been great had we needed more than 100…)
Someone received on of the cards last night and asked me how much I would charge to design a postcard for their company. As a beginner, how should I decide how much to charge? They said they could handle the printing, they just need an eye-catching design. I have absolutely no idea how to go about this. So far I have just done volunteer work. Could you give me some advice?

Thanks for the question, Nick. Pricing is a challenge for every new freelancer. It’s hard deciding how much your passion and energy are worth.  Here are a few things to remember that will make the process easier.

How to decide what to charge

  1. Watch the clock. Start timing yourself today. This will give you an idea of how long it takes you to finish different aspects of your job. Figure in how much you need/want to make per hour and you’ve got an idea of how much to charge. Using this information is key to giving an accurate quote in the future. Even if you don’t charge by the hour, knowing a rough estimate of how long a project will take can save you from over committing yourself.
  2. Ask questions. Every job is different. Get as much info as possible up front. I send my clients a survey, or questionnaire to help better understand each project before giving any specific prices. You don’t want to get locked in to a project at a certain price without knowing the details. The client may not think to mention [random detail], because they assume it isn’t a big deal. Well, [random detail] is a big deal, and will probably cause the project to double in price. It is your job to gather the info. You’re the professional. You’re responsible.
  3. Look around. Consider what other people charge for the same service you offer. You want to be priced competitively, especially if you’re a new freelancer. Why would the client pay you a great deal more for the same thing they could get cheaper from someone else? You better have one heck of a portfolio if you expect to charge high above the industry standard for your services.

Taking the time to get things right from the start will save hours in later. Using this process should help you come to a more exact quote in less time and with less headache.

For those interested, I would probably charge between $250 – $1,000 for the job Nick mentioned in his question.

Check these links out for more detailed info on figuring our exactly how much to charge: