How to be a crypto investor in a bear market

Bear markets are also dangerous in a different way: they play on your emotions. It’s easy to lose faith, develop short-term tunnel vision, be anchored to previous buying points, and be driven by fear. All of these can result in impulsive decisions that can cost you.

That’s why we must first frame our intention. What is our goal? What tenets will we fall back on? What is our portfolio management strategy in the bear market?

Here are a few guiding principles:

1.  Bear markets are opportunities. 

No one wants a bear market, but if you play your cards right, you’ll benefit. An important takeaway is that smart investors can steadily accumulate assets in bear markets that will net them outsized returns during the next bull run.

2.  Survive. 

This is your goal. In a bull market, your goal is to build wealth and take profits. In a bear market, your goal is to survive for the next bull market while losing as little of your portfolio as possible. If you focus on trying to grow your bag during a bear market, you’re in for an uphill battle. It’s not easy, but not impossible either. Otherwise, I suggest focusing on retaining your net worth and making it out the other end with the next bull cycle. It’s not sexy, but neither is billionaire Warren Buffet’s investment strategy.

3.  KISS. 

Keep it simple, stupid. Amidst the euphoria of a bull market, it’s easy to look like a finance genius. In a bear market, your strategies will get stress tested. So keep it simple and trust in your strategy’s long term time horizon. 

Evaluating your risk profile

Before we dive into any strategies, I want to first talk about risk profiles. A risk profile is a tool that investors use to identify if a particular investment falls within their appetite for risk. Here are some high-level examples:

Aggressive Risk Profile

  • Mostly small cap tokens, some BTC and ETH, no stablecoins
  • Willing to use protocols that have not been audited
  • Invests across dozens of different projects

Moderate Risk Profile

  • Majority BTC and ETH, some stablecoins, and some small cap tokens
  • Stakes in higher yield pools, but is determined to understand the protocol first
  • Uses a small percentage of portfolio to ape into projects

Conservative Risk Profile

  • Entirely BTC, ETH, and stablecoins
  • Stables are parked in a Compound market earning low single digit yields
  • Does not keep more than 5-10% net worth in crypto

Having a risk profile in mind will frame what types of investments you pursue in general. For a bear market, I’d recommend between a conservative to moderate risk profile as more aggressive risk profiles benefit from market manias indicative of bull markets. 

Remember: In a bear market, our goal is to make it to the next bull with our portfolio intact.

All right, now onto the strategies!

Strategies to survive a bear market

Beginner – DCA (Dollar Cost Averaging) & Hold

  • First bear market
  • New to investing & financial markets
  • Has a full time job unrelated to crypto

The premise of the beginner strategy is simple: Choose a portfolio allocation of low-risk assets, regularly invest a budgeted amount, and forget about everything else until the market heats up.

This strategy has two steps:

1.  Identify which assets you want to own

2.  Dollar cost average into those assets and hold

Asset Allocation

The first step in this strategy is to identify which assets you want to own. These assets will be the bread and butter of your portfolio until the markets begin to heat up. 

It helps to have a risk profile in mind when you make this selection. Ideally, you’ll allocate a large portion of your portfolio into blue-chip assets that you know for a fact will be up during the next bull run — like Ether and Bitcoin!

The DeFi Edge has some examples of asset allocations for different risk profiles (not a beyondblockchain endorsement, unfortunately this tweet was made before the TERRA / LUNA debacle and we obviously do not recommend that asset allocation.)

Dollar Cost Average

Once you’ve decided on your portfolio allocation, the next step is to budget an amount you want to periodically invest into those assets. This strategy is one of the most basic investment strategies calling for Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA).

The beauty of DCA is that it removes the cognitive burden of timing the market. The premise is simple: Buy at the same time every period (like once a month). Ignore the price, just buy.

That’s it! Just set and forget, check back in during the next bull run, and reap the rewards of steadily accumulating blue-chip capital assets.

Intermediate – Indices & Sector Rotation

  • Has played around with multiple DeFi protocols
  • Is slightly more risk-on
  • Has time to watch the markets

The intent behind this strategy is to diversify your holdings as a hedge against market volatility and take advantage of little bubbles of bullishness throughout the bear.


Any reasonable investment advice always starts with diversification as a means of spreading risk throughout your portfolio and limiting exposure to any one type of asset. The DeFi Edge tweet above is an example of diversification — but can we go one step further?

It’s one thing to diversify into a specific token. But what about an index? Indices are a basket of tokens, meaning they represent a microcosm of diversification itself. For example, Index Coop’s DPI token captures blue-chip DeFi tokens into a single basket token, spreading the risk and return of battle tested DeFi protocols across a multitude of tokens.

If you’re considering diversifying your portfolio, look at indices instead of individual tokens. Index Coop has a slew of different products, but you can find many other indices on TokenSets, or even create your own.

Once you’ve selected your preferred indices, you can DCA into them.


