How to Start Earning in Web3
Strategies, tactics, and resources to help you get going
There has never been a better time to start working in Web3.
First, it’s never been more clear that crypto is here to stay.
The total market cap of crypto projects is north of $1.5 trillion. Institutions and governments are actively investing in the space. Actual products with hundreds of thousands of users are being shipped every month. To anyone paying attention, it’s become obvious that crypto will impact every major industry over the next decade.
Second, the benefits of working in crypto have never been higher.
Capital has become a commodity, and the glut of funding has resulted in ultra-competitive compensation. Given crypto’s native “remote first” culture, skilled individuals can earn exactly the same amounts from anywhere in the world. Every day, hundreds of the smartest operators in the world are making the decision to join the Web3 workforce.
Finally, and best of all, it’s never been easier to get involved.
The rest of this essay is a guide for anyone who wants to understand the earning landscape in Web3. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know where to look for earning opportunities, how to approach those opportunities, and how to successfully make it in Web3. Throughout, we’ll include links to resources and success stories from our Members at Superteam.
How to Start Earning
In Web2, most people learn first, then earn second. In Web3, you can learn and earn simultaneously. There are a number of avenues through which you can develop your skills and expertise while being paid to do so. Broadly speaking, there are five ways you can begin earning, ranked from least to most intensive:
Start Contributing to DAOs
Become a Bounty Hunter
Receive a Grant
Join a Fellowship
Join a Project Full Time
Contributing to DAOs
DAOs are simply internet communities with a shared bank account. They vary dramatically in terms of size, scope, and structure, but many DAOs have low-intensity work opportunities that can kickstart your crypto career.
To start contributing to DAOs, the first step is to find a few DAOs with missions that resonate with you. Use a site like DiscoverDAOs or DeepDAO to find these communities. You might explore learning DAOs like Odyssey DAO and The Invisible College, social DAOs like Friends with Benefits and Kraus Haus, media DAOs like Bankless and Forefront, service DAOs like Superteam or Vector, or any one of the long list of protocol DAOs.
Once you’ve found 3-5 you like, join their Discord servers. Introduce yourself, spend a week asking/answering questions, and generally scope out the vibe of the community.
Once you’ve started to integrate yourself into the community, you’ll know its problems and pain points. From there, you can DM the Core Contributors and suggest helpful changes along with a plan to implement those changes. More often than not, the Core Contributors will allocate a small budget to your plan so you can execute on it.
In addition, most DAOs are structured with “Working Groups” or “Guilds”. These are small teams of DAO contributors working on particular projects that are internally or externally facing. In most cases, these Working Groups have their own budgets and will create earning opportunities for their members to help deliver the project.
DAO contribution is a great route for those who are just getting their feet wet in Web3 and want a low-commitment avenue to contributing. Superteam Member Raj Karia used this strategy at Questbook and has since become an essential part of the team.
“Bounties” are publicly available tasks that Web3 projects need completed in exchange for tokens. They typically require a short time period to complete and offer generous compensation. Think about Bounties as the Web3 equivalent to freelance work in Web2.
Bounties can range from product development to content creation to recruiting referrals and beyond. Whether you’re a developer, designer, memer, or something else, there are likely bounties out there for you. As you delve into Bounty Hunting, make sure to invest time into seeing previous bounty winners and getting a sense of the quality bar that is required. At Superteam, we share guidelines on writing the best deep dive essays, but for many other types of bounties the best practices are not yet defined.
Bounties are entirely voluntary and open. This is great news for anyone trying to break into the industry, but be aware that you may not win every Bounty you work on. But for those new to Web3, this shouldn’t be much of a concern - you can always use your Bounty submission as Proof of Work for another position in the future.
Bounties are a great option for those who have a full time job and want to work in crypto during their nights/weekends. It’s also a good fit for those with low costs of living who can afford to cover their expenses on irregular income. Superteam Member Aditya Shetty has won thousands of dollars while working a day job, just through bounties.
Grants are opportunities to pitch an idea and get funded for it. If Bounties have defined deliverables, Grants only have defined objectives. The grant provider wants to encourage and support talented people to build things that benefit the ecosystem.
Most major DAOs and protocols have Grant programs that anyone can apply for. These are largely catered to developers, though there are also opportunities for non-technical people to get involved.
Grants are the best route into crypto for those with ideas and the skills to execute against them. If you have an idea, but it’s not ready to raise venture capital - or if you’re just not interested in raising VC - grants are a powerful avenue to get paid while developing your ideas.
Here’s a list to get you started:
In case you think grants are only available to those with decades of experience, you should know that Superteam Member Kunal Bagaria has earned tens of thousands of dollars through grants at the ripe old age of 16.
As the old saying goes, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others. Fellowships are cohort based programs that make learning a multiplayer game.
Typically structured as multi-week or multi-month programs, Fellowships are a way to explore Web3 based purely on passion and interest. They typically last for a few weeks or a few months. Over the course of the fellowship, you’ll be given educational material, access to guest speakers, and some degree of financial funding. All three are valuable, but don’t overlook the value in getting to know the other Fellows who have gone through the program. Your cohort will form the seed of your Web3 social network, and the alumni from the fellowship will act as your mentors down the line. Often, these relationships can open up additional earning opportunities as well.
Here are a few crypto Fellowship programs to consider:
Gitcoin Kernal (General Web3)
Friends with Benefits (for Artists/Creatives)
Ethereum Foundation Fellowship (Ethereum specific)
Binance X Fellowship (Open source projects)
OnDeck (General Web3 and Web2)
Solana India Fellowship (for Indians)
Le Crypto Fellowship (for Europeans)
Becoming a Fellow is the best option for those who have decided to commit to joining Web3, but don’t necessarily have the connections or experience to launch something on their own. Getting into Fellowships can be very competitive, particularly if it includes a stipend, so it is worth building your Proof of Work before you pursue this route too intently.
Joining Projects Full Time
If you’re ready to commit completely to Web3, the best route is to look for full time employment opportunities.
The hardest part of finding a full time job is identifying which projects are worth a long-term commitment. Unfortunately, there are plenty of founders in crypto who are more concerned with making a quick buck than they are with building something of lasting value. As you evaluate companies to join, consider the following factors:
How real is their community? Community is the ultimate moat in Web3. But building a community is difficult, so some founders take ill-advised shortcuts. If the company Twitter page has 30,000 followers but only gets 5-10 “likes” per Tweet, it’s likely that they’ve purchased fake followers. Similarly, if the Discord has 20,000 members but only a few messages a day, they’ve likely purchased bots to add to their numbers. Both are red flags.
How engaged is the community? Most Web3 projects have communities in Telegram or Discord. As you vet projects, make sure to spend some time in those servers. Are the founding team members active? Is the community supportive of the project’s mission, or are they just saying “wen airdrop”? How are the vibes? Projects that make their communities a priority tend to beat those that don’t, so it’s worthwhile to invest time into understanding how engaged the community actually is.
Who are the project’s investors? Venture capitalists earn their living through due diligence and ability to spot strong founders. Projects with blue-chip backing (e.g. Sequoia, Multicoin, Accel, etc.) are more likely to have strong growth prospects. Of course, a lack of blue-chip investors is not a red flag, and plenty of teams have found immense success without them. But blue-chip backing can be the difference between a project that does well and a project that does exceptionally well, so it’s worth keeping in mind.
What is the token unlock/vesting schedule? One easy way to spot get-rich-quick schemes is to look at the rate at which investors and founders will receive their tokens. Ideally, early supporters should have long horizons (e.g. their tokens vest over the course of 3-5 years). This aligns the founders and investors to the long-term viability of the project. On the other hand, if investors and the founding team have many tokens unlocked in the first 12-18 months, it’s a red flag.
There are a number of job boards specifically listing opportunities at crypto companies, including:
Here’s a bonus career hack: if you’re serious about joining a project, consider taking a weekend to put together a ~3 month plan for how you’ll add value to the project. This can take the form of a 1-2 page document attached to your application that includes specifics on problem statements to solve, how you’d solve them, and how you’d measure success. Crypto is an industry that rewards proof of work, and there’s no better way to demonstrate your abilities and excitement than to do some work up front.
How to Succeed in Web3
Earning in Web3 is one thing. Earning successfully and consistently is another thing entirely. Now that you know where to look, it’s worthwhile to internalize three vital concepts as you begin your earning journey:
Say Goodbye to Climbing the Ladder
Say Hello to Risk Management
Build Your Personal Distribution
Say Goodbye to Climbing the Ladder
Whenever industries mature, the pathways for career development become rigid.
20 years ago, a young talented person could join an internet startup and go from intern to executive in just a few years. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. At most Web2 companies - and certainly at all traditional companies - the “career ladder” has been cemented. You must first work as an analyst for 3 years. Then you can become an associate. Five years later, you can become a vice president. And so on. At each stage, you’ll need new credentials (an MBA, online courses, etc) to progress.