You’ll notice that many indices are broken down into sectors, representing a basket of tokens for a particular market niche:

  • DPI = Blue chip DeFi tokens
  • MVI = Metaverse projects
  • DATA = Data economy

In all types of markets, some sectors will outperform others. For example, when comparing MVI, DPI, and ETH, we can see that ETH performed better in the long term. In other periods like September to December, MVI came out ahead of ETH and DPI:

This is the first bear market with such a breadth of crypto sectors. Back in 2018-2020, there was no DeFi or Metaverse to segment the market. Because of that, there’s also no data on which sectors will perform well against the average performance of the entire market. 

A detailed intermediate tactic will accommodate how to invest with sector rotation, including which tokens to consider within a sector, what metrics to follow, how to set stop losses & alerts, and when to rotate are out of scope for this article. But if you have time to watch the markets, rotating in and out of stable sectors throughout the bear market is a good way to stay afloat, if not even earn a small profit.

Advanced – Defensive Options Trading

  • Has a background in finance or self-taught
  • Familiar with options
  • Bear market veteran

I generally do not recommend actively trading during bear markets. Trying to profit in a bear market is much riskier than profiting in a bull market. However, since our goal is to make it to the next bull, I will focus on defensive trading strategies. Defensive trading is a set of principles for trading in the market centered around limiting losses and volatility. Common tactics include diversification, sector rotation, DCA and hodling. 

To use any of these strategies, you’ll need to find an options exchange that supports the assets you want to create a position against. Some popular DeFi-native options exchanges are:

  • Opyn
  • Dopex
  • Ribbon Finance
  • Hegic

As always, DYOR!

Protective Puts

Buying protective puts is a hedging strategy using options to limit downside risk while going long on assets.

By purchasing a put option on the underlying asset that you own, you are effectively buying an insurance policy that sets a price floor beyond which you will not lose more money, even if the underlying asset continues to fall in price.

Covered Calls

Covered calls are another options trading strategy that sacrifices potential upside to earn a current income stream.

Covered calls require you to own the underlying asset and sell a call option to purchase that asset at a set price. In a bear market, this works in your favor as asset prices may stay steady for the life of the option, allowing you to earn income through premiums earned by selling the call option.

However, the tradeoff is that your earning potential is capped if the underlying asset appreciates above the strike price.

Bear Spreads

Spread trading is a common options strategy that limits your profits and losses within a bounded range. They work by purchasing one security at one strike price and selling a related security at another. 

There are two types of bear spreads: Bear Put Spread and Bear Call Spread. Both strategies work the same way: by buying options at a strike price and selling an equivalent number of options at a lower strike price. By doing so, these spreads create limited profit and limited loss trading strategies for investors that are moderately bearish.

Final Words of Wisdom 

If this is your first bear market, here are some of the lessons learned between 2018 and 2022 from the Beyond Blockchain team.

1.  Build for the long run. 

Stop watching the markets everyday. For the sake of your mental health, pick a strategy, follow it, and forget the numbers. It’ll pay off in the long run. 

2.  Remember your goal. 

Speaking of bulls, remember the mantra: survive. If you’re experiencing FUD, remember that everyone feels FUD during a bear. Put it aside, stay conservative, and wait for the bull. It’ll come, as it does in all markets eventually.

3.  Invest your time. 

Speculators and tourists leave during bear markets, but builders stay. If you have the time to contribute to projects, you’re bound to make meaningful connections and maybe even get an edge before the next bull cycle. This is the time to educate yourself, level-up, and…

4.  Become a crypto user. 

Becoming a genuine crypto user is one of the best things you can do. Lend, borrow, stake, earn, swap–just start using crypto products. People that traded on Uniswap, registered ENS names, donated to Gitcoin, all earned sizable rewards from airdrops. You can earn some of the best yields in the world and earn ownership in key protocols while doing it. By becoming a crypto user, you’re positioning yourself for the future bull market. 

5.  Make friends. 

Bear markets are the time when the crypto community huddles up to stay warm during crypto winters. This is the time to find your tribe and vibe out. These relationships will pay off in every way possible in the future–you may travel across the world with them, attend their weddings, work together. The real value of the crypto journey are the friends you make along the way 🙂   

See you in the bull!

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Manal Iskander

Manal is a cryptocurrency investor with numerous crypto and blockchain courses under her belt - including courses from MIT. A researcher with a wealth of knowledge about the economic impacts of crypto both locally and globally.

Davontay Martin

For the people. Cryptocurrency is empowering us with censorship resistance, freedom of speech, supply scalability and most importantly decentralization. With numerous exposure and interactions in crypto, my passion has led me to lead others. My passion lies in educating those who have never had the opportunity to succeed or transact in crypto.

Michael Diaz

Michael joined the crypto community back when Coinbase had bitcoin as its one and only coin. Stayed to see the development and evolution of altcoins, memecoins, DAOs, NFTs, and the never-ending rabbit hole of blockchain technology.

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