Jumping through these kinds of hoops is both annoying and exhausting for talented people.
Here’s the good news: Crypto doesn’t have a career ladder. There are no playbooks, no required credentials, and no standards for what you need to be successful. You don’t need an MBA to join a senior role, nor do you need to stick within a single box (e.g. “Designer”) for your career to advance. You can be a designer, a marketer, and a meme maker all at once and get financially rewarded for it.
Here’s the bad news: you’ll need to be more proactive, more clear about your goals, and more engaged with the rapid pace of innovation than you would in Web2. A lack of career ladders means you are in the driver’s seat. If you can chart your own path and double down on your strengths, there’s no ceiling on how far you can go, regardless of your age and experience.
Say Hello to Risk Management
Most crypto work opportunities pay in a mixture of stablecoins (e.g. USDC, USDT, UXD, etc) and project tokens. The project tokens are tied to the underlying value of the project, and holding these tokens is similar to holding equity in traditional companies. However, tokens are more valuable than traditional equity. Tokens are instantly liquid and can be sold as soon as you have them in your wallet. Compare that to traditional equity, which can be difficult to sell until the company goes public or raises an additional round.
Getting paid in tokens is awesome when the tokens are pumping in a bull market. But it’s painful when the tokens are dropping in value during a bear market. Becoming comfortable with this volatility is perhaps the hardest element of working in Web3.
As a token holder, you are effectively a part-owner of the project. And as an owner, you must be explicit and intentional about your risk strategy. A simple way to manage your risk is to ensure that part of your compensation is in stablecoins. The exact split will depend on your unique circumstances, but generally speaking the higher your fixed costs (e.g. rent, family, etc), the more of your compensation should come in stablecoins. If your only option is getting paid in project tokens, it might be worthwhile to to sell a portion (e.g. 20%) of the tokens into stablecoins to protect your downside.
Build Your Personal Distribution
Succeeding in crypto requires a fair amount of luck. Fortunately, you can increase your chances of getting lucky by doing two simple things:
Do work you’re passionate about.
Tell people about what you’ve done.
The first step is straightforward. You can either immediately get into earning opportunities (described below), or you can start exploring your passions to build your credibility. For example:
Designers can do UI/UX teardowns and rebrands of major Web3 projects
Marketers can create region-specific marketing plans for new projects
Community managers can create feedback documents on the design of existing communities
Finance people can conduct tokenomics analysis of upcoming projects
Analytics wizards can create Dune dashboards for projects
Analysts can produce investment memos on a given sector or geography
Memers can, you know, create memes
Biz Dev people can suggest and arrange partnership possibilities
The second step is regularly overlooked, but is just as important. Building a public reputation in Web3 must be a high priority for anyone entering the space.
Tactically, this requires documenting what you do far more than you would have in Web2. Since most of the crypto industry revolves around Twitter, tweeting regularly is the easiest way to build your reputation. Put simply: tweet about everything you learn and everything you do. Document the process, decisions, and obstacles you faced as you go down rabbit holes and complete projects. This is exactly what Superteam Member Rahul did for a branding project he recently completed.
Alternatively, you might consider writing longform essays and sharing them in a digestible format on Twitter. Or you may consider starting your own podcast, or a Youtube channel. In all cases, the goal is to publicly demonstrate your abilities in easy-to-find ways that will increase your reputation and social capital. This social capital will be the foundation on which your financial capital in Web3 is built. In the best case, you’ll end up like Superteam Member Pinkmann, whose memes on Twitter led to a full time job with Polygon.
Get Involved Today
If you wanted to work in crypto 5 years ago, you either had to be a shadowy supercoder or an entrepreneur. Ideally, you were both. This meant that 99%+ of the population was not able to contribute or get involved beyond speculation.
Five years later and the world of crypto is dramatically different. Now every type of talent is needed - whether you’re a writer, a finance pro, a designer, or a biz dev person. The space has matured as far as it could on the backs of coders alone; now is the time for everyone else to get involved. Start joining DAO servers, hunting bounties, applying for grants, and before you know it you’ll be earning in Web3.
What are you waiting for?
If you want to be notified of the most exciting Web3 work opportunities, join the Superteam Talent Network. We’ll notify you when freelance and full-time opportunities specific to your interests become available so that you can kickstart your Web3 career.